Tuesday, great to see you.

🌀️ Mostly sunny. 71°/59°.

Situational awareness: The Sarasota School Board will decide tonight whether to ask board member Bridget Ziegler to resign. Ziegler is the wife of Florida GOP Chair Christian Ziegler, who faces a sexual battery investigation.

  • The meeting starts at 6pm at the Landings Administrative Complex in Sarasota.

πŸŽ‚ Happy birthday to our Axios Tampa Bay member Mary Proud!

🀝 Membership matters. Support our local journalism by becoming a member today.

Today's newsletter is 915 words, a 3.5-minute read.

1 big thing: πŸ’Ž Our booming luxury home market

A rendering shows a patio in Tower II of The Ritz-Carlton Residences. Photo: Courtesy of Related Group

Luxury real estate is having a moment in the Tampa Bay area.

  • Sales of our region's most expensive homes were up 36% in the third quarter of 2023 β€” the biggest increase anywhere in the country, per a new Redfin report.

Why it matters: We're experiencing a tale of two real estate markets. Affluent folks have the resources to buy and move. But most homeowners are locked into their homes and first-time buyers are sidelined.

By the numbers: The total number of luxury homes for sale in Tampa rose 22.5% from last year, while new luxury listings rose about 14%, according to Redfin.

  • The median-priced luxury home was about $1.3 million, down a few percentage points from last year.

Meanwhile, non-luxury supply was down 17%, and new listings decreased by about 21%. Non-luxury home sales also decreased by about 4%.

The big picture: Luxury home sales are up in nearly a third of major U.S. metros, and supply rose 3% across the U.S., per Redfin.

The intrigue: A growing share of luxury buyers are paying cash (43%) or weathering high mortgage rates with plans to refinance later, per the report.

Zoom in: That holds true in Tampa, Redfin Tampa sales manager Eric Auciello told Axios. Cash buyers also have more flexibility when it comes to home and flood insurance, Auciello said.

Plus: Tampa Bay's luxury market is cheaper than in the northeast or California, places from which Florida attracts transplants.

  • New construction also factors into the luxury market's success, Auciello said. He's seen examples of luxury condo builders, in particular, offering "unheard of" incentives to sell units quickly.
In the foreground, two tennis racquets lean against a basket of tennis balls. In the foreground, a tennis court and first seven floors of Tower II.
A rendering of a tennis court at Tower II of The Ritz-Carlton Residences.

Condos appear to be driving much of Tampa's luxury market boom. In September, sales of condos priced at $1 million or more increased by about 300% from the same time last year, according to Greater Tampa Realtors data cited in a Tampa Bay Times report.

  • Single-family home sales in the same price range increased by just 62%.

Zoom in: The Ritz-Carlton Residences in South Tampa

2. πŸ’§Tech removes "forever chemicals"

Photo courtesy of the City of Tampa

Tampa will be the first U.S. city to use new technology to eliminate dangerous chemicals in its water filtration process, officials announced Monday.

What's happening: The Tampa Water Department is adopting Suspended Ion Exchange, or "SIX," working to make its water treatment center the largest SIX facility in the world.

  • The technology targets polyfluoroalkyl substances (PFAS), also known as "forever chemicals," a pervasive group of industrial chemicals that have affected drinking water quality across the U.S.

The big picture: At least 45% of U.S. tap water is estimated to be contaminated with the chemicals, according to U.S. Geological Survey research published last summer.

Flashback: SIX was initially piloted by the Tampa Water Department in 2020.

  • That program showed the technology would reduce the amount of chemicals needed to treat Tampa's drinking water, saving $1.4 million each year; improve drinking water quality and increase operational safety at the plant.
  • The SIX pilot is now being tested at the city's wastewater treatment plant.

Dive deeper

3. The Pulp: News you can juice

Illustration: Maura Losch/Axios

🏷️ St. Petersburg icon The Floridan Social Club, newly renovated at nearly 100 years old, is on the market. (Tampa Bay Business Journal)

🍬 An Anna Maria Island family is carrying on a 125-year tradition of candy cane making. And you can see them in action this weekend. (Bradenton Herald)

πŸ—³οΈ πŸš” Gov. Ron DeSantis is seeking another $2.2 million from the state legislature for his controversial election police force. (Florida Politics)

4. πŸ’ͺ Best things we bought this year: Kathryn edition

A screenshot from Kathryn's Fitbod.

πŸ‘‹ Kathryn here, with another gift idea brought to you by our favorite purchases this year.

  • Listen, as a TV enthusiast and junk food-lover, I never thought I'd be the person recommending a fitness- or health-related product, but, and it pains me to say this, exercising regularly does help me feel better.

The problem: I wanted to add strength training to my lap swimming routine, but the gym and its zillion scary weight machines intimidate me.

The solution: An exercise program that's reasonably priced, easy to use, and doesn't require weights or even leaving the house. Enter Fitbod, a personal training app.

  • At $79.99 for the year (about $6.67 a month), it's cheaper than a gym and offers tons of exercises tailored to whatever equipment you have or don't have. That includes body-weight workouts β€” no equipment required.
  • You pick what kind of muscle groups you want to focus on, what equipment you have access to, and how long and how often you want to work out. Fitbod takes care of the rest.
  • Each exercise has video tutorials and written instructions.

The results: I am not the best at keeping a routine, but Fitbod is so low-maintenance I've been able to complete two to three workouts a week.

The bottom line: Going at your own pace, in the privacy of your home, can make all the difference.

Of note: We'd suggest gifting this one to yourself, or to someone who has specifically asked for personal training or help structuring a workout routine. Whether and how to exercise is a personal choice.

πŸ“¬ Speaking of which, I've got a code for six free Fitbod workouts (for being a member, not as compensation for this story). First person to hit reply gets 'em!

Spread the word

A new career is waiting for you

πŸ’Ό Check out who's hiring now.

  1. Vice President of Human Resources at United Vein and Vascular Center.
  2. Sr. Manager, Learning & Development at Zelis.
  3. Senior Account Manager - VIP at Hard Rock Digital.

Want more opportunities? Check out our Job Board

Hiring? Use code FIRST50 for $50 off your first job post.

5. 🧐 1 jolly green tip to go

Data: Lindsey Bailey/Axios. Infographic: Lindsey Bailey, Kavya Beheraj/Axios
Data: Lindsey Bailey/Axios. Infographic: Lindsey Bailey, Kavya Beheraj/Axios

πŸ’­ Kathryn's thought bubble: Newspapers, paper grocery bags, tissue paper, mailer bags, and paper menus or placemats from restaurants also make great wrapping paper.

  • Brown paper bags are perfect for coffee mugs or other small round-ish gifts β€” just place the gift in right-side up and cinch the top with ribbon.

🎁 Kathryn's shopping spree has finally yielded to a present-wrapping spree.

πŸ›οΈ Selene's family recycles gift bags until they disintegrate.

❀️ Yacob is grateful for the well wishes and will be back from his graduation hiatus tomorrow.

This newsletter was edited by Jeff Weiner and copy edited by Carolyn DiPaolo.