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Midtown Development makes a case for Trop redevelopment proposal

Veronica Brezina

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Midtown Development's Creekside proposal for the Trop site. Photo: Midtown Development.

Midtown Development is revisiting its plans for the redevelopment of the 86-acre Tropicana Field site.

Midtown, one of the two groups St. Pete Mayor Rick Kriseman selected for the Trop redevelopment, is proposing to demolish part of the adjacent interstate highway to better connect its envisioned Creekside development for the Trop property. The Miami-based group also wants to create a new $10 million fund to jump-start the buildout of local retail stores within the property, Midtown Development Partner Alex Vadia told the St. Pete Catalyst. 

Stay tuned for more information on the highway proposal and additional details on the storefront program. 

Midtown’s original pitch calls for new office space, a mix of tiered affordable housing options, a hotel, retail development and – notably – an expanded Booker Creek and designated areas for artists. The current plan totals an investment ranging from $2.7 to $3.8 billion.

Vadia, who is heading the project, is known for the development of Midtown Miami, a 56-acre mixed-use walkable community nestled in the heart of the arts district in Miami. Midtown Development also owns the former 22-acre Orlando Sentinel site, which is now a master-planned project.

“The Trop redevelopment is the first public RFP [request for proposals] that we’ve ever responded to. We only deal with the private sector,” Vadia said, explaining it was worth taking a leap of faith to enter an unexplored territory.

A driving factor of vying for the opportunity was Vadia’s own personal connection to St. Pete.

“The first time I went to St. Pete was when I was 10 years old. My parents and I rented bikes and traveled to the Dali Museum and I thought it was amazing,” Vadia said. “St. Pete has always appealed to me. You go from the beaches and water to historic old neighborhoods. There’s nothing like it. I’ve wanted to develop projects in St. Pete and we explored different opportunities on the private side, but nothing happened.”

Breakdown on Midtown’s Creekside proposal:

  • 6,000-8,000 residential units for the project, which includes more than 1,000 affordable/attainable housing
  • 100,000 square feet of spec office space
  • 300,000-400,000 square feet of art and cultural spaces
  • 500-room hotel and 50,000 square feet of convention space
  • 3.3 million-3.95 million square feet of indoor/outdoor office space
  • 36-acres of “public realm” space, including 24 acres of dedicated parks and Booker Creek,

Vadia said there are four pieces to any mixed-use development that make it highly successful and would be part of Creekside: a dog park, a unique coffee shop, a unique area for kids and a marketplace.

“We want to have a neighborhood where you don’t know where it begins and where it ends,” Vadia said on how he doesn’t want segregated neighborhoods within the development.

“Another thing we are going to do is bump up our 100,000 square feet of spec office space by adding an additional 100,000 square feet,” Vadia said. “The pandemic really showed us how people wanted to work outside. On one rooftop we will have what we call ‘beehive pods’ that will be these co-working pods in a green space.”

Under Midtown’s proposal, the city’s public improvement contribution would not exceed $75 million. Midtown would make a $60 million payment to the city, and also would be responsible for more than $94 million in public improvements.

The plan would take place in five phases, beginning in 2022 and ending in 2048. Once completed, the project would create 20,000 jobs on-site, contributing $1.4 billion annually to the local economy.

In addition to the newly announced $10 million storefront program Vadia exclusively told the Catalyst about, Midtown Development was already planning to distribute $5 million as grants towards minority and BIPOC-owned (Black, Indigenous, and people of color) small businesses.

Similar to Midtown Development’s Midtown Miami neighborhood, the group will create an area for artists and micro-retail spaces for entrepreneurs.

“If you look at Midtown Miami, you know you could design these amazing buildings, but it’s really what occupies those spaces, how you energize the ground floor from public spaces,” Vadia said.

Another element of the Creekside proposal Vadia is excited about is a banyan village, which he describes as a whimsical place that will be surrounded by banyan trees and will have art installed by an artist who specializes in recycled materials.

While Vadia sets his plans in motion, there are certain headwinds he and Sugar Hill – the other developer whose proposal is under consideration – must face. The future of the Rays is uncertain, as their lease for the Trop stadium expires in 2027 and there is also talk about the “sister city” concept, which would place the Rays in Montreal for part of the season.

“You have to work well with others in projects like these. We expect the Rays to have a lot of input if they decide to stay in St. Petersburg,” Vadia said, stating he wants to have constructive dialogue with the team.

Another factor is that this is a long-term transformative project that would be built out over decades. While Kriseman has been at the forefront of initiating redevelopment plans and discussions, this is his last year as mayor. The new mayoral candidates aren’t certain if they’d want to scrap the plans altogether and start with a clean slate or continue looking at the two prospects Kriseman favored.

“We may add new elements to our plan, but our formula doesn’t change when it goes in front of one mayor to another and then another,” Vadia said.

The development team for the Creekside proposal is made up of 18 companies including Pinellas County Urban League, thestudio@620, George F. Young Inc., PLACE Architecture, Real Building Consultants, VHB, Trenam Law, Holland and Knight.

Here what the Sugar Hill team told the Catalyst about its proposal for the Trop site. 

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3 Comments

3 Comments

  1. Avatar

    Vincent J Lovko

    July 1, 2021at3:36 pm

    Where do they plan to get the water for this “expanded Booker Creek”? Are they going to dam it up? How will downstream, where the creek runs through Roser Park, be affected?

  2. Avatar

    Georgia Earp

    July 1, 2021at4:24 pm

    We need affordable housing, so why only 1,000 or less then 15% affordable housing. It should be the other way around. 7,000 units for affordable housing divided by workforce and low income.

  3. Avatar

    Lauren Kay Lopez

    July 31, 2021at3:06 pm

    And what about the increased affects on the already overburdened sewage system? Are plans built into this for handling that?

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