TAMPA — Where developers dare to tread, other developers soon follow.
As hundreds of apartments begin to fill in the new Westshore Marina District, another apartment boom is underway south of the district along West Shore Boulevard. A Swedish investment group broke ground this week on a 444-unit community near the Port Tampa City Library. The nearby 192-unit Harbour at Westshore is almost finished. And construction of 585 units is underway at Bowery Bayside.
The flurry of work reflects the success of the Marina District and demand for rentals convenient to downtown Tampa and MacDill Air Force Base.
"The Marina District has had a challenging path through the Great Recession but now that it's turned the corner and coming alive as a mixed-use district, it is not surprising to see more development happening in the immediate area,'' said Darron Kattan, an expert on multi-family housing for the brokerage Franklin Street. "It's difficult to be a pioneer but settlers are plentiful.''
Location is why Sweden's Index Investment Group chose the area for its first project on Florida's gulf coast, the Pointe on Westshore.
"We've been looking at the St. Pete-Tampa Bay area, and we believe in the market'' said Bjarne Borg, CEO of the group whose U.S. headquarters is in Jupiter. "Obviously we've been correct because there's been a very great demand for new apartments in that area.''
A few years ago, Index bought 23 acres at the intersection of West Shore and Interbay boulevards. Work is starting on what will be six, five-story buildings with one-, two- and three-bedroom apartments. Nothing but a nature preserve lies immediately to west, so residents on upper floors should be able to see Tampa Bay, Borg said.
The community, which will include carriage homes with garages, is expected to cost $105 million and be completed in Spring 2021. With rents in the $1.90 to $2 a square foot range, the apartments will be slightly less than those in downtown Tampa and the Channel District.
On the other side of S West Shore Boulevard, the three-building Harbour at Westshore is expected to start leasing in July. That is a project of Illinois-based Inland National Development Company.
The Harbour "is ideally located within the high-barriers-to entry South Tampa market, which is one of the highest income areas within the Tampa Bay market,'' Inland says on its web site. "The property is also within 15 minutes of Tampa's three large employment centers and over 250,000 jobs.''
On the same side of West Shore, Atlanta-based Cortland Partners paid $85 million for the Bowery Bayside complex in 2016, razed part of it and is building 585 more units on the site.
More than 600 apartments have recently been finished in Westshore Marina District near Gandy and West Shore boulevards. The $500 million district also will have townhomes, condos and a "town center'' with shops and restaurants. Once that retail center is open for business, it will further "elevate the demand and construction,'' Kattan said. "There are still some parcels south of Gandy that will likely become medium- to large-scale redevelopments in the coming years as long as the general economy is booming.''
Traffic, though, already can be a nightmare, especially with the construction on Gandy of the elevated extension of the Lee Roy Selmon Expressway. West Shore is only one lane each way and traffic often backs up even without hundreds of new apartments — and cars — adding to the congestion.
Borg of the Pointe on Westshore said he isn't too concerned - he predicts residents of his project will use Interbay Boulevard to get wherever they're going. And Realtor Jennifer Zales, who lives in the Westshore Yacht Club on south West Shore, has found her own workarounds.
"There are so many cut-through streets you can completely avoid having to go West Shore to Gandy,'' she said. "I can take Oklahoma all the way across to Himes, for example. I have to go out at all times of the day and it's really easy.''
Contact Susan Taylor Martin at email@example.com or (727) 893-8642. Follow @susanskate.