Three Strategies to Keep Placemaking Efforts Organic and Dynamic
Three speakers at 2019 ULI Florida Summit advocated for a more crafted approach to placemaking...
ST PETERSBURG — Despite rising construction costs and a “hint of conservatism” in lending, Tampa Bay’s extraordinary building boom could continue for several more years.
And despite concerns about an oversupply of apartments and storage units, any gluts are apt to be temporary and limited to certain geographic areas.
Those were among the points stressed Thursday by speakers at a “Capital Markets Update” sponsored by the Tampa Bay chapter of the Urban Land Institute. None forecast a recession like that of 2008 hitting in the next four or five years so long as money continues to be readily available.
“Tampa Bay is on fire,” said Yakhin Israel, senior vice president of the brokerage firm CBRE. “I can’t go a day without hearing from somebody who wants to invest in Tampa Bay or lend in Tampa Bay.”
The legacy of the financial crash, though, is felt in the changing ratio between the amount of money that banks loan for a project and the amount that comes from other sources of financing. During the last boom, banks might loan 75 percent or more; today, it’s about 60 percent.
“There’s a hint of conservatism in the air,” said Al Rogers, executive lending officer of Valley Bank, which has 15 branches in the Tampa Bay area. “We are dialing back a slight amount on leverage. We’re just concerned that with so much expansion and development and such, we are prone to overbuild.
“We haven’t seen it yet but we’re sleeping with one eye open.”
The gaps between what banks will lend and what a project costs are being filled, in part, by extremely wealth individuals. “The people who take risks can afford to lose it all,” said Gus Katsadouros of Tampa investment firm Osprey Capital.
He noted that one mega local development appears to have “zero debt” — Tampa’s $3 billion Water Street, funded by a partnership between Tampa Bay Lightning owner Jeff Vinik and Cascade Investment LLC, which is owned by Bill Gates, the world’s second richest man.
Instead of a recession, Katsadouros said he foresees a possible “correction” in the near term. “In the last year and a half, we’ve felt construction costs are too high and developers are overly aggressive,” he said.
Construction costs in the Tampa Bay area are rising about 20 percent a year — which is bad in that it’s driving up the total cost of projects but positive in that it can keep over-development in check. Other factors mitigating the risk of recession include low interest rates.
Some other takeaways: