With all the talk of the urban core’s massive development over the last few years, we wanted to quantify exactly how much it has changed. The Tampa Downtown Partnership and HCP Associates, a marketing consulting company based in the Channel District, have partnered on the Worker-Resident Biennial Survey every two years since 2008 to learn more about who is living and working downtown, along with what they want out of their downtown experience.
To answer our questions about who is moving downtown and why they’re staying, HCP shared some of their 2018 survey findings with TAMPA Downtown Magazine. In its 10-year history, this survey’s findings have helped spur and direct major projects downtown like the reopening of Curtis Hixon Waterfront Park, an increase in access to the waterfront, new directional signage and more. The Tampa Downtown Partnership and HCP will share the full survey results at the TDP’s 23rd annual Downtown Development Forum on April 12.
“The biggest lesson of the 2018 survey is that Downtown Tampa is happening,” says Robert Allen, vice president of HCP Associates. “With a thriving assortment of well-liked placed to be — like the Florida Aquarium, Amalie Arena, any of downtown Tampa’s museums, or most importantly, the Riverwalk — the challenge has shifted to managing the explosive growth in the area.” Still, Allen adds, there’s more that can be done to make Downtown Tampa an unbeatable destination. “Residents and workers alike expressed their desire to do more things with the green spaces, waterfront areas and community venues,” he says. “They also expressed a desire for more convenience when living and working in the downtown area. Two of the biggest themes that respondents wanted to see more of were retail availability — particularly clothing — and parking and transportation solutions.”
Read on for the answers to some of our burning questions about Downtown Tampa and the people who live here.
How many people live downtown?
According to the US Census Bureau’s 2017 estimate, 13,929 people live in the ZIP code 33602, which encompasses downtown, Harbour Island and Tampa Heights. That figure is up 20% from the 2010 Census count of 11,515 people.
How many residences are downtown?
The survey data shows that there are 7,546 total residential units in the Tampa Downtown Partnership’s special services district, up 32% from 5,709 in 2016. Because Harbour Island is not a part of this district, the total does not include the island’s residences (which total more than 2,800).
How old are the people living downtown?
As it turns out, all ages. More people are living in the urban core throughout their lifetime, not just as young professionals and empty-nesters. The survey found that there’s a nearly even number of people ages 25 to 34, 35 to 44, 45 to 54 and 55 to 64 living in the special services district. Each make up about 20% of the downtown population. Millennials just barely eke out a win here, with 21.9% of residents between the ages of 25 and 34. Appropriately, the US Census 2017 population estimate says the median age in the 33602 ZIP code is 37.
Finally, the empty-nester population has grown the most over time, more than doubling from 5.2% in 2008 to 13% in 2018.
How long have people lived in Downtown Tampa?
For increasingly long periods of time. In 2018, 81% of survey respondents said they had lived in downtown for a year or longer. Moreover, 36% have lived in downtown for five or more years — double the number of people who said the same in 2010.
Why are people moving downtown?
The survey got a feel for what attracted residents to downtown by asking what they love about Tampa, and the clear winner this year was the Riverwalk. Mentions of the Tampa Riverwalk were six times higher than the baseline and three times higher than the waterfront and water access (which came in second). The Riverwalk is so beloved that it was named the People’s Choice selection to the American Planning Association’s 2018 Great Places in America.
Are current residents recommending downtown as a place to live?
Overwhelmingly, yes. Nine in 10 downtown residents said they were “likely” or “definitely likely” to recommend Downtown Tampa to a friend, with the number of “definitely likely” responses up 15% over 2016. And it’s becoming ever so slightly cheaper to do so: a March report from the company ApartmentData found the average cost of rent in the submarket that includes downtown, Hyde Park and the West River had decreased 4% in the previous three months. This is likely thanks to the influx of new rental units opening in the urban core.
What else does the study suggest for downtown’s future?
HCP Associates managing partner Sean Coniglio says the survey has yielded a few consistent major takeaways over its 10-year lifespan. Residents continue to say that activating downtown with activities like a fresh market and live events in the park is highly important. Roads should be tweaked to calm traffic and make the city more friendly to people walking and biking. Having a full grocery store downtown, more than just the Publix locations on Platt Street and in the Channel District, is a high priority. Finally, residents also feel retail shopping and everyday services are still lacking in downtown.