Part of my logic in not leaving Tampa is getting to watch it grow, which it is finally beginning to do again. I came back in 2009 in the middle of a slump, and little has changed in the last several years. We also elected a new mayor, who is keen to attract and please young professionals.
Development in the form of housing and commercial space is one way of noting an uptick in the economy. Ever since high gas prices and a speculative bubble exposed the weaknesses of suburbia, that uptick is mostly centered in the urban core, on brownfieldsâ€”spaces under redevelopment due to vacancy or underuse.
I created a map showingÂ as many new developments as I could think of. Here are some highlights:
Boutique hotels The Birchwood in St. Pete and Epicurean in Hyde Park opened in 2013, to much fanfare. They both include rooftop bars and chic restaurants, in walkable neighborhoods.
They are followed by Le MÃ©ridien, in the former federal courthouse, and Tampa’s first aloft, which will occupy the corner of Kennedy & Ashley directly across from the University of Tampa. Both are scheduled to open in July, and are both part of the Starwood chain of hotels (good if you use their loyalty program). I’ve always loved W Hotels, so I can’t imagine these will disappoint.
For selfish reasons, I am excited about all the new condos and apartments coming online. Very few new developments are done with taste, and most older homes are too expensive to buy or maintain. Hopefully some of these will change that.
In Channelside, two 24-story towers (Martin & SkyHouse) willÂ joinÂ an alreadyÂ hot rental market; Channelside currently has the highest rent in the city.
A 36-story tower will come to Downtown, along the Riverwalk, where Cass & Tyler Streets will also be realigned and converted back to two-way traffic. The Riverwalk will also be more complete, with an $9 million section to be completed, connecting Curtis Hixon Park with MacDill Park.
North of Downtown, the multi-block Encore development, a former public housing complex, will open its second, third, and fourth buildings (Trio, Tempo, and Reed). Ultimately it will be a complex of mixed-income and uses with easy access to transit on either side, to HART’s MetroRapid BRT line, and Amtrak service.
Across the Hillsborough River, Hyde Park booms too. Crescent Bayshore, an $80 million, 370 unit complex,Â will fill the space across from Tampa General Hospital, between 1 Bayshore and 345 Bayshore.
Post Properties will complete another multiple story apartment complex, SoHo Square, which will face Howard Avenue with ground-floor retail. This lot was mostly parking for a now-defunct bar, which closed years ago.
Finally, a new gym to shake up the scene!
LifeTime Athletic now inhabits the former site of Robb & Stucky at International Mallâ€”the first floor at least. It has positioned itself as a premium health club, with more amenities than you’ll find at LA Fitness. Monthly memberships are also premium-priced. I’d imagine it will appeal to travelers and corporate workers who are already in Westshore for business, but not as a viable alternative for residents of South and Central Tampa.
In my favorite neighborhood, new developments mirror other parts of the city. A multi-family complex, like the Quarter, will rise in the blocks between I-4 and 12th Avenue.
Coppertail Brewery will open doors on a brand new building at Adamo & 26th, where its distribution is already housed. This will give the brand a public face, and a place for neighbors to gather.
In the wake of the elevated Connector’s completion, the previous primary truck route on 21st and 22nd Streets will be repaved and converted back to two directions, with landscaping and bike infrastructure. These changes will slow traffic speeds and make the Columbia Restaurant, Tampa’s oldest, and the surrounding blocks, more inhabitable. Good news for property owners.
And, though it is more a mixed blessing, 7-Eleven will open a 24-hour convenience store in the former La Ultramar Jewelers building along Seventh Avenue. The corner will have life again, yes, but is it the right kind?
One thing I’ve not heard about in a while, and may still be in negotiation, is a hotel on the corner of Seventh Avenue and Nuccio Parkway.
What I would really like to see is more retail development. Where is an infusion of cash to Hyde Park Village? It has such potential, but needs a makeover.
The recession is in the past mostly nowâ€”dregs are still loitering but most business is back in gear. Tampa will always grow, thanks to good weather and a laid-back culture. However, exciting changes are afoot in how we grow, and where we grow within the region.
Hyde Park Village is in dire need of an update. It has so much potential: centrally located, adequate parking space, a couple of stable anchor stores, cinema, fitness center, niche interest retail/boutiques…but it is mostly devoid of pedestrian traffic. Big sections lay empty and impose a decaying backdrop to what should be an eclectic and exciting retail center in the heart of South Tampa.