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Here’s what St. Pete wants next in the Edge District

Margie Manning

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The city of St. Petersburg hopes to replace the old police headquarters with a mixed-use development that includes retail, office, mixed-income housing and possibly a hotel.

The preferred project, in the 1300 block of 1st Avenue North, is described in a Jan. 7 request for proposal, as the city looks for a developer for the 2-acre property, which is valued at $6.6 million.

The property lies within the rapidly revitalizing Edge District, the western part of downtown that has seen a major increase in development activity, including renovations and new construction of urban housing, retail and restaurant uses. It’s just a block away from the 86-acre Tropicana Field site, where the city plans a massive revamp, with or without a new stadium for the Tampa Bay Rays. It’s also on one of routes designated for the planned Bus Rapid Transit project.

In addition to a variety of uses, the RFP said the preferred project would have:

  • Rooftop activities and/or amenities
  • Ground floor retail, along 13th Street North and 1st Avenue North
  • Office space for Edge District nonprofits

The city also will give preference to the project that creates the highest number of permanent full-time jobs, has a timely development plan and construction schedule, and doesn’t require rezoning.

St. Petersburg is building a new $85 million, 161,000-square-foot police headquarters, set to open later this year, to replace the nearly 70-year-old current building.

St. Petersburg Mayor Rick Kriseman at the Jan. 8, 2019 Disston Heights Civic Association.

“Once the police are out of the building, all of us working now in City Hall will move out of City Hall temporarily into the old police station,” Mayor Rick Kriseman said, during a Disston Heights Civic Association meeting Tuesday night.

City Hall needs a new roof and HVAC system, along with some cosmetic updates such as new carpet. “By the end of this year or the beginning of next year, City Hall should look very different inside, feel better and we’ll be out of the old police station by then,” Kriseman said.

Kriseman did not directly address the RFP for the police headquarters site, but in response to a question, he did talk about business growth in St. Petersburg. He cited UPC Insurance’s plan to build a new 150,000-square-foot headquarters and add 300 jobs downtown, as well as L3 Technologies’ move to consolidate 250 jobs statewide in a new downtown headquarters for its commercial aviation solutions unit. The Trop site also promises great opportunity, he said.

“Every time I meet with a developer, I try to twist their arm to build some office in whatever they do. Even if they want to build apartments or condos, give me office also,” he said.

Financing is an issue, however.

“The biggest challenge, honestly, is banks aren’t as free to lend right now. They are lending more for residential than office, so we are trying to change that and we’re starting to have some luck,” Kriseman said.

“I think you are going to see a lot more businesses that will move here to St. Pete, but equally exciting is those that are here are continuing to grow and expand, and that in my mind is as important as the new ones coming in.”

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