An extensive process to transform St. Petersburg’s Historic Gas Plant District is in full swing as officials evaluated owner’s representative proposals just two days after selecting a stadium design firm.
The owner’s representative will provide professional and technical oversight throughout the project’s planning, design and redevelopment phases. The selected company will also serve as the “central point of contact” – along with myriad other functions – on the city’s behalf.
An evaluation committee comprised of seven city administrators and staffers met Friday morning at the Municipal Services Building to assess eight submitted proposals. After a nearly two-hour discussion, the group shortlisted four firms.
The committee can atypically select multiple firms to oversee the Gas Plant’s redevelopment, a new $1.3 billion Tampa Bay Rays ballpark or the entire 76.2-acre project. Request for qualifications documents obtained by the Catalyst state the “owner’s rep shall report to the City Project Development Team, which will have direct responsibility for the implementation of the agreement on behalf of the city.”
“It is anticipated that the master developer (Hines) and/or the Tampa Bay Rays will separately solicit and select an owner’s rep for their respective improvements,” it added.
New York-based Skanska USA has a significant local presence with an office in Tampa. Committee members noted the company’s extensive construction experience and access to area contractors.
City architect Raul Quintana said the firm’s “mindset of a builder” would help propel construction efforts. However, he questioned if other prominent national projects would impede staff availability in St. Pete.
James Jackson, senior project coordinator, compared pairing Skanska and the project’s design-build team to putting “the fox and the fox together.” He called that an interesting approach but said the proposal “checked all the boxes.”
Turner & Townsend Heery
Quintana credited Atlanta-based Turner & Townsend Heery’s detailed approach and understanding of the redevelopment process. He said the firm tailored its team to align with project needs while remaining flexible and scalable.
Jackson noted that the company’s proposal referenced Truist Park, home to the Atlanta Braves. Populous, recently selected to provide architectural engineering services for the new Rays ballpark, has also worked on the stadium that similarly anchors an expansive mixed-use development.
“With that being such a cousin to us, I would think that they would have pushed that upfront more in their proposal,” Jackson said.
Hollins Consulting is an African-American-owned firm vying to represent a project with strict women, minority and small business requirements. While the company has extensive owner’s representation experience around its San Francisco headquarters, Quintana noted a lack of work outside of that area.
Brian Caper, director of economic and workforce development, said Hollins compiled a “well-crafted” team with a wide range of expertise. However, he questioned how the firm would manage seven sub-consultants.
“I thought their project approach was very thorough and incorporated a wide range of services,” Caper said. “But I would have liked to have seen a little bit more detail on outreach and communications.”
Rawlins Infra Consult
Caper noted the North Carolina-based firm’s extensive work with the Florida Department of Transportation. He called Rawlins Infra Consult “very strong on transportation aspects” but less experienced with mixed-use developments.
He said the company’s project approach focused on engineering and monitoring and relied heavily on subcontractors for other aspects. While Caper credited the proposal for listing the team’s specific roles and availability, he said it was “somewhat unclear to me how all of those pieces fit together.”
The committee must submit questions to the four finalists by Nov. 21. Quintana said the committee would wait until after Thanksgiving to hear presentations and interview company leadership.
After some discussion, the committee agreed that each firm would have 20 minutes to present updated proposals and 40 minutes to answer questions. City officials will then publicly discuss their thoughts and announce their final scores.