Urban lifestyle challenge: Building sweet digs millennials can afford

83 Degrees Media

In real estate, it’s all about location, location, location. And while waterfront property will always have great appeal, the hottest real estate markets today are in downtown urban cores in cities across the country, including Tampa, St. Petersburg and Clearwater.

In some ways it’s an economic developer’s dream come true. But in other ways, the situation poses challenges for communities competing for the best and the brightest in a global marketplace.

Here in the Tampa Bay region, it’s no different. Where Tampa Bay Area downtowns were once empty after 5 p.m. and on weekends as families scurried to the suburbs after work, today they are vibrant 24/7 work-live-play destinations, pulsing with activity.

Yet, as demand pushes rents higher and higher, young professionals and creatives — the very segment of the population that community and business leaders especially want to attract — risk getting pushed out of the market.

What’s the solution? Omar Garcia, of Urban Core Holdings, and Mickey Jacob, Executive VP at BDG Architects, say there is a crucial need for diversity in housing options.

“We keep saying we want to bring in tech companies and at the same time, we know the kinds of people who work for them embrace the idea of urban living. Our challenge is to make sure that they have the opportunity to enjoy the urban lifestyle,” says Jacob, who is also board chair for the Tampa Downtown Partnership.

“That means we can’t just keep building high-end apartments and condos,” says Jacob. “We need to create housing alternatives that make living downtown attainable to anyone at any income level.”

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