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Competing Gas Plant/Trop developers face the public

Veronica Brezina



St. Petersburg Mayor Ken Welch greets the audience at the public event for the Tropicana Field/Gas Plant redevelopment. All photos: Veronica Brezina.

Over 500 St. Pete residents and developers gathered in person at The Coliseum Wednesday evening to physically meet the development teams vying to redevelop the 86-acre Tropicana Field site – which will be the city’s largest transformative project. 

The Sugar Hill team’s display section at The Coliseum in St. Petersburg.  

The proposers who responded to the city’s request for proposals are 50 Plus One Sports, Hines and Tampa Bay Rays (a joint proposal), Restoration Associates and Sugar Hill Community Partners. The teams set up displays along a wall where clusters of curious people moved from one section to another, eyeing the various renderings that paint a picture of mixed-use destinations connected to a reimagined ballpark. 

Hines and Tampa Bay Rays’ display section at The Coliseum in St. Petersburg.  

The meeting was also streamed, drawing nearly 300 online attendees. 

A final decision on the selection of a master developer will be announced by St. Petersburg Mayor Ken Welch at his first State of the City address scheduled later this month. 

Tampa Bay Rays and Hines 

Highlights in proposal and stressed during the verbal presentation: 

A presentation slide from the Tampa Bay Rays and Hines. All slides: City of St. Petersburg documents.

  • The group is proposing to build a seven-million-square-foot, mixed-use development. It would include 5,700 multifamily units, 1.4 million square feet of office, 300,000 square feet of retail, 700 hotel rooms, 600 senior living residences, a 2,500-person entertainment venue and other uses. 
  • It’s centered around a Tampa Bay Rays stadium, which would be at a different location within the district on 17 acres.
  • A state-of-the-art ballpark would be open 365 days as it would be a community ballpark as well.
  • The team is working with Dantes Partners, a Black-owned development company that focuses on building attainable housing. 
  • The group would contribute $50 million to intentional equity initiatives that will support and uplift historically disadvantaged populations through a variety of restorative strategies. 
  • Plans show a connected downtown destination for St. Petersburg that restores the street grid. The group would introduce a connection across Booker Creek to create a single new east-west main street, linking the downtown to the east with the Warehouse Arts District west of the highway.
  • There would be a total of 14 acres of open space. 
  • A new Woodson African American Museum, a Booker Music Hall and Campbell Park Youth Center would be the cultural anchors in the district. 

Meet the team: Tampa Bay Rays • St Pete Catalyst


Sugar Hill Community Partners 

Highlights in proposal and stressed during the verbal presentation: 

Sugar Hill’s presentation slide.  

  • Kevin Johnson, a former mayor of Sacramento and ex-professional basketball player, was the first Sugar Hill team member to approach the podium. Johnson said he experienced St. Pete when traveling and fell in love with the city’s charm. He explained he grew up in an area similar to the Gas Plant neighborhood. 
  • In total, the Sugar Hill team has overseen more than $25 billion worth of mixed-use, multi-phased projects.
  • Blue Sky Communities, Property Markets Group (PMG) Affordable and the St. Petersburg Housing Authority (SPHA) are on the team and would lead the affordable housing development component. The residential component entails building 2,600 affordable housing units (50% of 5,200 units) with 325 units built offsite.
  • The team would create a Community Equity Endowment, managed by local trustees, with a profit interest in the Historic Gas Plant District development. That interest is projected to generate $60 million for the community over the first 20 years of the project (an earlier projection showed $30 million, but it has since been updated.)
  • The team member firms would mentor an individual of color or minority-owned small business under its mentorship program. 
  • Sugar Hill would make a minimum of 10% of the limited partner investment pool available to local investors of color. The team projects the profits to local investors of color would be $160 million over 20 years. 

Meet the team: Sugar Hill • St Pete Catalyst


Restoration Associates 

Highlights in proposal and stressed during the verbal presentation:

A slide from Restoration Associates showing Option B, the plans with the existing stadium and the proposed transit options. 

  • The group emphasized the need to create a transit-oriented center that would reduce the city’s traffic congestion and carbon footprint. The transit center would park up to 6,800 vehicles that come directly off Interstate I-275 and into a mixed-use parking structure. People movers, autonomous vehicles and moving sidewalks would connect people to the stadium. 
  • The transit-oriented plan includes the partial removal of I-175. 
  • The existing stadium would either undergo $600 million of renovations or a new $1.5 billion stadium would be built on 17 acres. However, the group said the option to build a new stadium, Option A, may not be feasible. “Identifying a funding source could take five to 20 years, according to media sources. “A lease extension is most reasonable and likely prior to relocating to a new stadium. However, this will postpone indefinitely Trop re-development plans that depend upon a new stadium being built and occupied prior to the lease expiration,” the team wrote in its proposal. 
  • The team also emphasized how this project will not utilize taxpayer dollars.
  • The team would create up to 2,350 affordable and workforce housing units, including units that don’t fall under certain income restrictions but are more affordable than traditional residential units.   

Meet the team: Restoration Associates • St Pete Catalyst


50 Plus One Sports 

Highlights in proposal and stressed during the verbal presentation:

50 Plus One Sports’ rendering shown during the presentation.  

  • The team is 100% minority-owned, according to Monti Valrie, a managing partner for Coral Gables-based 50 Plus One Sports, who also said the group will only work with companies that are at least 50% minority-owned. 
  • The proposal includes onsite affordable housing units, but no offsite housing. Approximately 6,700 multi-family apartments would be built with 50% of the units dedicated to affordable and workforce housing.
  • The team is proposing to create a $10 million fund for career training. 
  • The group highlighted the community benefits it would offer, including childcare, transportation and health care access for the district’s residents and workers. 
  • The group has renderings showing a ballpark with and without a roof.
  • The group said it is not requesting city funding for the stadium, which it projects would cost $800 million. 
  • A slide read that through a revenue-share model, $8.9 billion would be disbursed to the city during the first 60 years.

50 Plus One Sports’ section at The Coliseum in St. Petersburg. 

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  1. Avatar

    Pat O'Brien

    January 5, 2023at4:46 pm

    Really like the Tampa Bay Rays and Hines proposal!

  2. Avatar

    Alan DeLisle

    January 6, 2023at7:41 am

    I would not want to be in the city’s position. They gave up their leverage, will assume much more risk and will have to spend a lot more money on these proposals, a lot more. The original Midtown proposal and the original Sugar Hill proposal (see the term sheets) were so much better public-private partnerships on almost all fronts. I wish the city well with a very difficult negotiating hand. They will need to be very careful. There are a lot of pitfalls. Love St Pete always.

  3. Avatar


    January 6, 2023at11:59 am

    While I fully support the project and the Rays/Hines proposal I have always been skeptical of the funding mechanism–Regardless of who is selected, much of the funding appears subject to the whims of a variety of public agencies. Should the public funding go sideways, the Rays/Hines team appears most able to pull this together–IMHO.

  4. Avatar


    January 6, 2023at3:55 pm

    The Rays have not even agreed to stay in St. Pete even if they are selected by the City. When asked, all they say is “we wouldn’t be doing this if we didn’t think that were possible”. POSSIBLE!? They are the only bidder amongst the four who cannot commit to staying in the City that selects them. Their continuing negotiations with Tampa are evidence enough of their commitment to St. Pete and, I fear, a precursor to some more “broken promises” that this site has had enough of.

  5. Avatar

    Karl J Nurse

    January 6, 2023at5:20 pm

    The greatest risk that the city’s taxpayers need to consider is: Which groups have the financial capacity to do this project? The cost is certainly in the billions. Bill Gates and Jeff Vinik are doing a similar sized project in Tampa because they don’t have to go borrow the money. Most developers will primarily use borrowed money to build. Pretty pictures are not enough.

  6. Avatar

    Shirley Hayes

    January 16, 2023at4:15 pm

    50 Plus 1 Sports have the best offer for our city financially. They need to incorporate some ideas from Sugar Hill and Rays/Hines and go forward. They will save money for the city of St. Pete. The Rays only consider staying because it is cheaper for them. The move to Tampa will be super expensive.

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