That’s a question I get asked a lot these days.
Having lived in Tampa Heights now for almost three years, I can tell you that’s a loaded question. If you ask my girlfriend the same, she’ll tell you that the realtor who sold her our house told her that it was up-and-coming some 15 years ago. But isn’t every neighborhood in the United States “up-and-coming.” I mean I read articles about the revitalization of Detroit everyday, and by all accounts the Motor City is in far worse shape than our small hood by the Hillsborough River.
Like most of Tampa’s neighborhoods Tampa Heights has a great deal of history. Our little bungalow in fact is over a hundred years old and just a stones’ throw from some of the most historical landmarks in Tampa. It also sits just a few strides from some of Tampa’s newest accolades in Ulele Restaurant and the highly touted Riverwalk. Both of which would certainly contribute to Tampa Heights easily earning the moniker of “up-and-coming”… right?
Well, not really… yet.
I could very easily go outside right now walk up the block and fill up a shopping basket with chicken bones, hair extensions, blunt wrap foils, empty nick bags and broken bottles of Hennessey. I could also walk a few a houses down and score a few strains of mids (weed), molly and crack to boot. In fact I can buy it from about 4 houses that I know of on my block or walk over to the empty lot on the corner where the dealers congregate on the daily to barbecue and play horseshoes on the government’s dime. After hearing that you might be thinking “Well, you just live on bad street in Tampa Heights.” Not so. There is a brand new home right next door to us, another right across the street from us, and Domain Homes just constructed two new duplexes around Section 8 housing just 100 yards from our humble abode. This is “Every Street, Tampa Heights.”
Tampa Heights is pretty quiet despite all of the above. However due to the proximity to downtown and 275, you can expect to get an early wake-up call from the 4AM CSX Train laying on its’ horn and the traffic copters hovering like retarded bumble bees shortly thereafter to report on another wrong way driver in the pre-dawn hours. If you can make it through those two delights, you’re sure to be awakened by one of the various aluminum can scavengers pushing a shopping cart with a bum wheel up your driveway to rummage through your recycling bin so they can magically turn your empty beer cans into full ones once redeemed by the end of the day.
There are also plenty of Kanye wannabes who are sure to keep you swaying at lunch once they awaken from their Natural Light comas around 11AM. Whether it’s the guy walking down the sidewalk with a Beats Pill bumping around his neck or the jit with dual 12-inch subs nestled in the basket on his modified tricycle holding it down on the streets with a Trap remix of Fetty Wap’s Jugg (with me), you are sure to get an earful. Are you not entertained?
I don’t think that most people like to rise and whine, but you get used to it after a while.
As the evening falls, you can expect ‘Night of the Living Bassheads’ as the crack and spice-infused junkies start their pilgrimage through the streets. Capped off with a few gunshots, you might thing that we were living in Tijuana rather that an up-and-coming Florida suburb. But as the saying goes, you have to take the good with the bad, I guess. Like I said, it’s pretty quiet.
Out with the Old, In with the Worst
One might think that when you live in the hood, that the drug dealers and those you can’t keep up with their properties are the people in the neighborhood that you want gone. In some cases that is true and it is certainly what is happening in Tampa Heights. If it was a secret that the TPD and “Neighborhood Empowerment” (formerly Code Enforcement) was, and is targeting such homeowners and renters to clean-up the neighborhood to make way for an influx of what appears to be a ‘better class of residents’, let it be a secret no more. Both TPD and Code Enforcement have been more present in our area as of late, cracking down with petty arrests and code violations. But is it paving the way for a better community?
From my vantage point, absolutely not. Case and point our neighbor. While by all appearances through her fourth marriage she has a nice, big, new prefab house and a life which may look “better” than those who have lived in the Heights substantially longer than she; we have uncovered a fraudulent and criminal past much worse than most of the aforementioned drug dealers on our street.
This seems to a trend which is now flooding the Heights. The thrice divorced, drunk yoga milfs who have been slut-shamed from SOHO and Westchase are now inundating the hollars just north of downtown like they were giving away bedazzled buttplugs with a month of free rent. Not to be outdone by their South Tampa douchebag male counterparts, they are riding the wave into the Heights with their paddleboards, trucker caps and capri short-pants to even the playing field. It’s for sure a melting pot which is about to hit it’s boiling point.
So I ask you… which would you rather have? The chill people who have been here for years, who, despite their professions of peddling feel-good wares are both friendly and harmless, or more fake-ass Tampans that our city is unfortunately renowned for. For me it’s the former. I like to know what I am getting up front instead of getting it in the rear.
Homeless Super Highway
Logistically speaking Tampa Heights should be prime real estate. It is however a Homeless Super Highway. The heart of Tampa Heights pumps out to all the vital homeless organs. Metropolitan Ministries, The Salvation Army, the now abandoned Homeless Recovery building and a multitude of small churches which feed the homeless are all scattered around and within Tampa Heights borders. If you don’t see at least 20-30 homeless people staggering down your street like extras from The Walking Dead, then you need to make a trip to go see Dr. Updegraft because your vision is surely impaired. I’m not sure that The Salvation Army has the endurance to go the distance, but Metro Min isn’t going anywhere anytime soon. In fact they’re rapidly expanding in the Heights with plenty of funding from Tampa bigwigs, ensuring a constant IV of Tampa’s homeless and lower income families which is sure to impact the future of this up-and-stunted area.
The Heights is a mecca of shady proprietors. And by proprietors I mean wannabe realtors, brokers and landlords.
It was just six months ago that the hood genius behind WeBuyCrackHouses.com was ironically foreclosed on and evicted from his very own “Crack House” just a block over from us. We sure do miss the high quality YouTube videos that he shot in his backyard though and his now repossessed hummer flying up and down our street at all hours of the night.
His departure was certainly good news for Tampa Heights biggest scam artist and owner of Serralles Group and Tampa Heights Mortgage: Eddie Serralles. Renting out asbestos and mold ridden properties to low-income families and evicting them without cause on a pretty consistent basis; this gem of an individual also owes employees over 100k in past due commissions and preys on foreclosed home owners with extremely shady propositions only to render them homeless shortly thereafter, adding to the Tampa street population. Before we go off on a rant, we’ll reserve a special feature on our site for this individual in the very near future.
So What’s So Great About The Heights Then?
Proximity to downtown, and not much else. Of course the Heights shows promise. With addition of the addition of Water Works Park, a flurry of new businesses along Franklin Street, the never-ending project of the Armature Works building, the rapidly rising Pearl project and couple of hidden gems like Lee’s Grocery, Tampa Heights will prove to a be great place to live… in about 10-15 years years like the realtor told my better half 15 years ago. It is definitely going to take the City of Tampa along with some savvy investors that long to weed out all of the bad elements that is eating at the core of the Heights like a cancer. If you are looking for piece of mind or just peace so you don’t lose your mind, look North to Seminole Heights or Carrollwood. I know I am.