Today, HCP Associates’ Vice President Robert Allen, Jr. presented the results of the seventh Biennial Downtown Tampa Worker and Resident Study at the State of Tampa’s Downtown Development Forum hosted Virtually by the Tampa Downtown Partnership.
This three-day virtual event examined how Downtown handled the pandemic during 2020. HCP’s research explored the transformations Downtown’s residents and workers want to see moving forward involving Tampa’s urban core, which catalyzes Florida’s west coast. Numerous regional stakeholders, urban planners, developers, real estate professionals, property owners, public officials, arts and entertainment professionals, and non-profit organizations attended this informative event.
As an industry leader in market research, HCP Associates has collaborated with the Tampa Downtown Partnership (TDP) since 2008 to survey residents and workers in Tampa’s urban core.
HCP Managing Partner Sean Coniglio said, “The pandemic has had a significant impact on our business community, especially on small businesses. The study results offer subtle indications of how the pandemic impacted our worker commuting trends and the shift to remote work and emphasizes continued demands for affordable housing and retail level consumer goods. It has been a difficult year; however, we continue to see strong signs from Hillsborough and the surrounding counties. Downtown’s newest residents come from across the country and across the state, but its largest share is those moving into the city from other parts of Hillsborough County. This speaks to the continued appeal of Tampa’s Downtown despite all of the uncertainty of the last year.”
Results from prior years’ studies have given rise to enhanced access to the river, waterfront dining, events in the parks, new museums and attractions, extended operating hours for transportation and merchants, full-service grocers, and more.
“Downtown has the dynamics to sustain a vibrant and diverse community. The Partnership has reacted to previous studies’ results in ways that have converted prior weaknesses, such as the district’s walkability, into strengths that define the area. Understanding and responding to this new information will allow Tampa to continue its upward trajectory as a world-class destination,” said HCP Vice President Robert Allen, Jr.
From the 2018 study, several trends have continued from prior years. Resident demographics continue to reflect Downtown’s growing diversity, with increases in the youngest and oldest age brackets. In terms of hours, residents remain most active within Downtown Tampa from 6 p.m. to 9 p.m. Residents are 50% more likely to have lived in Downtown Tampa for five or more years compared to 2010. This reflects a downtown population that is setting roots in Tampa and calling the city home.
Four in five Downtown Tampa workers leave the workplace to experience Tampa once a week or more. Over the last eight years, positive signs have emerged, suggesting that Downtown Tampa caters more to their after-work needs. Although the 2020 results show modest decreases attributable to the pandemic, there is a steady trend towards increased activity in the evening hours. This fact suggests that more workers opt to visit restaurants, bars, venues, and other community spaces in the downtown area instead of returning directly home after work.
Residents and workers identified the Riverwalk as one of Tampa’s most vital assets. Testimonials have referred to the Riverwalk as the ‘spine’ of the city, connecting the area to activities and experiences. According to residents’ and workers’ feedback, Downtown Tampa’s most significant improvement opportunities remained focused on parking and traffic areas.
Other topics explored at the forum included homelessness advocacy, workforce improvements, attainable housing, new transportation possibilities, and viable retail development in the downtown area.
As Tampa’s Downtown continues to grow and change, new patterns and trends will undoubtedly emerge. HCP remains a pioneer in conducting meaningful projects that both serve and strategically engage the community.