Darryl shaw is quiet, humble – and $63 million later, ybor’s big new player types of electricity tariff

The 22-year-old moved to Ybor and bought a run-down building on E Seventh Avenue with plans to convert it to office space. Then the balcony collapsed during renovation. The city condemned the building, which had to be demolished. End of that career.

Now Shaw, 50, is back in Ybor City, and in a much bigger way. After getting an MBA and working with his brother Neil to build BluePearl Veterinary Services into a national chain of emergency and specialty animal hospitals, Shaw has purchased scores of parcels throughout the historic district over the last three years.

Working through at least 10 different limited liability companies, or LLCs, Shaw and a handful of partners have spent more than $60 million buying land in and around Ybor City. They’ve bought vacant lots, but also offices, small stores and restaurants, warehouses, industrial properties, a historic inn, an old cigar factory, bars, a closed spa, and church-owned land. The parcels span the historic Latin district, from Nuccio Parkway to the Crosstown Connector.

The growing empire has given Shaw and a handful of business partners an outsized stake in the fate of one of Tampa’s oldest neighborhoods, one experiencing a revitalization that includes a rush of new residents, a booming small business and arts scene and, some hope, a potential home for a new Tampa Bay Rays ballpark.

"I fell in love with Ybor City, with its history and culture," said Shaw, who is drawn to its immigrant backstory, diversity, architecture, authenticity, proximity to downtown Tampa and access to transportation. "It’s all there, and it’s rare."

Down the street, Eric Fleming owns the Ybor City Jazz House in a newly acquired Shaw property that was damaged in a fire last year at the Amphitheatre next door. He assumes the building will need renovations, but he doesn’t know what it will mean for him.

Since 2014, Shaw and his partners have purchased at least 110 parcels throughout the area for a total of more than $63.5 million. That accounts for about one-fifth of the parcels that have changed hands in Ybor City since 2014, according to a Tampa Bay Times analysis of Hillsborough property records.

Yes. That’s more than the $59.95 million that public records show Jeff Vinik and Cascade Investment spent buying developable land around Amalie Arena after Vinik bought the Tampa Bay Lightning. (This total doesn’t include the partnership’s $150 million purchase of the Marriott Waterside Hotel & Marina.)

"I’ve seen Joe and Booky at Pipo’s (restaurant) swapping properties on the backs of napkins," Buckhorn said. "It’s really fun to watch. They’re lifelong friends and business partners, and they do it the old-school kind of way, on a handshake."

"I’ve known them for quite some time," Shaw said. "They’re wonderful individuals. They come from Ybor City. They grew up in Ybor City and they have a passion for Ybor City. I’ve got a lot of respect for both of them, their commitment to the area and their generosity."

Two other entities that have used Shaw’s home address or the Carrollwood post office box for their mail have spent another $4.4 million on a string of purchases in Ybor City. They are Fox International LLC and the Broadway Bar Land Trust. Neither responded to inquiries from the Times last week.

Their purchases are primarily concentrated near other Shaw holdings east of 22nd Street, a historical divider between the bustling Ybor entertainment and nightlife of Seventh Avenue and the single-family homes and warehouses near the highways. But street improvements and changes to traffic flow around 22nd have opened up eastern Ybor to redevelopment, said John Dingfelder, a real estate agent, president of the Ybor City Rotary Club and former City Council member.

"He’s a quiet, unassuming, humble man" who "has been real fair in what he pays," said Gonzmart, who is working to open an Italian restaurant in the old Ferlita Macaroni building on 22nd Street, is developing plans for a Sicilian market ("I change the name weekly") and talks of building an event center in Ybor City. "I’m going to be investing $15- to $20 million over the next five years because Ybor City is going to be a place to live."

Shaw’s plan now is not too different than it was 28 years ago, though on a bigger scale. Much of what he has bought is vacant land. He intends to develop or redevelop it, largely with residential projects, done singly or a few at a time, over the next 20 years or so.

"There’s not a grand master plan," he said, speaking with a barely noticeable South African accent (his family moved to Tampa when he was 8). Ybor City, he said, is well-placed to grow as part of a wider trend toward urbanization that is attracting more people to live near where they work.

He also expects Ybor’s continued development to be complemented by similar efforts in The Heights and on the property downtown being developed by Vinik and Cascade Investment. He expects Tampa to end up with several distinct but well-connected neighborhoods, each with its own nuances and flavor.

"Ybor is at the junction of all of that urban excitement," Dingfelder said, mentioning Seminole Heights and the Channel District as well. "From afar I’ve been very impressed with what he’s doing. Obviously, he’s a firm believer in the future of Ybor."

Shaw expects most of his projects to be residential — a mix of houses and multi-family development — with some commercial. He expects to build some projects, lease them up, allow them to get on their feet and then move on to another project.

So far, he said, a renovation of the Don Vincente de Ybor Historic Inn is close to done, as is a separate project at the former Blues Ship Cafe. An architect is making plans for an apartment complex called the Marti, with construction likely in the range of $20 million. Work on the Marti could begin near Ybor City‘s entrance arch on Seventh Avenue later this year or in 2018.

In addition to the apartments, which are home to many families who receive subsidized housing, there are three churches nearby, plus Booker T. Washington Elementary School, plus the new Robert W. Saunders Sr. Public Library, which Buckhorn said "is not going anywhere."

He said he likes its size and location just outside the historic district’s boundary. It’s possible to build a taller building there than inside the district, where architectural guidelines limit the height of buildings. And someday it could link downtown to Ybor City.