Resiliency in the ever-changing environment, to building infrastructure, to support for different transit modes are among the top challenges at the Tropicana Field site that two prospective master development groups are looking to overcome.
The Miami-based Midtown Development team and the Sugar Hill Community Partners group submitted responses last week to St. Petersburg Mayor Ken Welch after he asked both groups 15 additional questions about their plans for the redevelopment of the Trop site, from affordable housing, equity and the future of the Tampa Bay Rays to the potential impact on the interstate system.
The new questions arose as Welch said he wanted to re-evaluate the proposals as the Covid-19 pandemic and supply chain issues could have altered plans.
In the 50-plus pages of responses that the two groups submitted, respectively, here’s what they had to say regarding the redevelopment achieving resiliency and how they can embrace new transit options for connectivity within the 86-acre property:
Midtown: The group would recreate a watershed beginning under 1st Avenue South. Midtown will generate a gravity-fed flow reconfiguring Booker Creek into a naturalized ecosystem through the community that empties into Booker Creek Park south of the interstate. This technique has multiple benefits and recreates the natural gradient of the site to be incorporated into the levels of buildings, preventing the requirement of significant amounts of foreign fill being introduced.
Sugar Hill: The group said its building will be LEED Gold certified, which entails building cost-efficient green buildings with zero carbon emissions. “We will specifically pursue the International Living Future Institute (ILFI) Zero Carbon certification. ILFI is an internationally-recognized standard for sustainable building and site design. Achieving this certification would establish St. Petersburg as a global leader of sustainable, carbon-smart development,” the group wrote. Sugar Hill would also incorporate district-level resilient infrastructure like arrays and a chilled water plant. Sugar Hill lists several key points of where resiliency efforts would occur such as Booker Creek. The development team would have a creek restoration strategy that is said to improve the stormwater management and water quality up and downstream from the Trop site and control the over-bank flows. “If we are selected, we will seek to engage USFSP [University of South Florida St. Peterbsurg] in additional academic programming opportunities related to the restoration of Booker Creek and other aspects of the Tropicana Field redevelopment.”
Midtown: The group highlights how Pinellas Suncoast Transit Authority’s SunRunner bus rapid transit line, connecting downtown St. Pete to the beaches, is vital to the grid network. The team also highlights how it will be prepared for future transit tech. The Midtown team will work with Forward Pinellas and the Florida Department of Transportation to ensure that regional projects, such as Tampa Bay Next and the bus-on-shoulder on Interstate I-275, consider the access needs for the proposed development program. Midtown Development will work with the city to identify possible locations of a preferred mass transit station if a voter referendum were to occur to support such a project. The team says they are also dedicated to providing a complete network of bicycle and pedestrian facilities throughout the development that will tie into the surrounding multi-modal network. The multi-modal hub would be designed not just for today’s transit options, but for future transit tech such as urban air mobility (commonly called air taxis) and self-driving vehicle charging. Midtown described the mobility hubs as including a SunRunner or another BRT stop, potential rail, ride-sharing areas, micro-mobility charging such as that for e-scooters, bike storage and more.
Sugar Hill: The group’s plan includes integrating smart mobility hubs throughout the site, including one at 1st Avenue South/13th Street South. The hubs will support multimodal uses for first- and last-mile travel such as e-scooters, bike share, cargo and e-cargo bike shares. These will connect to several key parts of the city’s larger transit grid, including the Pinellas Trail, the SunRunner bus rapid transit line, and the Trop’s internal street, bike trail and walking path grid. The six PSTA non-BRT routes that operate adjacent to the project site also present critical mobility opportunities for travel. SHCP team members have been engaged for the last several months on the Trails Crossing Park project under I-275, which aims to activate the underutilized spaces along the trail into a must-visit destination filled with dog parks, murals and shipping containers for local vendors. SHCP said the project can tie into the Trop’s infrastructure, stormwater management, wayfinding, public space activation and public art and sponsorship opportunities. Working collaboratively, the Trop and Trails Crossing Park teams can fully integrate the two projects and fully leverage opportunities for funding and operations.