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Real estate trends, Part 1: Tampa-St. Pete’s magnetic appeal

Margie Manning

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The Urban Land Institute annually gathers local and national industry leaders and development visionaries to offer key insights into forces shaping the real estate industry in the Tampa-St. Petersburg area. The Feb. 4 ULI Tampa Bay 2021 trends conference showed that St. Pete is well-positioned to meet much of what’s ahead in the industry.

The St. Pete Catalyst has talked with two experts — Larry Silvestri, founder of commercial real estate firm Silvestri Law, and Anne Pollack, managing member and commercial real estate attorney at Fletcher Fischer Pollack P.L. — to get their take on how the emerging trends highlighted during the conference are playing out in St. Petersburg.

In the first part of this three-part series, the focus is on population growth and what it means for real estate.

The Tampa-St. Petersburg-Clearwater metropolitan area ranked No. 6 among 80 communities nationwide for overall real estate prospects, according to the 2021 ULI-PwC Emerging Trends in Real Estate report.

The local area is considered a “magnet” — growing more quickly than U.S. average and attracting both people and companies. It’s also a “super sun belt” market, still affordable for residents even while its powerhouse economy pulls in a wide range of businesses.

Larry Silvestri

“We are attracting more businesses, which means the employment picture is improving,” said Larry Silvestri, founder of Silvestri Law. “Tampa, which has been successful at getting back office operations, is starting to attract more of the front-line financial. St. Pete is as well. St. Pete is attracting a lot of the tech companies. We’ve got some second offices of tech companies moving from San Francisco and some relocating entirely from the west coast.”

The entrepreneurial spirit that pervades the Tampa-St. Pete area is attractive to Gen Z, young people born between 1996 and 2010 who are entering the workforce now or soon will be, Inlay Insights founder Kim Lear said during the ULI conference.

It’s an important distinction to note about the area’s new residents, Silvestri said.

“It’s not just retirees, although they continue to come, but people who are in their prime working and earning years, productive years,” Silvestri said.

That means housing – both single-family and apartments – will remain in demand, Silvestri said.

Anne Pollack

“Population growth is definitely driving deals. Developers want to build more and people keep coming and need more and everything I’ve seen has indicated there is not enough housing here for people who keep coming, whether it’s affordable or whether it’s market rate or luxury, there’s a market for it and developers want to build it,” said Anne Pollack, managing member at Fletcher Fischer Pollack.

The ULI report also cites several “18-hour cities,” which are popular in-migration destinations due to lifestyle, culture and employment opportunities. The ULI report does not characterize Tampa-St. Pete as an 18-hour city, but Pollack said St. Petersburg fits that description.

“There’s a lot of excitement for this area. People from other parts of the state and other parts of the country want to come, and that brings developers here – local ones as well as those who are from out of state,” Pollack said.

The 2021 Emerging Trends report ranked Tampa-St. Pete No. 5 for homebuilding prospects. The metro area also was ranked above average for investor demand and development and redevelopment opportunities.

In part two of this series, we’ll take a closer look at what’s ahead for office and retail spaces.

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