Where To Live In Downtown Tampa? 5 Towers Going Up Soon

Developers are bringing in cranes and handing out hard hats, eager to deliver the next wave of residential towers for Tampa's urban dwellers-in-waiting. Financial deals that Tampa hasn't seen since the Great Recession crushed the Florida real estate market are on the rebound.

Within the next two to three years, at least five residential towers -- and more on drawing boards -- will go vertical. They will bring with them thousands more residents and most likely following in their wake, more shops and offices and even more robust arts and cultural activities.

Among announced arrivals are The Residences at Riverwalk, Crescent Bayshore, The Martin at Meridian, ENCORE! Tampa and Skyhouse Channelside. More are waiting in the wings if speculation translates into solid deals for projects on Harbour Island and in the Channel District.

"We don't see a let up of people who want to be down here," says Dave Traynor, VP of real estate and developer services for Smith & Associates Real Estate. "People from other urban areas who are already comfortable with the work-play concept and people from suburbia who really think living where you work makes economical sense want to be here."

Existing residential towers in downtown, such as the Element and Skypoint, and half a dozen towers in the Channel District, including Grand Central at Kennedy and Pierhouse at Channelside, are at or near capacity. Those buildings are filled with young professionals, many between ages 25-34, and Boomers who embrace an urban lifestyle. They want Sunday yoga at Curtis Hixon Park, a neighborhood bar within easy walk, art galleries, theater, restaurant options and the hum of a city that is open 24/7.

Solidifying Tampa's Urban Scene

Developer Ken Stoltenberg, whose Grand Central helped jump-start the first wave of redevelopment in the Channel District, is almost ready to break ground on his newest venture, The Martin. Completion is anticipated in late 2015.

"You're seeing a lot of people who like living in an urban setting who haven't had the opportunity before in the market," Stoltenberg says. "Now with this new construction it will solidify things."

In 2013 the Tampa Downtown Partnership reported more than 6,700 people living downtown, in the Channel District and Harbour Island. The five new residential projects under construction or nearing ground-breaking will add more than 1,500 apartments to the mix.

In short order, Tampa's urban population could easily crack 10,000. At its completion, ENCORE! Tampa alone is predicted to be home to about 2,500 residents living in its apartment buildings, just north of downtown. And a fifth Encore apartment building is possible.

Just outside downtown's sway, there are mid-rise projects such as the 311 apartments being leased at NoHo Flats on Rome Avenue north of Kennedy, and the 231 apartments under construction at Post SoHo Square  at Swann and Howard avenues.

With more residents, more retail can be expected. The biggest gap, for many residents, remains the lack of a major grocery store directly in Downtown. While a smaller Publix is open on Platt Street at Bayshore Boulevard just south of Downtown, it's location isn't within walking distance for most downtown apartment dwellers. And while the Duckweed Urban Market is thriving at the Element, it doesn't have the space to offer everything a typical household needs.

But dining and entertainment options are expanding. Paddywagon Irish Pub is on the ground floor of the Element. Anise Global Gastro Bar, Pizza Fusion, Fynn's Bar & Grill, Paninoteco, the Taco Bus and Bavaro's Pizza are among the choices downtown.

Powerhouse Gym, Pour House, Be Seen Dry Cleaning, Saint Leo University and City Dog Cantina occupy retail and office space in Channelside.

"We're definitely starting to see retail gain traction," says Traynor. "It takes a while to reprogram people where to go."

New office construction also might emerge. "There is a growing interest and a need for a new office tower. That's good," says Christine Burdick, executive director of the Tampa Downtown Partnership. "Development has got to keep a balance going between residential and business and become a multi-use downtown, and increase property values."

Here are coming attractions for upscale, mid-range and affordable options in urban living:

The Residences at the Riverwalk

The proposed 36-story residential tower of 380 apartments  will be the tallest of the tall in Tampa's transitioning skyline. It will rise within walking distance of the Riverwalk, next to the Straz Center for the Performing Arts, affording tenants balcony views of the Hillsborough River and the minarets of the University of Tampa. A parking garage and about 10,000 square feet of first-floor shops and restaurants are planned.

Tyler and Cass streets will be re-aligned and converted to two-way streets with bicycle lanes.

Developers are Phillip Smith of Framework Group, and Greg Minder of Intown Group, which also developed Skypoint and Element.

At the earliest, a groundbreaking will come after June to avoid disruptions to the Straz' center's Broadway show series. A lawsuit filed by a Skypoint condo owner also is pending based on objections to the tower's height.

Crescent Bayshore

Pre-leasing is under way for about 180 of 367 one- two- and three-bedroom upscale apartments at 319 Bayshore Boulevard, across from Publix grocery store. The 8-story, multi-building complex is in the Spanish eclectic style of architecture offering such amenities as secluded courtyards, roof top terraces, a 2-story health club with a resort style swimming pool and views of the bay. The developer is Crescent Communities.

Skyhouse Channelside

Developers with Novare Group of Atlanta and Batson-Cook Development Co. broke ground in February on a  23-story high-rise of 320 upscale apartments located in the Channel District off 12th Street South between Washington and Whiting streets.

It will offer one- to three- bedroom apartments with floor-to-ceiling glass providing sweeping vistas of Tampa and Channelside. The "skyhouse" at the building's top level will have a club room, fitness equipment, outdoor plazas, swimming pool, fireplaces, covered outdoor lounge and more grand, 360-degree views of the city skyline.

There will be a parking garage and about 6,500 square feet for shops and restaurants. Opening is anticipated in March 2015.

The Martin at Meridian

A ground breaking is expected soon with an opening date in late 2015. The 24-story tower will have 316 units, 30,000 square feet of retail and stacked parking.  It will be built across from Grand Central, a condominium tower developed by Ken Stoltenberg and Frank Bombeeck of Mercury Advisors. The Martin's design will be similar to the Art Deco-type look of Grand Central.

When Grand Central was built, developers dedicated ground floor space to Stageworks Theatre. The Martin also will provide the community with a unique aspect, a sports park next door with volleyball, basketball courts, space for group fitness classes and boot camps.


The Trio is set to open in May with 141 apartments available for lease at ENCORE! Tampa, a major revitalization of a blighted area north of downtown. The faded and out-dated Central Park Village complex was torn down by the Tampa Housing Authority nearly seven years ago to make way for this $425 million "village center" with multiple apartment buildings, retail and a re-designed Perry Harvey Sr. Park. There will be market rate and subsidized leases.

The Ella, a senior apartment building with 160 units, opened in 2012 and is fully occupied. The Trio is the complex's first multi-family apartment building. Another multi-family complex, The Tempo, is under construction with an opening date in 2015 for 203 apartments.

The Reed, a second apartment building for seniors with 158 homes, is expected to open by December 2014.

Kathy Steele is a freelance writer living in the Seminole Heights neighborhood of Tampa. Comments? Contact 83 Degrees.
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Kathy Steele is a freelance writer who lives in the Seminole Heights neighborhood of Tampa. She previously covered Tampa neighborhoods for more than 15 years as a reporter for The Tampa Tribune. She grew up in Georgia but headed north to earn a BA degree from Adelphi University in Garden City, NY. She backpacked through Europe before attending the University of Iowa's Creative Writers' Workshop for two years. She has a journalism degree from Georgia College. She likes writing, history, and movies.