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Competing proposals for former Commerce Park site released

Megan Holmes

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EXACT Architects proposal for the former Commerce Park site.

Competing proposals from Cap Ex Advisory Group, Domain Homes and EXACT Architects have been submitted to the City of St. Petersburg for consideration at the former Commerce Park site.

In December, the City announced that after years of setbacks and disappointments with private developers, it would take the development of Commerce Park back into its own hands. The site, situated across from the historic Manhattan Casino, and a staple of the Deuces Live Historic Main Street, is proposed to serve as a linchpin for the city’s re-imagination of 22nd Street South, branded “Deuces Rising.”

Within that announcement was the news that the City had received an unsolicited proposal for a 2.5 acre site located at the southwest corner of 6th Avenue South and 22nd Street South. The proposal, brought forward by a consortium of partners, including the Pinellas County Urban League, One Community/2020 Plan, Tampa Bay Black Business Investment Corp. and others, called for workforce housing and retail/commercial space.

This “Sankofa Vision for Revitalizing the Deuces,” suggests that the city and Sankofa Vision Group (SVG) “co-develop a 3-acre site on the assembly known as Commerce Park … the City would be lead developer (with chief responsibility and ultimate authority for design, development and financing of the project), and the SVG would act in a support role.”

The city then released a notice of intent to lease the property and welcomed other proposals from interested developers. Here’s what they received in response:

Cap Ex Advisory Group, based in Baltimore, with a second office in St. Petersburg, describes its services asOwner’s Representation.” Cap Ex Advisory Group serves entities – in this case it would serve the City of St. Petersburg itself, by combining knowledge from multiple discipline, like “design, construction, business & finance, urban development, community relations, real estate development, communications and public policy.”

Cap Ex did not propose a specific vision for the site, but rather explained how it would work with current partners, business and property owners on the 22nd St. corridor and the Deuces Live Historic Main Street, along with other stakeholders “to formulate an achievable vision, to oversee & influence the design process, to align scope & funding, to monitor construction, and to ensure that the social objectives of a project are prioritized.” Cap Ex would be paid on a consultative basis and would not seek to own the property.

Their proposal states, “In our role, we will help the City of Saint Petersburg procure and oversee the services of other professionals – i.e. architects, engineers, brokers, financiers, market analysts, contractors, etc.” Cap Ex proposed to “maximize social outcomes” by prioritizing community goods and services and job creation. Cap Ex also touted its experience with financing tools like debt, equity, grants and tax credits, as well as its experience with challenging site and brownfield remediation.

Domain Homes, based in Tampa Bay, proposed to develop the 2.5 acre site into a “fee simple townhome project” with a “built to suit” commercial/retail element along 22nd St. The 36 proposed townhomes would be a mixture of 2 bedroom/2.5 baths and 3 bedroom/2.5 baths, each with a single car garage. The units would be between 1250 to 1425 square feet, and would be available to low and moderate income residents between 80 and 140 percent of area median income. Domain Homes would market and sell these homes, facilitate financing and down payment assistance and work with nonprofit partners to resources to homeowners, including a no-cost Homeownership Educational Program.

Domain Homes also proposes a “Restrictive Covenant” on the parcel, to keep the property in low-to-moderate income for 10+ years. According to the proposal, Domain Homes would expect to price the homes between $159,900 and $169,900. Domain Homes would begin with the residential development, which would create demand for the retail/commercial development.

Domain Homes would not seek to own the site, but would pursue a Developers Agreement with the City of St. Petersburg, where the City would provide the land and reimburse Domain Homes for development, at no more than $32,000 per build ready pad. The City of St Petersburg would retain ownership until the issuance of the individual building permits.

EXACT Architects, based in Kansas City, Missouri, proposed a fully-programmed site to combine multiple workforce housing options with retail incubators, food incubators and a social park, focused on a “community-driven” experience.

The retail incubator would include 1,500 square feet of flexible retail space. The food incubator would be a food truck plaza built into the design of the plan. The social park would include a “free public destination” for the Warehouse Arts District Art Walk, and include a covered area for farmers markets and small concerts. The site would also include “anchor tenants” like a bank or coffee shop that would include a drive-thru option.

Housing options would be split between owner-occupied affordable townhomes and renter-occupied lofts. The plan would also include on-site surface parking.

EXACT Architects would intend to purchase the Commerce Park site, but would engage in a 12-month design phase, emphasizing community input. Then, construction would begin with retail, food, and anchor tenants and follow with the residential components.

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2 Comments
here we go

2 Comments

  1. Avatar

    S. Rose Smith-Hayes

    February 7, 2020 at 8:31 am

    No Plan for the Carter Woodson Museum discussed here. Mayor Kriseman and City Council, please do not let us down again.

  2. Avatar

    Kimberly Bates-Lester

    February 7, 2020 at 3:13 pm

    This is a better use of space for the community to grow. The Carter G. Woodson needs to demonstrate more effort to be self-supporting, and not just a personal use space for a few select friends. There’s no such thing as a free lunch and I think the Woodson would be better served staying in its current place and working toward raising money for future development, not centered on public funding for the entire budget.

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