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Tangerine Plaza food desert could become culinary arts center

Veronica Brezina

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Positive Impact Worldwide's rendering of the redeveloped Tangerine Plaza. All images are from City of St. Petersburg documents.

The area surrounding Tangerine Plaza labeled as a food desert could see a food bank and culinary arts incubator. 

Faith-based nonprofit group Positive Impact Worldwide, which provides food and programs to children and families in St. Petersburg, is vying to purchase the 40,000-square-foot Tangerine Plaza, which formerly housed a Sweetbay supermarket and Walmart Neighborhood Market. 

Positive Impact Worldwide would convert the building into a culinary arts center with a kitchen and an entrepreneur program, a food bank/warehouse, administrative offices, a small food pantry and various small businesses, according to a proposal PIW submitted to the City of St. Petersburg. 

This is PIW’s second attempt to acquire the plaza. The first attempt was in 2020. 

The new proposal was submitted as the city restarted the process after receiving a new unsolicited proposal from Sugar Hill, which proposed building 115 affordable family housing units and 10,000 square feet of commercial or retail space at the plaza, located at 1794 22nd St. S.

The city initially bought the plaza after the Walmart Neighborhood Market closed in 2017, with the hope of redeveloping it. 

Under PIW’s proposal, “One of the goals for this type of center is to promote healthy eating behaviors among individuals and their families by teaching basic nutrition, food safety, food selection, menu planning and food-preparation skills.”

Master Chef Lennox Preudomme, his staff and the participants would collaborate on lively, interactive cooking lessons emphasizing culinary skills and hands-on learning, nutrition lessons, chef demonstrations, farmer’s market activities and farm-to-table dinners.

The commercial kitchen in the culinary arts center would also provide a pathway for small producers and entrepreneurs.

“It allows agricultural producers and food entrepreneurs to begin food businesses without the high cost of developing individual certified kitchen space. Positive Impact Worldwide has helped many small businesses by using their commercial kitchen in their church to help in these areas. With the increase in space, many more small businesses will be able to get this type of assistance to help to grow their company while lessening their overall capital expenditures,” PIW wrote. 

The arts center would work with Pinellas Technical College to develop a culinary program for employment opportunities at local restaurants. The arts center would also have a 500-seat capacity for area groups to host various events, such as small banquets, weddings, and conferences. 

Additionally, the teaching kitchen would serve as a community health arm for the area hospitals and wellness centers to address health disparities in their patients. 

“Conversations have already begun on how to launch such initiatives. These types of health teaching centers are a key element of community infrastructure, especially in low-income communities. It is imperative to ensure vitality of communities across the area of South St. Petersburg by investing in human capital, generating economic activity, and stimulating secondary spending. Primary and preventive healthcare are vital ingredients for ensuring individual, social and economic opportunity,” PIW wrote. 

A rendering of the side of PIW’s reimaged Tangerine Plaza.  

PIW is proposing to acquire the site in a two-part purchase and sales agreement, entailing the exchange of PIW’ s current office at 2750 34th St. S. for the plaza. 

PIW’s office is valued at over $3 million, according to its submitted documents.  

West Coast Tomatoes and McClure Holdings would provide $1 million to Positive Impact Worldwide towards the redevelopment of Tangerine Plaza.

PIW said it would work to retain the existing business and listed the current and potential future tenants as Pop Goes the Waffle, Taste of Gourmet Restaurant, Wellness Center, Speed Pro Printing, China Star Restaurant, Sexy Lady Beauty Supply and Metro PCS. 

Meanwhile, the Sugar Hill Group is offering a 75-year ground lease with the city. Payment for the ground lease would be $1.5 million in the form of a capitalized lease payment.

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