Whether it’s evaluating the negative impacts of single-family zoning in cities or blending single-family rental communities with apartments, developers are working to create more housing by taking new approaches, said panelists during the 2020 ULI Tampa Trends event.

Overhauling Zoning, Rents, Wages

In the realm of local government, Minneapolis has shifted paradigms by controlling rents, boosting minimum wages, and eliminating single-family zoning—reforms likely to spur discussion elsewhere.

It started a few years ago when officials took stock of the city’s historic track record dealing with minority communities, said Heather Worthington, director of long-range planning for the city.

“We had a lot of gentrification, but it was displacement,” Worthington said. “We want gentrification without displacing residents.”

With staff support, city council members set about undoing discriminatory land use maps, education priorities, and subprime mortgage patterns, she said. City leaders met with constituent groups and devised a plan for the next 20 years. Changes include the following:

  • With the loss of 15,000 affordable units to market rate over a period of years, Minneapolis eliminated single-family zoning and encouraged greater densities with relatively lower price points.
  • More expensive communities must offer a mix of pricing or pay extra development fees. The city council approved the inclusionary zoning measure in December.
  • Businesses must gradually raise the minimum wage to $15 by mid-year 2022.
  • In a city where the majority of residents are renters, tenants’ security deposits cap at one month’s rent.

Making wholesale changes throughout the city, Worthington said, was more judicious than selecting some areas but not others.

“I think it would have been a bloodier battle if we had picked winners and losers,” she said. 

Mixing It Up

“Technology is the great equalizer,” said Kartik Goyani, vice president of operations for Metro Development Group, which develops communities primarily in Tampa Bay. “We see no reason to partition it off.”

The richest and poorest residents all benefit from the same community software applications. Instead of building swimming pools, the development group centers its communities of homes and apartments around manmade crystal lagoons for swimmers, kayakers, and paddle boarders. Goyani emphasizes that the McDonald’s burger flipper gets the same access as the retired executive.

“We are building social infrastructure,” Goyani said.

Also seeking the new equilibrium vibe, the X Tampa apartment community is underway with 306 units and twice as many rentable bedrooms. A marketing video tells the X story: A skateboarder navigates the lobby, collaborators share coworking space, renters lease bedrooms, and partiers revel at the project’s adaptive use of an old church.

“Customers all have choices, they can move very easily,” said Noah Gottlieb, chief executive officer for X Company with its name-brand series of multifamily projects. “Everything about this is intended to invite the public in to create a greater community.”

Another attempt to challenge business as usual comes from an unlikely place—inside the privacy gates of a new residential hybrid.

NEXmetro Communities has about 20 new communities, mostly near Phoenix, Dallas and Denver. The group’s Avilla neighborhoods blend apartments and single family. Similar to a handful of other new developments around the country, even the new single-family homes are for rent.

“From a land use perspective, they don’t fit into any category,” said Reed Ruck, managing director for the Phoenix-based group that is entering the Tampa market. He added that the new-home rental model works especially well for single women and young families.