Tampa Issues Record Breaking 2 Billion in Permits

construction permitsIt’s been an exciting past 12 months in Tampa for construction. Building permits have passed more than $2 billion in projects. According to city officials, that’s a record high passing $1.8 billion in permits issued in 2007.

Tampa Mayor Bob Buckhorn said the numbers were encouraging not surprising. The city knew that building permits were steadily increasing and it is essentially what Buckhorn was elected on. By his view, we are accelerating out of the recession and building a stable base for the next generation of citizens.

In total number of permits issued for the year ending in September 2014 was 34,5000, which is just below the 39,066 issued in 2007. Regardless, Buckhorn says the the trend in both number and value shows that Tampa is recovering well and the pace of growth is increasing. He’s convinced the permitting changes he’s made to City Hall is incredibly more efficient and user-friendly.

Mayor Buckhorn campaigned on “economic competitiveness” and created a committee of builders, developers, engineers, lawyers, a City Council member and neighborhood representatives. It looks like his plan to “change the city’s economic DNA” is paying off.

Tampa’s building permits by year and their value of construction:

2007 — 39,066 ($1,778,894,117)

2008 — 32,197 ($1,336,044,003)

2009 — 25,251 ($575,959,094)

2010 — 25,386 ($896,533,434)

2011 — 26,589 ($1,020,653,057)

2012 — 29,261 ($1,376,225,110)

2013 — 32,011 ($1,336,635,198)

2014 — 34,500 ($2,031,321,544)

‘Grant’ Block In Downtown Tampa Awaits Major Redevelopment

grant blockDowntown Tampa will soon have another apartment tower in the Grant Block of North Franklin Street. A deal is in the works to sell the entire block to a buyer with a major redevelopment company.

The Atlanta based Carter & Associates has a contract to buy the site, which is bordered by Cass Street, Florida Avenue, Franklin Street, and Tyler Street. Carter has been looking at the Tampa Bay area, as rental demand has skyrocketed since the recession.

Chief development officer Conor Mcnally stated that the Grant block is “a good, stable economic base, and we see the momentum coming back into downtown.” He further added that the tower will be apartments and not condominiums and expects to break ground early in January 2015. No word yet on pricing.

Tampa Mayor Bob Buckhorn is championing the deal after two decades of failed developments in the Grant block. He said he is also looking for developers to revive the Kress block just to the south. Once both sites have active construction, momentum should start to swing towards further development of the area.

Carter & Associates filed a request with the city to rezone a site at 911 and 915 North Franklin Street. Currently, the site is a large, empty building that takes up the whole block. Carter is looking to adjust the residential to commercial space ratio to build a large apartment complex.

That site was rezoned several years ago for a 44 story apartment tower but was canceled in the early days of the housing crisis. Carter has filed a request for a smaller building with 23 stories comprising 375 units. The L-shaped tower will be 262 feet tall with over 536 parking spaces. The project is expected to be a “podium” setup, with the residential tower sitting atop a large parking garage.

The size of the project is similar to recent projects like the Skyhouse and the proposal for a tower in the empty Amazon Hose & Rubber building.

Carter & Associates is no stranger to large projects in underdeveloped areas. Carter is responsible for the massive “Banks” renovation in Cincinnati that brought over 1800 residential units, 1 large hotel, and over 1 million square feet of office and commercial space; all riverfront properties.

Even though the deal for the Grant block isn’t signed yet, Mayor Buckhorn is confident the developer will follow through with their proposal. He said there is more than enough demand in the city to fulfill several towers in the area, including those already in the works such as the Straz tower on Riverwalk and the two new towers on Harbour Island.

Buckhorn said, “That doesn’t even reflect the retail that will be needed to serve that population. I guarantee they can fill up these projects and then some.”

Lightning Owner Vinik Closes on Waterside Marriott

MarriotTampa Bay Lightning owner Jeff Vinik has just purchased the Tampa Marriott Waterside Hotel and Marina for a paltry $150 million. Through his real estate holding company, Strategic Property Partners, Vinik closed the cash transaction on October 1st.

Vinik has had his eye on the hotel for several months and even mentioned he was looking to buy the hotel in September. “SPP is excited to acquire this centerpiece downtown property, further advancing our plans for the development of America’s next great urban waterfront district, right here in Tampa,” Vinik said in a statement.

The 719-room hotel was built in 2000 and has over 50,000 square feet of meeting and convention space. The Marriott is just the most recent of his acquisitions, as Vinik now owns over 25 acres of downtown Tampa. He now holds the ground lease to Channelside Plaza as well.

If all goes according to his plans, Cascade Investments, controlled by Bill Gates, will partner with Vinik for a “billion dollar” deal. The team has been purchasing properties along the Channel district area and around what is now known as Amelie Arena. His vision is to open the city up to waterfront views while expanding the work/play/live urban lifestyle.

International Plaza’s Corporate Center Sold In Massive Portfolio Sale

cc1According to an unnamed real estate source, the corporate properties located at Corporate Center One in International Plaza, were said to be part of a portfolio sale.

The portfolio of corporate properties is being marketed for sale. Further, the source revealed that the marketing of the portfolio is being carried out by HFF LP, a Pittsburgh-based capital market firm with offices throughout the United States. The source also stated that the portfolio consists of properties located in various other cities. However, those other locations are still unknown, even to the source.

It is estimated that the sale is directed towards a selected group of potential buyers. The corporate properties include: Outback Steakhouse, Carlton Fields Jorden Burt, and T. Rowe Price Group would be owned by some of these potential buyers. Therefore, one of the biggest business communities in Tampa was said to be on the verge of being transferred to another owner. However, the spokesmen for Parkway Properties Inc., a 30 percent stakeholder in Corporate Center Four, refused to make any statements in regard to the potential sale. But it is apparent that such a strong portfolio can attract high institutional investors. Moreover, the sale, if successful, can prove useful to Tampa’s office space market.

Generally, after the purchase of commercial properties, new owners increase the rent for a quick return. Following such trend, rent prices in Tampa were estimated to rise due to a higher number of tenants and less properties, with no new constructions. The sale of said properties would also raise the value of similar properties across the city. The owners of the properties have made attempts to not disclose the identity of the potential owners. However, according to CoStar Group Inc., a trust for the family of Prince Abdul Aziz bin Fahd of Saudi Arabia has been associated with the portfolio. It appears that the properties are owned by entities which are affiliates of New York-based Interventure Capital Group.

Tampa Metro Foreclosures Down 14 Percent

ForeclosureAccording to RealtyTrac’s Monthly Foreclosure Report, Florida remains well above the national average and has actually increased from August of last year. One in every 400 houses experienced some form of foreclosure in August.

The Tampa Bay metro area is just behind Miami in terms of foreclosure filings, with one in every 407 houses experiencing foreclosure. However, that number is actually down 14.4 percent from August 2013.

The report found Pasco County to be worse off than any other county in Florida. At least one in every 300 houses is experiencing some form of foreclosure, showing an increase up 15.63 from August 2013. Hernando is in similar shape, with one in every 332 homes showing foreclosure. This figure, surprisingly, is actually good, representing a decrease of 17.26 percent from August of last year.

Hillsborough County showed a slight increase of 1.68 percent from last year, with one in every 423 homes experiencing foreclosure paperwork this August.

Pinellas showed the biggest improvements with only one in every 486 homes experiencing foreclosure, a decrease of 37.82 from August of last year.

Nationwide, over 55,000 homes experienced foreclosure starts in August, an increase of 12 percent from July and dead even from August 2013. So far, August is the second consecutive month where foreclosure starts have increased month-over-month.

Traditionally, Florida has shown a staggered recovery, mainly due to the state’s judicial foreclosure process. However, economists were predicting a slow but consistent decrease in foreclosures this year. RealtyTrac’s report may sound worrying, but analysts say that occasional increases may occur and should not be a cause for alarm.

Tampa Announces Redevelopment of Perry Harvey Sr. Park

brobowlPerry Harvey Sr. Park is located in downtown Tampa. The name is given in memory of one of the most famous civil rights activists of Tampa.

The Perry Harvey Sr. Park redevelopment project estimates costs around $7 million. The costs would be utilized for the first phase, which includes the relocation of the Bro Bowl skate park, which is on the National Register of Historic Places.

The project costs are estimated to be $6.948 million, pursuant to the contract with Cutler Associates Inc. Out of the total costs, two-thirds is acquired from local Community Investment Tax; $500,000 is contributed by federal Community Development Block Grant program; $100,000 contributed by the National Endowment for the Arts, and $2 million contributed by the Tampa Housing Authority’s federal Choice Neighborhoods grant.

Encore is a 40+ acre mixed-use redevelopment area in Downtown Tampa. The funds for the Encore project were received from Choice Neighborhoods and others. Both Perry Harvey Sr. Park and Encore feature a musical theme, signifying the importance of music prevalent in 1960s.

The redevelopment project includes building a statue of Harvey and tributes to other leaders of the city’s black community. The park will feature the Bro Bowl skateboard facility at the park’s north end, between Scott Street and Interstate 4. The previous skateboard facility will be scanned with lasers, as a part of the relocation process, in order to perfectly recreate the skateboard facility.

Millenials Begin Their Entrance Into Tampa’s Housing Market

westparkvillageIt is estimated that millenials will enter the housing market in the approaching years and become a driving force in the market not seen since the post-war expansion experienced by baby-boomers.

RealtyTrac’s recent report considered 351 U.S. counties with a population of 100,000 or more to determine the counties that have affordable properties for millenials. The percentage of income spent on housing for both rental properties and purchasing homes was considered as the criterion to determine whether the properties are affordable or not. RealtyTrac analyzed each county for affordable properties and revealed that Tampa Bay (Pinellas, Pasco, Hillsborough) counties were not mentioned in the list of affordable properties.

RealtyTrac proposed that the largest growths in the housing market are evident in markets which can provide affordable homes to millenials. The affordability is measured both in terms of housing and renting. The analysis by RealtyTrac revealed that Richmond County in Georgia ranked in the top amongst the most affordable properties to purchase. Bossier Parish County in Louisiana was also considered to be one of the most affordable markets for rental properties.

Lightning Owner Jeff Vinik Wins Channelside Bid but Still Faces Court

vinik's channelsideAccording to court records, CBP Development LLC, the new venture of Lightning owner Jeff Vinik, has won the winning bid to acquire and revive Channelside. The $7.1 million bid, in an auction, still has some court proceedings to conduct, but the deal for Channelside Bay Plaza should be all said and done within the coming weeks.

The bidders were presented with an option of bidding either on the Channelside building, the mortgage on the building, or both. Vinik’s offer was declared to be the best by the auctioneers. However, a hearing must be conducted before approval and would face challenges from the adverse group Liberty Channelside LLC. Liberty made futile attempts to purchase the property last year. This time it is challenging the fairness of the auction, stating that the Tampa Port Authority and Channelside’s owner, Irish Bank Resolution Corp. (IBRC), made collaborated efforts towards Vinik’s victory.

The battle between the parties over the auction is on the verge of settlement. The attorneys for both parties submitted a “global settlement of pending litigation” accepting Vinik’s entitlement to the property pursuant to the auction. The approval from U.S. Bankruptcy Judge Christopher Sontchi is still pending. The Tampa Port Authority will contribute $1.9 million against the loan on the property. The IBRC still holds the Channelside property as a distressed asset and will gain $9 million from the deal.

The settlement provided a withdrawal for challenges to the auction and dismissal of the suit against TPA and IBRC. The judge was not satisfied with the arguments of either parties and questioned the auction rules used by the liquidators and also questioned the actions of the Tampa Port Authority. The court doubted Liberty’s intentions when it abstained from bidding and approached the court with a $10 million offer for Channelside.

It is speculated that the settlement was a better option for future business transaction of both parties. Both parties entered the settlement; however, the actual reason behind the settlement cannot be gauged as the settlement provides a clause that prohibits any of the parties from providing any statements on the agreement to the media.

Swann Avenue Pond Upgrades

SWANN-AVE-FOUNTAIN-PONDThe Swann Avenue property is owned by the Hillsborough Expressway Authority. The director of contract administration, for the city of Tampa, declared the initiation of a project of about $900,000 to $1 million for maintaining the beauty and serenity of the property.

The project is funded by various sources and government agencies. As a part of this project, Swann Avenue Pond will undergo a transformation into the Hyde Park Gateway. The project includes landscaping the block existing between Rome and Packwood Avenues and fencing it. The pond will be properly cleaned on a regular basis. A lighted fountain will be built in the center of the pond. The roads will be broadened and new sidewalks will be built.

Besides the pond, two shaded shelters with nine benches will be constructed. One of the benches will be painted red to express gratitude towards the project’s largest donor. It is said that the public-private partnership with two mayors, two neighborhood associations, under five presidents and multiple government agencies, have worked in concordance with each other for redesigns and improvements. The city will provide reconstruction and maintenance by contributions by the Historic Hyde Park Neighborhood Association and Historic Hyde Park Preservation Inc., as well as individual donors.

A real estate developer expressed his concerns about the bad condition of the pond and stated that over time people believe that the pond will never be cleaned and its condition will never improve. He decided to involve himself in the reconstruction efforts. He stated his interest in a 680-acre master-planned Stonelake Ranch in Lake Thonotosassa, a Texas wind farm, and two hotels in development in Orlando. The President of the Historic Hyde Park Neighborhood Association stated that the property was earlier a little league field and then in the 70’s a Crosstown and neighborhood runoff was built.

People have expressed concerns about pedestrian safety; however, the pond was part of the developed South Tampa commercial hubs. This issue has since become a topic of debate amongst those involved. The developer stated that with a greater number of people it becomes difficult to achieve a consensus. A retired business consultant and Historic Hyde Park Neighborhood Association board member stated that they made efforts to raise money for Bern’s Park and Kate Jackson Park by fundraisers, home tours, and patron parties. The business consultant expressed her discontent about WS Development’s indifference towards the project.

The project developments include: a completed Swann Avenue Crosstown Underpass project, $250,000 worth of lighting and landscaping, purchased with the aid of the Republican National Convention in 2012, when the organization hosted its convention in the city. The developer further stated that he was satisfied with his meager contribution towards the project. He stated that all efforts are worthwhile.

Tampa’s New ‘Water Works Park’ Now Open

Mayor of Tampa, Bob Buckhorn announced that the proposed Water Works Park’s opening celebration will be held on August 16, 2014. The park however, will open  August 12, 2014. The opening celebration will include fireworks, food trucks, live entertainment, and children’s activities.

waterworksThe project was proposed for the 5-acre park at 1710 N Highland Ave. near the historic Tampa Armature Works warehouse. The park features an 8,500-square-foot dog park, Riverwalk, splash playground with a giant water bucket for kids, an overlook shaped like a ship’s bow, freshwater spring flowing through the Hillsborough River. The freshwater spring was intended to flow into a large basin for native fish and manatees.

The development of Water Works Park was described by Mayor Buckhorn to be “transformative” for Tampa. The park will be a metamorphosis for the city’s development. The park will form an integral part of the city’s map, signifying a place that provides entertainment and family activities.

The project will also include a kayak launch, eight boat slips, and a water taxi stop, after acquiring the required permits, of course. The park will also organize art shows and food festivals. The event pavilion, complete with a stage, will be built so the audience can enjoy the view of Tampa’s skyline in the background. The playground will also comprise of rope climbs and other obstacles, to give the appearance of an old ship and its rigging.

The opening ceremony will be held at 5:00 pm on August 16, with fireworks beginning at 9:00 pm.