The 22nd Street South corridor, with a reimagined Historic Manhattan Casino, new housing and commercial development, dominated discussion at the St. Petersburg City Council Thursday.
Council members agreed to advance plans for Deuces Rising, a townhome and business development, following a contentious debate.
They also got an update on 22 South Food Hall, the centerpiece of the revamped Manhattan Casino, after paying tribute to the late Vincent Jackson, the former Tampa Bay Buccaneers wide receiver who died in February. Jackson was a partner in Callaloo Group LLC, which leases the city-owned property.
Jackson was a very special man in the community, said Mayor Rick Kriseman. Kriseman read a resolution and memorial tribute during the Council meeting. Kriseman recalled how he took part with Jackson in an anti-bullying program in local schools.
“This was a larger-than-life figure, an NFL star, appearing in front of these kids and speaking from the heart and revealing a piece of himself. It’s not easy to do but he did it because he wanted to make a difference and he wanted to impact those kids. That’s the kind of person he was and why it’s such a huge loss for this community,” Kriseman said.
Jackson “loved what he was doing here in St. Pete and in other communities,” said his father, Terrance Jackson, who attended the Council meeting.
22 South Food Hall has set April 30 for its grand opening. When it does, it will include VJ’s — a restaurant concept named in honor of Jackson. It will feature new American cuisine and part of the proceeds from the restaurant will be donated to Jackson in Action 83 Foundation, said Mario Farias, a partner in Callaloo Group.
Other 22 South Food Hall concepts are:
• Three Generations, creative soul food
• Shokkan, sushi, poke’ and burritos
• Ray’s Vegan Soul, plant-based foods
• Iriemon’, Jamaican grill
• Betterway BBQ
• St. Pete Bowls, fruit bowls
There also will be a coffee shop, Deuces Café.
An incubator for fledgling restaurateurs will open in the next few months, said Leigh Fletcher, also a Callaloo Group partner. Metropolitan Ministries will bring its culinary training program to the Manhattan Casino. The aspiring chefs who participate in the program could get internships with the chef entrepreneurs in the food hall, she said.
In addition to the food hall, there’s co-work space run by Rising Tide Innovation Center. The Jordan Ballroom provides event space on the second floor. The Manhattan Casino also hosts a weekly marketplace, from 4 to 8 p.m. every Tuesday, to increase access to fresh fruits and vegetables in the neighborhood and to create opportunities for small vendors.
The facility is a unique venue, said Rev. Gregg Murray, an advisor on the Manhattan Casino revamp.
“In today’s divisive racial environment in our nation, we pride ourselves in that we are a unique venue where the entire community comes together for conversation. We believe one of the best ways to combat racism is to have conversations, even though they may be tough conversations,” Murray said. “ In my personal opinion, we have great food and I think great food is a wonderful place to start to have those conversations.”
The Manhattan Casino, at 642 22nd St. S., is across the street from the the planned Deuces Rising, which is expected to include 26 townhomes designed for buyers whose household income is 120 percent or less of the area median income, as well as about 28,000-square-feet of commercial space.
Council members voted six-to-two to approve a contract with Horus Construction Services, a St. Petersburg-based Black-owned firm, for preconstruction and construction management services for the project. Council Chair Ed Montanari and Council member Robert Blackmon cast the dissenting votes after raising questions about the financial impact of the project.
The council separately voted five-to-three in favor of an agreement of cooperation between the city and the Sankofa Vision Group. The Sankofa Vision Group, made up of well-known Black leaders in the city, will help identify funding sources and provide advice on the project design. Montanari, Blackmon and Council member Gina Driscoll voted no on the agreement, with Driscoll saying the Sankofa group was not representative of the entire community.
Council members Amy Foster, Brandi Gabbard, Darden Rice, Deborah Figgs-Sanders and Lisa Wheeler-Bowman supported both the Horus contract and the Sankofa agreement. Foster said the Deuces Rising project is designed to bring equity to the community.
“Ask your questions. Have your doubts. But be mindful of what this project means to the Black community. I need us to be mindful that what we’re trying to establish here is more than dollars and sense,” Figgs-Sanders said.