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Old March 27th, 2007, 10:42 PM   #1
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Tampa Will Grow, but More Infrastructure Needed, Developers Say

Tampa will grow, but more infrastructure needed, developers say
Tampa Bay Business Journal - 11:04 AM EDT Tuesday, March 27, 2007by Michael Hinman

Downtown Tampa's residential population will increase by more than 2,000 before the end of the year. If that's to continue, however, city officials will need to address concerns like drainage and sewage in the Channelside District, and look to remove cost and red-tape barriers that are keeping some projects from rising.

"There are a lot of challenges to still make that area vibrant," Richard Sacchi, president and chief executive officer of the Peninsular Engineering & Construction Co. told attendees of a breakfast Tuesday hosted by the Tampa Downtown Partnership.

Peninsular is building The Towers at Channelside.

"[Developers] have a little bit of an advantage. It's a [tax incremental finance] area, so in the next few years, there is going to be a substantial amount of money," Sacchi said. "If it's spent properly, we can avoid some of the things that are happening to South Tampa."

More parks needed for Channelside
Drainage is one of the challenges typical to South Tampa, but so are street lighting and other concerns, Sacchi said. Also, more work needs to be done at a municipal level to bring different demographics to areas like Channelside that is drawing older people.

"If we can make more parks down there, we can create a little more of a family atmosphere," said Sacchi, who will begin closings at the 257-unit, twin 29-story towers beginning in July.

"There are a lot of empty nesters there now and not a lot of children. Hopefully some of that [TIF] money could be channeled in that direction."

Another issue is the rising cost of development.

Early on, getting through the different levels of government approval cost as little as $25,000, which is what Mercury Advisors paid to get Grand Central at Kennedy going, director Ken Stoltenberg said. However, that has changed dramatically, and could have an adverse effect on future projects in Channelside which is transforming from a decades old, waning warehouse district to a residential community.

"We have a new project that is one-sixth the size of Grand Central in Channelside, and the rezoning is costing us in excess of $100,000, and I haven't even seen City Council yet," Stoltenberg said. "These barriers of entry have to be readjusted. If those barriers were there before, [Grand Central] coming out of the ground wouldn't be there."

Attainable housing still sought
Keeping housing in the affordable range is key to maintaining interest in condominium projects no matter how the market fluctuates, said Greg Minder, president of Intowngroup, who is looking to begin move-ins for its 32-story SkyPoint project in May and has already begun work on Element, a 34-story, 395-unit project being built just a couple blocks away.

"The buyers at SkyPoint are in the apartment market demographics for both age and income, and we were looking at a group of people that everybody was hot after in the condominium market," Minder said. "I hear the market is so bad, but where are you in that entire market? Our target market lacks available housing especially south of [Interstate] 275."

Units at SkyPoint are ranging in price from $165,000 to $500,000, Minder said, a price point that "most people can achieve."

"We are not in a recession," Minder said. "Mortgage rates are at 6 percent. There was a reduction in property taxes in the last year. People are still coming in vast numbers, and they are going to move to places that they want to live in, that creates a quality of life that they are looking for."

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Old March 27th, 2007, 10:46 PM   #2
Join Date: Jun 2005
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I think the city will begin to improve the infrastructure as the tax base and the number of residents grow. Not only will the number people complaining about it grow but so will the money to fix it. But this is why the people living in downtown now or will be this year are truly pioneers.
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