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Trop Talk, part one: Commercial and office space

Brian Hartz



Seven companies are vying for the right to redevelop the Tropicana Field site. Photo: TRS Development Services.

Editor’s note: In this multi-part series, the Catalyst will compare and contrast each of the seven proposals for the Tropicana Field site according to five major redevelopment needs that each plan was asked to meet: commercial and office space, housing, I-175 and transportation, parks and green space and hotel and convention center space. 

In this first installment, we’ll take a look at the commercial and office space component of each proposal. Downtown St. Petersburg desperately needs more space for businesses that have either been priced out because of rapidly rising rents, or simply can’t find offices with a large enough footprint to accommodate their operations. The city’s request for proposals, issued in July, specifically called for space that could accommodate small independent retail businesses. 

First up is Midtown Development LLC, whose “Creekside” proposal offers several distinct commercial and office space areas. The Piazza, located on Second Avenue South near a revitalized Booker Creek, will be the home of boutique, high-end shops and restaurants as well as what it calls “micro-scaled” stores for local entrepreneurs. Above ground level, The Piazza’s would also offer loft-style, flexible office space Banyan Village, meanwhile, will offer a mix of small-scale retail, entertainment and food options, also nestled along Booker Creek. 

Midtown Development’s Creekside proposal for the Trop site. Photo: Midtown Development.

The Creekside plan envisions 16th Street as a neighborhood retail street — “a beloved Main Street” that would offer access to grocery stores, job training centers, restaurants and bars. “Everything about 16th Street will come from our outreach with the South St. Petersburg community,” Midtown’s proposal states. “We are imagining a place with an authentic way of expressing the culture, dreams and desires of the African American community.”

According to Midtown’s vision, the northeast corner of the 86-acre Tropicana Field site would be the site of office towers offering at least 40,000 square feet of office space. “We are proposing the tallest buildings in our plan, and maybe in the city, are located here,” the proposal states. “A major corporate tenant could take an entire building or a portion with other larger companies.” 

Next, we turn to Portman Holdings and Third Lake Partners. They plan to create a market square at the intersection of Second Avenue South and 11th Street, with amenities such as a supermarket, restaurants, neighborhood services, cafes and arcades. Their proposal also includes Creekside Village, where a revitalized Booker Creek meets the Pinellas Trail. This area will house a small collection of shops and restaurants. 

The proposal drawn up by Portman Holdings and Third Lake Partners also includes clusters of office buildings along 11th Street and 16th Street, as well as Ballpark Plaza, filled with bars and restaurants. In the event that a new baseball stadium is not built on the site, Ballpark Plaza would be reimagined as a creative arts hub that would offer workspaces for artists and artisans. 

Portman and Third Lake estimate that, once fully built out, the redevelopment will create 17,700 permanent jobs with an annual wage generation of $1.1 billion. 

Storage Rentals of America and Holabird & Root are next up. At just 37 pages, their proposal is lighter on details but calls for 10 mixed-use buildings that offer residences as well as space for businesses in sectors such as specialized manufacturing, art and design; marine and life sciences; and financial and data analytics. One of the mixed-use buildings would be geared toward higher and/or technical education purposes. 

All told, the proposal from Storage Rentals of American and Holabird & Root would create 675,000 square feet of office space and 470,000 square feet of retail space. Their plan does not provide specific job creation and economic impact estimates but said the total construction value of the project is $2.67 billion.

“Filling the clear need for Class A office space in downtown St. Petersburg” is listed as a top priority of the proposal submitted by Sugar Hill Community Partners and JMA Ventures. However, it would also nurture smaller businesses, most notably what would be Florida’s first-ever minority-owned brewery, a project conceived in conjunction with 3 Daughters Brewing and the Florida Brewers Guild. 

An aerial view of what the Trop site would look like under the proposal submitted by Sugar Hill Community Partners and JMA Ventures.

“Florida now has over 400 operating breweries with at least 50 more in some stage of planning and development,” 3 Daughers Brewing founder and owner Mike Harting stated in the proposal. “To date, virtually none are minority owned. We believe that the Trop site, with its adjacency to The Deuces as well as its history as a vibrant African American community, is the perfect place for a Black-owned brewery. We are excited by JMA’s vision for the project, inspired by its commitment to the community, and pleased to contribute to those efforts by establishing a robust mentorship program that will partner with a local African-American entrepreneur interested in pursuing the opportunity.”

The version of the Sugar Hill/JMA proposal that includes a news Rays stadium would create some 2 million square feet of office space, including a 655,000-square foot tech center; in the version without a stadium, the tech center would grow to 870,000 square feet. Sugar Hill and JMA estimate that the redevelopment will create 8,700 office jobs with a median annual salary between $44,000 and $53,000. 

The proposal submitted by TRS Development Services, meanwhile, is also light on specifics but envisions plentiful space for research, innovation and higher education uses in partnership with the University of South Florida. Its plan also includes child-care facilities for residents and employees of the new neighborhood. Small businesses will comprise at least half of the retail footprint. The version of the TRS proposal without a baseball stadium calls for an enlarged technology park and educational facility. 

“Petersburg Park” would be created at the Trop site if Unicorp’s proposal is accepted.

Unicorp National Development’s highly detailed, 206-page proposal is called “Petersburg Park” and envisions the Trop site as a creative playground. HIghlights include an expansive central park with a farmers’ market, performing arts venue and dining and retail kiosks. The Basin, a space approximately in the middle of the development, provides waterfront dining and retail space along an enlarged Booker Creek. 

With 40 percent of the site dedicated to green space, Petersburg Park has just one tower devoted solely to office space, but numerous other buildings are marked as “flex space” and could presumably be occupied by some combination of commercial/educational organizations. Unicorp estimates that when fully completed, Petersburg Park will have created some 4,000 permanent jobs. It also projects the development to increase the city’s annual tax revenue by $233 million.

Last but not least, Wendover Housing Partners has submitted a proposal that calls for three Class-A office buildings to be built along Booker Creek — one on the east bank and two on the west. All told, the new towers would add 1.4 million square feet of office space to downtown St. Pete. The tower on the east bank of Booker Creek would be right next to a new Rays stadium. 

Under Wendover’s vision, the southwest corner of the Trop site would house a 250,000-square foot facility that could be used as a college campus or space for trade and industrial uses. Retail and restaurant space totaling 470,000 square feet would be spread throughout the development — in office towers and on the ground floor of hotel and residential buildings, as well as in and around the new stadium, should it be built. 

Visit the City of St. Petersburg’s website to view all of the proposals and submit comments. 

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  1. Avatar


    March 1, 2021at1:41 pm

    My comments…
    1. Sugar Hill’s proposal is pretty but the substance is not there. They don;t know St. Petians. and it’s almost like they’re trying too hard.
    2. Third Lakes should def not get this! They just got the bid for Municipal Services building.

  2. Avatar


    February 2, 2021at4:58 pm

    An open air stadium in FL is just plain stupid.
    50% of the games would be rain outs or weather delayed.
    A dome where it is always 72 and sunny is the only venue that makes sense.

  3. Avatar


    February 2, 2021at1:03 pm

    The Sugar Hill proposal said the “first minority owned brewery in Florida”. I thought Green Bench Brewery was minority owned? They’re a fantastic local brewery. More minority own breweries and restaurants are needed, but don’t take away from those already here

  4. Avatar

    Heather Saks

    February 2, 2021at4:49 am

    What happened to affordable single family housing for the disabled population… and why more storage units… wasted space, and they are ugly! I’m all for affordable housing for the single household disabled poor!

  5. Avatar


    February 1, 2021at11:44 pm

    Open air stadium??? Who wants to sit in the heat and humidity for a baseball game?? In every baseball city in the higher heat and humidity climate, they have a some stadium. Imagine driving from Sarasota or Lutz to the game, just to have it rained out. The city just need to say that they don’t want major league baseball. Tampa Bay area don’t deserve major league baseball. If you can’t support a team that’s competitive, and been in two world series, then perhaps more condo’s and stores are best suited for the trop site.

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    Jane Sayler

    February 1, 2021at5:48 pm

    It would be great to have a nice RV park included in the plans. There is not another in Pinellas County for travelers other than the KOA out by Bay Pines. Look to the south (Palmetto) for The Tides, a brand new Class A only park, although I do think it would be great to have an RV resort for all classes of RVs: Motorhomes, Campers and trailers. Lots of RV’ers would love to come visit our museums, beaches, restaurants as well as baseball games. We have stayed at the Encore RV park near the Rays Spring Training facility in Port Charlotte to attend Spring Training games in the past.

  7. Avatar

    Charles Walston

    February 1, 2021at5:07 pm

    So if the city does build an open-air stadium on this site, it will be less than a mile away from Al Lang Stadium. Perhaps it would be more feasible to expand Al Lang to 22k capacity? A parking deck could be at the Trop site, with a dedicated greenway down 3rd Ave So. to Al Lang, and a shuttle (monorail?). This would preserve Al Lang and make it relevant again, if the Rays really just want a place to play 35 games a year.

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