Tampa Bay is experiencing one of the healthiest economic environments in recent history with massive growth on an investment level, continued population gains and over 17,100 jobs added in the Tampa MSA during 2014 alone. From an investment standpoint, three office buildings in downtown Tampa have traded over the past six months for a total of $264.6 million, which is helping to push office rents downtown.
Industrial sector flourishing
The industrial markets in East Tampa and Polk County, specifically West Polk, are becoming popular locations for large multi-market distribution operations. With the proximity to large population clusters, such as Orlando and Tampa, together with excellent access to I-75 and I-4, the area is quickly emerging as a destination for large scale distributors.
For example, Amazon recently constructed two distribution centers totaling 2.1 million square feet. FedEx is slated to complete a 300,000 square foot distribution center by 2016, and a large big box distributor is reportedly in the market seeking space for a centralized distribution center as large as 1.0 million square feet.
Billion dollar airport renovations underway
The public and private sectors are making large financial commitments in Tampa Bay, specifically regarding the Tampa Airport and the Channelside District. A billion dollar renovation of Tampa Bay International Airport has broken ground and is scheduled for completion by the end of 2017. Renovations include expanding the main terminal to accommodate increased passenger traffic, building an automated people mover connecting long term parking to the main terminal, and numerous enhancements to runways and the baggage systems. This is a much needed renovation as passenger volume has steadily increased through to over 17 million passengers, marking the fourth consecutive year of increased passenger traffic. More international flights have also been added; recently direct flights to Frankfurt, Germany and Havana, Cuba were added, which will expand Tampa’s national and global reach.
Resurgence of downtown Tampa
The cornerstone development in Tampa Bay is the new $1.2 billion dollar master plan by Jeff Vinik’s Strategic Property Partners in the Channelside District. The Tampa Bay Lightning owner owns 30 acres in Channelside surrounding the Lightning arena with plans to build the area into a primary attraction in downtown Tampa. Currently the plan calls for 1.1 million square feet of office space, 570,000 square feet for a hotel, 330,000 square feet for USF medical buildings, 660,000 square feet of residential space and 250,000 of retail space. The office component hinges on bringing a corporate headquarters to Tampa, but Strategic Property Partners recently said they may consider building the office space speculative with the hope of a corporate group moving in soon, which is becoming more likely as Tampa is drawing more attention from national corporations.
Until the past few years, Tampa was rarely considered a viable destination by large corporates for their headquarters, but most recently Tampa was one of four cities Mercedes-Benz had under serious consideration for the relocation of their corporate headquarters before ultimately deciding on Atlanta. This is a positive sign for Tampa Bay moving forward to emerge as an attractive and premier location for both companies and employees.
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Source: JLL Research – Drew Gilligan, Analyst