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St. Pete mayor suggests timetable for Trop site decision

Margie Manning

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Mayor Rick Kriseman is likely to pull the trigger on a specific redevelopment plan for Tropicana Field in about a year.

The mayor expects to know by then whether the Trop site will be redeveloped with a baseball stadium or without one.

He’s not only waiting for a signal from the Tampa Bay Rays, who play their home games at the Trop, but also keeping a close eye on the economy.

St. Petersburg Mayor Rick Kriseman speaking at the Downtown Partnership

“I believe at some point in the next couple of years, the market will slow down. I don’t think we’ll see a recession like we just went through, but we want to catch this as the rise is still happening. We don’t want try to catch it on the downside of the wave,” Kriseman said Wednesday, at the quarterly leadership lunch for the St. Petersburg Downtown Partnership.

“Look for something to happen sometime in the next year or so, one way or the other,” he said.

Plans have been in flux for about six months, since the Rays scrapped a plan for a stadium in Ybor City.  At that time, Kriseman said Trop site redevelopment plans would move forward whether or not the Rays wanted to keep playing at the location.

That’s still true, he told the Downtown Partnership.

“We’re got 86 acres — or 70 if the stadium is still there — that we want to redevelop. We think it’s an incredible opportunity to redevelop. We’ve done a master plan with a stadium and without a stadium on it. We’re looking for a little bit of heads up from the team as to whether we should be talking to a potential master developer about redeveloping it with a stadium or without the stadium, but we want to get moving on it soon,” he said.

He said he continues to have discussions with Rays owner Stu Sternberg and presidents Matt Silverman and Brian Auld about the future of the franchise.

“I’ve tried to make it clear to those guys that St. Petersburg is ready to be a partner. We still believe that this is the best city and that is the best location long-term for the team,” Kriseman said.

While attendance and corporate support for the team haven’t been as strong as they should have been historically, Kriseman said there’s lots of reasons to be positive about the future.

“Between the growth that’s happening in St. Pete and in Tampa, between the transportation changes that are on the books and being planned right now, from the Howard Frankland to the Gandy interchange, from premium transit from Wesley Chapel to high-speed rail from Orlando to downtown Tampa – and the Ferry – some of the impediments that have made it difficult for people to get over I think are going to go away, and that’s why I’m bullish and optimistic about the future of the franchise here in St. Pete,” Kriseman said.

Both scenarios for redevelopment include significant office space, a major focus for the city, because it wants to have enough places for existing and new businesses. Land and construction costs have limited office development in recent years, although falling vacancy rates and rising rents are starting to make office construction look more feasible, developers have said.

United Insurance Holding Corp. (Nasdaq: UIHC), which is building a new headquarters downtown, will add some office space, along with parking, and most of the development plans submitted for the old St. Petersburg Police headquarters building have some office component as well.

The Downtown Partnership is doing its own work on creating more office space downtown, said Jason Mathis, CEO.

“We’re working on a major research project right now that we think will lay the groundwork and build the case for private sector investment in office space,” Mathis said. The city’s economic development team, along with officials from Pinellas County and University of South Florida St. Petersburg, are working with private sector leaders on the research project, which Mathis hopes to complete in September.

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7 Comments

7 Comments

  1. Avatar

    Katheyn Eckstine

    June 14, 2019 at 11:57 am

    St Pete could really use an Apple store.

  2. Avatar

    EJ Abraham

    June 14, 2019 at 12:35 pm

    Would love to see a convention Center/ entertainment hall!

  3. Avatar

    neil cosentino

    June 14, 2019 at 5:08 pm

    The Florida Bauhaus recommends an International design competition – for repurposing of the Stadium and surrounding city property:
    Brand it ” The St. Petersburg SPORTS RING Project ” –

    1. Build a multi level multi-purpose RING spaced office building that surrounds the stadium with the following features:
    – Street level national state regional county city bus terminal on the west side, restaurants on the east side.
    – Multi-level parking up to bleachers for ball game and event attendees
    – Multi-level parking above for offices – the main business offices tenants – theme – an International All Sports business complex
    2. Replace the roof with a cantilever dome with office spaces that enclosed the dome or leave a small opening…
    3. The parking lots converted into a mixed office residential park development.

  4. Avatar

    Greg Davidson

    June 14, 2019 at 7:43 pm

    I hope the Mayor (and other Council Members) emphasize/mentions:
    -Council Member Brandi Gabbard’s proposal to create a City created Affordable Housing Trust Fund that Can’t Be Swept until ‘Tallahassee’ decides to start (re) funding the state’s affordable housing Sadowski Trust Fund. ( It’s un-Christian to think that ‘legislators’ think they can raid (steal?) from the affordable housing fund with no plans to repay or re-appropriate the funds !)
    – Emphasize/enforce the Affordable Housing Density Bonus Program that gives developers a density increase in exchange for restricting a percentage of units to be affordable.
    – a NEW trend: ask (require?) local foundations contribute funds towards the financing of low-income housing projects. This is a new trend by national foundations. Makes sense to me, have foundations ‘lend’ funds at low return rates so its portfolio still receives a return, or make 0% revolving loans towards housing projects, kind of like a grant that is returned.

  5. Avatar

    Jeffrey Levy

    June 15, 2019 at 12:22 pm

    We need to maintain affordable commercial rents from downtown west, north and south. The panoply of counter-cultural shops, tthrift stores, music stores, antiqque and other consignment shops, bars, coffee shops, music and theatre venues, other small businesses…this is what has made St. Pete so alluring. We don’t need corporate stores and franchisees.

    • Avatar

      Jeff Levy

      June 15, 2019 at 12:25 pm

      Sorry about the typos.

  6. Avatar

    Rose Smith-Hayes

    June 17, 2019 at 5:51 pm

    This land was taken from the African American community with promises of homes and manufacturing and jobs. After lying to the people, someone came up with this great idea to build a baseball stadium, instead of keeping their promise to the African American Community. This land should be part of the Southside CRA. Return this land to the African American. My Uncle Charlie Buckholtz was one of the citizens scammed in that deal, his family and many others. There were many minority owned businesses scammed in this deal also. Give It Back to the African american People.

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