Hillsborough County, Florida- Advisory Services Panel

Date: December 10 – 15, 2017

Location: Hillsborough County, Florida

Sponsor: Hillsborough County

Subject Area: Economic Development, Planning and Development

Panel Chair: Alan Razak, Athenian Razak, Philadelphia, Pennsylvania

Panel Vice Chair: Molly McCabe, HaydenTanner, Big Fork, Montana

For the panel report, please visit ULI’s Knowledge Finder 

Background and Panel Assignment

Growth in and around Hillsborough County is imminent. Hillsborough County can choose whether that growth will lead the county to positive change or whether it will erode what makes the Tampa Bay area unique.

Hillsborough County asked the panel to focus on several questions centered on the region’s major transportation corridor, Interstate 4.  The panel was also asked to consider what new type of development would elevate Hillsborough County’s economic prosperity and quality of life while shifting or offsetting the county’s infrastructure and service costs. Distilled further, the panel was tasked with examining whether the study area should be a target area for development through 2040 and, if so, what future development could look like, what tools it recommended for managing the process, and which financial strategies were realistic for supporting future growth and economic development. 

Specifically, the panel was asked to address the following categories of questions:

Target Industries and Identity

  • How can the I-4 corridor be leveraged for future sustainable development and create a sense of place to incentivize opportunities that will achieve desired economic development outcome, such as attracting targeted industries, skilled labor, and higher-wage jobs?
  • What are recommended, feasible development scenarios given our county’s and region’s current business environment and attributes in light of real estate and technology market trends?
  • How can Hillsborough County help cultivate a unique identity for the identified study areas along the I-4 corridor?

Future Growth Scenarios

  • Identify optimal and competitive sites for potential development in the study areas.
  • What is the optimal mix of jobs, retail, and residential development, including workforce housing?
  • Provide recommendations regarding the implementation and timing of regulatory considerations that will facilitate future planning and development in the study areas.
  • What are optimal community engagement strategies and tools to help foster public education and community participation related to future planning and development in the study area?

Feasibility, Financing, and Strategy

  • What are the most financially feasible strategies to achieve optimal economic outcomes?
  • What are the challenges, strategies, and benefits of investing in future high-quality job creation along the I-4 corridor?
  • What are the risks of taking no action in the I-4 corridor?
  • What are possible financing and funding mechanisms for future development, and what governmental and quasi-governmental models could serve as an alternative to, or work in partnership with, county-provided infrastructure and services?

Policies, Regulations, and Infrastructure

  • What are potential land use and regulatory opportunities and constraints that will optimize future development in the I-4 corridor?
  • What policies, regulatory processes, and infrastructure considerations should be evaluated when considering development outside the urban service area (USA)?
  • Evaluate opportunities for transfer development rights for future development.

Summary of Recommendations

It was evident to the panel during its interviews with community stakeholders, its review of previous studies and reports, and its multiple study tours throughout Hillsborough County that a tremendous amount of work has been done to begin studying the county’s long-term planning and development options. This panel is another stride forward in finding thoughtful and actionable steps. However, the county is at a crossroads with how to plan for the tremendous amount of growth projected for the county and the region and to lay the foundation for a sound and sustainable economic development strategy that leverages growth to improve both the its economic prosperity and quality of life. The panel hopes this report will serve as a road map to develop sustainable planning and development strategies to ensure a prosperous and successful future for Hillsborough County.

Throughout this report, many of the panel’s recommendations are presented in detail. The panel’s primary recommendations are summarized as follows:

  • Market: Hillsborough County must anticipate growth that exceeds its ability to accommodate with traditional density and current development patterns.
  • Planning and development strategies: The panel strongly recommends Hillsborough county implement a phased approach to planning and development—plan, then expand.
    • Stick to the plan and severely limit piecemeal amendments.
    • Be prepared to revisit the USA limits in an orderly way, looking to other regions for best practices on how to regularly assess the USA boundary.
    • Begin with and fully utilize the existing USA. The panel encourages Hillsborough County not to underestimate the existing developable space that exists in the USA.
    • The panel recommends strategic mixed-use nodal development along the I-4 corridor.
    • Develop an overlay for development in the existing unincorporated USA.
  • Economic development strategies: Revise key documents and approaches, such as the county’s Comprehensive Economic Development Strategy. If you make a place, the people and jobs will come.
  • Fiscal impacts: Don’t rob Peter to pay Paul. In other words, growth comes with a cost. You can either start planning and paying for it now, or you can pay for it exponentially later. The panel applauds the progress the county has made with the passage of the 2016 transportation funding; however, the county also needs to begin investing in long-term growth and economic prosperity. The panel strongly recommends Hillsborough County incentivize its vision for future planning and development by disincentivizing those things that are not in alignment. In addition, the county should explore a menu of suggested finance mechanisms, including tax increment financing (TIF), community development districts (CDDs), transportation improvement bonds, active transportation programs, social impact bonds, tactical urbanism, community land trusts, and beyond.
  • Public engagement and regulatory framework: The panel recommends that Hillsborough County build on recent efforts to make further progress and refinements in its engagement and outreach efforts. In addition, land use agencies and partners should convene regularly to share information and exchange ideas.

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