Tampa is Building for Its Future, But There Are Still Hurdles to Cross

Tampa has been experiencing a developmental boom. In downtown, in the up-and-coming Heights, an in Westshore, projects are underway. From office to residential and mix-use, Tampa has put itself on the map with the promise of new growth and direction. But with so much development coming down the pipeline, concern is growing among politicians, residents and business owners about hurdles the city still has to face.

Some of these hurdles are nothing new, some will be an issue further down the road. If you live in Tampa, you know the existing problems: bad traffic, bad roads, flooding. These are things that have caused headaches for both Tampa’s private and public sectors. There’s also some emerging issues that are coming to light as development continues.

5 Hurdles Tampa Still Has to Face Before Future Development

Traffic Congestion

Traffic congestion is a huge problem for Tampa. If you commute to work, chances are you’ve been stuck in the hair-yanking traffic jams on I-275, I-4, Gandy Bridge and the Howard Frankland. Even on the weekends, these roadways can be overly congested. Unlike other major cities Tampa (and Hillsborough County, in general) has long languished in high traffic counts. This isn’t helped by the gaping lack of suitable public transit.

Lack of Construction Workforce

This is an issue the whole country is experiencing, but Florida especially. The state was hit hard by the recession, and as the housing market plummeted, construction workers left in droves; many never came back. Couple this with a declining national interest in construction work and it causes some problems for developers. This leaves projects with delayed  completion, leading to increased costs for developers and investors. In downtown Tampa, a lack of construction work could mean serious trouble for the number of ongoing projects. Water Street Tampa, the $3 billion dollar project with Jeff Vinik’s Strategic Property Partners is poised to be one of the largest projects in the U.S., requiring 4,000 on-site workers in the first phase of construction.

Sewage Infrastructure

Last hurricane season brought Tampa Bay’s sewage infrastructure issues under the spotlight and has since sparked heated debate, especially in St. Pete. Tampa’s got it’s own problems though. If you live in South Tampa, Hyde Park you’ve seen the flooded roadways after even a light rain. Tampa also has the designation of a coastal city, meaning sea-level rises are going to be a very real problem for the city in the near future. Projects will have to factor this issue into their design. In some cases, major renovations will be required to address the city’s decrepit sewage lines.

Is the Demand Here?

Another question we need to be seriously asking ourselves: is the demand for living in Tampa sufficient? While Tampa is undeniably establishing itself as a desirable destination for businesses and professionals, is it enough to meet the influx of development? The Water Street project, for instance, will be downtown Tampa’s crown jewel, but will big business follow?

Will Affordability Be an Issue?

Currently, Tampa is a much more affordable city to live in than others, but that’s changing as well. Housing costs have been increasing steadily with the influx of development and as it stands, employment wages aren’t on par. Especially in and around the downtown core, with the push for upscale urban living, prices have seen big jumps.

Resources

If you’d like to learn more about Tampa’s ongoing construction problems and the hurdles they’ll have to face, check out this Tampa Bay Times article.

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