Thanks to the rise in remote work and the influx of people relocating to Tampa from elsewhere in Florida, the Northeast and the Midwest, the average income of new downtown residents — renters and buyers alike — is going up, according to Sam Chandler, a Smith & Associates Realtor who specializes in the downtown marketplace. He says migration trends, the blossoming of the Water Street Tampa project and the resulting development in surrounding areas has accelerated downtown’s growth and made it a place people want to live even sooner than expected. “I think the transformation in Downtown Tampa probably happened five years sooner than some of us were anticipating,” he says. “Obviously, there’s still a lot to happen, specifically with Water Street, but as someone who’s lived down there for a long time, you can really see that it’s come alive.” Read on for four residential developments that have helped define Downtown Tampa’s past, present and future.
The Place’s story is fairly typical of buildings that went up in the Channel District just before the Great Recession. Only 57 of its 245 total residences were purchased before the recession hit, then one buyer converted the bulk of the units to apartments. In November 2018, Smith & Associates, including Chandler, brought the units back onto the market and have since sold all but eight. Starting at the end of 2020, Chandler says The Place began to see a huge spike in sales, driven in large part by pandemic-induced relocations, both local and out-of-state. New buyers were attracted to both the more affordable (for downtown) prices of around $300 per square foot, as well as the location. Especially in the Channel District, Chandler expects the construction of new rental properties to slow or halt in the coming years, with some existing rentals converting to condominiums to meet an increased demand.
A landmark development for the Channel District, Grand Central features 392 condos and — most importantly for the neighborhood at large — 180,000 square feet of retail and office space that’s home to a CVS, a Crunch Fitness, bars, restaurants and even corporate headquarters. “It was visionary, in my opinion, because it defined the district in terms of being a walkable, retail-based neighborhood,” Chandler says. “It really is a landmark in the way that we envisioned our downtown real estate being a very mixed-use environment, and the Channel District has largely succeeded. I think Grand Central is the best example of that principle put into action by [having] all three phases of downtown development [residential, retail and office space] in one property.”
03. THE TOWERS OF CHANNELSIDE
Until the recent opening of Heron (read more about that here), the downtown residence with the best views of the channels and Hillsborough Bay was the Towers of Channelside. The two honeycomb-shaped towers marked the south end of the Channel District and have been the neighborhood’s premium address since their opening in 2007. “They probably have the most obvious Miami influence of all the downtown buildings in terms of their styling,” Chandler says. Listings for any of the Towers’ 255 units are few and far in between, Chandler notes, with prices starting at more than $400 per square foot, the top of the market in the Channel District.
Skypoint is one of downtown’s few true modern glass high-rises and, with its location across from the then-under construction Curtis Hixon Waterfront Park, was forward-looking in Tampa’s vision for downtown real estate when it opened in 2007, Chandler says. At 32 stories, its 380 condos feature some of the city’s best skyline views (and some of downtown’s highest prices per square foot at around $570). And with four restaurants and a chocolatier on the first floor, plus its easy access to the park, Tampa Museum of Art and the Straz Center, it’s no surprise that Skypoint continues to be in huge demand. “It is really considered a premier address within Downtown Tampa because if you want to be in a high-rise glass tower in downtown, it is really the only option,” Chandler adds.
05. THE MERIDIAN
Downtown is home to a few boutique residential developments, like this one, which has fewer than 40 residences. The Meridian’s industrial style, with concrete floors and exposed ductwork, sets it apart from most other buildings in both the Channel District and Downtown Tampa at large, with the exception of the neighboring Victory Lofts and Model T Lofts. While buildings like The Meridian don’t feature the full-time concierge or resort-style pool nearby communities might, Chandler says they give potential buyers a range of style and architecture options in a compact area. “It’s one of my favorite buildings,” he adds. “Since it’s such a small building, it has a really tight knit atmosphere. It’s just a very cool product.”