Amidst a wave of new mixed-use developments throughout the Tampa Bay area, developers are now catering to on a certain group of buyers -- young professionals that want to work, live and play in an urban environment.
Hoping to capitalize on an urban revitalization trend stemming from New York's SoHo district in the 1980s, developer Fida Sirdar believes his newest project, The Place, will offer a new standard for contemporary living designed to cater to this younger, "hip" population.
"a natural for The Place because of the unique blend of amenities within walking distance," said Sirdar, president of Key Developers Group LLC. "Our project wants to set the tone for future gentrification."
And the numbers lend support.
Between 1992 and 2002, the Tampa Bay area's population grew by 19.1 percent.
In addition, more than 145,800 people migrated to the Tampa Bay region between 2000 and 2002. Of the total international migration of 32,026 people who migrated to the Tampa Bay area during this period, Hillsborough County received 42 percent.
The population of the counties that comprise the Tampa Bay metropolitan statistical area, 3.7 million based on 2002 figures, has similar characteristics with regard to gender, race and household size. However, Pasco and Hernando counties have older populations, both with median ages of 49 years.
In Pinellas County the median age is 43 years, whereas in Hillsborough County it's 34, which is representative of the national norm. Hillsborough County, especially, attracts younger adults because of diverse industries and a growing economy, based on a report from Enterprise Florida.
Diana Burch, marketing director and co-owner of Blue Line Realty, said the demand for young urban professionals is more than just a selling point for developers.
"If you think about it, there's this big drive that we have to attract the young professionals here because like it or not, they are the future and they have the expendable money," said Burch. "If we don't attract and keep these people here, there goes our economy."
Burch, who is younger than 30, said she contemplated leaving the area simply because simple amenities didn't exist in downtown Tampa. Those feelings have changed.
"I live on Harbour Island and need to drive to Kennedy and Dale Mabry just to get gas or a sandwich," said Burch. "We need to make it more livable down here because the young professionals just don't seem to want the suburbs just yet. They want to be excited, and I think it's finally happening."
Bill Ware, managing principal in the team developing Ventana, an 84-unit, 11-story mixed-use project in the Channel District, said targeting the right kind of buyer is important in today's highly competitive real estate market.
"There's the belief in residential development now, and I think well-founded, that it is important to offer buyers more than just a residence," said Ware. "People now want, and expect, to have options when they buy a new residence. To make a development more attractive, it is important to be able to point to shopping, restaurants and other attractions in an area. Channelside now can offer that."
The trend isn't just spreading through the Channel District, it also has caught on in other parts of the Tampa Bay area, especially downtown St. Petersburg.
Tampa-based Opus South Development LLC is building the $100-million Parkshore Plaza, which will go up near two existing luxury condo towers. Parkshore Plaza, like its contemporaries in the Channel District, has been designed to attract urban professionals who want to live, work and play near downtown, said Jerry T. Shaw, senior vice president at Opus South.
"We are very competitive in the marketplace and believe there is a pent-up demand for high-end living in an urban setting," Shaw said.
COPYRIGHT 1998-2015 J&V SERVICES INC. ALL RIGHTS RESERVED
NO REPRODUCTION OR PUBLICATION WITH OUT WRITTEN PERMISSION NEITHER J&V SERVICES NOR ANY AFFILATE OR SUBSIDARY THER OF WILL BE RESPONSIBLE FOR THIRD PARTY MATERIAL