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Ten St. Petersburg projects to watch in 2022

Veronica Brezina



Downtown St. Petersburg
Downtown St. Pete. File photo.

As we head into the new year, there are projects in St. Petersburg that are expected to create a drastic change in the city by embracing more employment opportunities as well as the quality of life, and by bringing in more housing options.  

While many things are on the horizon, these are the projects and developments that have caught significant attention from readers and developers. 

 The Defense and Maritime Technology Hub. File photo. 

The Maritime and Defense Technology Hub

This month, the Innovation District and its partners celebrated the opening of the region’s first-ever Maritime and Defense Technology Hub. The waterfront facility at 450 8th Ave. Southeast, formerly used as the SRI International building, houses companies that need to deploy water vessels into the bay and need a hyper-secure facility for highly-classified operations. The opening follows the city approving a five-year agreement with the Innovation District for the building. Already, over a dozen companies have committed to occupy space inside the 32,386-square-foot facility, creating a 90% occupancy rate. The largest tenant is Pole Star, a London-based marine company that collects real-time data on everything from active vessels on the water, issues such as piracy and collisions, and predicting weather patterns. The Hub is now Pole Star’s Florida HQ. Another major tenant is  Gates Defense Group, which is a graduate of the Tampa Bay Innovation Center and specializes in open-source intelligence training, research and software development for defense intelligence and law enforcement agencies. The Hub is expected to become a major game-changer in the region that will bolster St. Pete’s marine sciences industry.


Midtown Development’s Creekside proposal for the Trop site. Rendering provided.

The future of the Tropicana Field site and the Rays 

Earlier this month, St. Petersburg Mayor Rick Kriseman selected the Midtown Development team to redevelop the 86-acre Tropicana Field site – one of the largest catalytic projects in the city’s history. The promise of redeveloping the site, with or without the Tampa Bay Rays, has been an ongoing effort for over five years with vigorous public outreach efforts from city staff. Midtown Development’s pitch calls for new office space, a mix of tiered affordable housing options, a hotel, retail development and – notably – an expanded Booker Creek and designated areas for artists. The current plan totals an investment ranging from $2.7 to $3.8 billion. The next step is to create a term sheet with the developer and then form a development agreement, which will go before the city council. The group is also proposing to demolish part of the adjacent interstate highway to better connect its envisioned Creekside development for the Trop property. There’s currently a study underway to peel back part of I-175, or all of it. And the City of Tampa is actively trying to recruit the team to Ybor City, as the Rays’ lease at Tropicana Field ends in 2027. The Rays’ have also continued with ongoing plans for a potential split-season concept that would have the team play the first half of its season in Tampa Bay and the second half in Montreal.  


A rendering of Tampa Bay Innovation Center at 4th Street South and 11th Avenue South. All renderings provided.

Tampa Bay Innovation Center 

The Tampa Bay Innovation Center, which aims to help entrepreneurs and boost the startup activity in the region, will be the first of its kind in Pinellas County. The center, to be renamed the ARK Innovation Center, will be on 2.5 acres of city-donated land at 4th Street and 11th Avenue South in the Innovation District. The county officials and Innovation Center leaders said construction starts in 2022, and they expect the center to be completed by July 2023. Inside, there will be approximately 30,000 square feet of client space, plus co-working/collaboration space, offices and a conference/community room. Although the center is not yet underway, ARK Invest founder and entrepreneur Cathie Wood purchased naming rights for the center and will be taking up space. The announcement of her commitment to the center – and claiming space in downtown St. Pete – made national headlines. Another well-known firm is expected to occupy space inside the center, but the tenant has not yet been named. The entire project is estimated to cost $15.87 million. The U.S. Economic Development Administration has committed the majority of funding for the center.  


Central Park St. Pete Food Hall. Rendering provided.

Food halls

There are several food halls in the works that are expected to make St. Pete an even bigger foodie destination. The most recent news is Washington, D.C.-based Wiseguy Pizza operator Nuri Erol is planning to transform the former Hofbräuhaus German restaurant into a food hall. Erol purchased the 17,297-square-foot restaurant space on 4th Street in downtown earlier this month. The concepts he wants to bring range from a New York-style deli and pizzeria to poke and vegan concepts. He is also considering a cocktail bar to take advantage of the outdoor patio space. The old Woolworth building at 551 Central Ave. will become the site of the new Central Park St. Pete food hall that’s being developed by the Hi Hospitality Group. It will be completed in late 2022. The tenants will include the Italian seafood restaurant Speaks Clam Bar and the Asian eatery Kojo, both of which are owned by Hi. Meanwhile, another new food hall concept will open inside Fusion 1560, an apartment building in the Edge District. And 22nd Street South has reopened its food hall for aspiring restauranteurs. The Callaloo Group, which opened the food hall inside the historic Manhattan Casino building earlier this year, is now working with the Urban Collective group to breathe new life into the project. Irie Mon Jamaican Grill and Betterway BBQ have resumed operations in the food hall. Since working with Callaloo, Urban Collective has signed on several new tenants including Two Harbors Burgers; Prepped by Palmer, a meal prep and menu caterer that makes customized orders; and Louie’s Italian Eatery, a spinoff concept from the owners of the Nueva Catina restaurant.


A biker makes her way on the Pinellas Trail in St. Petersburg. Photo: Visit Florida)

Developments along the Pinellas Trail 

The popular Pinellas Trail, once a CSX railway bed, is increasingly becoming viewed as an attractive asset that developers want to take advantage of. More mixed-use developments are popping out of the ground in St. Petersburg, Dunedin and Tarpon Springs that are promoting accessibility to the trail. Broker John Barkett, owner of Barkett Realty in St. Petersburg, and Apogee Real Estate Partners want to transform the underutilized spaces along the trail into a must-visit destination filled with dog parks, murals and shipping containers for local vendors. The project, dubbed Trails Crossing, entails removing the fences and dirt lots and creating them into park spaces that connect all the districts. “It would safely funnel pedestrian traffic across in a shaded area along 1st Avenue North, Central Avenue and 1st Avenue South to the Pinellas Trail, allowing safe multimodal access to the Trop site and the Warehouse Arts District,” Barkett said. “You have all this cool activity in the Warehouse Arts District and then you have this gap and then you get into the Edge District,” he said, explaining how Trails Crossing is going to connect these gaps. This would be a multi-generational project, but with the developments coming to the 86-acre Trop site and surrounding districts, developers will be sure to have a close eye on the trail connectivity. 


A rendering of the Innovare Apartments from the northwest perspective. Volunteers of America of Florida.

Affordable housing developments on the rise

As more people migrate to the downtown core, and projects are being designed to handle increased density, affordable housing is still considered the city’s Achilles heel. However, there are more affordable and workforce housing projects on the rise that are working to solve the growing issue. One is being developed by Volunteers of America of Florida, which is building a housing community called Innovare Apartments that will provide 50 apartment homes with rents restricted to those who earn less than 60% of the area’s median income (AMI). A dozen units will be set aside for those with very low incomes. Innovare represents one of the first to break ground in a new round of developments funded by the Penny sales tax, which is a 1%  sales tax paid by everyone who spends money within the county. Over the next decade, an estimated $80 million from the Penny tax will be invested to spur future developments of affordable homes. DDA Development in Tampa and Backstreets Capital in St. Petersburg are building a four-story workforce housing apartment complex on Central Avenue. The project dubbed Sixty90 will be a 204-unit development with 90% workforce housing. It will be built at the site of the former corporate offices of The Edwards Group. While a handful of developments are underway, the St. Petersburg City Council recently voted to explore the legality of declaring a housing state of emergency that could halt rent increases for a year. 


The new SunRunner station at the corner of 5th Avenue and 1st Avenue North.

The SunRunner and TOD 

The Pinellas Suncoast Transit Authority’s long-term vision of the first-ever bus rapid transit line in Tampa Bay is becoming a reality. PSTA has been working on developing the $44 million SunRunner project for several years, and it will start operating in 2022. The planned 10.3-mile line will connect through St. Petersburg, South Pasadena and St. Pete Beach on semi-dedicated lanes. Not only will this be the first BRT project introduced in the region, but it will also create Transit-oriented development, referred to as TOD. Examples of TOD range from multifamily towers to Class A offices and retail situated adjacent to the fixed stations. The first SunRunner station was unveiled earlier this month on the corner of 1st Avenue and 5th Street North in downtown St. Petersburg, which is also where the first TOD will be located. The DeNunzio Group is planning to build a 28-story development at 450 1st Ave. N., fronting the new station. The hi-rise project includes a 120-room hotel, 163 residential units, Class A office space, retail and parking that can be used by the public. In all, PSTA will have a total of 30 stops, or 15 double-sided stations. PSTA CEO Brad Miller said he expects the city council to review land-use codes in 2022 to take advantage of potential development at the stations. 

The development group’s site plan. City of St. Pete documents.

Moffitt Cancer Center

After receiving multiple offers this year from firms vying to purchase a develop the 800 Block in downtown St. Petersburg, Kriseman ultimately selected Moffitt’s proposal. Moffitt plans to build a state-of-the-art outpatient cancer care facility. The plans also call for a mixed-use, modern multi-family residential tower with a workforce housing component, ground floor retail, a public-access parking garage and the retention and future expansion site of the United Insurance Holdings Corp. (UPC) headquarters, according to its initial proposal.  This will mark Moffitt’s first major physical presence in St. Pete – an asset not otherwise available within the city’s current outpatient facilities. Moffit and partner TPA Group’s plan calls for a 75,000-square-foot outpatient cancer care medical building, a 30-story residential tower with workforce housing and a potential 14-story hotel, among other elements. The Moffitt Cancer Center will allow 8,000 St. Petersburg residents each year to stay within the city for Moffitt services. Moffitt Cancer Center’s operations will also bring 200 new jobs to St. Petersburg over a five-year period. A full timeline was not disclosed, but construction on the tower is expected to commence by the second quarter of 2022.

Fortune 500 company

Earlier this year, the St. Pete Catalyst first broke the news that a Fortune 500 project, codenamed Project Athena, would bring at least 300 high-paying jobs to the area, and lease at least 100,000 square feet if it selected St. Pete as its new HQ. The unnamed company is a Fortune 500 firm currently located in New York City that earns over $7.5 billion in revenue, and that it has stores in 27 countries around the world. The documents also showed Tampa Bay is competing with New York and Atlanta for this project. The applicant indicated it would require at least 100,000 square feet of office space, while the county documents state the company would be the sole occupant of a 150,000-square-foot building. Recent news of the company’s decision has not yet surfaced, but anytime a Fortune 500 company relocates to Tampa Bay, there’s a domino effect of economic impact. The direct payroll impact of 350 new jobs with an average annual wage of $120,000 a year represents $42 million per year and $460 million over 10 years. The business activities of the (yet unnamed) company are said to generate approximately 1,300 annual hotel room rentals in the county.


Tangerine Plaza today. File photo. 

The redevelopment of Tangerine Plaza 

The plans to bring a grocer and affordable housing to the dormant Tangerine Plaza may finally come to fruition. The City of St. Petersburg is in the process of negotiating a term sheet with prospective developer Sugar Hill Group LLC to open a grocery store in the shuttered southside plaza along with affordable housing, a 7,000-square-foot e-sports gaming business and retail. Tangerine Plaza once housed a Sweetbay supermarket and a Walmart Neighborhood Market; the center has been vacant since 2017. The city bought the plaza at 1794 22nd St. S. after the Walmart closed, then sought out proposals for its redevelopment. “We originally talked about some retail and that has been difficult because that element has not survived due to the pandemic,” City Administrator Alan DeLisle said. “We have been working from the premise that the community doesn’t want a big office there, they want affordable housing and a grocery store.” The city’s market study found that the grocery store could be from 15,000-20,000 square feet. Under Sugar Hill’s plan, 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 to help combat food insecurity. Tangerine Plaza is located within the city’s South Community Redevelopment Area, which was created to promote development in housing, neighborhoods and businesses. The plaza sits within a 42-block area of south St. Petersburg with no full-service grocery store.

Click here for a more in-depth look at specific projects taking shape in the city. Also: Top local arts and entertainment stories of 2021.

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  1. Avatar


    December 27, 2021at4:57 pm

    Great report. The new St Petersburg looks like a major economic engine on the West Coast. Let’s keep Equity a top priority. Make the neighborhoods a top priority in 2022 and into the decade.

  2. Avatar

    Alan DeLisle

    December 28, 2021at8:28 am

    Great piece Veronica. You continue to amaze me. You have everything covered!!

    • Veronica Brezina

      Veronica Brezina

      December 28, 2021at9:23 am

      Thank you, Alan! That means a lot coming from you. I appreciate it!

  3. Avatar


    December 28, 2021at6:04 pm

    And the Feb ground breaking for the 100th birthday of the history museum.
    Ya La’Ford to create public art for history museum expansion

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