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photogram: tampa heights & ybor city
Old 06-04-2008, 01:21 PM   #1
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photogram: tampa heights & ybor city

just back from roadtrip scouting downsized housing in daytona and tampa, i also checked out port charlotte and punta gorda, ground zero of the bubble burst.

first i'll get the last part of my trip out of the way. punta gorda and port charlotte, how to describe: you know that space between blah and completely uninteresting? i wasn't inspired to take a single photo of this soggy white bread world.

finding my way around a moat, i pulled a realtor's brochure from its box in front of a house for sale. the entire area poorly drains. on a canal with fixed bridges sits 121 nw carlisle ave port charlotte fl. its 33952 zip code sports 540 preforeclosures & 121 reo's. i don't have stats on the entire zip code but for the area around this house, realtor.com shows all of one (1) sale in 2008. the moated house is asking $258,900 yet it sold in 2004 for $174,800 and in 2002 for $130,000. the brochure brags “partially updated” with “newer windows” and doors, oh my!

a nearby sale from dec 07 brought $70,400 on a house which sold for $97,500 in 2003 & for $48,000 in 2002, down 28% from 03 to 07. i do not understand why this area managed to rival south florida prices even during the bubble. their nearest decent airport is two hours away in tampa. crossing this area off my downsize list.

back to the subject at hand. tampa.

i like tampa. always did. lived there for two years back in college days.

the heights are where the gays moved when they could no longer afford hyde park. here's the lazy theory of historic preservation. first an area develops just outside of a city as a weathy suburb for business owners who look for cheap labor. they hire black people who eventually migrate out from the city. the black people settle near white areas which leads to white flight. not having the money for upkeep, these areas tend to get a bit run down. but--and here's the good part--they don't redevelop for years. rather than being “improved upon”, the moldings, stair cases, the fabulous front porches remain intact. no one had money to make changes. no one had money to trim the trees and so the streets are lined by old live oaks. no one had money to pave and so the original pavers line the streets. the area is preserved by poverty.

so the first phase of a historic district is monied white people who build the original houses. phase two is poverty stricken black people who hold onto the properties until they are properly aged. for the redevelopment phase, send in the gays.

why gays? because we love antiquing. we long for a sense of stability, a sense of history; even if not our own, at least it is one filled with oppression to which we relate. we don't care that we are living in a “bad” school district. we're not worried about the children that we have not bred being beat up by the black neighbor's kids. we love diversity; it helps camouflage us.

but after we renovate areas like hyde park, the white str8s move in. they bring their children and their better schools and their higher taxes. they make it too expensive for the rest of the gays to complete settlement and so our community cashes out & splits off. divided & moved by economy and a sense of place, less monied, more adventurous gays move into even darker territory, which we paint and landscape and call it home.

so this is where the heights currently stand. between black and white, between str8 & gay, between history preserved and homes renovated. part war zone, part study of transition. city-data.com shows the transition over time from black to white. in 33602, more blacks than whites moved into the area up through 1994 but then 1995 through 2000 immigration of whites outnumbered blacks so that now the area which was mostly black is about 50/50. the color war is green and reflected in the housing prices which is all magnified by the bubble & its burst as illustrated below.

the heights consist of tampa heights, riverside heights & seminole heights, the gayest (read: the first & most renovated) area being riverside, followed by seminole with tampa heights first on its way to re-resettlement.

here are the heights north to south (towards downtown):

seminole (actually i think this is south seminole)

community pride is frequently displayed throughout these districts.


creativity abounds


lovely canopied streets


320 w wilder is a 3/2, 1479-square-foot (sq ft or sf for future reference) circa 1925 home on 100 x 116 ft lot asking $229,500; just value (county's appraised market value) $222,566; prior sales:1997 $75,000; 1994 $45,000.

here's the kicker and evidence of the war zone described above. there were only 4 sales near this home in 2008, three follow:

313 wilder, 1154 sf circa 1928: 2008 $175,800; 2002 $90,800

4902 highland ave, 832 sf circa 1926: 2004 $105,000; 2007 $110,000; 2008 $68,000 (latest sale down 39%)

419 louisiana ave, 2136 sf circa 1951: 2005 $245,000; 2008 $96,000 (latest sale down 60%)

did someone mention war zone?

here is a view from seminole heights towards downtown


and found this at a local shop in the area, thought you might appreciate this travelall...


next south is riverside heights

this one at 816 virginia ave is a 1000 sf 2/1 with wood & terrazzo floors and "newer" cabinets. the realtor wanted to know if $184,900 is in my price range. the county just value is $155,939. i don't quickly find prior sales prices on this house.

but in the immediate area the county shows one 2008 sale and realtor.com shows that one plus 3 others in 2008 as follows:

1012 west ohio 1416 sf circa 1948: 2008 $141,600; 2006 $165,000 (down 15%); 1999 $65,000.

810 ohio 832 sf circa 1946: 2008 $25,000; 1990 $25,000 (yes, i copied that correctly)

709 peninsular 1783 sf circa 1926: 2008 $134,000; 2005 $242,000 (down 45% war zone); 2004 $100,000 (note: during this time the only permitted features are some electric and a wood deck adding up to under $3k in improvements).

3714 clearfield 1590 sf circa 1948: 2008 $52,000; 2006 $105,000; 2005 $125,000. that's down 59% from peak so i'm renaming the street from clearfield to battlefield.

still, there is a lot of charm to be had here and the houses are a bit more substantial than in seminole.




and there is a lovely park along the hillsborough river for residents to enjoy


proximity to the city across the river in river heights area


southern most of the heights, bordering ybor city and downtown tampa is tampa heights. this is a national historic district, the first suburb of the city of tampa. it is also the last to develop and lies along a series of major highways and highway ramps. there are some grand houses here, some shacks and lots of inbetween.

i did similar studies here on a house with brochure as well as three in its area. (sorry but don't have its picture.)

311 e ross ave asking $224,00; just value $155,377; sold 2003 $128,500; sold 1999 $88,000; sold 1996 $76,300. these people are still living in the bubble.

only one house sold in this area in 2008 so follows are that plus three from 2007.

409 amelia ave 2008 $75,000 2002 $135,000 down 45%
407 frances ave 2007 $75,000 2006 $175,000 down 58%
408 columbus dr 2007 $210,000 2006 $198,000 (someone's gonna regret that because...)
704 columbus dr 2007 $124,900 2006 $254,000 down 51% war zone.

but even in war there can be beauty








http://centraltampa2.tbo.com/content/2008/may/06/commission-consider-fire-station-plans/?news


those highways i mentioned might be your next door neighbor


finally on our trip to search out areas in which to downsize we stop for lunch at the crepe shoppe in ybor city as aforementioned by rich on another thread. but they are closed on monday. bummer. so i found a pizza & salad at the counter of a restaurant across the street, where i chatted with a nice guy who will never retire, a construction super, aged late 60s, who drives every day from sarasota in his huge chevy avalanche.

the lazymobile parked outside the crepe shop which is closed on mondays


cigar cafe


cigar smokers


building detail


street scenes








along the sidewalks are these puffs of smoke filled with writings. at least that's what i think they are. i don't know for sure but theyremind me of los lectores. the readers. these where men hired to read novels and newspapers to the cigar workers in the factors so that the workers would know the news of the world. this was an educated working society.

i do not know from where this might have been excerpt but it says: "sitting on the edge of the bathtub and watching him shave was f. poaheco (sorry, trouble reading name)...his two-sided gillette blue razor with great relief. j.b. never let a barber shave him again."





daytona portion of this field trip to follow on a separate thread.
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Old 06-04-2008, 06:48 PM   #2
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Great pictures ! You always capture the architecture of the area .
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Old 06-04-2008, 07:26 PM   #3
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Thank you. These picturegrams are my windows out of my 12 hour a day drudgery of work and school.
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Old 06-04-2008, 07:53 PM   #4
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I love those traditional houses that you feature. To me they are so much enjoyable than the tract housing that gets churned out these days. Keep up your photo-stories on the places you visit as I am enjoying looking at a part of the US I will likely never visit.
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Old 06-04-2008, 10:39 PM   #5
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This was terrific, especially the commentary! I can't wait for your Daytona spread, as I grew up in Ormond Beach

I also spent many weekends in Ybor City in my youth... Good times. It is sorta a mini-New Orleans.
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Old 06-04-2008, 11:43 PM   #6
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LG4NB,
Thanks, great pictures and travelogue. I'm in Tampa right now on business. It's an interesting town, a little too hot for too long for my tastes. I keep hoping downtown Tampa will revitalize. At night it is just a ghost town with a few vagrants. The area down by the aquarium/port has come back, but what downtown needs is some real residents. Looks like Donald trump has given up on the big condo project he was building--I haven't seen any construction there for months.
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Old 06-05-2008, 03:27 AM   #7
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Nice photos lazy guy. Did you drive with the top down much or is it too hot already?
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Old 06-05-2008, 09:29 AM   #8
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Beautful pics, and it seems like you are finding interesting places to consider downsizing. But I have to say: you are killing me. $200k for a lovely house in a pleasant area and pics in the sun of a nice area while I am trapped in my cube...

FWIW, I agree with your theory of gentrification. Heard it said many times that if you want to know where to invest in turnaround real estate, "follow the gays."
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Old 06-05-2008, 05:20 PM   #9
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Great post very informative,Are you going to give St Augustine a look?
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Old 06-05-2008, 05:24 PM   #10
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BTW, Lazy, you mentioned that you wanted to experience the difference between the West and East side of I-75 in the heights, did you? Was there a noticeable difference in car exhaust and noise between the two sides?
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Old 06-05-2008, 05:34 PM   #11
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Well done, LG4NB. Amazingly well selected pictures to get a feel for the area.

SamClem is right about downtown. It was just on the cusp of explosive condo growth when the bubble burst. Trump was sued, the channelside towers (near the aquarium) stopped selling and it all came to a grinding halt. A riverwalk is planned but incompletely funded and we don't know if it will materialize. So, we wait for a complete down town.

To the west is South Tampa where some of the priciest homes are (including Hyde Park) along with some old 1950s ramshackle stuff. Many neighborhoods with big live oaks, sidewalks and charm. But pricey.

It's a genuine and decent place with some very good, some very bad, and lots in between.
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Old 06-06-2008, 03:30 PM   #12
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thanx for nice comments. good to know all the money mom spent on my architectural training didn't go completely to waste. sorry for delay on daytona. will get to it. i like ormond beach as well. what i like most about these areas is that as dangermouse notes they are not all tract housing. not all the same setbacks, the same colors, the same materials. like life, it's not all picture perfect.

might check out st. augustine also jax only i've got ghosts there too. my very favorite uncle lived in jax and he kept his boat in st. aug. what a funny & wonderful man. but since i'm leave south florida in part to escape the ghosts here, no reason to go find them there. from my research though there seems some rehabbing areas to be had along the st. johns in downtown jacksonville.

as to city life, even with some of the residential buildings which managed to be completed in tampa, i'm not convinced downtown tampa will ever become a 24/7 city. first they have to actually fill those buildings. fort lauderdale is trying this too. just found the following:

Quote:
Downtown Fort Lauderdale has a over 3500 new residential units that have recently been built, are under construction or approved. An additional 3000 units were recently approved by Broward County and the State.


but simply inserting residential units, even 6,000 of them, does not a residential city make. when i think of city living, of a 24/7 city, i think of a place like new york and i imagine boston and chicago must be similar in that these are cities where residential components are systemic to the city, not simply add ons or afterthoughts. these were built as places for people to live, around and among which they built places to work.

but cities like tampa and fort lauderale and miami were built not for residing, but as work centers of urban sprawl. and even now as cities like fort lauderdale introduces residential components for the first time in their city's history, because of costs, they only build for one segment of society, the wealthy. these people have no intention of walking to their neighborhood grocery store at 2 in the morning. these are not pedestrian residents. they enter and exit their cityside condo's by car, not by foot. they enjoy the sidewalk scene from their balconies. they don't live on city streets but they view it on occassion from ceiling to floor windowed living rooms.

sure, they'll come out to have lunch with the rest of us at the sidewalk cafes. but at night it will be like they are not even there, just some twinkle from an open curtain.
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Old 06-07-2008, 03:49 PM   #13
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Lazy - great post. Is Orlando too far from water to be an option? I can't remember if you've said anything about why Orlando does or doesn't fit your plan.
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Old 06-07-2008, 05:19 PM   #14
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LG4NB,
....We are thinking about moving to Florida in a few years. Your photos and opinions on the architecture and socio-economic stuff is great. I was especially interested to see how much Ybor City has changed from what I remember of it many years ago. I am looking forward to what you have to show and say about the Daytona/Ormond Beach area. I grew up just south of there in Titusville. You may want to consider Savannah. Housing in the downtown and historic area which would probably most appeal to you is more expensive than Ybor City or Daytona but the culture and history may be what you are looking for.
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Old 06-08-2008, 11:38 AM   #15
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orlando is just an hour drive to either coast, easy for a weekend get-away, but if i want to be in the middle of the state i'd pick a place more like gainesville than orlando. or a smaller town between tampa & daytona. i've been to orlando a few times. there is an interesting historic district near downtown called cherokee, i think, but it is already very expensive. also the houses are way too big for me. i love to look at them but i couldn't imagine taking care of one without proper staffing which i can not afford. plus as i'm not into things, 3/4ths of the house would remain empty so they are just wasted on the likes of me.

there is also the stepford town of celebration at orlando which, well, somebody please shoot me if i ever decide to live in a place like that.

otherwise orlando is mostly just theme parks, hotels and a lot of highways and urban sprawl. i never get a sense of place when i am there; it always seems to me more a place to drive through than to stop.

for longer term planning, orlando might be a good financial bet, as would anywhere along the i-4 corridor, stretching from tampa to daytona, which is destined to become florida's next megatropolis similar to the west palm beach to miami stretch.

not sure how i feel about titusville. for some reason i didn't take to it on my one visit there. could have been my mood at the time. i had no idea so many people still play miniature golf. i really should give it another try though. i did very much enjoy seeing a shuttle flight take off.

savannah i love and have stayed there three times already. the only reason i think of remaining based in florida, besides tax benefits, is, well, more tax benefits like save our home portability which is not yet even guaranteed. also i might be shortchanging myself in that my thinking is to buy a cheap place to maintain my accumulated soh value, close it up, and become a vagabond for 10 or 15 years. so i'd just be parking $100-150k to save a mere $1k/yr in taxes, really kind of financially stupid of me. i've got to learn to stop standing on, um, principle.

plus it might not be so smart to own in florida where there are hurricanes and so much rain and bugs if i am not going to stay in a place to keep it up to standards. as a friend mentioned to me recently: try closing a place up in tampa heights for a few years and it will become a squatter's crack house. or if i get a place on daytona that gets hit with a hurricane one year, i'd have to fly back, hopefully find a car to rent, hopefully find a hotel nearby, just to clean up a mess that i'm not even living in.

so i might just be practicing futility in all this. or maybe i could get a place, get a roommate or two and use that money to travel 1/2 year at a time instead of full time vagabonding. or maybe this is just another one of those activities of early retirement. i'm not sure how productive it is but i seem to be having fun with it.

all in all, i liked my life better when i was working and didn't have so many decisions to make.
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Old 06-08-2008, 12:56 PM   #16
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Originally Posted by lazygood4nothinbum View Post
... so i might just be practicing futility in all this. or maybe i could get a place, get a roommate or two and use that money to travel 1/2 year at a time instead of full time vagabonding. or maybe this is just another one of those activities of early retirement. i'm not sure how productive it is but i seem to be having fun with it.
Well, you can take comfort in the fact that you're thinking it through enough... .

You seem to have good instinct on this stuff. Why not just pick the place you like the most and the other details can be dealt with as needed?
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Old 06-08-2008, 02:16 PM   #17
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Originally Posted by Rich_in_Tampa View Post
Well, you can take comfort in the fact that you're thinking it through enough... .
This from a guy with a retirement strategy of:

"Ready, ready, ready, aim, ready, ready, ready, aim, ready, ready..."
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Old 06-08-2008, 03:40 PM   #18
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Originally Posted by REWahoo View Post
This from a guy with a retirement strategy of:
"Ready, ready, ready, aim, ready, ready, ready, aim, ready, ready..."


And that from a guy who shrewdly bought a diesel pusher 7 mpg Class A RV in the past year?

If only we all had crystal balls a crystal ball...
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Old 06-08-2008, 03:54 PM   #19
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That was at 65. I backed off to 62 mph and now I'm getting 8 mpg - towing my car! Next trip I'll try 58-60 and see if I can get it up to 9. Who knows what kind of mileage I can get if I slow to 20 or 25!
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Old 06-10-2008, 02:26 AM   #20
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Highest and Best Use

"why gays? because we love antiquing. we long for a sense of stability, a sense of history; even if not our own, at least it is one filled with oppression to which we relate. we don't care that we are living in a “bad” school district. we're not worried about the children that we have not bred being beat up by the black neighbor's kids. we love diversity; it helps camouflage us." Lazy...

This is the best description I have ever read about something I've noticed for years. There is more, but especially this part.

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