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City officials hope land sale leads to jobs in south St. Pete

Margie Manning

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Marinetek builds floating docks like these in Bermuda.

A deal between the city of St. Petersburg and a development firm buying 10 acres at the former Commerce Park site could lead to 15 new jobs.

The $1.026 million sale agreement calls for the property buyer, St. Petersburg Commerce Park LLC, to receive $25,000 for each new job created at the site, provided the jobs are created in the next two-and-a-half years, pay a living wage and are filled by a resident of the South St. Petersburg Community Redevelopment Area.

The deal is part of a new vision for the area along 22nd Street South, Alan DeLisle, city development administrator, told the St. Petersburg City Council.

Part of the area, rebranded as “Deuces Rising,” now is expected to include affordable or workforce townhomes and commercial space, as part of a public-private partnership between the city and the Sankofa Vision Development Group. Another part will include the Dr. Carter G. Woodson African American Museum, relocated from its current home on 9th Avenue South.

The City Council approved a third part of the plan, the sale of property to  St. Petersburg Commerce Park, Dec. 3.

St. Petersburg Commerce Park, or SPCP, leased the land in 2016, with plans to construct a mixed-used development consisting of retail, industrial and workforce housing on the site. Those plans never materialized. The city was preparing to terminate the lease and put the land on the sale block when SPCP asked to buy the land, DeLisle said.

The sale agreement approved by the Council was the result of negotiations between the city and SPCP. It comes with a couple of conditions.

Before the deal closes, SPCP has to offer a six-month lease to Marinetek, a company that designs and builds floating docks.

“The plan is for two industrial buildings,” said Jim Sobol, who represented SPCP at the Council meeting. “The client manufactures concrete and aluminum floating docks. The concept as of today is two buildings on the site.”

As part of the sale, the city and SPCP will enter into a job creation agreement, with the city putting $375,000 of the sale proceeds in escrow for a job creation fund. For each new job created at the site SPCC is entitled to $25,000 back from the city, provided the job meets the conditions prescribed by the city.

The Commerce Park/Deuces Rising site. The red area is the Sankofa project. The yellow area and part of the blue area is for the Woodson Museum. The blue area outlined in red is the property the city agreed to sell to SPCP.

The land that’s being sold is west of 22nd Street South and south of 7th Avenue South. It’s a few blocks from the residential elements proposed as part of the Sankofa project. That raised concerns for Council member Deborah Figgs-Sanders, who said she worried about environmental inequities that occur when industrial and residential units are in close proximity.

Council chair Ed Montanari said the sale was a good deal for the city that solved a lot of problems. Montanari and six other Council members voted in favor, with Figgs-Sanders casting the only no vote.

Tom Callahan, CEO of SPCP, did not respond to requests from St. Pete Catalyst for comment.

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