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Trop Talk, part two: Hotel and convention center space

Brian Hartz

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Sugar Hill Community Partners and JMA Ventures plan to build two hotels on the Tropicana Field site if their proposal is accepted.

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 second installment, we’ll take a look at the hotel and convention center space component of each proposal. With tourism and business relocations on the upswing, downtown St. Petersburg will need additional facilities to accommodate both leisure and business travelers in the coming years. The city’s request for proposals, issued in July, specifically called for 50,000 to 100,000 square feet of conference space attached to a major flagship hotel. 

Petersburg Park,” the proposal submitted by Orlando-based Unicorp National Developments, could have a slight edge in the hotel and convention center category. It has already received a commitment from Marriott International to operate a 400-room, four-star hotel, and its plan for a 70,000-square-foot convention center more than satisfies the city’s requirement. The hotel itself would offer an additional 50,000 square feet of meeting space. 

Midtown Development’s “Creekside” proposal includes a hotel and 50,000-square-foot convention center, both of which would have roofs outfitted with solar panels. The 510-room hotel, located at the southwest corner of where Second Avenue South meets Booker Creek, would offer full concierge services, fine dining, multiple pools and hot tubs, high-class fitness centers, bellhops, room service, valet parking, day spas, limousine services and an array of special suites. 

The proposal submitted by Portman Holdings and Third Lake Partners calls for a 400-room hotel with 50,000 square feet of meeting space. Under both the ballpark and non-ballpark versions of the plan, the hotel would be located on the south side of the development, just west of Booker Creek, and would take up approximately 380,000 square feet and cost about $90 million to build. 

Storage Rentals of America and Holabird & Root have proposed a plan that would see not one, but three, hotels built on the Tropicana Field site. The largest one, located on the north side, would have 200 rooms and a 100,000-square-foot convention center nearby. The southeast corner of the site would feature a mixed-use building with commercial/retail space topped by a 150-room hotel. A similar mixed-use building topped by a 100-room hotel would be built near the southwest corner. Under the ballpark option, the 200-room hotel would be built atop the stadium, offering some truly incredible views. The non-ballpark option would see the 200-room hotel moved to the west and attached to the convention center. 

Sugar Hill Community Partners and JMA Ventures have created a vision for the Trop site that includes a 400-room hotel and convention center in the first phase of the project, followed by a 150-room boutique/lifestyle hotel in the third phase. Their ballpark and non-ballpark proposals both go very big on the convention center requirement, with some 1.3 million square feet of meeting and conference space divided between two facilities — located in the southwest corner of the site — that are connected by a skybridge. Then roofs of the convention center buildings will be adorned with vegetable gardens and an apiary. 

TRS Development Services’ proposal calls for the construction of a “400-room short-term-stay hotel with community meeting space running along the east bank of Booker Creek amidst the high-rise condo towers.” The hotel carries a price tag of $60 million and would be built in phase 11 of the project, estimated to begin in 2035, and would include 50,000 square feet of attached conference space. It would create approximately 100 jobs. 

Finally, we have the plan submitted by Wendover Housing Partners. Its proposal that includes a new ballpark — located in the northeast corner of the site — that would have an adjacent hotel with approximately 500 rooms and 50,000 square feet of meeting space. A smaller, 150-room hotel with an attached 75,000-square-foot conference center would be located immediately to the south of the larger hotel. Construction of the hotels would begin in the second quarter of 2029 and wrap up in the fourth quarter of 2032. Under the proposal that does not include a new ballpark, the size and location of the hotels would not change. 

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

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