The Tampa Downtown Partnership is a private, not-for-profit 501(c)(6) organization that administers to the Special Services District within Downtown Tampa. The Partnership is committed to leading and promoting healthy growth in Downtown Tampa. In 2007, the Partnership approached HCP Associates with their concerns regarding the downtown area’s development. In the previous years, residential occupancy had increased at a surprising rate, but many retail storefronts were still empty. There seemed to be a perception that Downtown Tampa is a less lively zone by residents, workers, and visitors to the area, and complaints by these groups were becoming more and more frequent. HCP Associates recommended designing a custom study to highlight the area’s “live, work, and play” potential.
To select the target participants, HCP Associates considered the groups that frequently trafficked the downtown area. Ultimately, those who utilized the downtown area the most are residents and workers. Two separate studies were designed based upon their respective recipient groups, addressing area growth, development trends, retail needs, transportation and mobility satisfaction, parking requirements, demographic data, and other essential lifestyle activities.
As Downtown was in the early stages of recovery and growth, the study was considered a baseline and repeated at defined increments to track growth and responses. Moreover, the Partnership used the respondents’ feedback to identify what was lacking in Downtown. What did these individuals need to feel a stronger sense of connection to the area? What was the potential downtown customer base looking for from commercial retailers large and small?
Armed with the knowledge gained from the results and by working and collaborating closely with both public and private sectors, the Partnership could confidently take the lead in encouraging growth and supporting the needs of both residents and workers that make up the Downtown Tampa market.
The data has been collected each year biennially since and shared with the Tampa Downtown Partnership and City of Tampa officials, current downtown businesses, out-of-market real estate investors, developers, and retailers seeking to move to downtown Tampa.
The study took a retrospective approach, exploring all of the enhancements and changes in sentiment brought upon by the preceding decade of high growth in Downtown Tampa. 2020’s iteration brought a renewed focus on understanding workers’ and residents’ concerns following the COVID-19 pandemic. Issues at the forefront of respondents’ minds included remote work, homelessness, retail needs, the desire for increased activation at Downtown parks, and more.
The development has helped the Downtown Core and its surrounding areas build a stronger sense of place.