West Tampa residents being priced out of changing neighborhood

- There's a transformation happening in West Tampa. New construction, like the up-and-coming Julian B. Lane Park and the Heights Public Market, is leading more people to look for homes in one of the oldest neighborhoods in the city -- but with more demand comes higher costs.

"Just like every metropolitan, people want to live in the urban core in the city, where there's parks, restaurants, shopping and easy walkability, and that's kind of transcended to the north of downtown," said realtor David Moyer with Smith and Associates Real Estate.

Moyer said many of the residents searching for properties in west Tampa are millennials or families who may have been renting and are now in search of a single-family home to buy.

The new buyers often want new construction instead of the older homes built in the 1920s that sit on nearly every block.

Many long-time residents are selling their homes to developers, only to see their properties sold for more than triple the price once a more modern home is built.

"Lots are selling anywhere between $50,000 and $150,000, and the new-construction homes, anywhere from $350,000 to $500,000," explained Moyer.

West Tampa resident Johnnie Campbell said after 24 years of living in the same home, she and her husband are there to stay, despite newer homes going up to the left and right of their house.

"When you own your own place, you try to hold onto what you have," said Campbell.

Since moving into her home in 1994, she said she has watch her neighborhood change for the better over the years.

"This use to be the dumping ground for old mattresses and old sofas, driving cars...[people] stealing cars and running and jumping out of the cars, letting the cars roll into the tree. We've seen it all," said Campbell.

A 314-unit apartment complex called The Pearl is now going up steps away from her front porch. It towers over her home.

Urban renewal, as seen in west Tampa, can lead to gentrification, the process of buying and renovating homes in urban neighborhoods to raise the property values, but often displacing low-income families.

Charles Marshall, a former west Tampa resident, said he and his family moved once a developer offered to buy his mother's home near MacFarlane Park in 2002.

"They had gave her a lump sum of money and then we moved into Valrico," said Marshall. "I was too young to really know, but of course, you're going to be happy getting that type of money."

Marshall now comes back to his old neighborhood park to play with his 3-year-old son. He said with so many new homes, his neighborhood is hardly recognizable.

"I really wish we could have still lived over here if it looked this beautiful," said Marshall.

West Tampa used to be known for having a predominantly black and Hispanic population, but some of the older residents  are now being priced out of the neighborhoods. With few affordable options in the city, they are moving into other areas of Hillsborough and even Pasco County.

"Probably a little bit further away from the downtown, as values kind of go towards Riverview, Brandon and Apollo Beach to the south, and to the north, up to Wesley Chapel," said Moyer.

City leaders are working to maintain an economic balance by keeping some low income housing available in west Tampa..

North Boulevard Homes, a low-incoming housing development, was demolished over a year ago, but a new development called West River will go up in its place, offering a number of low-income units.

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