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From a culinary kitchen to e-sports gaming to affordable housing, developers offer ideas for a south St. Pete redevelopment

Margie Manning



Tangerine Empty
South St. Petersburg's Tangerine Plaza has remained empty since its Walmart Neighborhood Market closed in 2017. File photo.

Four developers have responded to the city of St. Petersburg’s request for proposals for a redevelopment plan for Tangerine Plaza.

Each plan was presented to the Citizens Advisory Committee for the South St. Petersburg Community Redevelopment Agency earlier this month. The committee’s comments on each plan, along with comments from city staff, will be forwarded to Mayor Rick Kriseman, who can create a short list or interview all the developers before recommending one of the plans for approval by the City Council. The mayor also could reject all of the plans, as he did in 2018.

Related: St. Pete looks for new ideas for Tangerine Plaza

The retail strip center at 1794 22nd St. S. was previously anchored by Sweetbay Supermarkets and then Walmart Neighborhood Market. After Walmart closed in 2017, the 40,000-square-foot grocery space has stood vacant, although other tenants remain in the shopping center.

The city’s RFP said any proposal must contain a food component, possibly a smaller-scale grocery with fresh food choices; mixed-use development with retail; living wage jobs paying at least $12 an hour that are linked to CRA residents; the use of small business companies within the CRA; and sustainable building, procurement and business practices. It also has to be consistent with the Complete Streets plan and promote healthy living.

The city also said a housing component with a mix of affordable and market-rate rents was desirable. Three of the four plans that were submitted include affordable housing.

Here are the four proposals the city is considering.

Blue Sky Communities

Developer: Blue Sky Communities LLC, Tampa; Shawn Wilson, president and CEO

Proposal: Demolish plaza and build mixed-us development of 84 apartments with 10,000 square feet of commercial occupied by a non-chain grocery and perhaps a city office.

The apartments would range from one bedroom to three bedrooms and would be for individuals and families with household income ranging from 30 percent to 80 percent below the area median income. Amenities include a community area, office leasing space, on-site laundry or in-unit hook-ups, playground, swimming pool, computer lab area and other residents services. The property would meet the National Green Building Standard with energy efficient building materials and fixtures.

Total project cost: $20.8 million

Terms: Long-term lease with option to purchase after terms of development agreement have been satisfied. Purchase price: $1.25 million

Project time frame: Project will be completed 22 months after city approval.

Jobs created: 96 construction jobs, 4 property management jobs, 15 grocery/other jobs

Blue Sky included this rendering of Sandpiper Place, currently under construction in Manatee County, as similar to its plan for Tangerine Plaza.

Green Mills

Development team: Green Mills Holdings LLC, a Fort Lauderdale-based housing developer co-founded by Oscar Sol and Mitch Rosenstein, in partnership with St. Petersburg Free Clinic and Advantage Village Academy of St. Petersburg

Proposal: Mixed-use project including the construction of 70 apartments in first phase along with 140-stall parking garage and reuse of the grocery building as a food pantry focused on fresh produce in the 39,000-square-foot building and additional 8,000 square feet of retail. The apartments would be one- and two-bedroom units for individuals and families with household income ranging from 30 percent to 140 percent of the area median income.

Total project cost: $22.3 million

Terms: Green Mills (housing): 99-year lease, with rent equal to 20 percent of net distributable cash flows from operations, to commence upon lease-up stabilization and debt conversion. Purchase option offered by Green Mills if the city is amenable to negotiating a fee simple purchase.

Advantage Village Academy (retail): 40-year lease with no payment amount identified.

St. Petersburg Free Clinic (food): Requires the capability to operate in the former grocery store space rent-free.

Time frame: Applications proposes 30 month development schedule upon selection for apartments.

Jobs created: 46 total – 10 through Free Clinic, six through Green Mills, 30 through Ava

Rendering of the Green Mills proposal for Tangerine Plaza

Positive Impacts and Beyond

Developer: Positive Impact Worldwide Ministries Inc., a St. Petersburg-based nonprofit; Jay and Kara’lynn Brubaker, co-founders

Proposal: Multi-use complex designed by converting existing 40,000 square foot building into a culinary/teaching kitchen, a food bank/warehouse, administrative offices, small food pantry and various small business enterprises. The culinary arts center would also have a 500-seat capacity for area groups to host various events such as small banquets, weddings and conferences.

Total development cost: $982,480

Terms: Lease shall be for a total of five years for $1 per month until the end of the third year. Lease commences three years after development agreement. Purchase option may be exercised on fourth anniversary of lease commencement date — $2 million, minus expansion capital of $1 million used for initial development. The $1 million will be paid in installments, interest-free during the last two years of the lease agreement.

Project time frame: Proposer offers 15-month period, including buildout, furniture, fixtures and equipment, and technology upgrades.

Jobs created: Number not specified

Rendering of the Positive Impact proposal for Tangerine Plaza

Sugar Hill Group

Development team: Sugar Hill Group LLC partners are Roy Binger, Binger Financial Services in St. Petersburg; Rev. Louis Murphy Sr. of St. Petersburg; and New Urban Development, an affiliate of the Urban League of Greater Miami.

Proposal: Mixed-use project including the construction of 86 apartments and reuse of the Walmart grocery building and other retail. Grocery to be demised into three, 13,000-square-foot+ spaces containing a grocery store, a food court with at least five local restaurants, and an e-sports gaming facility. The one-bedroom and two-bedroom apartments would be for individuals and families with household income of 30 percent to 80 percent of area median income.

Total project cost: $21.9 million

Terms: A 50-year lease for $1 a year (ground and improvements). Purchase option price of $750,000, with a $25,000 reduction in price for each new permanent, full-time living wage ($25,520 a year) job created by the project and filled by a previously low-income person.

Time frame: Applicant proposes 24-month development schedule upon selection. Project will be 90 percent leased within 30 months of selection.

Jobs created: 56, including 34 full-time jobs

Rendering of the Sugar Hill Group proposal for Tangerine Plaza

The Citizens Advisory Committee members were not asked to vote on the proposals or prioritize them, but several committee members offered comments on each plan’s strengths and weaknesses.

Blue Sky Communities is one of the top affordable housing developers in the United States and the company’s plan is the only one that envisions demolishing the entire Tangerine Plaza, committee members noted. Committee members looked for assurances that the housing would remain affordable throughout the term of the lease and that the bulk of the construction jobs would come from the South St. Petersburg CRA community.

Green Mills has developed projects in Kenwood, so the city has some experience with the company, and the company has committed to work with the neighborhood on architectural styles — a positive factor for committee members Kelly Kirschner.

“I think some of the pros on this is that we have two local entities that are well-known to the community and that they have committed to hiring from the community. I would like to see the wages a little higher,” said committee member Keesha Benson.

Committee members noted that the Positive Impacts proposal was the only one that did not propose housing. “I can see you are feeding the community but I don’t see how it is providing jobs for the community,” said committee member Ramona Hunter.

The Sugar Hill Group proposal did not draw any comments from the committee.

Dr. Ricardo Davis, who chairs the Citizens Advisory Committee, reminded committee members that when the CRA was established, it was considered unique because of its intent to make an impact on poverty.

“Some of these proposals feel like mission creep away from our original intent, which was to impact poverty and to provide sustainable wages,” Davis said. “In these proposals … some of these jobs, especially if they are concentrated in construction, will go away. So there’s a question  in my mind about the sustainability of these jobs, and whether or not these proposals, individually and comparatively to each other, provide for jobs, sustainable wages, beyond the construction of the project … The question becomes whether we proceed with the best available project whether or not that project meets all of the initial intent established by the CRA.”

It’s not known when Kriseman will make a recommendation to the City Council on a developer.

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