HILLSBOROUGH CO., Fla.- Thousands of old warehouses, that are falling apart, are sitting empty or unused across Hillsborough County. But a local government agency is stepping in to get them fixed and booming with business.
Hillsborough County is a hotbed for one type of prime real estate. But there’s just one problem.
“I mean they almost look like you should just tear them down and start all over," said Eric Lindstrom with Hillsborough County Economic Development.
Decades ago the warehouses were busy with industrial and office jobs. Now some are empty and in shambles.
“They are full of trash, there are vagrants in them, unsafe, everything was rotting and rusting," described Lindstrom.
But the county’s economic development is trying to turn that around. It’s targeting four zones in a pilot redevelopment project. They include the Palm River, North Airport and University areas. They want to incentivize businesses to move in or stay and turn around these fixers-uppers. The county is dropping some serious money into expediting permits, and handing out grants for clean ups, demolishing and major upgrades.
“Abandoned, blighted, scary. Don’t show up at night." That's how John Jackson, representing the owner of a warehouse by Tampa International Airport, would describe the before pictures. Jackson with Cushman & Wakefield land brokerage represents the $8.5 million property called Westshore Logistics. But with the county’s $400,000, it’s been transformed.
“A developer has to take significant risk when they acquire an asset that has been abandoned and blighted," said Jackson, "So the county providing funds as an incentive or a catalyst to make that happen can be the deciding factors in some cases.”
Fixing up warehouses isn’t just good for business owners. It’s also good news for the surrounding neighborhoods and for job seekers.
“We’re hoping it’s a big job creator," said Lindstrom.
In fact, different business flocked to the newly upgraded warehouse at 5400 Southern Comfort Boulevard. It’s now 50% leased out. Another one on East Diana is about to double its workforce.The county is expecting similar success stories as they continue to attract new companies.