Top architects predict Tampa Bay Area building boom continues

A professional association of the region’s top architects expects Tampa Bay’s development boom to continue in 2019 and beyond, even as things slow in other metropolitan areas of the Southeast.

Seventy-nine percent of the 120 architects participating in the American Institute of Architects (AIA) Tampa Bay’s Economic Outlook 2019 survey expect to hire more employees in the year ahead, while 69 percent expect an increase in demand for their professional services. More than 59 percent say the region’s development-related economy will be “good” in the year ahead, while nearly 27 percent expect it will be “excellent.”

The annual survey offers an advance glimpse at development trends a year or two away because architects are typically hired in the early stages of a project.

“The influx of new businesses and young professionals to the Tampa-St. Pete area is a clear indicator that our economic development strategy over the last few years has been paying off,” says Patrick Thorpe, president of the AIA Tampa Bay board and principal of (allegedly) design in Tampa. “Multiple sectors of our economy are experiencing rapid growth because of that.”

Nearly 27 percent point to healthcare-hospital development as the market-segment that will be most active in the year ahead. Residential multi-family follows at a little more than 18 percent, then transportation at a little more than 17 percent.

Transportation and difficulty attracting top talent are identified as potential challenges to the region’s boom. Thorpe says young professionals eyeing a move to Tampa and the Bay Area want transportation alternatives to the automobile but there is uncertainty about improving those options because of Hillsborough County Commissioner Stacy White’s lawsuit challenging the legality of the transportation sales tax referendum county voters approved in November.

Smart growth patterns that focus growth on urban areas with infrastructure in place are expected to continue. The majority of the respondents say they expect the region’s political leaders to effectively lead the way on smart growth policies in the year ahead.

Harvard Jolley Architecture is the sponsor of this year’s survey.

Read more articles by Christopher Curry.

Chris Curry is a freelance writer living in Clearwater. Chris spent more than 15 years as a newspaper reporter, primarily in Ocala and Gainesville, before moving back home to the Tampa Bay Area. He enjoys our local music scene, great weather, and Florida's wealth of outdoor festivals.
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