Ed Montanari, Guido Maniscalco talk growth, development around Tampa Bay area

The area is facing rapid growth as more people head to Florida.

St. Petersburg City Council Chair Ed Montanari joined Tampa City Council Chair Guido Maniscalco Friday morning to discuss how their respective city’s are handling Florida’s rapid growth and development. The presentation was part of the Cafe con Tampa discussion series.

Montanari laid out the current situation: Florida is among the top three states experiencing the most growth, with the other two being Texas and Arizona. The Sunshine State is seeing roughly 1,000 people a day move in, translating to about 2,500-2,800 new residents a year in St. Pete, he said.

“We’re seeing a lot of migration from northern, high-tax states to southern, low-tax states,” Montanari said.

The problem, Montanari said, is how to make room for new neighbors while maintaining the city’s appeal.

“A lot of growth that we’re seeing is vertical development,” he said. “The struggles that we have right now (are) kind of a Ying and a Yang of how do we accommodate the growth, but preserve our quality of life.”

Montanari went on to discuss what he called “the biggest issue” the city is facing — development of the Tropicana Field site.

“Mayor (Rick) Kriseman is in the last year of his term, and he’s got four or five big projects that he’s trying to push through,” he said. “The biggest one is the redevelopment of the Tropicana Field.”

Montanari also touched on the future of the Tampa Bay Rays. Back in January,Kriseman rejected a proposal from the Tampa Bay Rays for a new stadium on the Tropicana Field site, leaving the Major League baseball team without a stadium site. The deal would have required ceding a significant portion of development revenue rights to the Major League Baseball team, revenue needed to support a funding split for a new stadium.

“I’ve been speaking with the Rays, I invited the Rays to come to our City Council meeting next week to talk about their vision for what they want to see,” Montanari said. “We need to have the Rays involved. … Having a Major League Baseball team in the Tampa Bay region is extremely important.”

Following Montanari’s presentation, Maniscalco discussed the need for affordable housing in Tampa as the city’s housing market continues to grow.

“You could get a house for 80 grand, 100 grand at the bottom of the market. Now those houses are four times more expensive, but it doesn’t stop people from moving here,” Maniscalco said. 

The city is also facing an influx of out-of-state residents moving down here who can afford the cost of living, Maniscalco said. However, this doesn’t do much good for long-time residents.

“Things are getting more expensive, salaries are not increasing, pay raises aren’t coming, the minimum wage stays stagnant — what do we do to catch up with the time, you know with the cost of living,” Maniscalco said. “Tampa’s a great place to live, if you can afford it.”

Kelly Hayes

Kelly Hayes studied journalism and political science at the University of Florida. Kelly was born and raised in Tampa Bay. A recent graduate, she enjoys government and legal reporting. She has experience covering the Florida Legislature as well as local government, and is a proud Alligator alum. You can reach Kelly at [email protected].


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