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With Rent Jumps Of Nearly 40%, Tampa Mayor Seeks To Ease Growing Pains

Mayor Jane Castor thinks it's great to live in “Champa Bay” — a nickname garnered the past few years as the Tampa Bay Lightning won the Stanley Cup, the Buccaneers won the Super Bowl and the Tampa Bay Rays made it to the World Series.

However, Castor acknowledged at Bisnow’s Tampa State of the Market event that affordability is fast becoming a problem even for her own family. Tampa posted a 28.7% rise in year-over-year median list price growth in January, according to Rents in the area were up 38.1% in the same time frame, according to Zumper.

Tampa Mayor Jane Castor

Castor said at the Feb. 10 event that her son is looking for a house and finding it challenging.

“I won't say it's reached the point of insanity, but it's just about there,” Castor said. “I think that the time to sell a home or to sell a commercial property has gone from something like 12 days to 12 minutes.”

Her office is exploring ways it might ease the crunch: luring high-paying jobs, improving transportation and even exploring rent control.

“But really, the bottom line is more supply,” Castor said. “The more we can supply homes, apartments and commercial space, the lower those prices are going to go. I think there's going to be a settling. I think we can all agree upon that. It's a little frenzied right now, but it's certainly not going back to what we saw back in 2008 to 2009, especially as attractive as the Tampa Bay area is right now.”

CliftonLarsonAllen Principal Ed Carey, Related Group Senior Vice President of Development Mike Hammon, Moss Senior Vice President John Bowden, Framework Group Vice President of Development Nick Herring, Strategic Property Partners Chief Portfolio Officer Lee Schaffler and NorthBridge founder and President Jannie DelRio

To boost supply, the mayor said Tampa could buy property and make it available to developers; change its land use codes; and make it easier for landowners to create additional housing on their property.

“We are looking at everything from 3D printed homes, all the way up to multifamily,” Castor said. “Any ideas that anybody has on that front?”

She discussed projects underway, from a $100M city services center in East Tampa, "the first building that the city has built in 30 years," to infrastructure projects targeting wastewater and roads. 

“South Tampa wants the roads that North Tampa has, and West Tampa wants the roads that East Tampa has and everybody's roads are shitty. That's the reality of it,” said the mayor, who is also the city's former chief of police. 

Advanced Engineering Consultants Partner Alexander Hoffman, Feldman Equities President & CEO Larry Feldman, Summit Broadband CEO Kevin Coyne, Suffolk Construction General Manager for Florida Gulf Coast Joshua Christensen, Baker Barrios Partner Rob Ledford and BTI Partners Executive Director Dominic Pickering.

Nick Herring, senior vice president of development for multifamily developer Framework Group, said he grew up in Tampa and has seen it evolve tremendously.

“We're finally starting to nail it on the cool factor," he said at the event.  

Tampa's allure is that it is "a very livable city," according to Strategic Property Partners Chief Portfolio Officer Lee Schaffler.

"We hear that from prospects all the time," Schaffler said, such as from young tech firms looking for "the coolest city around." 

Those discussions are slightly different with the "CEOs and CFOs and heads of HR as they come to see where to place their company and put down roots. They say, ‘The average age of my employee is 35, and they have two kids and they have a car and they want to live somewhere affordable, somewhere with good schools, somewhere with access to the beaches somewhere with access to recreation.’”

BTI Partners Executive Director Dominic Pickering said he often liaises with foreign investors who have traditionally asked about projects in Miami and Orlando, but now want to talk about Tampa. It’s “really the darling of the real estate in Florida,” he said.

The event was held at Strategic Property Partners’s Thousand & One, the first trophy office building to break ground in Tampa’s downtown in over 30 years.