Real Estate in Tampa
Craig Kincheloe

June 2020 Digital Magazine




J.C. Penney’s plans for a retail REIT could lay out some major redevelopment opportunities in Tampa Bay

Part of J.C. Penney Co. Inc’s turnaround plan includes cashing in on its real estate — and it is sitting on some prime sites for potential redevelopment in the Tampa Bay area.Dallas-based J.C. Penney (NYSE: JCP) filed for Chapter 11 bankruptcy protection on Friday, and part of the retailer’s tentative plan calls for the creation of a real estate investment trust that would collect rent from its stores, Bloomberg reports. J.C. Penney could sell up to a 35 percent stake in the REIT to generate cash if its lenders approve the plan. The retailer said its bankruptcy filing will result in some store closures; it needs to reduce its retail footprint, given the company’s financial performance even before the novel coronavirus pandemic. It currently has 800 stores.

“One of the most immediate priorities is the closure of underperforming and bad space,” said Neil Saunders, managing director of GlobalData Retail. “J.C. Penney is exposed to a high number of weak malls and locations and it needs to quickly cut its losses.”

J.C. Penney’s REIT plan is like a strategy Sears deployed in 2015 when it spun off Seritage Growth Properties. Seritage has moved forward with several redevelopments of Sears’ real estate in the Tampa Bay area. In Clearwater, a portion of Sears at Westfield Countryside was redeveloped to make way for Whole Foods Market Inc. In St. Petersburg, Seritage redeveloped the Sears at Tyrone Square Mall into Dick’s Sporting Goods, PetSmart, Five Below and Hitchcock’s Markets, which took over the former Lucky’s Market space.

J.C. Penney does not own its WestShore Plaza real estate, which is arguably its best property in the Tampa Bay region. Washington Prime Group, the Ohio-based owner of WestShore Plaza, owns the J.C. Penney box. Simon Property Group, the owner of Tyrone Square Mall, also owns J.C. Penney’s real estate at that mall. QIC, which owns the Shops at Wiregrass in Wesley Chapel, also controls J.C. Penney’s anchor box there.

But J.C. Penney does own real estate throughout the region, including the following:

  • 150,741-square-foot anchor box on 9.35 acres at Westfield Brandon
  • 172,337-square-foot anchor box at Westfield Countryside in Clearwater
  • 133,573-square-foot anchor box on 9.37 acres at Westfield Citrus Park

In recent years, restaurant and entertainment concepts have become the go-to businesses to occupy real estate vacated by traditional retailers. But in the wake of the coronavirus pandemic, retail redevelopments have become more complicated. Many food, bar and entertainment concepts face an uncertain financial future and looming bankruptcies. Movie theaters, which have become an anchor at many malls in recent years, have been devastated by the pandemic. J.C. Penney’s three owned properties in the Tampa Bay area are in high traffic areas — areas that are ripe for new types of development, including multifamily, education and medical office space.

Bloomberg reports that J.C. Penney says in court documents that it wants to list shares of its new REIT on a national securities exchange “as soon as reasonably practicable.” But the plans for the REIT are not yet a done deal: The retailer has until July 14 to agree on a plan with its first-lien lenders.
But even without the REIT, it seems like most if not all of J.C. Penney’s real estate will be in play. If it does not come to terms with lenders and get its necessary funding by Aug. 15, it will have to pursue a sale.

Craig’s Take:

There is going to be wave of redevelopment opportunities as our economy changes and consumer behavior changes. Retail stores have and will continue to close due to many consumers preferring to shop online. Most of these locations are prime real estate located in convenient high-traffic areas. The bigger question is what is going to replace these large spaces. What is going to be the highest and best use of these spaces? There is not a universal answer to this question as it will depend on each location. If I were to provide a universal answer, I believe many will be replaced with residential real estate and service-based businesses.  COVID-19 has created many uncertainties, and as a result, I do anticipate many of these locations will set vacant for a while. Many developers and companies are going to want to wait and see the lasting impact of COVID-19 on people’s behavior before taking on large scale projects like redeveloping spaces of this size. This is an area I will be watching closely as it will no doubt impact residential real estate values surrounding these locations.

This Month’s Market Trends in
Tampa Bay 


Imagine our Florida’s Virtual 5K
Run or walk at your own pace for this fundraiser benefiting Imagine our Florida. Once you sign up, you’ll receive a link to self-report your time. You can run on a treadmill, around the block, or even out in nature. You have until December 31, 2020, to complete your run.

Father’s Day Lunch & Dinner Cruises
Sunday, June 21, 12:30pm & 5:30pm
Give Dad a break from the grill this Father’s Day with a spectacular cruise on the water! The entire family will enjoy a lavish meal prepared by the Yacht’s Executive Chef, while experiencing the best views of Tampa Bay. Includes a 2-hour cruise with an upscale entree selection, reserved table, and DJ entertainment. $59.95/person (plus $2 marine fee and sales tax)


The Ringling’s Museum from Home
The Ringling is allowing you to tour the Bayfront Gardens from the comfort of your home, view Art Chats, send a digital postcard, explore over 100 different species of trees using TreeKeeper, and more! You can also find Ringling archives, Ringling staff favs, and the object of the week posts on The Ringling’s Facebook page.

Shine Mural Festival Virtual Tour
Explore St. Pete’s multitude of murals from the comfort of your home via the SHINE Mural Festival Virtual Tour. The virtual tour allows you to see photos, watch videos and find out about the artist and the artwork.


Curious whether people in your neighborhood are testing positive for coronavirus? The Florida Department of Health, Division of Disease Control and Health Protection has launched an online tool to map cases of coronavirus by ZIP code.
For real time COVID-19 updates for Florida data click here.
If you do not receive updates from the City of Tampa make sure to sign up by texting:TAMPAREADY to 888-777.

Tampa Foodie

Brioche Café and Bakery

Check out South Tampa’s newest Café and Bakery. Brioche Café & Bakery combines the best of European and Mediterranean flavors with the comfort and convenience of limited seating, carry-out and grab-and-go options.  They offer artisanal breads, elevated soups, salads, sandwiches, and rotating daily specials.  On the sweeter side, Brioche presents an assortment of desserts, pastries, cookies, tarts, and confections.From the time she was a young child, Brioche chef and owner Badia Verona had a passion for cooking.  She moved to the United States from Switzerland in 1999 and earned her culinary degree from the prestigious Le Cordon Blue Academy.
Brioche offers breakfast, lunch, and early dinner selections Monday through Friday with weekend brunch.
Make sure to check them out:Address: 407 S. Dale Mabry Hwy, Tampa, FL 33609
Hours: Monday-Friday • 8AM – 6PM, Saturday and Sunday • 9AM – 3PM
Phone Number: 813.443.4409
We can’t wait to try: The Brioche Lox and the Café au LaitClick here to go to their site.

Bayshore’s first condo tower in 15 years completed,
residents moving in to
million-dollar units

The first condo tower built on Tampa’s Bayshore Boulevard in 15 years has completed the construction phase and is ready for its residents to begin moving in.Residents are paying at least $1 million for each of the luxury units in the 24-floor tower, though some went for more than $5 million apiece. Most of the condos range in 2,400 to 3,400 square feet and all have their own private elevator entrance, according to the news release. Amenities include an infinity pool overlooking Bayshore as well as a pet grooming facility with dog-washing equipment called a “pet spa.”

The two top floors each consist of a single penthouse, with 6,700 square feet and 360-degree views of Hillsborough Bay, South Tampa, and Downtown Tampa.
Even though the coronavirus pandemic has affected many luxury apartment complexes in Tampa Bay — prompting many of them to offer free months of rent or other perks — Virage’s sales were largely unaffected. That is because much of their units were already secured before the pandemic began, with all but four having been sold by this time last year.

One of the units on the seventh floor was purchased by four-time Tampa Mayor Dick Greco back in 2017, though he said at the time that he hadn’t decided yet whether he and his wife would live there or if they would keep it as an investment property.

The luxury condo tower was announced in late 2016, and since then at least two others were underway. Construction crews’ broke ground in November 2017. Today, 69 of the 71 units have been pre-sold — totaling more than $120 million in real estate. Final closing of those sales began May 15 and will continue over the coming weeks.

The pandemic did affect construction crews, as workers completed temperature checks every morning and wore colored bracelets every day to show they passed the screening. Contractors on site also were required to wear face masks and fewer people rode in elevators at the same time.

Craig’s Take:
This project is proof of concept for the demand of high-rise luxury condo living along beautiful Bayshore Blvd. After nearly a decade without any condo construction many wondered if the demand would be there if a developer were to build one. That question has been answered. There was so much pent-up demand that the pace of sales exceeded most expectations. The question many have is who these people are purchasing these luxury condos. Most of the buyers are Tampa empty-nester couples looking to ditch the large home with all the maintenance for the maintenance free lifestyle, with a great location, and superb amenities. Simply put, they are trading size for what they perceive as a better quality of life as they enter the next chapter of their life. Now that the proof of concept has been established, other developers believe the demand has still not been met and as a result, you are seeing other luxury high-rise condos being built– for example, Hyde Park House, which is also located on Bayshore Blvd. The question remains:  is the demand strong enough for the more than 1,000 condos priced around $1 million that are proposed or under construction between Gandy Blvd and downtown Tampa. My belief, based upon studying the market every day, is that demand has not been met at this point. I do think the velocity of sales will be much slower than they have with buildings that started preselling in 2015-2017. I also believe some buildings that do not offer an exceptional location, breathtaking views, and unparalleled amenities will struggle to make sales. Stay-tuned for continued updates from me on the luxury condo market.

Tiny home community

opens in Tampa

You can now live large but on a smaller scale in Thonotosassa. ESCAPE Tampa Bay Village, a community of tiny homes off  Hwy. 301, is now open and leasing. “ESCAPE is a new 21st century way of the tiny house.  We do it with a twist. We take it one step further and we are RV certified,” said David Peterson, Development Director for ESCAPE.Each energy-efficient tiny home is a minimalist’s dream. Peterson says these homes are not only affordable, but they are sustainable. “Say a person has a 2 to 3 bedroom home, with these, the size of square footage, the cost to heat them, the cost of electricity, the cost to light them is all minute compared to a normal home,” said Peterson.

The tiny homes are also big on style and feature panoramic windows, full kitchens, large bathrooms, large first floor bedrooms, washer/dryers, plenty of storage, full climate control, LED lighting.  “These are fancied up, top of the line from appliances to counter tops to installation,” said Peterson. The tiny homes have also been engineered for extreme weather events like hurricanes and are strapped down.

Currently, 10 units are available at ESCAPE Tampa Bay Village. According to Peterson, their tiny homes range from $75,000-$106,000. He predicts these homes will be popular among millennials and retirees.

For more information on ESCAPE Tampa Bay Village, visit their website here.

Craig’s Take:

Tiny homes have become increasingly popular on the west coast over the past several years. Cities like Durango, CO, Fresno, CA, Portland, OR and recently Spur, TX. Many times, the location of these communities is convenient to nature and ideal for people who enjoy outdoor activities. They are also often found in areas that have a high cost of living. The first step to an area being attractive for tiny housing communities are zoning laws that are tiny home friendly. Many municipalities have been putting a focus on different ways to make housing affordable for more people. Changing zoning laws that allow for tiny houses to be built is one way to increase affordability. Many people have questions on how Tiny Home communities work. I want to explain how Escape Tampa Bay Village works first. You rent the lot like a mobile home or RV park. The lot rentals at Escape Tampa Bay Village range from $400-$600 per month. If you are looking to finance the Tiny home, they are financing them over a 15-year term. Depending on the design, you go with mortgage payment range from $465-$706 per month with a 15% down payment. So, if you add the mortgage with lot rental your total monthly expenditure ranges from $865-$1,177. I will say the homes are incredibly attractive and have high quality materials you would never expect in a home in this price range. My belief is this could be a low-cost way to live in a quality home for people who do not need a lot of space. That said it is not a good long-term investment. Not owning the land is what makes this a poor long-term investment. Tiny homes are likely to depreciate like a car, RV, or trailer. In real estate, the part that appreciates the most is typically the land and not owning the land means the home will likely depreciate over time. I would look at it as being a glorified renter.

Tampa Bay


Market Health

A recent report from ATTOM Data Solutions, a property data company based in California, found that the housing market in most of the counties making up Tampa Bay are among the least vulnerable to the effects of coronavirus.The two exceptions are Hernando and Polk counties, which fall within the top 60 most vulnerable. To determine each county’s vulnerability, the report looked at the total percentage of income it took in Q1 2020 to buy a home, percentage of homes underwater, those which the mortgage loan was higher than its market value in Q4 2019, and percentage of foreclosures in Q4 2019.

Based on that data, the report found Pinellas County is most resilient to coronavirus effects in Tampa Bay. An average Pinellas resident needs 31.7 percent of income to purchase a home, one of the better percentages in the bay area. The county also had 9.4 percent of homes underwater and a 12 percent foreclosure rate.

Pasco and Hillsborough counties are the next resilient, according to the report. For Pasco, a resident would need to spend a little under 30 percent of their income to buy a home. The county did have a higher percentage of homes underwater at 14.5 percent, but it also had a lower foreclosure rate than Pinellas at 10 percent.

The report found Hillsborough is a little more vulnerable than Pasco with 29 percent of a resident’s income needed to purchase a house. The county had 12.3 percent of homes underwater and a 15 percent foreclosure rate.

Polk and Hernando counties rank among the most vulnerable counties. Polk landed at No. 59 with a high underwater rate and foreclosure rates of 15.2 and 17 percent, respectively. Hernando landed at No. 35 with the highest percentage of properties underwater at 15.9 percent and a foreclosure rate of 22 percent.

ATTOM did note that it is too early to tell the full effect of the coronavirus, but the impact will be significant. The purpose of the report was to identify markets that may be significantly at risk.

“It’s too early to tell how much effect the coronavirus fallout will have on different housing markets around the country. But the impact is likely to be significant from region to region and county to county,” Todd Teta, chief product officer with ATTOM Data Solutions, said in a statement. “What we’ve done is spotlight areas that appear to be at risk based on several important factors. From that analysis, it looks like the Northeast is more at risk than other areas. As we head into the spring homebuying season, the next few months will reveal how severe the impact will be.”

Overall, Florida had 10 counties fall within the top 50 with Flagler, Lake, Bay, Clay, and Broward among the most vulnerable; Sumter, Pinellas, Alachua, Brevard, and Seminole were among the least vulnerable.

Craig’s Take:
This is an excellent article that covers two of the four most important aspects on projecting how any real estate market will fair during and after COVID-19. Those are the percentage of homes currently underwater and the percentage of income needed to qualify to purchase a home. It is missing the unemployment figures for homeowners as well as the percentage of homeowner equity in 2020. Below is a pie chart that outlines those figures nationally. Many of my clients I speak with are shocked by these figures. Especially the fact that 42.1% of Americans own their home free and clear of a mortgage.

Obviously, the more equity someone has in their home the less likely they are to let the home go to foreclosure. Additionally, it also allows people who can qualify to refinance or obtain home equity line of credit should they need cash to get through these times. The key words being those who qualify. For those unemployed or furloughed they will be unable to obtain any such financing regardless of their equity position. Expect me to expand more on these topics in future editions.

COVID-19 Helpers

Carla Bristol, left, waves goodbye to Jackie Hersey after Hersey picked up a head of collard greens during a giveaway organized by Bristol at Atwater’s Soul Food Restaurant in St. Petersburg. [BOYZELL HOSEY | TIMES | Tampa Bay Times]Fred Rogers once said: “When I was a boy and I would see scary things in the news, my mother would say to me, ‘Look for the helpers. You will always find people who are helping.’”

Carla Bristol is always on the move – sewing bags at night from donated T-shirts, sharing fresh produce to groups such as Daystar and checking on her 92-year-old neighbor. Lately, she has also been funneling nonperishables to Eric Atwater, who is serving free meals at his restaurant, at the corner of 18th Ave. S and MLK St. in St. Petersburg.

“I felt comfortable with Atwater’s,” she said, “because I knew everything would be safe, and that’s where people in the community were already coming to – a place where people from four neighborhoods could walk to.”

Bristol normally leads the St. Petersburg Urban Youth Farm on the campus of Pinellas Technical College. She said she learned early, from her mother, to be charitable. In Guyana, where she grew up, her family had chickens and mango and avocado trees. They shared the bounty with neighbors.
Bristol moved to New York in 1980 and then to St. Petersburg in 1996. She raised two children here and grew to love the culture and community of the Southside. It reminded her of home.
Now, amid this pandemic, she is connecting to a network of resources, helping however she can. So, when a stranger reached out to tell her about a farm in Lakeland that was struggling to offload its produce, she found donations to purchase 350 heads of collard greens at a greatly reduced rate. Then she gathered a small team to bag everything and make them available at Atwater’s.
“So many people and organizations have stepped forward in this time of need,” she said. “If people know your spirit is good, they’re not opposed to welcoming you in and helping out.”

Tampa Bay Featured


Luxury Listing

An opportunity to own part of Tampa’s history, this vintage home was originally owned by the Garrison Channel family. It is secluded in the city’s premier Golfview neighborhood located on quiet brick streets with walkability to Palma Ceia golf course, restaurants, shops and Bayshore. While keeping its character of the 1920’s, renovations and expansions include extensive woodwork and moldings with attention given to detail. The open formal living and dining rooms make for great entertaining and family gatherings. A sunroom connects the custom kitchen to the family room giving the feeling of bringing the light and outdoors in. Ten sets of French doors open as needed to the patios overlooking the pool and expansive yard. Two wood burning fireplaces downstairs add to the charm of this home. Over 4200 square feet of living space allows versatility of use. Currently used as a 5 bedroom with an office, the unique floor plan allows for a playroom, workout area, or nanny space accessible from a second staircase. The detached 416 sf guest cottage is ADA compliant with door openings and a full walk in shower. It can be used as a pool house or separate private office. A portion of the two-car garage is currently used as an added bedroom in the guest cottage, but it can easily be converted back to garage space. This home is located at: 3212 W San Nicholas St. Tampa, FL 33629.Craig’s Take:
The owner originally purchased the home in 1986 for a bargain of $236,280. It is in one of my favorite South Tampa neighborhoods of Golfview. What I like most about Golfview is it offers all the convenience of being in the middle of the city while at the same time offering a beautiful countryside feeling. The lots are large offering exceptional privacy and the streets are tree lined lending to its countryside feel. The buyer is going to be someone who appreciates the above, the character of a 1920’s home while also being accepting of the quirks and awkwardness that comes with a 1920’s home. It is currently the most affordable home listed for sale in Golfview. Even with all the homes in Golfview being in the luxury price range they still typically sell relatively quick with a median day to contract of 114 days. It is not uncommon for tear downs in Golfview that set on larger lots to sell for $1 million to $1.4 million. I know for many that can be hard to wrap your mind around especially given these homes/lots are not on the water. It is all about location, lot size, lack of inventory, and the strong demand.

Tampa Bay Featured

Luxury Listing

Former Toronto Blue Jays all-star and Major League Baseball Hall of Famer Roberto Alomar has sold off his sprawling Tampa home, 901 Palacio De Avila, Tampa, FL 33613. Alomar’s 18,000 square-foot-home on 3.4 gated acres in Avila has sold for $4 million.
The home sale is among several major residential transactions to close since the coronavirus pandemic began. The highest priced spec home ever sold in Tampa closed in April, and luxury real estate agents say they aren’t seeing a slowdown in business.
Alomar bought the home in 2010 from JPMorgan Chase Bank, which had foreclosed on it 2009. He paid $2.4 million, according to Hillsborough County property records. The buyer was not disclosed, and a deed for the transaction has not yet been filed.
The home has eight bedrooms, nine full and three half baths and has marble floors, custom millwork and resort-style amenities. It also includes a wine cellar, indoor and outdoor pools, eight-car collector’s garage and a sports court.Craig’s Take:This home was previously featured as a luxury listing in March’s edition of Tampa Bay Insider. Roberto Alomar did an exquisite job remodeling the home after purchasing as a foreclosure. The home was purchased by Dr. George Giannakopoulos and his wife Emilia. Dr. Giannakopoulos is a practicing neurological surgeon specializing in spine surgery in Pasco and Hernando Counties. The most interesting aspect of this transaction was the timing. The contract was signed by all parties on February 22nd right before the COVID-19 pandemic hit the Tampa Bay area. The buyers did not get alarmed enough to cancel the contract. They continued forward with the sale and closed on May 5th. As, the article mentioned this is one of many luxury sales that happened during the middle of the pandemic. All of which are signs the wealthy still feel optimistic about the Tampa Bay luxury real estate market. In my next month’s edition of Tampa Bay Insider, I will get into why the wealthy feel optimistic about Tampa Bay’s luxury real estate market.Note from Craig:We are in unprecedented times on many levels. We all have been impacted on some level. I am here to answer your questions about the real estate market, local economy, residential lending, and home building. I study these topics daily and have the numbers, data, and facts to share with you. There is a lot of misinformation out there. Much of it is based on opinion and/or emotion. Reach out to me as I am committed to be your resource. Send me an email, text me, or click on the link here to schedule a phone or video appointment.

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