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Inside the Tropicana Field proposal process

Veronica Brezina

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The Tampa Bay Rays take on the White Sox at Tropicana Field during Pride Night 2022. Photo by Veronica Brezina.

As the deadline approaches this week for vying developers to submit their proposals reimagining the 86-acre Tropicana Field and Gas Plant District, the city has yet to receive a proposal. 

St. Petersburg Mayor Ken Welch restarted the RFP (request for proposals) process earlier this year asking for reimagined proposals that considered a post-pandemic environment and put increased focus on equity and affordable housing.

It is common for developers to wait until the last day to submit. The Sugar Hill Community Partners team, which previously submitted a proposal during the Rick Kriseman administration, said it plans to submit a new proposal by the Dec. 2 deadline. The Sugar Hill Community Partners team consists of San Francisco-based developer JMA Ventures, the Machete Group and other partners. 

The Midtown Development team, selected by the Kriseman administration to be the master developer, stated they will not resubmit a proposal. Additionally, Chuck Whittall with Unicorp Development, which also previously submitted a proposal, said he will not participate.  

The Tampa Bay Rays organization was not available to confirm if it will submit a proposal. 

When the new proposals are received, the names of the vying development teams will be published. However, the city will not immediately publish the actual proposals as “each proposal will be reviewed carefully for potential redactions (for example, some proposers may elect to make financial information confidential), and each proposal must meet ADA compliance prior to posting online.” 

The newly drafted RFP, released in August, stresses the importance of including affordable housing and made it a requirement that all proposals must include plans for a new Tampa Bay Rays stadium. 

“This is an historic opportunity for our city to utilize a generational redevelopment opportunity to ensure equitable opportunity for all residents, visitors, businesses and stakeholders,” Welch previously said. “With this new RFP we are calling for a significant emphasis on affordable and workforce housing; arts and culture; research, innovation, and education; recreation; open space, healthy and sustainable development; and intentional equity. We look forward to receiving and reviewing proposals as we prepare for this once-in-a-lifetime opportunity.”

The tapped developer will also have the option to develop Parcel G, a 2-acre site on the corner of 10th Street S. and 2nd Avenue. The parcel was previously eyed by Dynasty Financial Partners. 

The land available for the redevelopment of the Tropicana Field/Gas Plant District site. Land at Site G is a 2-acre parcel that may or may not be developed. Image: City of St. Petersburg.

During an earlier virtual meeting with interested developers and contractors, the city answered a series of questions on the call and responded to them via an online document. 

The document has since been updated, addressing two additional questions: Does the city wish to see the total number of affordable units proposed and the breakdown of those units by income level? And, would the city consider a property tax exemption for the portions of the land used for, or committed to, affordable housing? 

The city stated the developer should indicate the number of housing units and the number of affordable units (less than or equal to 80% average medium income) and workforce units (less than or equal to 120% AMI). Affordable housing units should comprise at least 50% of the affordable/workforce housing mix and proposers should incorporate innovative options to address the city’s housing goal, per the language of the RFP. 

Regarding an exemption for building affordable housing, the city wrote that specific assistance requested by a proposer to achieve these goals will be negotiated. 

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2 Comments

2 Comments

  1. Avatar

    Steve D

    November 30, 2022at7:38 pm

    This should surprise nobody. The Welch administration has demonstrated that it’s not a trustworthy partner. I would be surprised if any developer ever pursues a public/private partnership under this administration again, especially after the original Trop process, Moffitt, and Administration building debacles. Developers are in business to make money, and the Welch administration wants socialist ends. So, let the Welch administration lose money on its own unsustainable schemes.

  2. Avatar

    Jim F

    December 1, 2022at6:08 am

    That would be great if this flops. Poor leadership and a self-serving agenda won’t help the City of St. Pete. It creates division. We don’t need more careless renters in this city. Welch should take a page from Blackmon’s book and make all these future residents OWNERS/stakeholders in the community rather than relying on government handouts that keeps them dependent. Solution: The government can assist with a down payment and reduced mortgage payments.

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