“Ganeydn aoyf erd” – “Paradise on earth” is what my Dad used to call the Tampa Bay area. And following his path of migration from Chicago to Buffalo and then to St. Petersburg, it’s easy to understand why he said that. But it wasn’t just the cold and snowy places that he came from; it is because Tampa Bay offered friendly people, great opportunity and yes, sunshine and blue water.
I have now spent more of my life in Tampa Bay than the years growing up in Buffalo. Being a Realtor has given me the privilege to explore the truly varied areas this region contains. From Downtown Tampa, a forty-five-minute drive will take you to the Gulf of Mexico beaches. Go in another direction, and you will find yourself in an “Old Florida” nature sanctuary straight out of a Marjorie Stoneman Douglas book. Exciting renewal projects have taken hold, and with Downtown St. Petersburg, Channelside and Tampa’s Riverwalk, city life has become world class.
Welcome to my first column about real estate and a good place to start is with the first Jewish settlers to make Tampa Bay their home.
The first permanent Jewish settler in the area was Emmaline Quentz Miley in 1846, whose husband was a Scotsman. They had 12 children; she died in Hillsborough County in 1907. The substantial beginnings of Jewish residents came about in the early 1880’s. Glogowski, Maas, Kaunitz, Brash, Oppenheimer, Wolf, and Wohl are some of the Jewish families. Most lived in Ybor City and were active in commerce, a few in the cigar industry. Herman Glogowski, a Jew who served as mayor for four terms, officiated in 1888 at the cornerstone ceremony for the Tampa Bay Hotel that opened in 1891. Glogowski had emigrated from Germany and established a clothing store in Tampa in 1884.
Ybor City has had quite an interesting real estate history: A large quantity of “shotgun houses” (a narrow rectangular domestic house, usually no more than about 12 feet wide, with rooms arranged one behind the other and doors at each end of the house), were built for the cigar factory workers, and many are still being lived in today.
The next chapter of Ybor City is the anticipated moving of the Stuart Sternberg ‘s Tampa Bay Rays to a planned stadium location in the Southwest corner of Ybor. This announcement has reignited interest in both residential and commercial real estate with sales of properties rising. The completion of the stadium and moving of the team is still several years away, so now is the time to consider purchasing a property there.
This isn’t your Bubbie’s St. Petersburg!
The first-known Jews were Mr. and Mrs. Henry Schutz, who arrived from Germany in 1901 and opened a dry goods store, the only Jewish merchants for seven years. Their store on Central Avenue, which had a basket on a pulley to carry money to a balcony to make change, later served as a temporary home for St. Petersburg High School.
Downtown St. Pete has experienced phenomenal growth since 2000. Stagnant until a few decades ago, Beach Drive is now crowded with restaurants, cafes, shops and hundreds of well-heeled strollers on almost any weekend night. Nearly a half billion dollars’ worth of construction is underway or expected to start this year in the city’s once somnolent downtown. Museums, apartments, condos, a new police station, and a dozen other projects mark one of the biggest downtown building booms in St. Petersburg’s 130-year history.
That’s not to mention the enormous growth as of late in new office space and restaurants in the downtown area, joining with residential options to transform St Pete’s city skyline for decades to come. ONE St Petersburg, in particular, brings an entire block of new construction luxury condos and hotel rooms to downtown.
Noted as the tallest building on Florida’s west coast, it joins the likely addition of a soaring new tower from billionaire John Catsimatidis, slated to mark the future of Central Avenue. The diverse downtown housing market offers a great deal of variety.
The new towers join existing options such as townhomes and high-rise condos, already rich with amenities. Meanwhile, you’ll also find charming 1920’s-era bungalows with character dating back decades. From the delightful brick streets of historic Lang’s Bungalow Court to new modern condos and penthouses, the downtown area has a lot to offer buyers. From the stunning Waterfront Arts District with its museums to the budding Warehouse Arts District, Downtown St Pete is alive with excitement.
Meanwhile, adjacent Olde Northeast St Petersburg is marked by thousands of historic buildings, most of which are homes. While it’s possible to find some new construction in complementary designs, many of the townhouses and single-family homes of this area date back generations.
From 1920’s-era townhomes and condos to quaint bungalows, you’ll find it all in the area. The vintage designs of this community even go back to turn-of-the-century designs, with restored 100-year-old homes nestled between mature trees and sheltered by well-maintained landscaping in the city’s first established neighborhood.
Join me next week for more interesting facts about the Jewish impact on real estate in Tampa Bay.
Rande Friedman, Realtor