Mayor Rick Kriseman has made his choice for a developer for Tangerine Plaza.
The prospective developer, Sugar Hill Group LLC, has proposed a project that would bring a grocery store, affordable housing and an e-sports gaming business to the city-owned property at 1794 22nd Ave. S.
The city currently is negotiating a term sheet with the development group, said Alan DeLisle, city development administrator. DeLisle didn’t have a specific timeline but he said the city is making good progress on the term sheet, which it will bring to the City Council when completed.
Sugar Hill Group was one of four developers that responded to the city’s request for proposals for the site, which has been partially vacant and largely under-utilized since Walmart Neighborhood Market closed in 2017.
The Sugar Hill partners are Roy Binger of Binger Financial Services in St. Petersburg, Rev. Louis Murphy Sr. of Mt. Zion Progressive Missionary Baptist Church in St. Petersburg, and New Urban Development, the housing development affiliate of the Urban League of Greater Miami. Wannemacher Jensen Architects in St. Petersburg also is part of the project team.
Taste of the Islands, a locally owned grocery store, would occupy about 10,000 square feet at Tangerine Plaza, bringing a much-needed fresh food option to the area. The Tangerine Plaza site would be in addition to the grocer’s current location at 2219 34th St. S., DeLisle said.
In its RFP response, Sugar Hill said it was working with Marcus Howard, CEO of ProjectMQ (now called MetArena), on a 7,000-square-foot STEAM/E-sports Center.
Sugar Hill also would build 86 workforce/affordable housing units. Housing specifics, including income guidelines for residents, are dependent on financing, which is not yet finalized, DeLisle said.
“I think the mayor liked the grocery store piece. That was a strong requirement in the RFP. He liked the housing as well,” DeLisle said. “There would be a cluster of businesses related to e-gaming. That was of great interest to the mayor because there’s a lot of positives in terms of job creation, especially in a high-tech industry like that.”
E-gaming is a good fit with the city’s Grow Smarter economic development strategy, he said.
“We’ve been working with the St. Petersburg Area Economic Development Corp., which is having meetings with that industry. For them to have a location at Tangerine Plaza, adjacent to a grocery store and adjacent to affordable housing, I think that all added up for the mayor,” DeLisle said.
The Sugar Hill team also has a lot of experience and knowledge, from both a community and development perspective, DeLisle said.
Binger is founder and CEO of Binger Financial and was recently named St. Petersburg market executive for Pilot Bank. He previously was city president for SunTrust Bank.
Murphy is senior pastor at Mt. Zion Progressive Missionary Baptist Church and spent a decade in the corporate sector as a purchasing agent and manager for the St. Petersburg Housing Authority, the St. Petersburg Times [now Tampa Bay Times] and Florida Progress.
New Urban Development has developed more than 1,500 housing units.