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With Just Getting Started, Deputy Mayor and City Administrator Dr. Kanika Tomalin is “telling the St. Pete story” through one-on-one conversations with change-makers. With many exciting plans and projects on the horizon, St. Petersburg’s upward trajectory remains strong. “So much has been done, but here’s the secret: We’re just getting started.”

08/08/2020 | Episode 04 | 27:27

Just Getting Started: What will happen to the Tropicana Field site?

As City Development Administrator Alan DeLisle is in charge of economic development, transportation, planning, real estate, events, Enterprise Facilities (including the Tropicana Field site) and more. The discussion centers on the all-important 86 contiguous acres where Tropicana Field now sits, and what will be done with it - if the Tampa Bay Rays leave when their contract expires in 2027, or if the team stays and the area is transformed into mixed-use. "It's exactly on the cusp of where all the development is creeping west," Dr. Tomalin says. "People literally salivate at this opportunity that we have to transform our community." The City recently sent out Requests For Proposals (RFPs). "We really need the talent and experience and wherewithall of a master private developer," explains DeLisle. "We're looking at some combinations of folks that are going to come together here, in my humble opinion, that probably far exceeds anything like it in the past."

Key Insights

  • On his first day on the job, DeLisle pulled into the Tropicana Field parking lot and thought "This is not right. It could be so much more."
  • "I don't think I've ever had a site as perfect as this," DeLisle says. "It is 86 acres to die for in the county of Pinellas, let alone the city of St. Pete."
  • As a city envisions its future, Tomalin explains, aspirations are essential, but you have to have the tools and resources to make it a "feasible, attainable goal."
  • According to Tomalin, "We haven't always optimized that site for the benefit of everybody in our community. But we are going to nail it this time."
  • The scale of the Trop site development will be comparable to major projects in Atlanta, Minneapolis, San Diego and Washington, D.C. "Add St. Pete to the list."
  • Many factors go into making a site desirable to developers, DeLisle explains, in this case including strong economic indicators for the city, county and state, the proximity of Brooker Creek and the existing baseball stadium infrastructure.
  • Although the realities of Covid-19 might alter the way some developers approach the Trop site, economically and logistically, "the fundamentals aren't going to change. And at some point, we're going to get through this and we're going to be looking at demand."
  • According to a market study on demand indicators, St. Pete can anticipate 100,000 square feet of new office space development every year for the next 20 years.
  • Covid-19 has not frightened off developers in discussions about the old St. Pete police station, Tangerine Plaza, the MSC (Municipal Services Center) building or other projects.
  • "We hope (the future) is with the Rays," DeLisle says. "And we hope something can be worked out that makes sense."

The Tropicana Field site is in the middle of the city; it touches everything and everybody, and everybody and every organization has thoughts and ideas about it."

From an economic development perspective, it is those cities that don't do what we're doing - which is moving now - that will get hurt the most."

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1 Reviews on this article

S. Rose Smith-Hayes
10. 08 2020, 10:35:5656
Put the 'Trop' back into the Southside CRA. Do the right thing and find those plans used to swindle our parents and grandparents out of their lands and businesses with promises never kept. Use those plans to develop the area. Keep the promise the city made to the Community of African descent.

About the host

Dr. Kanika Tomalin is a thought leader, policy-maker, community ambassador, and health advocate.

As the first African-American, female Deputy Mayor and City Administrator of one of Florida’s largest cities, Dr. Kanika Tomalin is a role model for women from all walks of life and an advocate for innovative policies, equitable community revitalization, healthy families, at-risk youth and education.

Her signature initiative, Healthy St. Pete, which launched in 2014, has made community health a priority and impacts the lives of thousands of Sunshine City residents. By creating access to healthy food options, implementing free fitness zones in city parks and adding resources for individuals and families to make healthy living easier – Dr. Tomalin has made a tangible difference.

Dr. Tomalin’s understanding of the critical role health plays as a determinant of overall quality of life was shaped prior to her career in the public sector. She quickly climbed the ranks in the healthcare industry, most recently serving as the regional vice president of External Affairs for the Bayfront Health Network and director of Strategy for Health Management Associates’ 23-hospital Florida Group.


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