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Soil contamination stalls South St. Pete project

Veronica Brezina



An aerial sketch of the development at 22nd Street South. All images: City of St. Petersburg.

The multi-pronged Sankofa project, which includes affordable housing and commercial uses, is facing challenges due to contaminated soil at the South St. Pete site.

The project site is in the area known as The Deuces, across from the Manhattan Casino, at the southwest corner of 6th Avenue and 22nd Street South. It entails the Sankofa development team building 24 two-story affordable townhomes and 40,000 square feet of commercial space that would be able to house retail, office and restaurant/café uses with outdoor seating, an incubator and micro-office spaces.

During a Feb. 7 Citizen Advisory Committee South St. Petersburg Community Redevelopment Area (CRA) meeting, City Architect Raul Quintana informed the committee members the soil contamination was discovered through sampling, and they are now working with the DEP (Department of Environmental Protection) on the removal process. Soil contamination is commonly found at industrial sites.

A dry-cleaning business and metalworks building once operated at the location.

The Sankofa site in South St. Pete.

Quintana said the proposed residential area is “fairly clean” as most of the contamination is on the edge of the property along Fairfield Avenue and 22nd Street South.

When the contamination is removed, it is considered to be a brownfield area versus a site, said St. Petersburg Director of Economic and Workforce Development Brian Caper. With the brownfield designation, developers can tap into a state program that reimburses developers through brownfield site rehabilitation agreements, which is what the city and Sankofa are pursuing.

Quintana also spoke on the importance of the brownfield site designation, which identifies a site where environmental contamination exists in the soil, surface water or groundwater. A required condition of the agreement, he explained, calls for the formation of a brownfield advisory committee or the use of an existing committee to collect public input and provide oversight.

“This process is going to be able to reimburse the city for our expenditures on cleaning the site,” Quintana said, noting the city may potentially be fully reimbursed for the remediation efforts, which are projected to cost $500,000.

The contaminated soil removal will require a DEP-approved plan, and the brownfield site rehabilitation plan must also be approved.

Sankofa and the city are currently in the final design phase with Tampa-based Horus Construction Services Inc., which is reaching out to small businesses to participate in the construction.

The goal is to commence construction on the residential component by mid or late summer, pending city approval of the contract. The townhomes would be dedicated to those earning 120% or below the area’s median income (AMI). Construction on the commercial aspect would follow.

The project was initially expected to be completed this year, according to city records.

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  1. Avatar

    Suzanne Hoagland

    February 12, 2023at1:25 pm

    I would like to know what exactly are the AMI’s right now? How m often to they change? What exactly is median income? My rent gets raised at least twice sometimes three times a year. I am now paying over half of my income on rent.
    I am a retiree and my income does not go up but my tent does! Help me understand what is going on…

  2. Avatar

    Robert Matthews

    February 12, 2023at5:37 pm

    Trichlorethane is a common dry cleaning solvent ! It has contaminated thousands of sites around the country!

  3. Avatar

    Richard Philip Blommaert

    February 13, 2023at5:12 pm

    The Dome / gas plant area was the site of the City’s early trash dump. It is undoubtedly a “brownfield” And would require remediation for 24 occupancy.

  4. Avatar

    Shirley Hayes

    February 13, 2023at7:22 pm

    Thank you for the update. I was wondering what was happening with that project. This only one of the areas in South St. Pete, especially in the ‘Black’ community where this issue has occurred. We additionally need ‘Rent control’ measures.

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