Sponge Capital of the World - Tarpon Springs, FloridaLocated on the scenic Anclote River, the City of Tarpon Springs is one of the most charming communities in the Tampa Bay area. Famous for its historic sponge industry and Greek heritage, the city maintains a strong historic preservation program. Its downtown is also known for its cultural treasures, antique shops, historic neighborhoods, and the Sponge Docks. The Pinellas Trail passes through this area. An extensive industrial area is located north of the Anclote and the marine industry remains a backbone of this waterfront city.
BackgroundThe city’s current population of 23,996 is expected to grow by 4% by 2016. The city’s median age is 46.6, while the average age is 44. More than 80% of the population are 18 or older, and more than 85% of residents over 25 years old are high school graduates (or GED), with 31% obtaining a college degree. The city’s 5-mile trade area has a population of 117,219, and 49,872 households with an average household income of $65,907.
The major industries in Tarpon Springs are services and retail trade. Major area employers include Helen Ellis Memorial Hospital, St. Lukes Cataract & Laser Institute, The Westin Innisbrook Resort, A-B-C Packaging Machine Corp., Acme Sponge & Chamois Co., Stamas Yacht, Hawkins Construction, Tarpon Stainless Fabricators, and NuWaveSpaControls.
Planning for its future
The city is aggressively planning its future. It Comprehensive Plan seeks to create a livable and walkable community that is economically thriving and sustainable. It has focused attention on its its 226-acre Community Redevelopment Area (CRA). A Special Area Plan for its CRA and Sponge Docks encourages infill/redevelopment, connecting the city's major activity centers, improving the regulatory environment and transportation corridors, and attracting compatible economic development. The plan will ensure future growth and infill development will be compatible with the CRA's ten special character districts.
In the CRA, programs like density transfers, façade and interior improvement grant programs, and strategic property acquisition and disposition are promoting high quality redevelopment. Streetscape improvements, including lighting and landscaping along Lemon Street and Pinellas, Tarpon, and North Safford Avenues have been completed. Funding has been approved for new downtown entrance features and branding. Imagine the Docks is a planning and design project for an extensive renovation of the Sponge Docks is underway. The city has embarked on a program to become water-supply independent with its first reverse osmosis water facility under construction.
A number of private development projects including nearly 100 new residential dwelling units are approved or under construction. Consumer demand of more than $350 million annually has continued to fuel retail expansions like a new 153,000-square-foot Lowes under construction on U.S. Hwy 19. The Meres Town Center at Alt. US 19 and Meres Blvd. features a new Sweetbay Supermarket, and across the street will be the new Shoppes at Meres, a 12,000-square-foot retail development. The next phase of Meres Town Center will include 362 residential units and up to 150,000 square feet of medical office space directly adjacent to Florida Hospital's Helen Ellis Memorial.
There are tourism related opportunities, including hotels, retail, office and mixed-use projects within the CRA. The Vacant and Developable Lands summary provides information on several sites available for these type of infill and redevelopment projects. Other Investment Opportunties can be found throughout the city.
A large industrial area north of the Anclote is a primary employment district containing substantial vacant acreage suitable for light industrial, high-wage employment, mixed use and recreational development. A former Stauffer Chemical Company site located on 130 acres in this area is a prime redevelopment site.
To find your opportunity, contact:
Pinellas County Economic Development
(727) 464-7398 or
City of Tarpon Springs
Economic Development Manager
(727) 943-4932 or