Empower Adventures to consolidate zipline operations at Mobbly Bayou Preserve

The Oldsmar City Council recently approved an amendment to a lease agreement with Empower Adventures that will allow the zipline operator to construct a small office at the Lynn Rives Environmental Education Center at Mobbly Bayou Preserve.

Empower Adventures of Tampa Bay opened the first zipline adventure park in the Tampa Bay area at Oldsmar’s Mobbly Bayou Preserve in June 2016, followed by the nearby aerial obstacle course a few months later.

But for the past two years, the company has leased an office space on State Street to handle the day-to-day operations, a less than desirable situation necessitated by the lack of office space at the Lynn Rives Environmental Education Center where the aerial excursions are based.

Earlier this week, the Oldsmar City Council unanimously approved an amendment to the lease and use agreement that will allow the company to construct a 200-sq.-ft. interior space at the facility for administration and office work, with Empower agreeing to pay the city $250 a month for the right to utilize the space.

Empower Adventures of Tampa Bay founder and CEO Joe DeRing.

“We’d be moving out of State Street and consolidating our entire operations at the park,” EA founder and CEO Joe DeRing told the council on Tuesday, May 1.

“Our business address is actually 420 Lafayette Blvd, the actual address of the park, but we’ve been maintaining our office on State Street, so it’s been split apart. Now we can bring them both together and be there during business hours throughout the entire day, seven days a week, to not only provide service to our customers but to provide concierge service to park goers.”

The request was met with positive responses from council members, with Mayor Doug Bevis stating he liked the deal and Council member Eric Seidel saying he’s a “huge fan” of the work EA has done in the city, although he noted he would’ve asked for more money for the space if it weren’t for the company’s rapid growth.

“I would propose an amendment to charge you more, but that fact that you’re growing by double digits, and we share in that revenue, I do think that you’ll end up with more business by being on site,” Seidel said after DeRing noted they were paying about $80 per day for the spot on State Street.

The extreme aerial obstacle course is part of Empower Adventure’s zipline park at Mobbly Bayou Preserve in Oldsmar.

deRing reported the company was up about 10 percent from its first year and expects profits to be up 15 percent when he presents the second year numbers to the council next month.

Under the terms of the original lease agreement, which expires in 2025, EA was  to pay the city five percent of its gross annual sales; the amendment calls for the sum to be paid quarterly so as to keep better track of the company’s contributions. The amendment also calls for additional signage at the facility.

Prior to voting on the item, Council member Jerry Beverland weighed in on the proposal.

Oldsmar Mayor Doug Bevis.

“I was totally against them building an office out there,” the longtime local lawmaker said.

“But the way they’re doing it, I’m all for it.”

With that, the motion to approve passed by a vote of 5-0.

After the meeting, Mayor Bevis spoke about the council’s decision.

“I think it’s a good deal,” Bevis said by phone.

“You don’t know what kind of potential revenue you’re losing with no one being there, plus from a partnership standpoint it helps us with what we want to do there, directing park goers and having someone there at all times. It just makes sense for everyone.”

deRing said they hope to have the new on-site office ready in about 60 days.

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