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City releases appraisals for Trop site

Margie Manning



Redevelopment of the Tropicana Field site must be a big part of the solution to e city's affordable housing crisis. File photo.

The Tropicana Field site has an estimated market value ranging from $66 million to $277.4 million, according to three appraisals on the property.

The city got the appraisals in advance of negotiating with developers on agreements to redevelop the site in what’s been described as a “generational” opportunity to transform a major part of the city and to restore equity to an area that once was home to a thriving Black community.

The valuation will be used to decide how the city proceeds in negotiations with any potential developer, as well as to determine lease rates and lengths of leases, according to a March 18 memo from Alfred Wendler, director of real estate and property management, to the City Council.

The memo and the three appraisals were made public on Monday, when they were posted on the city’s real estate website.

The posting followed a series of public meetings last week where four short-listed developers presented their plans. This week, the city launched four immersive showrooms displaying each of the plans and providing residents a chance to leave input.

Related: Potential Trop site developers face public scrutiny in virtual meeting

Since the Tampa Bay Rays’  lease to play ball at Tropicana Field ends after the 2027 season, all of the redevelopment scenarios were drawn up with and without a baseball stadium.

The Rays have not yet provided specific details of their future plans, but the team is on the schedule to speak to the St. Petersburg City Council on April 15.

The city initially engaged two appraisal firms — BBG Inc. and Urban Realty Solutions —  and asked them to provide appraisals for the site with and without a stadium and with and without height restrictions, Wendler’s memo said.

The appraisal from BBG, valuing the Trop site at $66 million, “did not make sense,” Wendler wrote, in part because it was substantially below the Pinellas County tax collector’s valuation of $105 million, he said.

That prompted the city to get a third appraisal from The Spivey Group.

Urban Realty Solutions estimated a retail value of $247.1 million, while The Spivey Group appraisal reflects an estimated market value of $277.4 million.

“The [Spivey Group] and [Urban Realty Solutions] values are more representative of a normal difference in valuation that would be expected for this property. Typically, a property owner, when presented with two valuations for a property, would normally choose the higher of the two valuations. In this instance the City should do the same and rely on the value estimate by [The Spivey Group] of $277,431,000,” Wendler wrote.

The Spivey Group calculated the Trop site is about 79.2 acres, slightly smaller than the 86 acres described frequently by the city. Spivey made a direct comparison of the Trop site to other properties undergoing major redevelopment, including the Water Street development in downtown Tampa, the Ybor City assemblage at Channelside, the Orlando soccer stadium, and a parcel of land in downtown Fort Lauderdale with plans for a high-rise mixed-use development, Wendler’s memo said.

The Spivey Group report included a market data grid that showed the sales price and size of each of those developments.

Fort Lauderdale: 7.8 acres sold for $62.6 million, or about $8 million an acre, in June 2020.

Orlando: 14.3 acres sold for $28.6 million, or nearly $2 million an acre, between July 2015 and September 2016.

Water Street, owned by Strategic Property Partners, a partnership between Tampa Bay Lightning owner Jeff Vinik and Microsoft cofounder Bill Gates. It includes 27.9 acres sold for $79.9 million, or $2.86 million an acre, between October 2017 to the mid-January, when the appraisal was completed. The unit price, or price per acre, is somewhat misleading, the report said, “due to the inferior market conditions of many of the component transactions.” Isolating transactions from 2014 to the date of the appraisal indicates $48.1 million for 8.95 acres or $5.4 million per acre, the report said.

Ybor City, an assemblage of properties purchased by Darryl Shaw, owner of BluePearl Veterinary Services. It includes nearly 20 acres owned by Shaw as of mid-January that were purchased for $49.1 million, as well as 12.75 acres that Shaw was under contract to buy for $28.6 million in a deal that was scheduled to close in February. The report said the total assemblage of 32.7 acres was acquired for $77.66 million, or $2.37 million an acre.  There’s no immediate plan for development, but at one point this location was planned for a new stadium for the Tampa Bay Rays. The project did not have enough public support to move forward, the report said.

Mayor Rick Kriseman is expected to select a master developer for the Trop site in May or June, according to a timeline from the city. After the city negotiates a term sheet with the chosen developer, the City Council will be asked to vote on a development agreement.

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