April 17, 2014

Economic Yearbook 2008

TAMPA BAY: Battling a Misperception

Art Levy | 4/1/2008
Matt Silverman
Rays of Hope (St. Petersburg) Matt Silverman
» Tampa Bay Rays baseball team owner Stuart Sternberg writes
the checks, Executive Vice President Andrew Friedman picks the players and Joe Maddon manages the team, but President Matt Silverman has been the local face on the team’s efforts to alter St. Petersburg’s downtown. Silverman is lobbying for a $450-million waterfront ballpark. The Rays have promised $150 million toward the project, with some of the rest of the money coming from the sale of the 85-acre Tropicana Field site to a developer who would replace the dome with homes, stores, restaurants and offices. [Photo: Mark Wemple]

TAMPA / HILLSBOROUGH COUNTY

DOWNTOWN
CONSTRUCTION / TAMPA

2,282 — Number of residential units
under construction
3,336 — Number of residential units proposed
$405 — Average sales price per square foot
$1.30 — Average monthly apartment rental rate per square foot

Source: Tampa Downtown Partnership 2007

For years, Hillsborough economic development officials have preached the value of a diversified economy. This year, they’ll find out if the economy is diversified enough. Kim Scheeler, president and CEO of the Greater Tampa Chamber of Commerce, says the strength of the county’s high-tech and manufacturing sectors are helping offset the weak residential market. “We’ve got a great group of medical-device manufacturers in the area,” Scheeler says. “We still have good businesses in high-level financial services. We still have some call centers.” The housing slowdown might actually be having one positive consequence: “It’s going to bring the affordability back in line a little bit,” he says. “It was getting a little out of whack for a while.”

LEADERS

» Judy Genshaft, president of the University of South Florida and a past chairwoman of the Tampa Bay Partnership, has helped build USF into a major player in high tech and medical research. This year, she’ll have to deal with funding cuts from the state.

» Mayor Pam Iorio will oversee ongoing efforts to reshape downtown Tampa. The city is developing the Curtis Hixon Downtown Waterfront Park along the Hillsborough River. The park, apart from green space, will include the proposed new Tampa Museum of Art and the Glacer Children’s Museum. Iorio is determined to trim the city’s budget without cutting into essential services.

ST. PETERSBURG

David Goodwin, St. Petersburg’s economic development director, sees the city’s rising office vacancy rate as a good thing.

OFFICE SPACE /
ST. PETERSBURG

Year
Downtown vacancy
2005 5.1%
2006 7.8%
2007 11.9%
Source: Colliers Arnold of Tampa Bay

“There used to be a shortage,” he says. “Now, we have some product we can fill, and that’s an opportunity to allow existing companies to expand and new companies to move in and bring some new blood into the economy.” He says the vacancy rate is up mainly due to Progress Energy leaving its old building for a new one a couple of blocks away. Goodwin says the city is weathering the housing/condominium slowdown. The 400 Beach Drive condo project downtown marked its grand opening this year, and the sail-like Signature Place project just blocks away is rising, with 80% of its more than 200 units already sold.

Tags: Tampa Bay

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