TAMPA — Even with rents at $1,500 to $2,000 per month, downtown Tampa's residential buildings are 98 percent occupied, according to one estimate by the Smith & Associates real estate firm.
The question remains how many more luxury apartment towers the market can handle. Ken Carl, a real estate banker with PNC Bank, cautions that with the rising cost of construction, continuing to build high-end apartment towers will require an influx of high-paying jobs.
“I think the hardest thing to do is judging the depth of the market,” Carl said Friday at a forum on downtown development, an update of development projects and transportation plans hosted by the Tampa Downtown Partnership.
Things couldn't be more different for two segments of downtown real estate, office and residential. Andy May, an office broker for the Cushman & Wakefield firm, lamented that there are no speculative office buildings going up in downtown Tampa, even with single-digit vacancy rates at luxury office towers such as 100 North Tampa, the Regions Bank building.
The Trammell Crow real estate firm has been trying to line up tenants for a proposed 20-story office tower across from the University of South Florida's Center for Advanced Medical Learning and Simulation, but there's no word on when that project might go forward.
Meantime, the apartment business has been going like gangbusters. New apartment towers called The Martin and SkyHouse Channelside are planned for the Channel District. And, city documents suggest two other projects are in the works, although developers haven't announced them yet: a possible seven-story complex by The Richman Group just north of the Crosstown Expressway; and a potential Related Group tower on Harbour Island.
So far, rents and occupancy are staying strong, said Smith & Associates Vice President David Traynor. Smith & Associates surveyed downtown apartment owners and found average occupancy at 98 percent, Traynor said, excluding the new Pierhouse apartment complex that is still leasing and is 63-percent leased.
For example, The Place at Channelside is 99-percent leased, Element is 98-percent leased, the Slade is 98-percent leased and Bell Channelside is 94-percent leased, Traynor told the audience Friday. In most cases, rents downtown are running $1.80 or more per square foot — or $1,800 for a 1,000-square-foot apartment.
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