Rents are falling in downtown Tampa but going up in other parts of Tampa Bay

Thousands of new apartments are under construction to keep pace with expected future demand
Published March 19

Apartment dwellers in downtown Tampa and Hyde Park pay the highest average rents of any in the Tampa Bay area, a new report shows.

That might not be true much longer. Rents in downtown Tampa have dropped 4 percent in the last three months while they have climbed in downtown St. Petersburg and other part of Pinellas and Hillsborough counties.

Overall, though, Tampa Bay rents are "not out of line by any stretch'' compared to the rest of the country, according to Bruce McClenny, president of ApartmentData.com. The Texas-based company tracks rental rates, occupancies and apartment construction in several U.S. metro areas and submarkets.

In the submarket that includes Tampa's downtown, Hyde Park and West River areas, rents average $1,627. But they have steadily declined because of so much new construction — of the 8,526 units in the area, half were built in the last five years.

"All of a sudden you're looking at an oversupply of units,'' McClenny said. "It will definitely be a desirable place to live, it's just the timing of all these units coming on got a little ahead of the demand. The nice part about it for renters is there are some deals to be had in very nice brand new units.''

Compare those figures to the West Shore/Rocky Point submarket, where the average rent rose nearly 5 percent in the last three months to $1,557. Long known as a business district, West Shore with its wealth of restaurants and shopping has increasingly become a live-work-play area where demand for apartments has outstripped the supply — it has half as many units as downtown Tampa/Hyde Park.

South Tampa saw an even bigger jump in rents, up 8.3 percent to an average of $1,274. It too has far fewer apartments than downtown Tampa although 351 units have recently been completed and 1,284 are under construction, primarily in the West Shore Marina District at the east end of the Gandy Bridge.

On the Pinellas County side of the bay, the downtown St. Petersburg/Kenwood submarket has seen a steady increase in rents over the last 12 months. They now average $1,229.

As its reputation as an arts and entertainment area grows, drawing ever more people, downtown St. Petersburg continues to experience an apartment boom. In the last 12 months, 304 new units have become available while nearly 1,000 more are under construction.

Still, the new units account for only about 13 percent of the supply in the submarket, which stretches south to Pinellas Point and north to Lealman. "It's not as severe a number as we're seeing in the (downtown) Tampa area so it's at a level where the demand is keeping up with it and maybe even outstripping it because the rent growth is 3.3 percent,'' McClenny said.

Some other findings from the ApartmentData.com report:

• The Largo/Clearwater/Dunedin submarket is one of Tampa Bay's largest. It has a total of 16,865 existing apartments — almost twice as many as in downtown Tampa/Hyde Park — with a strong 92.6 percent occupancy rate and rents averaging $1,116. That is among the lowest in the bay area.

• More apartment communities in downtown Tampa/Hyde Park than in other areas are offering "specials,'' including a month of free rent.

Contact Susan Taylor Martin at smartin@tampabay.com or (727) 893-8642. Follow @susanskate.

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