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Mayor Jane Castor celebrates Tampa’s pandemic building boom

The mayor credits her administration’s permit streamlining for a big leap in construction in 2020.
Tampa Mayor Jane Castor attends the ribbon cutting event at the new REI Co-op store on Thursday, March 4, 2021, at Midtown Tampa. The store is an anchor tenant at the development which offers retail, residential, hotel and office buildings on a campus of 11 buildings.
Tampa Mayor Jane Castor attends the ribbon cutting event at the new REI Co-op store on Thursday, March 4, 2021, at Midtown Tampa. The store is an anchor tenant at the development which offers retail, residential, hotel and office buildings on a campus of 11 buildings. [ DOUGLAS R. CLIFFORD | Times ]
Published Mar. 11
Updated Mar. 25

TAMPA — The last year has challenged Florida’s third-largest city in many ways: a pandemic, racial discord and the disruption of daily life for all of the city’s roughly 400,000 inhabitants.

Throughout 2020, though, Tampa’s economic development engine stayed in high gear, Mayor Jane Castor announced Thursday.

The city recorded $4.5 billion in permitted construction in 2020, up from $3.1 billion in 2019. The 45 percent increase came amid economic dislocation for many, but should reap dividends for the city’s bottom line in years to come as projects come on to the tax rolls.

Castor credits her administration’s streamlining of the permitting process, as well as keeping construction sites operating safely, for the boom.

“During the pandemic, we have really taken so many steps to ensure that our development has not only continued, but increased in our community,” Castor told the Tampa Bay Times.

Some of those steps include overhauling the permit process to allow same-day permitting for some projects and individual attention from a designated city employee for large projects. Allowing more of the permitting process to be done online also speeded things along, she said.

Related: Tampa debuts same day permitting process

Making permitting easier and faster was her top priority entering office in 2019, Castor said. At the time, the city was already undergoing a major uptick in permitting. Castor’s changes accelerated that trend, her aides said.

Related: Mayor Jane Castor's challenge: Don't get in the way

Some of the major projects permitted in 2020 include:

  • Hyde Park House on Bayshore Boulevard. The 25-story, $58 million condo project took six months between plans being submitted and issuing final permits.
  • The $40 million Encore Legacy also took six months to make it through permitting.
  • The $32 million project, The Independent, took three months.
  • The Edition Tampa, the $120 million project, a 27-story mix of hotel rooms and condos took two months.
  • The largest permitted project, the $156 million 1050 Water Street project, part of the larger $3 billion Water Street development, took 3½ months.

Castor said navigating the competing demands of public health and economic development was a balancing act, but she pointed to Tampa’s program of sending nurses to construction sites to monitor coronavirus safety that allowed construction to continue safely.

Related: Tampa sends nurses to major construction sites

“We’ve really taken so many steps to make Tampa attractive for corporations, organizations, and for development here and I’m very, very proud of what we’ve been able to accomplish,” Castor told the Times.