Industrial lands trends in Hillsborough County

industrial siteJune 2020 – Since 2012, Hillsborough County lost nearly 1 in 5 acres of industrial lands[i]. In response, the Planning Commission researched various strategies to ensure adequate industrial lands are available for such development. Staff conducted an analysis of industrial lands and policy approaches from other communities focusing on industrial preservation. The final report analyzes historic and recent plan amendment data and provides pertinent policy direction at the local level.

Coincidentally, some of the discussion about our national response to the COVID-19 pandemic centered around preserving our industrial capacity[ii]. Locally, there are nearly 20,000 acres classified as industrial lands. 64% of them are in Unincorporated Hillsborough County. The cities of Tampa and Plant City hold 21% and 15%, respectively. Temple Terrace created the ‘Industrial Land Use’ category in 2016.  Although its 117 acres account for less than 1% of industrial lands countywide, its share is expected to grow as the city seeks to develop research and development parks.  As seen in Figure 1, nearly 70% of the existing 20,000 industrial acres are devoted to goods processing and warehousing.

Figure 1.  Hillsborough County’s 2019 Industrial Acreage by Type

Hillsborough County’s 2019 Industrial Acreage by Type

In the full report, staff reviewed policy language from communities near and far. They found promising language in the Comprehensive Plans of Lake and Miami-Date Counties.  More specifically, the Miami-Dade method calls for a simple calculation. The resulting number represents the relative availability of industrial acreage in a small geography (e.g., ZIP Code, etc.). Using this measure of relative availability, decision-makers have more locally relevant information when evaluating development projects that could potentially affect industrial lands. This methodology is not proposed to replace current policy language within local Comprehensive Plans. Rather, it is intended to serve as a reference that can be utilized in appropriate instances relating to industrial land uses.

[i] There were 23,575 industrial acres in the April 2012 parcel feature class.  There were 19,793 industrial acres in the November 2019 parcel feature class.  Data analyzed by Plan Hillsborough.

[ii] Schiff, Lewis.  Coronavirus Pandemic Exposes America’s Weakness in Manufacturing.  Forbes Magazine.  April 27, 2020.  Link:

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