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Developer adds $5 million small business grant fund to its plan for Trop site

Margie Manning

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A rendering of Creekside, Midtown Development's reimagining of the Tropicana Field site.

One of the four firms in the running to redevelop the Tropicana Field site has increased its financial commitment to the city.

Midtown Development, the company backing a redevelopment plan called “Creekside,” said it would set aside $5 million to provide grants for small businesses with minority and BIPOC (Black, Indigenous, and people of color) owners.

Midtown is upping the ante as city officials continue to take public comment on redevelopment proposals for a project that will transform a major part of the city and that is designed to restore equity to an area that once was home to a thriving Black community. Mayor Rick Kriseman is expected to select a development firm by May or June with a development agreement in place by September or October.

Midtown’s new proposal, provisionally named Unlocking Opportunities, would target businesses working to meet the city’s most pressing needs, according to a news release from Midtown. The developer said it would partner with local organizations, such as the NAACP, St. Petersburg College, and the Pinellas County Urban League to establish the program’s criteria. The Pinellas County Urban League already has been working with Midtown on the Creekside proposal.

“We understand that the redevelopment of the Trop site is a complex matter, so our message is simple,” Alex Vadia, principal of Midtown Development, said in the news release. “We are ready to invest in the city of St. Petersburg and, from day one, we will prioritize job growth and economic development in the communities that need it most.”

Midtown previously said it would commit $185 million. The company said it would pay $10 million upfront as part of a $60 million purchase of the city-owned land at the Trop site. It also said it would put $94 million towards public infrastructure and improvements, $30 million towards small box retail and creative office space, and $1 million towards the “For All From All” housing program. Midtown also said it would ask the city for up to $75 million in tax-increment financing for infrastructure.

The Unlocking Opportunities program would launch in the first phase of development at the Trop site if Midtown is chosen. 

Midtown also said the early phases of its redevelopment plan would involved activating vacant lots within the 86-acre Tropicana site to host art tents and micro-retail pop-up spaces for local entrepreneurs. The company said it has seen success using that approach in its Midtown Miami neighborhood, a 56-acre mixed-use walkable community in Miami’s arts district.

Proposed pop-up micro-retail spaces (Rendering from Midtown Development)

Midtown’s Creekside plan includes:

• 6,000 to 8,000 residential units, including 1,200 to 1,600 attainable housing units

• 300,000 to 400,000 square feet of small-box artisan spaces and galleries

• A 500-key hotel with 50,000 square feet of convention space

• Between 3 million and 3.95 million square feet of indoor/outdoor office space

• 36-acres of “public realm” space, including 24 acres dedicated to parks, a piazza and Booker Creek, plus terraces, boardwalks and a dog park

For St. Pete Catalyst‘s previous coverage of Trop site proposals click here.

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