Tuesday, January 16, 2018
Business

If you like tiny houses, you'll love these tiny apartments coming to Tampa

TAMPA — You've heard of tiny houses. Now Tampa could become one of the first places in Florida to have tiny apartments.

Urban Core Holdings, LLC is under contract to buy a 12-story downtown office building and convert the top eight floors into micro-apartments. Each would have a kitchen with a two-burner stove top, microwave hood, refrigerator and dishwasher. The apartments would also come with a stackable washer-dryer unit; a bike rack and a Murphy bed that transformed into a dining table during the day.

All of this in 300 to 400 square feet for about $850 a month, far less than for other downtown apartments that are fast becoming unaffordable without two occupants to share the rent.

"We think that there is a certain group of people that don't want a roommate, and this is a great opportunity for somebody to live by themselves, save on the expense of a car and live downtown,'' Omar Garcia, Urban Core's manager, said Wednesday.

As the financial hub of the booming bay area, Tampa has a large and growing number of downtown workers — 66,500, including about 13,300 who are under 35, according to a study done for the company. Almost 44 percent of all downtown workers have expressed an interest in living downtown.

Although the project is expected to take up to a year to complete, Urban Core will start accepting reservations Monday for 200 Madison, the building at the corner of Madison and Franklin Streets that now houses a Subway, a Pita Republic restaurant, a CVS and second-floor offices. All of that is likely to remain but plans call for a new common space for residents on the third floor with a gym, pet care area, cafe and balcony overlooking the street.

The mostly vacant fifth-through-12th floors will be converted into 120 apartments, each with ample windows, Garcia said.

One potential drawback that could raise the cost of the project and the rents — the lack of parking.

"We will not have any parking because the idea is that the residents of this particular community will use mass transit, bike share and ride share and are willing to give up their cars in order to live downtown,'' Garcia said.

City regulations, though, call for one parking space per unit, and Urban Core could have to pay a one-time fee of nearly $1 million because it can't meet that requirement.

"We are going to try to negotiate that with the city,'' Garcia said. If the fee isn't totally or partially waived, the rents could rise by about $100 a month, though they still would be substantially less than for downtown apartments that are only slightly larger.

Zach Ames of Tampa's Franklin Street brokerage said the mini apartments might well be attractive, especially to recent college graduates who want to live downtown but can't afford mega rents.

"I think this does offer the option for that live, work, play environment,'' Ames said. "Is the timing right? I don't know, but as Tampa continues to build out with more and more projects, I think it's something that will happen.''

Would Ames, 28, live in a tiny apartment? "Yeah,'' he said, "especially if I was right out of college.''

This is the second multi-family housing venture for Urban Core Holdings. It also owns the 135-unit West River Flats near downtown, which it bought in 2014 and renovated into what have become popular apartments for University of Tampa students. The company runs a shuttle from the apartments to the university, and would probably do the same for students renting in the new project, Garcia said.

While long popular in densely populated, high-cost Asian cities like Hong Kong, micro-apartments also have started catching on in Boston, Seattle, San Francisco and other U.S. cities as rents soar.

In 2013, New York City got its first micro apartment building, with 55 units as small as 250 square feet.

Two years later, New York Mayor Bill De Blasio proposed shrinking the city's 400-square-foot apartment-size limit to under 300 square feet as part of an ambitious plan to build or preserve 200,000 units of affordable housing, according to the New York Post.

De Blasio's announcement came as 60,000 people applied for only 14 below-market-rate micro apartments in the Kips Bay area.

And in Miami and Orlando, developers have tentative plans for micro apartments although those apparently have not yet come to fruition.

If Tampa's tiny apartments "get off the ground, we'd probably look to expand throughout the Southeast'' Garcia said.

Susan Taylor Martin can be contacted at [email protected] or (727) 893-8642. Follow @susanskate

 
Comments
Career Q&A: What to do when your boss is stealing

Career Q&A: What to do when your boss is stealing

Q: I strongly suspect that my boss is stealing from our employer. As the property manager for this apartment complex, she handles all payments, deposits and other financial matters.A few weeks ago, I accidentally discovered some suspicious discrepanc...
Updated: 4 hours ago
Pinellas is at the center of a rise in Florida flu outbreaks

Pinellas is at the center of a rise in Florida flu outbreaks

Feeling a little sniffly or scratchy or stuffed up? It may be the flu, and you donít want to wait around to see a doctor this year. This is not the time to write off flu-like symptoms, Tampa Bay area health officials and doctors warn. The influenza v...
Updated: 7 hours ago
Italian Butterfingers? Nestle selling candy business for $2.9B

Italian Butterfingers? Nestle selling candy business for $2.9B

Associated PressNEW YORK ó Swiss food and drink giant Nestle is selling its U.S. candy business to Italyís Ferrero for about $2.9 billion in cash. Ferrero will take over iconic chocolate brands Butterfinger and Crunch bars, as well as the sugary Nerd...
Updated: 7 hours ago
23 seek vacant PSC post

23 seek vacant PSC post

There is another Mariano seeking a job in Tallahassee.Pasco County Commissioner Jack Mariano, the father of state Rep. Amber Mariano, R-Hudson, is seeking an appointment to the Florida Public Service Commission, the powerful board regulating Florida ...
Updated: 8 hours ago
St. Petersburg’s apartment boom is spreading west

St. Petersburg’s apartment boom is spreading west

ST. PETERSBURG — Still more apartments are coming to St. Petersburg, this time to the Edge and Grand Central Districts just west of downtown. The new projects, all by out-of-state developers and more moderately priced than those downtown, will...
Updated: 9 hours ago
Florida raises insurance regulation grade from C to B

Florida raises insurance regulation grade from C to B

When it comes to regulating insurance, Florida is slowly improving. The Sunshine State raised its grade from a C in 2016 to a B in 2017 on the "R Street 2017 Insurance Regulation Report Card." It ranked No. 15 among all states.The annual report, writ...
Updated: 9 hours ago

US travel industry launches plan to reverse tourism decline

Associated PressNEW YORK ó Travel industry representatives sounded an alarm Tuesday over declines in international tourism to the U.S. and announced plans to reverse the trend. Organizers of the new Visit U.S. Coalition portrayed the decline as long-...
Updated: 9 hours ago
Raymond James advice for small to mid-sized companies about activist shareholders? Prepare and listen

Raymond James advice for small to mid-sized companies about activist shareholders? Prepare and listen

Shareholder fights between activist investors and publicly traded companies are getting nastier, especially in some industries, and a lot of them donít involve corporate giants like General Motors and Procter & Gamble.In 2015, according to Raymond Ja...
Updated: 11 hours ago
Dow bursts through 26,000 in record seven trading days

Dow bursts through 26,000 in record seven trading days

The Dow Jones industrial average blew past 26,000 Tuesday for the first time ever, coming only a week after hitting 25,000 and showing further evidence that the long-running bull market is alive and well."There are several reasons for markets to melt...
Updated: 11 hours ago
Arizona-based AFI Mortgage opens St. Petersburg branch

Arizona-based AFI Mortgage opens St. Petersburg branch

Times StaffAFI Mortgage, a subsidiary of an Arizona-based bank, is opening its first Florida locations in St. Petersburg and Lakeland. Its parent company, AmeriFirst Financial Inc., specializes in mortgages. "This Florida team is innovative, knowledg...
Published: 01/16/18