Company offering affordable retail rentals in East Tampa

TAMPA — A report from global commercial real estate firm Cushman and Wakefield estimates that the cost of leasing commercial space has risen about 10% since the pandemic.


What do you want to know

  • The CDC has matched hundreds of residents with homes they can afford, provided job training and maintained businesses in East Tampa
  • The cost of renting commercial space has increased by around 10% since the pandemic
  • More Hillsborough County Titles

This is a statistic that affects all businesses, but particularly those in underserved areas. The Corporation to Develop Communities of Tampa has focused on alleviating poverty and scourge with affordable housing and business development since the early 1990s.

According to CEO Earnest Coney Jr., the CDC has matched hundreds of residents with homes they can afford, provided job training and maintained businesses in East Tampa. Thanks to grants and her own construction team, she was able to reduce her costs.

Coney says those funds are going directly back into the community and not just for those below the average median income.

“If you’ve heard anything like habitat (for humanity) or rebuilding, they’re mostly focused on AMI 80%, but we also want to make sure we have really strong communities with mixed incomes” , said Coney Jr. “So we are one of the few organizations that focuses on the 80% AMIs but also teachers, firefighters, which are higher. We want to make sure we have stable communities too.

The CDC’s East Tampa Business Center offers retail space below market value.

René Brown comes from a family of entrepreneurs. She founded Tampa’s Ladies of the Sea restaurant nearly two decades ago.

The restaurant used to be known for its tasty food and refreshing drinks, but Brown says she almost lost it all.

Things turned around when she met a partner at the Corporation to Develop Communities of Tampa who offered her retail space at a lower cost.

“They helped me relocate my business at a time when I was about to give up,” Brown said.

Rent in the square averages between $500 and $1,000 a month and has helped her keep her business afloat.

She has seen demand for her business continue to grow, so much so that she is considering expanding with another location in North Hillsborough County.

She tries to make it a reality.

“A lot of people I see working in restaurants are converting to food trucks,” she said. “That you can start a $20,000 restaurant now that’s tripled now because of the economy.”

Although inflation rates are expected to change, Brown is settled with an affordable retail lease that allows her to earn income.