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As downtown plans emerge, Rents are on the rise

TAMPA (FOX 13) Last weekend, Sarah Burke did the opposite of what Tampa city officials want her to do. She moved out of her downtown apartment and bought a house in Seminole Heights. "It was hard for me to pay $1,700 a month," she said. And that was for a one bedroom. "My mortgage payment is going to be about $500 less than my rent, and it's a three-bedroom, two-bath house."

And what happens when downtown Tampa is filled with Jeff Vinik's top-notch entertainment area?

"The rates are going to increase year-by-year for sure," said Summer Rossi of Selling Tampa Bay.

According to the Tampa Downtown Partnership, occupancy is approaching 95 percent. As a result, realtors at Selling Tampa Bay say that, in just the last year, downtown rents have gone up between 10 and 30 percent.

We surveyed five buildings, and found most one bedrooms are going for between $1,100 and $1,600 a month, with most on the higher end.

"They're going to keep upping the prices until someone is not going to pay it," Rossi said.

Mayor Buckhorn acknowledges rents are going up, and expects that to continue even though supply is dramatically increasing. Nine new towers will be up within five years; 6,700 units will become nearly 10,000.

And Vinik is planning up to 1,500 more.

Buckhorn insists the prized millennial demographic won't be scared off.

"You want to be right there in that sweet spot, and that sweet spot will emerge as the market shakes out," Buckhorn said.

But Burke warns that if *she* got priced out, she won't be nearly the last young professional to decide city living isn't worth it.

"It ends up being most of one of your paychecks," she said. "You end up with so very little money for yourself and you can't really save."

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