The noise of saws cutting into wood, hammers pounding nails and cranes lifting concrete is heard and seen throughout the core of St. Petersburg.
This year, vacant lots and underutilized sites were scooped up and retooled as hi-rise projects, multifamily homes and other uses – breathing new life into the local economy.
These are the top 10 projects taking shape this year that are worth watching, according to city officials and developers:
The redevelopment of Tropicana Field/Gas Plant District
Why: The city has received four proposals for the redevelopment of the Tropicana Field/Gas Plant District site. The proposals were submitted by 50 Plus 1 Sports, Hines and Tampa Bay Rays (a joint proposal), Restoration Associates and Sugar Hill Community Partners. St. Petersburg Mayor Ken Welch will make a final decision on the master developer for the 86-acre site. Prior to the selection, there will a community presentation Jan. 4 at the St. Petersburg Coliseum. A final decision will be announced by Welch at his first State of the City address, scheduled for the end of January. Welch restarted the RFP (request for proposals) process earlier this year, asking for reimagined proposals that considered a post-pandemic environment and put increased focus on equity and affordable housing. The newly drafted RFP, released in August, also required that all proposals must include plans for a new Tampa Bay Rays stadium.
The expansion of The Dali
Why: In November, voters approved a ballot referendum allowing The Dali Museum to expand by building a 20,000-square-foot addition on what’s currently known as Lot 6, a surface parking lot, without taxpayer dollars from residents. The $55 million expansion plans include new spaces for more digital art installations and educational programming. The expansion plan, unrelated to the referendum, includes the museum building a semi-dome structure at the site of the Wish Tree. The dome would allow the museum to convert projections due to the 360-degree curvature, creating a more immersive digital art experience.
The future of the Manhattan Casino
Why: The Callaloo Group, in partnership with the Urban Collective, was the latest to assume control of the embattled yet culturally significant facility on 22nd Street South in an area known as The Deuces. The pair opened a food hall inside the building; however, the business model proved unsuccessful, and the group defaulted on payments to the city and cited several infrastructure issues. Welch said he would not be in favor of renewing the lease with them, which expired Nov. 30. Welch said the city would prepare a request for proposals (RFP) for a new operator.
The future of Albert Whitted Airport
Why: Welch is pursuing a study on the potential future of the airport, including non-aviation uses. Welch initiated a process of selecting consultant firms to study the uses; however, the selection process was canceled. The city is expected to be reissued as a Request for Information (RFI) or Request for Qualifications (RFQ) in 2023. In response, the airport committee has formed an advocacy group to share how the airport houses many businesses and serves the nearby hospitals. According to a new study provided by the airport officials, Albert Whitted has helped create roughly 950 jobs and has a $128 million economic impact.
Changes to the Municipal Marina
Why: As the St. Petersburg Municipal Marina falls further into disrepair, city council members continue to explore the best course of action to rehabilitate and revitalize the community asset. The city administration last recommended that St. Petersburg move forward with a private contractor leading the renovations to the marina. The former administration planned to hand over management and redevelopment of the public marina to Tennessee-based Safe Harbor Development (SHD).
The 2nd DCA opening
Why: This month, officials broke ground on the Second District Court of Appeal in the Mirror Lake Neighborhood. The DCA is viewed as a catalyst for the growing Mirror Lake neighborhood, where several new projects are sprouting up. Sen. Jeff Brandes said St. Petersburg residents could expect the DCA to bring much more than just judges and clerks. He said the new courthouse would bring a host of tertiary legal services, such as law firms that specialize in appellate work, transcription services and a myriad of new construction jobs. It will take 24 months to construct. The site for the courthouse was the source of much legislative debate after a study concluded that Lakeland was an untenable location for the 2nd DCA nearly six years ago.
Projects at the St. Pete-Clearwater International Airport
Why: The St. Pete-Clearwater International Airport is in the midst of expanding while it’s also looking to transform 124 acres, which is the largest piece of undeveloped land in Pinellas County, known as the Airco site. An analysis of the Airco site showed it could accommodate 354,000 square feet of aviation-related buildings. Under certain scenarios, the aviation uses at the site could directly support between 787 and 885 jobs at full development, according to county documents. Meanwhile, the airport recently inked a lease agreement with giant boat retailer MarineMax Inc. for its planned yacht manufacturing hub on airport property.
Beyond the real estate transactions, the airport is planning a $106 million terminal expansion. PIE will reconfigure certain spaces in the airport to become more efficient. For instance, PIE will reconfigure the current concession area as it does not serve customers post-security. PIE will also reconfigure the two-checkpoint design into a single large checkpoint for the two terminals. The entire expansion will take place in five phases and will be fully completed in 2026.
The rise of the Skyway Marina District
Why: New projects are popping out of the ground in the district. Earlier this year, the South St. Petersburg mall, known for its indoor flea market, closed to make way for new developments that will rise in its place. Local prominent developer Jack Dougherty will be building the Marina Beach, which will be an eight-story mixed-use development with 400 residential units at the site. Dougherty previously received city approval to develop the apartment building, a 2,400-square-foot bank, a fast-casual restaurant and a 95,000-square-foot self-storage LifeStorage facility.
The district also saw the opening of its first-ever affordable housing development, SkyWay Lofts. The 65-unit apartment complex was built by Blue Sky Communities, which were commended on building this type of affordable housing product with high-quality finishes. Additionally, other residential complexes have opened or broken ground, including the Sur Club, a 296-unit luxury residential complex that opened at 3303 32nd Ave. South.
Tampa Bay Innovation Center
Why: The new Tampa Bay Innovation Center, the first business incubator of its kind in Pinellas County, is underway and is garnering interest from potential international tenants. The 45,000-square-foot center is currently under construction on donated city land at the southwest corner of 4th Street South and 11th Avenue. The TBIC is a project spearheaded by Pinellas County after being awarded a Federal Economic Development Administration (EDA) grant. When it opens in 2023, it will have 30,000 square feet on the first floor for incubator companies. ARK Research will be located in the anchor tenant space, and the ARK Foundation will have an office on the third floor. TBIC will have cohort programming and events for startups.
Coquina Key Plaza redevelopment
The controversial Coquina Key Plaza redevelopment, a project that will flip the shopping center into a mixed-use development, recently received the green light, despite objections from residents. Stoneweg, which purchased the dilapidated 110,500-square-foot Coquina Key Shopping Plaza at 4350 6th St. S., plans to build a seven-story apartment building, with a maximum height of 77 feet, that would provide 465 units with at least 20% dedicated to workforce housing; a minimum of 20,000 square feet of retail; and secure a fresh food source – since the last grocery store shuttered, the community has become a food desert. Stoneweg said it’s communicating with potential grocers; however, it is limited space and would only serve a smaller grocer. Construction work on the site is expected to commence in 2023.