St. Petersburg City Council members have gotten their first official look at a plan for Deuces Rising, a redevelopment along 22nd Street South.
The plan includes about 26 townhomes and 28,500 square feet of commercial space on about 2.8 acres between 6th Avenue and 7th Avenue South, west of 22nd Street South, on a site that formerly was referred to as Commerce Park.
Total design and construction services are estimated to cost $16 million, according to a presentation to the City Council Thursday. Construction is not likely to begin before 2022. It could be completed in 2023.
City Council members were not asked to vote on the plan, but council members generally said they supported advancing the idea.
The city, which owns the land, would be the developer on the project and work in collaboration with the Sankofa Vision Development Group, a coalition of local organizations that includes The 2020 Plan/One Community Plan, Mt. Zion Progressive Missionary Baptist Church, Felton-Howard Law, Pinellas County Urban League, Tampa Bay Black Business Investment Corp. and other groups.
“This innovative public-private partnership will produce affordable housing for ownership, commercial space for incubation of locally owned businesses, and seed and supply a community development fund to enable more development that is owned by members of the African American community throughout historically African American neighborhoods,” Deputy Mayor Kanika Tomalin told council members.
The “value proposition” for the city is community empowerment and positioning for self-perpetuating success, she said.
“This is not a proposal designed to financially appreciate the city or bring the biggest, most margin-producing development to town. This proposal is designed to invest in the community that has challenged us year after year to acknowledge the inequity that history has assigned, and meaningfully innovate with social enterprise programs that truly shift our trajectory and rewrite our city’s collective story,” Tomalin said.
The project is designed to foster wealth creation from within the community, said Alan DeLisle, the city’s development director.
“This project is the ‘un-gentrification,’ DeLisle said. “The focus is on public policy and community outcomes. It is about business development and it is about affordability. We are looking to create an environment in the commercial space where businesses from that community can get affordable space in an incubator environment and grow together with support services provided by Sankofa and other organizations.”
The commercial space would be for retail, office and restaurants or cafes with outdoor seating.
The townhomes would range from one to three bedrooms. The price points have yet to be determined, but they won’t be market rate, Tomalin told council members. The city might be able to draw on outside funding sources, such as the Penny for Pinellas 1 percent sales tax, and New Market tax credits and grants, which would require home buyers have household income that is no higher than 120 percent to 140 percent of the area median income, said Rob Gerdes, administrator for neighborhood affairs.
Sankofa submitted an unsolicited proposal for the project nearly a year ago. The city asked for additional plans and three other groups submitted their ideas but Mayor Kriseman decided to go with the Sankofa proposal, DeLisle said.
The city has been negotiating with Sankofa since then. Some key points include:
• Sankofa will coordinate with the city and the design firm on the overall development.
• Sankofa will recruit diverse vendors from the community.
• Sankofa will be responsible for leasing to tenants in the commercial building and have responsibility for all operating and maintenance costs.
• The overall leasing strategy will have a Grow Smarter focus. Grow Smarter is an economic development strategy that targets high-skill, high-wage jobs in specific industries.
Some of the revenue generated by the rents would go into a community development fund designed to help fund similar projects, DeLisle said. The city would make a seed contribution of about $100,000 to the fund, with Sankofa and the city working together to bring other investors such as banks and foundations into the fund.
The city has about $1.7 million in the current year budget that could be used to fund the design phase, said Tom Greene, assistant city administrator. There’s currently a request for qualifications out for a design/build firm.
Construction for the town homes would be about $7 million, likely funded through a short-term bank loan of two or three years. The city would only pay interest on the loan during construction and repay the principal as units are sold.
The city would borrow about $8 million for the commercial site and repay the loan over 15 to 20 years, with the city responsible for annual debt service from the general fund and/or tax increment finance revenue.
Sankofa potentially could purchase the commercial building from the city after the fourth year of operation.