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Roundup 7-29-2016

July 29, 2016


TIA – Now About That Flight to San Francisco

—  A Couple More

Economic Development – Window on the Tech Scene

Downtown – More on the Riverwalk Tower

Downtown – City Hall Parking Lot

Downtown/Channel District – Wondering What You Call It

Channel District/Ybor City – Gas Worx Lot is Sold

Transportation – Gandy Connector

Built Environment/Planning – A Look At the Suburbs

— What Will Temple Terrace Do?

Coming Out Watch – GOP Convention Edition

Economic Development – Another Burger Joint

Port – New Service

Meanwhile, in the Rest of the Country

— Welcome to Denver

— Welcome to Austin

— The MARTA Effect

List of the Week


TIA – Now About That Flight to San Francisco

As regular readers will know, we love the airport and the airport team.  We sing their praises quite often but kept saying we need a nonstop to San Francisco.  Well, no longer.

Hey, Tampa Bay! It’s here! Nonstop daily service to San Francisco International Airport (SFO) aboard United starting Feb. 16, 2017. Let’s go #TPA2SF! 

And, of course, the airport made a nice graphic:

From the Airport Facebook Page – click on picture for page

That is great. We are really happy that this gaping hole in our service will now be eliminated. (That is one more flight that the former Chairman of the Aviation Authority really pushed for that the airport got.)  There are a few more domestic destinations that we should get connected to, but this was the biggest.  May it be successful and expand to more than one flight.  Well done, airport staff.

Now, about that flight to Heathrow.

—  A Couple More

There is also more service to announce.  First, kind of out of left field,

WestJet announced its winter 2017 flight schedule Monday, and there are a few additions of interest for Newfoundlanders and Labradorians. Starting in April 2017, WestJet will offer a weekly direct flight from St. John’s to Tampa, Florida.

See also here. And Spirit is going to add an Akron/Canton flight.

Economic Development – Window on the Tech Scene

Speaking of the Tampa-San Francisco flight, the Times had a column about how the growing tech community here helped make the flight happen.  And that is true, though there are other factors.  Nevertheless, the column had some interesting points:

A decade ago, it was a widely cited woe here that busy Silicon Valley venture capitalists (VC) looking for fresh companies to invest in would never visit any U.S. city not reachable by a nonstop flight. That left one-stop Tampa Bay on the outs for years and made that “one-flight” VC lamentation part of this area’s entrepreneurial culture.

Today, VC funding of Tampa Bay companies is improved, if still lean. Nor does a nonstop flight to San Francisco mean VC funding is about to flood this market. While Orlando has enjoyed nonstop flights to San Francisco on United and Frontier for some time, its startup community is not flush with VC money.

A flight does not hurt the ability to get VC money or some talent, but it is no guarantee of getting it either.  The most realistic assessment in the article was given by a relatively regular commenter to Tampasphere:

Serial entrepreneur and area startup adviser Joy Randels praises the nonstop connection, saying it “eliminates the all-day travel excuse” for venture capitalists out west and “puts us on par with Boston and NYC as well as Miami for travel time.” Local tech companies also gain easier access to the West Coast for customer acquisition and partnership opportunities — key factors, she says, to help companies here grow and then stay here.

“We have an incomplete cycle here,” says Randels. “To build a great startup ecosystem requires companies at all stages, combined with great engineering and design talent as well as capital. You have to be able to start a company and have it move through growth to acquisition.”

The nonstop San Francisco flight is no cure-all. But Randels’ vision is more likely to materialize as Tampa Bay and Silicon Valley/San Francisco start to enjoy easier access with one another. A TBTF survey released last week found that the Tampa-St. Petersburg-Clearwater metro area is home to one out of every 94 U.S. tech workers.

That is the bottom line (though we would prefer to see local companies grow, then acquire rather than be acquired).  The flight is not a panacea, but being connected to prime areas of influence and capital is necessary to truly grow our economy.  And being connected to the West Coast is not just about the West Coast, it is about making it easier to get to Asia, too.

On the other hand, there still is much work to be done in the tech sector locally – including, but not limited to, all those things needed to create an environment where the talent wants to live, stay, and invest.  Enjoy the flight. Celebrate for a short period.  Then get back to work.

Downtown – More on the Riverwalk Tower

While those who care about such things are quite eagerly awaiting some preliminary renderings of the proposed Riverwalk Tower on the old Trump Tower site, there was an interview in the Business Observer with the developer that had some interesting items.

What’s the status of Riverwalk Tower?
We closed and obtained title to the property in November 2015, after a long and extended contract that we’d negotiated in 2014, so we’re moving ahead and pleased that we were able to lock in our costs of land at a good price. Since that time, we’ve committed to a full-blown architectural and engineering process, right down to hiring a parking consultant and conducting a wind tunnel analysis.

We’re now in design development, which means we’re holding weekly meetings involving some 50 people at this point. The architectural designs are stunning, and they’ll live up to the expectation we promised, which is to change the skyline of Tampa. If all goes well, we expect to break ground on or before April 1, 2017 and deliver in the first half of 2019.

That would be great – and quite accelerated.  Moreover, regarding not waiting around, he said this:

Sure, only a fool would take two years to assemble land for a building, spend another year designing it and then another two years constructing into an uncertain economy. But we won’t be sitting and trying to get the last rent dollar.

We’re not waiting on any pre-leasing. We think the best way to lease the building will be to open it. Parking is also a big obstacle for many, but we’ve arranged for off-site parking to offset the overall parking scarcity downtown. 


What’s the most encouraging thing you see that could boost the project?
The more density to come to downtown I think the better off we are. If you use Manhattan as a model and a comparison, there’s no denser place in America, yet they have the highest rental rate on a per square foot basis. Every building built there seems to help the next building. Critical mass seems to be counterintuitive to success, but it helps. We want to see Jeff Vinik succeed, we want to see the city succeed. We want to see more development, because it’s good for everybody.

Indeed, critical mass is important.  For real success in an urban environment, there has to be a full walkable/transit environment that makes people really want to be there and be able to envision living there.  At some point, when you get enough density, it creates its own demand.  (We are not really there yet, but you don’t get there by not building.)  On the other hand, if you do not have proper transportation, density starts to repel demand because people do not want to waste time dealing with all the congestion.  That is the challenge (and, once again, TBX does not really do anything about that.  Even if it gets people downtown, it just dumps them onto an ever constricting grid.)

In any event, we are very interested in this project and look forward to seeing how this project turns out.

Downtown – City Hall Parking Lot

And while the observation regarding critical mass is true, we wonder about this:

The city of Tampa is calling on firms to submit development proposals for one of the most prime real estate lots in downtown.

The city released requests for proposals Friday on the property just north of Jackson Street known as the City Hall Parking Lot.

Proposals are due to the city Sept. 9.

The RFP doesn’t specifically list criteria for development, however it does stipulate that plans must include at least two floors of parking with about 200 spaces that would be owned by the city of Tampa for use as pubic parking. The RFP states “additional public parking as part of the development is strongly encouraged.”

You can see the actual RFP here.

Once again, we wonder why the City is getting rid of this land now.  Sure, it is a nice location.  As noted, there are all sorts of private projects planned for downtown that will fill a lot of surface parking lots. And there are a lot of land owners banking their surface parking lots and not developing them. (See URBN Tampa Bay’s excellent write up on the real state of parking in downtown.) Why not hold onto the City land until all that gets built?  It will only be a nicer location and more valuable. Moreover, there is does not appear to be a need to stimulate development downtown with all the big projects that have already been announced.  And the land may be needed for some City facility in the future.  Why get rid of it now? (It makes one wonder whether there already is a plan for the land.)

Downtown/Channel District – Wondering What You Call It

Speaking of private projects downtown, this week, the Times became very concerned about the name of the Lightning owner’s project (See here and here).

As the Times‘ Justine Griffin reports, Vinik’s big real estate venture has yet to be named. (Though one would assume a snappy moniker would be valuable for getting people who live here behind it.) The generic “Vinik project” seems to chafe some involved who think any reference should represent both Vinik and Cascade Investment, which formed the developer Strategic Property Partners, or SPP.

The Vinik Cascade SPP Project?


To his credit, Vinik was not enamored of the unsolicited early nickname Vinikville. But over those University Club power lunches with that million-dollar high-rise view of what he will one day have wrought, people have to call it something. It’s like your neighbors brought home a new baby but hadn’t gotten around to that whole naming thing. Awkward.

Our opinion is that they are not building anything right now so it doesn’t matter if they don’t have a name.  And even when they do build something, we would rather a name form organically than be stuck with something lame or imported to try to make it sound like something it isn’t.  (Honestly, the Lightning owner’s team deserves props for not rushing out a name if they have not come up with a really good one.)  A Times columnist suggested a few (trial balloons, maybe?) names:

Worth actual consideration: Waterside, the Waterfront, Downeast and SoDo, as in south downtown, complementing the nearby Soho fun mecca on South Howard Avenue.

Not really, especially the last two. (If SoDo is ok, how about East Hyde Park or West Brandon? And why not reference Garrison somewhere since it was Ft. Brooke and the channel is the Garrison channel?)  And just using “water” does not make it inviting or good (though the “water” names are way better than the last two – and bland is better than silly).

We would be just as happy if they did not give it an overall name.  If they build a good project, people will still come, and they will call it something – namely downtown.  The quality of the project is most important (and the SPP team seem to really be focused on that, which is great).  The name is the least of our concerns.

In that vein, there were a few more tidbits about the actual project from the CEO of the development company:

At the event, Nozar talked in detail about the first phase of the project. He used Powerpoint slides to show the layout of the project. One map called for six separate residential towers, which Nozar said will range from studio apartments for millennials to “basically senior living.” All six towers on the map were clustered around what is currently Channelside Bay Plaza, a retail and entertainment center that Vinik already owns.

* * *

Nearly $35 million in roadway and infrastructure improvements is set to begin on Aug. 29, which is the first major step in preparing the 40-acre southeast corner of downtown for vertical construction. Building permits have not yet been filed and that date is subject to change. But SPP officials have already met with local subcontractors this summer.

The road work, which will widen sidewalks, change traffic patterns and add more on-street parking to the region, will likely be a 12 to 18 month process, Nozar said. The construction will be done in phases as to not affect day-to-day traffic in the area.

“We want to build as fast as possible,” Nozar said. He anticipates the project to be completely done by mid to late 2020.

That is a little vague to what exactly “the project” refers but it seems to mean all the buildings (assuming there is no recession) so we’ll just go with that for now, though 4 years for such a big project would be surprising.

SPP is expected to announce major tenants later this year, which could include a flagship for a second 400-room hotel the real estate company wants to open across the street from the existing Marriott Waterside Hotel & Marina. In addition, SPP is hoping to lure at least one major office tenant.

* * *

“We are designing the new hotel now and expect construction to start next year,” he said. Around that time Nozar said SPP will announce new branding for the project, which will include a name and updated images.

Now the Times can stop worrying about a name. As for the USF Med School:

The recently approved University of South Florida Morsani College of Medicine is expected to host its first class of students in the spring semester of 2018 once the new facility is built downtown, Nozar said.

That is a year earlier than every other announcement (unless he meant spring of the 2018-19 academic year, which would be the previously reported 2019), so we’ll see about that.

Channel District/Ybor City – Gas Worx Lot is Sold

The property on which the proposed Gas Worx project was to be built has been sold.

Ybor City investor Darryl Shaw has paid $10 million for an industrial site that another Tampa developer once targeted for two high-rise towers.

Shaw bought the Gas Worx property — yes, it’s really spelled with an “x” — from Tampa Electric Co. late last month, according to Hillsborough County property records.

The 7.6-acre site lies between Ybor City and the Channel District, and is on the other side of the Nick Nuccio Parkway from the Tampa Park Apartments, a much discussed possible site for a Tampa Bay Rays ballpark.

* * *

Tampa economic development official Bob McDonaugh told the City Council that Shaw has indicated he doesn’t have a plan for the property now.

Still, the Gas Worx site is the latest addition to a growing real estate portfolio for Shaw, the CEO of BluePearl Veterinary, a Tampa-based company with emergency animal hospitals and specialty veterinary clinics nationwide.

Last October, Shaw’s business partner, home builder Ariel Quintela, said the two men were looking to invest up to $34 million at five different locations in Ybor City — and that didn’t include the Gas Worx.

Just another reason that the City should not be selling off its land (and note it sold already agreed to sell Ybor land to this developer).  There is private land with active private developers that still has to be built on.

Setting that aside:

Ybor City business leaders are encouraged that the Gas Worx property drew a buyer with an appreciation for the architectural essence of the historic district.

“If we can start off on that corner and get a developer that wants to do something that’s reflective of the character here, other people will, too,” said attorney Walter Aye, the immediate past chairman of the nonprofit Ybor City Development Corp. “I think Darryl Shaw is somebody who’s showing himself to be a pretty good citizen and a pretty visionary type of developer.” 

The reality is that this property is very important in connecting the urban core.  But it is not in Ybor, it is near/next to Ybor.  There is no reason it should be constricted by Ybor design standards. It can draw on some of the vernacular, but we hope it is a more intense multi-use project than the standard Ybor project.

It will be interesting to see what is proposed.

Transportation – Gandy Connector

There is more support for the Gandy Connector:

The Brandon Chamber of Commerce has endorsed the 1.6-mile elevated toll road. The planned expressway would run above the existing Gandy Boulevard and could serve as a key timesaving route for people looking to skip the stop and go local traffic along Gandy Boulevard between the bridge and Dale Mabry.

Which is not surprising at all.  Why shouldn’t they support it? Then the Business Journal reprises this attempt to tie it into the TBX issue:

The Selmon Extension will be a tolled route. Toll roads have become a hot button topic throughout the region as the Florida Department of Transportation moves forward with its controversial Tampa Bay Express project, or TBX. That plan includes a massive system of tolled express lanes critics say only benefit the very well off.

However Selmon Extension supporters say the project provides a key emergency route. The lanes can be used during mandatory evacuations. All of the express lanes could be shifted to Eastbound lanes to get people in Pinellas County inland without clogging Gandy Boulevard.

Regardless of controversy, the Selmon Extension has not received the same high-profile critique as TBX. That could be because of cost. The Selmon project will be bonded at $191 million while the entire TBX project is expected to cost as much as $6 billion.

Or it could be because 1) it does not involve express lanes that push traffic out of the toll lanes onto free lanes and surface streets (in fact, the Gandy Connector is to take traffic off surface streets), 2) it does not go through residential areas or really require condemnation of property, and 3) it is a necessary connection that fixes a gap in the highway system that never should have existed. They are completely different projects.

Built Environment/Planning – A Look At the Suburbs

There is lot of talk about Millennials wanting to live in urban areas.  That is usually considered in the “urban core” of a city.  But that is not necessarily so. URBN Tampa Bay found an interesting article from about suburbs that attract Millennials:

It’s what passes for conventional wisdom these days (along with “lying is the new truth-telling” and “kale is cool”): Millennials are drawn to the excitement and possibilities of big-city living the way luna moths are drawn to floodlights. The fusion food trucks! The underground EDM shows! The hipster pingpong bars! It’s no wonder they overwhelmingly prefer the glitz of metros to the nation’s sleepier, strip-mall-laden small towns and suburbs.

Or do they?

Like much conventional wisdom (e.g., “kale is cool”), it’s not entirely true. It turns out that more and more younger folks don’t really mind moving out of those super-duper-expensive city centers to the less expensive burbs—provided those smaller towns look and feel much like the cities they’re leaving behind, especially where it matters most. Increasingly, suburbs are catering to younger constituents with top-notch shops, lively drinking scenes, cool and innovative dining options (far beyond a McDonald’s drive-through window)—and, perhaps most importantly, lots of sidewalks and bike lanes and trails.

In fact, the more pedestrian- and bicycle-friendly a small town is, the more desirable it will be for potential buyers and renters, experts say. And the more likely real estate prices are to rise, particularly when those brand-new subdivisions and fancy new condos come online.

For example, homes near walkable, and often bikeable, trails enjoy premiums of between 5% to 10%, according to an analysis by Headwaters Economics, a research group focused on community development and land management issues. Other surveys have put that percentage even higher.

“What’s happening is, a little bit of the city is following people into the suburbs,” says Ed McMahon, senior resident fellow at the Urban Land Institute, a Washington, DC–based land and real estate research and education group. “Almost all the successful suburbs are building walkable, mixed-use [i.e., a housing and shopping combo] centers.”

Frankly, it is pretty obvious that small towns can have urban amenities – that is the whole idea of “Main Street.”  Many older metro areas had major cities surrounded by smaller towns that eventually were connected.  Many of those towns were (and still are) very walkable (or bikeable) – especially some connected by rail to major business centers

The problem is that the Tampa Bay area has almost none of that (even in the near in suburbs).  Some developments try to fake that Main Street thing – like Wiregrass – or partially approximate it – like West Park Village with its land set aside for a train station and walkable neighborhood in a mostly unwalkable development. (And there are a few places like Dunedin where they are trying to revive the actual main street-like area.) But other than that, almost all of our suburbs are strip mall on arterial roads (which is what Wiregrass really is), sidewalks to nowhere, and (more Hillsborough than Pinellas, which has the Pinellas Trail) trails that are almost exclusively for exercise, not for connecting things.  Even most of the new developments that promise a small town feel actually have shopping centers with seas of parking near the entrance by arterial roads.

It can change, but there has to be a will to do so. This is just another example of the flawed planning in this area.

— What Will Temple Terrace Do?

You can see the issue clearly in the latest proposals for “downtown” Temple Terrace, which is actually on the edge of the town, but so be it.  Temple Terrace on 56th street actually has the potential to be quite walkable (it has the bones but not the flesh of a walkable area).  However, it is definitely not built that way now. Even so, Temple Terrace has tried for many years to get a “downtown” developed south of Busch/Bullard.  It is still trying.

City Council members must decide between two vastly different proposals — and offers — for the near 1.5-acre lot on the southeast corner of Bullard Parkway and 56th Street, the anchor for the Downtown Temple Terrace project.

Engineering and software development firm Eriksson Technologies, whose plan for a six-story office building with retail shops on the first floor corresponds more with the council’s vision of its future downtown, has offered $250,000. That’s less than half the property’s value in the lower of two appraisals.

Florida Hospital is offering more than $2.3 million for 3 acres, including the corner lot and the lot south of it facing 56th Street.

Its plan for the downtown’s anchor is a free-standing emergency department and a medical office building next to it, which would have parking on the ground floor and offices on the second.

The emergency department would be a single-story building 18 feet high, with a glass-fronted lobby 30 feet high. An illuminated sign bearing the hospital’s business symbol will glow above the entrance.

To sweeten the deal, the hospital has offered to contribute $100,000 for an elaborate gateway to Temple Terrace on Fowler Avenue, like the one at the south entrance to the city on 56th Street.

To us it seems clear: the Florida Hospital idea could go anywhere and can be accessed by anyone with a car (as will be the plan, anyway).  There is no reason to put it in this land.  But it is up to Temple Terrace.

The interesting thing is whether Temple Terrace will go for the quick money and poor design or less money with a better design to really push its favored concept.  We don’t know.  What we do know is that with the local cities barely walkable, it is not surprising that the suburbs are even worse.

Coming Out Watch – GOP Convention Edition

When the GOP convention was in Tampa, there was much talk about how it would be our coming out party and all the business benefits that would flow therefrom.  Whether that can be quantified or not, we are not sure.  Last week, the GOP conventions was held in Cleveland.  The Washington Post had an article on how Cleveland got the convention.

When selecting a site for the convention, Republican officials wanted somewhere with sufficient transit to avoid a repeat of the Tampa fiasco from 2012. There, the hordes of delegates and media descending on the city resulted in mammoth traffic jams and mass confusion. One night, delegates leaving the convention site at 11 p.m. — unable to find a bus — didn’t get back to their hotels until 3 a.m., according to the Tampa Bay Times.

Whether you agree with that assessment or not, that is an impression that those business targets apparently got.  Just another example of how our poor transportation system affects our image and ability to develop.  TBX express lanes (which will help create gridlock, especially when you pair it with road diets) and some bus service will not really fix that.

Economic Development – Another Burger Joint

There was news that Shake Shack is looking at the Tampa Bay area.

The biggest name in the burger business is rumored to be scouting the Tampa Bay region for potential restaurant sites.

Shake Shack (NYSE: SHAK) is targeting the area for at least one restaurant, according to real estate sources who asked not to be named because of the sensitivity of the deal.

It would be the first of the New York burger joint’s restaurants here. Shake Shack has two locations in Orlando and three in South Florida — in Boca Raton, Coral Gables and Miami Beach.

That last point tells you all you need to know – we are fifth or sixth on their Florida list, depending on how you count.  Anyway, where could they go?

There are a number of locations that could fit Shake Shack’s model in Tampa Bay, from downtown St. Petersburg to Ybor City to International Plaza’s Bay Street corridor. Hyde Park Village in South Tampa would be a natural fit, but that center already has a fast-casual burger concept — Richard Gonzmart’s Goody Goody, slated to open in mid- to late August.

Our money (if we put money on such things) would be on International Plaza (since they seem to like fancy-ish malls – you can see their location list here), but whatever.  It is a burger joint, and, while we like burgers, we just can’t get too excited about it. (Just like we are not really excited about Sprouts – note it went to Palm Harbor before south Tampa – though the actual redevelopment of the lot in south Tampa makes us happy).

Port – New Service

Good news from the Port this week:

Linea Peninsular, a Panama City-based shipping company, has inked a deal to begin a container shipping service between Mexico and Tampa, according to a news release.

The weekly, fixed-day service calls Port Tampa Bay every Tuesday to and from the ports of Altamira and Progreso in Mexico. The two-and-a-half day trip from northern Mexico and 2-day trip to the Yucatan peninsula offers a new option for delivering products from Tampa Bay.

The service will deliver container goods, including refrigerated goods, and can also accommodate breakbulk cargo.

Even if they use them, we doubt the real draw has much to do with the new cranes at the port, but we are happy for new service anyway.  We will not turn away new business. (Especially since another container line coming to Tampa seems to be having some issues) We just hope it is more container and less breakbulk cargo.

It is a start. We shall have to see what comes of it.

Meanwhile, in the Rest of the Country

— Welcome to Denver

For those trying to understand our competition, the New York Times had an interesting article on Denver (they had one on Nashville a few months ago) and how it draws Millennials.  You can check it out here.

According to a Brookings Institution analysis of population movement from 2009-14, the city had a net annual migration gain of 12,682 people ages 25 to 34, the highest of any metropolitan area in the United States. That means an average of 12,682 more millennials per year moved here than left, for each of the five years measured.

Similarly, an analysis of census data by Zillow, the real estate website, found that 18- to 34-year-olds accounted for 35 percent of the city’s population growth from 2010 to 2014, up from 26 percent in the first 10 years of the century.

While definitions of a millennial vary (a widely used one is someone born from 1981 to 1997), it’s clear that many of this generation are attracted to this city. One obvious reason is the economy: the city’s is healthy — and hiring. Development Research Partners, a local research firm, found that of the 1.6 million jobs in metropolitan Denver, about 33.2 percent were held by 19- to 34-year-olds.

* * *

The city scores highly in qualitative surveys as well. U.S. News and World Report’s 2016 Best Places to Live study ranked the city No. 1. Its proximity to outdoor recreation, a progressive mind-set and its walkability were all cited as factors.

Don’t forget, walkability requires real transit and proper planning. And don’t forget this:

One new idea, of course, was Colorado’s legalization of marijuana sales in 2014.

In any event, you can read the whole article. And then you can go read a New York Times article on hot cities, including Denver, from March, that tells us things like this:

“Opportunity is being driven by the digital economy,” said Zoë Baird, president of the Markle foundation, which recently began a pilot program called Skillful in Colorado to match employers and workers based on skills, rather than simply degrees. “That is where the job growth and economic growth is coming from.”

According to the latest figures available, the Denver-Aurora-Lakewood region had an unemployment rate of 2.7 percent, the lowest of any metropolitan area with a population above one million. (The national average was 4.9 percent in February.)

Which sounds exactly like what economic development officials keep seeking here.  So how did they get it?

Several measures helped things along. A new rail line that will connect the airport to the downtown and serve outlying industrial parks and a push to support cultural institutions “required people to vote to raise their taxes,” Mr. Clark of Metro Denver said. “This wasn’t something done by the elites.”

What Denver and its surrounding cities share with other boomtowns is an appealing environment for a skilled work force, which has increasingly meant the difference between prosperity and stagnation.

Such places have become business incubators and magnets for educated millennials. The lifestyles that 20- and 30-somethings often seek depend on a medley of urban living, public transit and lots of entertainment options (which in Colorado includes marijuana, legalized for recreational use since 2014).

But this is no secret.  It just gets done comprehensively in other places but only gets partially done (or not done) here.  There are many reasons for that, but key to it is our political DNA, which often worries more about posturing and who gets credit than doing the right thing.

— Welcome to Austin

We often note that Tampa too often settles, allowing suburban-ish development in the urban area (see Pier House and surface parking lots in NoHo Flats). Well,

Developers are proposing a two-tower mixed-use project in Austin’s Rainey Street area that includes a 60-story tower that, if built, would become Austin’s tallest building.

The Sutton Co. of Austin and Dallas-based Koa Partners are partnering on the project, which envisions a 60-story skyscraper that would have 440 luxury apartments plus office space. A second smaller tower would have 200 condominiums and 200 hotel rooms, developers say.

Austin’s tallest building is the 56-story Austonian on Congress Avenue. The Independent, a 58-story condo building dubbed “the Jenga tower,” broke ground in January.

An artist’s rendering shows a proposed mixed-use project in downtown Austin’s Rainey Street area that would have two towers, including one of up to 60 stories with 440 apartments plus office space.

The project is proposed on a 2-acre site that is currently home to the Villas on Town Lake, a 58-unit condominium project overlooking Lady Bird Lake.

This is what is there now:

From – click on picture for article

This is the plan:

From the Austin American-Statesman – click on picture for article

Will it get built?  We don’t know (nor do we know about most of the projects announced in Tampa), but that is the right trendline.

— The MARTA Effect

There is much talk about transportation oriented development and the value added on transit.  There is a recent study of MARTA’s effect in Atlanta that seems to support those argument:

Office space within a quarter-of-a-mile of rail stations in downtown, Midtown, Buckhead, and Perimeter Center encompass a staggering 50 million square feet of space. The study found that rents for those offices trend higher than offices not proximate to rail stations.

The same holds true for apartments near transit, which boast rents 20-percent higher than those not within walking distance of a train station.

Indeed, it does.  And that goes to both economic development and the tax base.

List of the Week

We have gotten away from the List of the Week, namely for two reasons: 1) there aren’t that many interesting lists and 2) other local media has reported more on the lists, even if they do a lot of hyping.  Nevertheless, the Business Journal highlighted an interesting list this week: wallethub’s best and worst run cities.  You can get the methodology here.

As the Business Journal tells us:

St. Petersburg ranked highest out of all Florida cities surveyed at No. 48, with fairly similar ranks in Overall City Services (No. 51) and Total Budget per Capita (No. 54).

Tampa was the next ranked Floridian city at No. 100, with Overall City Services at No. 55 and Total Budget per Capita at No. 111.

Other Florida cities included:

That can be broken down further regarding city services:

St. Petersburg: Financial Stability: 35; Education: 116; Health: 97; Safety: 134; Economy: 21; and Infrastructure & Pollution: 26

Tampa: Financial Stability: 59; Education: 77; Health: 119; Safety: 75; Economy: 89; and Infrastructure & Pollution: 31

Do with that what you will.

2 Comments leave one →
  1. July 29, 2016 8:16 AM

    You are spot on with your assessment of the TPA to SFO flight announced this week. It is a step in the right direction and kudos to the entire TIA team. It will likely result in more remote tech workers; those working for west coast companies but remotely from their homes here in Tampa Bay. We have a lot of them now but a direct flight makes it easier for a potential employer to say yes. As I said on the #TPA2SF Facebook page we have to demonstrate the need for more.

    As for transit, Denver get’s and it has made a massive impact in the redevelopment of their downtown. Denver has lured many people from Boulder and the vast majority of all tech and innovation sits in town today and they arena connecting downtown to the University and it’s adjoining hospital complex which employs of 50k people b connecting them rather than relocating the medical college to downtown. I would call that a win, you get the opportunity to advance all of the areas in between while accomplishing your goal.

    I have lived in Austin and I feel certain the high-rise will be built. They understand the need for growth and more well planned density. The area has seen massive change over the past decade and shows no signs of slowing down. A shining example of a great tech city.

    I am from Atlanta and personally love MARTA trains but the system needs an upgrade and the bus routes need improvement as well. I travel there 6-10 times per year and use MARTA on every trip.The challenge with MARTA trains is they really only go north/south and east/west. They need additional routes and the system should also be extended outside the I-285 perimeter. I think that may happen with the new baseball stadium because now those who have been opposed will want transit to carry them to the new venue. In my opinion the belt line in Atlanta is one of the best urban reuse projects I’ve seen.

    If we don’t change our attitude on transit we are shooting ourselves in the foot. The old school thought has to go. Times have changes and we are not going back to 1955, our only options are to move forward or die. I’m working for the former.

    • July 29, 2016 8:26 AM

      Yes, MARTA needs some expansion (and some upgrades of what is already there). And the Belt Line is great, but the real key to that is it connects places. You can actually use it to get to places you want to go as well as for exercise.

      And we are with you – moving forward is better than dying.

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