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There are a lot of good posts with good info in this thread. I'm gonna throw in my 2 cents, most of which has already been said, but nonetheless I wanted to share my opinion.
First, if your primary goal is being able to walk to bars, restaurants, and a grocery from your home, then as someone else has said in this thread, the only real place to do that is soho. You can live within a few blocks of howard and be able to walk to nightlife, restaurants, bars, some shops, a grocery store (the publix greenwise there is freaking awesome), etc. Plus you can probably walk to hyde park village as well (williams sonoma, pottery barn, restaurants, a gym) if you buy on the east side of howard.
Now on to old ne vs south tampa. First let me give you my background. I'm from fort lauderdale and I grew up in the oldest, most prestigious neighborhood there (the hyde park/old ne of ft laud if you will). I've lived in Tampa for 7, going on 8, years now. I don't live in south tampa or old ne but I have spent a great deal of time in both places and know all their pros and cons. I think I offer a good perspective since I don't actually live in either place but am very familiar with them.
My wife and I are currently house hunting. We are in a unique situation where we can literally move anywhere in Florida due to the fact that we can both work and get a job wherever. We don't want to leave the state because of family. We have spent the last couple years thinking long and hard and researching neighborhoods and cities trying to come up with the perfect place for us to live. With the ability to move to most any neighborhood in the state, we have settled on old northeast. I'll explain why, and why I think it's better than south tampa.
First, there is a tremendous sense of "neighborhoodiness" in old ne (yes, i just made up that word). I really haven't seen it anywhere else and south tampa cannot match old ne in this category. You go into old ne and there are kids playing everywhere, people are out walking, they hold block parties etc. It really is the quintessential american neighborhood. Holloween is a great example. A lot of houses go all out putting out decorations and if you live in old ne I've heard that you need to expect up to 1,000 trick or treaters! The neighborhood association has a candlelight home tour and spring garden home tour where people open up their homes for the public (on a side note, on the candlelight home tour I was talking to a home owner who said he had lived all over america, kansas city, boston, etc and this was the best neighborhood he had seen). In addition old ne recently finished in the top 3 in a nationwide competition for top neighborhood. The association had to go to wash dc and make a presentation for the competition. This just goes to show how much they are into their neighborhood. Now don't get me wrong, there are some streets in palma ceia and hyde park that are ridiculously beautiful and very neighborhoody, but it seems to me that it's more smaller, divided sections while old ne is one big cohesive neighborhood. And on that note...
One of the problems I have with south tampa is that it has a lot of major roads that run right through or border the neighborhoods. In the hyde park area you have swann and howard and bayshore that are all very busy major roads that run through or border the neighborhood. I like old ne better in this regard because you don't really have major roads slicing through the neighborhood. To the north you have coffee pot bayou, to the east you have all the parks, to the west you have 4th street but it's a long ways from the meat of old ne. This results in old ne having a quiet and serene feel to it (again very neighborhoody) while s tampa feels much more "busy" and urban.
Traffic is much better in and around old ne. I mean the difference is night and day. Plain and simple, the traffic in s tampa sucks. It can be a real pain to get around. In addition the traffic problems extend to the interstate as well. 275 in tampa is a nightmare, but in st pete its almost always free and clear.
Old ne has the waterfront parks while s tampa has bayshore. This is a landslide victory for old ne. I'm not sure if any other city has as much waterfront park space as st pete, it's ridiculous. You go out there on the weekend and families are everywhere playing with their kids and dogs, it's awesome. If you want to walk or ride along a path you have a long path that runs right along the water. On that path you have a beautiful clean part of the bay on one side while on the other you have green parks. On the bayshore path in s tampa you have a dirty part of the bay on one side and loud traffic on the other. S tampa doesn't have anything like the parks in st pete. In addition, they hold all kinds of events and festivities in the parks in st pete. It seems like there is something going on there most weekends.
The water and water access is better in old ne. S tampa resides in a part of the bay that is dirty, can be somewhat industrial, and is largely dead. Old ne is in a better part of the bay. The water is cleaner, you're closer to the gulf, fishing is much, much better, there's more activity, etc. Also you are a ton closer to the beaches.
A few more reasons why I love old ne and st pete: the saturday morning market (love it! and again s tampa has nothing like this), the new Fresh Market on 4th st (i'm a huge foodie and this grocery store is freaking awesome), and the revitalized downtown with its food and arts scene.
Lastly the biggest reason why we love old ne is the charm and character of the neighborhood. It's composed of homes mostly from the 1900-1920s. Someone earlier in this thread talked about homes being torn down in s tampa but not old ne as some sort of positive for s tampa. What?! People in old ne restore the homes and remodel them, keeping that old charm and character. Thank god they're not tearing them all down. However, I'll call this a tie between the two as there are parts of palma ceia and hyde park with old homes that are stunningly beautiful.
Someone has pointed out that if old ne is so great how come s tampa is the most desirable area? A very fair question. I believe there are three reasons:
1. Location. Most people want to live near their work. S tampa is very centrally located in tampa bay and tampa itself is much more a job center than st pete. This means that s tampa will probably always be more desirable just because there are more jobs there.
2. Schools. If you want to send your kids to public school, s tampa is the place to be. It's fantastic. Plant high school is tops. St pete is not terrible but not great in this regard. However if you dont mind paying for private school, old ne and st pete is very good. There are some private schools in st pete, like shorecrest, that are as good or better than anything in s tampa.
3. Lack of knowledge. Old ne and st pete is what I would describe as "up and coming." South tampa has been the "it" spot forever. So for years whenever anyone asks where to live, south tampa is the first thing out of people's mouths. The revitalization of st pete is relatively new, last 10 years or so. The area is still somewhat undiscovered. Some people know about it, others don't. A lot of people in south tampa don't have a clue as to all the benefits of old ne and the surrounding area. They'll just regurgitate "south tampa" without giving it any real thought because that's what they've always heard is best and what's been beaten into their heads. What I find very interesting though is that you take an outsider who has no bias such as the original poster, and you show them both areas and what was the outcome? I feel like old ne and st pete has a lot more upside in the future as more and more people discover it.
With regard to South Tampa vs. N.E. St. Pete, which has greater immediate amenities? Are there actual amenities in N.E. St. Pete, like groceries, restaurants, bars, or are these outside of NE SP so that travel is required?
From my visits to St. Pete, my impression of the NE neighborhoods is likely ignorant to the whole 'hood. But could you live in NE St. Pete without the downtown area or other adjacent areas?
I mention this because it has been said that NE St. Pete is walkable and safe late at night. I'm just curious what the destination options are at night without leaving the neighborhood.
Excellent point! I was equally wondering how self-contained NE St. Pete is. If downtown St. Pete is NOT the place a person wants to be or walk at late at night...the question is, is it even necessary to have to walk there late at night from NE St. Pete?
From reading the other posts, it sounds like there aren't many amenities nearby for shopping/browsiing, like a NYC or Chicago. But, curious if there is enough of just parks, waterfront, and such to walk to....that might be equally enjoyable on a Saturday or Sunday afternoon, without having to get into the car.
Old NE borders the waterfront (to the east) with parks, a public pool, a small beach, dog park & sidewalks from the Vinoy all the way north to Snell Isle Bridge. Very popular early morning & evening for jogging, biker's & occasional strolls! Also, walking to downtown for Saturday Morning Market, the Pier, dinner, the Yacht Club or to one of the many 3 day festivals is enjoyable!
Have a fantastic Friday!
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