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October 4, 2015

Economic Yearbook 2008

TAMPA BAY: Battling a Misperception

Art Levy | 4/1/2008


The regionwide condominium slowdown hasn’t stopped several major Clearwater projects from going forward. “Water’s Edge by Opus South is under construction and on schedule,” says Geri Campos Lopez, Clearwater’s director of economic development and housing. “Station Square Condos are under construction and on schedule.” The slowdown has actually created opportunity in other areas. Clearwater is working with Miles Development Partners, for example, to build rental housing on a city-owned brownfields site that was once targeted for condos. Enchantment, a $180-million butterfly-shaped condo tower proposed for Clearwater Beach, is moving forward after plans were redesigned.


» J. Michael Cheezum, CEO of JMC Communities, has shown confidence in the Clearwater market, opening the Sandpearl Resort and Sandpearl Residences next door. JMC is also building Ovation, a downtown St. Petersburg high-rise expected to be completed next year. “The first thing to remember is the big picture,” Cheezum says. “We’re still blessed with an incredible quality of life in our region. We still believe very strongly in the fundamentals of our area.”



With the region’s slowest growth, Pinellas was the only county in Tampa Bay that had fewer students enrolled in public schools in 2007-08 than in 2006-07.
Year Enrollment
2006-07 109,292
2007-08 107,163
Source: Florida Department of Education
Other sectors are helping Pinellas County survive the residential down cycle. Manufacturing, for example, is strong, says Mike Meidell, director of Pinellas County Economic Development. “Companies involved in homeland security, medical devices, defense, aviation, they’re looking for workers,” he says. “Even within one sector of the economy, there are parts that are doing well and parts that are not doing well.”


» At the Pinellas Technical Education Centers, new COO Dennis Jauch, a former executive at General Dynamics, is helping to shape programs to ensure that students learn the specific skills that Pinellas County businesses are demanding.

» Pinellas County Commissioner Kenneth Welch is pressing for solutions to what he sees as the county’s affordable-housing crisis. Earlier this year, commissioners approved zoning changes to allow a 55-unit affordable housing complex to be built near Seminole. The county is also working to impose a new ordinance that will require developers to include affordable units in large housing developments.

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