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Tropicana Field proposals unveiled

Veronica Brezina

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Sugar Hill Community Partners' aerial rendering of the overall site. All images: City of St. Petersburg documents.

The full proposals submitted by developers and groups vying to have control of the redevelopment of Tropicana Field/Historic Gas Plant District have been revealed. 

Today, the city has published all of the four proposals after reviewing the documents 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 of the master developer for the 86-acre site. Prior to the selection, there will a community presentation on 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.

Inside all of the proposals released today

50 Plus 1 Sports: The full proposal 

  • The 50 Plus 1 Sports, a 100% minority-owned development firm, which specializes in projects that engage and serve residents including minority and disadvantaged groups, is leading the project. The co-developer would be Fresh Coast Development Partners LLC, a boutique real estate company, along with lead architect and planners Garcia Architecture and AECOM. The development team also includes JLL, which would provide marketing, construction and brokerage services. 

50 Plus 1 Sports’ rendering of the entertainment district surrounding the new stadium.

  • “We have prioritized affordable and workforce housing in our plan. Our plan does not simply designate certain components of the plan as affordable and workforce housing. Rather, the affordable and workforce housing is integrated throughout our design and will give residents a sense of pride, dignity and place. We have tried to make up for the years of neglect by designating 50% of residential units for affordable and workforce housing,” the team wrote in its proposal. 
  • The team would activate Booker Creek and the district would be surrounded by multi-level restaurants, shopping and a new stadium. The proposal paints a visualization of hotels and offices along the streets with green roofs on buildings, community spaces and curbside bio-retention along the new streets to capture and filter runoff before feeding a revitalized Booker Creek. 

50 Plus 1 Sports’ rendering of its Booker Creek Commons concept.

  • The plan includes sites for at least three hotels, two of which can accommodate conference spaces. 
  • It includes over 11 acres of public park space. 
  • The project would have enhanced connections to trails. The street grid can easily be expanded southward should Interstate 175 be deconstructed at any future point to create a connection, and the plan reorients the eastern portion of 4th Avenue South to better enable future development across from the stadium, should the interstate be removed. 

50 Plus 1 Sports’ rendering of the new street grid.

  • The proposal includes a 99-year ground lease between the city and 50 Plus 1 Sports.
  • The group is also proposing that an intermodal center would be integrated with mixed-use development on the ground floor of a parcel at the southwest of the intersection of 16th Street South and 1st Avenue South. 
  • During the first 40 years of the ground lease, the city will receive roughly $3.43 million under the revenue sharing program. The revenue share component will continue for the entire 99-year term of the ground lease.
  • The group’s Community Benefits Agreement proposes that 50% of the total number of apartments will be affordable and workforce units, with a $10 million grant for job training.
  • The group would partner with entities like St. Pete Works to mentor small businesses. In addition, innovative provisions for transportation and childcare options will enable “vulnerable individuals” to access new jobs. 

Restoration Associates: The full proposal 

  • The group is naming itself the Gas Plant District Restoration Associates and refers to its team throughout the proposal as GPD-RA.
  • The four development entities are Onicx Group, with longtime local philanthropist Dr. Kiran Patel, Invictus Communities, Brennan Investments and Steven Freedman. 
  • RGA Design LLC would act as the master developer, coordinating between the service entities and entering into a public/private partnership with the City of St. Petersburg as well as other governing bodies. 
  • The group has two options for the future Rays stadium: Option A: A new $1.5 billion stadium on 17 acres (the timeframe and funding sources are unknown). Option B: A $600 million improvement of the existing ballpark. The funding for this proposed option would be sourced from tourism tax dollars and a contribution from the Rays. 

Restoration Associates’ rendering of Option A for the Rays stadium.

Restoration Associates’ rendering of Option B for the Rays stadium.

  • It would build between 2,800 to 3,800 “attainable” mixed-income residential units. 
  • The team would provide an option for retaining Major League Baseball “for both the short and long term in the Greater Tampa Bay Area.”
  • The group said it would attract significant Federal subsidies to the redevelopment and create varied training and job opportunities.
  • It would dedicate 5% of the net proceeds from stipulated phases, which could result in $100 million dispersed over a period of 20 years.
  • It has a goal of creating a 21st century low-carbon footprint community.
  • The consortium pledges to develop the program identified at an estimated construction value of $2.5 billion (including $600 million for the renovation of Tropicana Field), creating a real estate value of approximately $4 billion.
  • “The development should be revenue neutral, and the only subsidies expected are a tourist tax which has already been identified and moderate contributions from The Rays MLB Team to extend the lease. The project should support itself and not become reliant on local taxpayers,” the proposal reads. 
  • The proposed redevelopment includes a $40 million self-storage facility in the first phase as part of the overall eight-phase project. 
  • The team is proposing to include a $450 research and development park. 
  • The team is proposing to include a $350 million intermodal center, which would be funded through the newly passed infrastructure bill and other sources. 
  • A $450 million convention center and two hotels would be built on the east side of Booker Creek. It’s also proposing to build an African-American history museum. 

Tampa Bay Rays: The full proposal 

  • The Tampa Bay Rays have partnered with Houston-based Hines for the project. The group is proposing to build a seven-million-square-foot, mixed-use development. It would include 5,700 multifamily units, 1.4 million square feet of office, 300,000 square feet of retail, 700 hotel rooms, 600 senior living residences, a 2,500-person entertainment venue and other uses. 
  • The joint venture formed by the Tampa Bay Rays, its partners and affiliates (“Rays”), and Hines would be a 50%-50% partnership with respect to initial capitalization of the General Partner position. Individual office, retail, multifamily, hospitality, medical, entertainment, and other uses within the masterplan would be capitalized on a project-by-project basis.

Tampa Bay Rays’ rendering of the activation along the stadium site.

  • It’s centered around a Tampa Bay Rays stadium, which would be at a different location within the district on 17 acres.  
  • The Rays and Hines are working with St. Petersburg-based Storyn Studio for Architecture. Washington, D.C.-based Dantes Partners will serve as the affordable housing partner and would lead the development of more than 850 affordable and workforce housing units on-site. The team will create approximately 600 residences off-site through various homeownership grants and rental assistance programs. 
  • The group would contribute $50 million to intentional equity initiatives that will support and uplift historically disadvantaged populations through a variety of restorative strategies. The team would work with minority-owned businesses. Based upon the target threshold of 20% this represents a target SBE/MBE participation in excess of $500 million over the term of the project.

Tampa Bay Rays’ rendering of the redevelopment of Tropicana Field.

  • The Rays are also working with San Francisco-based architect firm Gensler.
  • A rendering shows the proposed development would have a music venue, a new Carter G. Woodson African American Museum, a full activation of Booker Creek, a connecting bridge and more.
  • The team will commit $5 million for a multi-cultural incubator that will include a cooperative working space for diverse entities including non-profits and entrepreneurs. The space would be supported in collaboration with Tampa Bay Black Business Investment Corporation.
  • The team said it would also work with the descendants of the Gas Plant District in creating generational equity. 
  • Hines, the Rays and Limited Partners would collectively invest over $1.8 billion of equity to execute the Historic Gas Plant District redevelopment, including more than $180 million directly from Hines and the Rays.
  • The total investment in the redevelopment of the site would total over $6 billion over the next 20-plus years. This includes $2.5 to $3 billion to be immediately invested in the construction of a new Rays ballpark and concurrent to the team’s Phase I development.

Sugar Hill Community Partners: The full proposal 

  • The team will create a Community Equity Endowment, which would total approximately $30 million over the first 20 years of the project and would be used to fund construction of affordable single-family homes (outside of the Historic Gas Plant District), provide grants to small and minority-owned businesses, and support other priorities as determined by the community. 
  • The team said it is also proposing the “consideration of a dual-use stadium for both the Rays and the Rowdies, thus freeing up Al Lang Stadium to be repurposed or otherwise redeveloped for public use (e.g., multigenerational rec center, expanded public park, etc.).”

SHCP’s rendering of Palm Court.

  • Dallas, Texas-based KDC will lead the office development strategy with support from Cushman & Wakefield’s Tampa Bay office leasing team. 
  • Blue Sky Communities, Property Markets Group (PMG) Affordable and the St. Petersburg Housing Authority (SPHA) will be joining the team and will lead the affordable housing development component. 
  • The residential component entails 2,600 affordable housing units, 50% of 5,200 units, with 325 units built offsite. 
  • Two 200-key hotels. 
  • The team would include 750,000 square feet of office space in the initial phase. As additional 2.3 million square feet would be included in Phases 2 through 4. 
  • It would also entail a 174,000-square-foot conference center and 350-key conference hotel, a 39,000-square-foot performance hall, a 96,000-square-foot museum and a 22,000-square-foot transit hub.

SHCP’s rendering of a bike shop and co-working space on the Pinellas Trail.

  • The group is also proposing to build a live event venue with a 3,000-seat capacity. SHCP said it is in discussions with AEG Presents and Live Nation, which are among the largest concert promoters in the country. 
  • The team would utilize art, plaques, statues and media throughout the development to create a guided tour to showcase the history of the site. 
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4 Comments

4 Comments

  1. Avatar

    monah

    December 5, 2022at7:07 pm

    Ugh. Here we go again.

  2. Avatar

    MelM

    December 7, 2022at5:59 am

    An open stadium proposal??? It’s FL, half the games would be cancelled for thunderstorms and the ones that do get played would be miserably hot.

  3. Avatar

    Ryan Todd

    December 7, 2022at9:47 am

    None of these proposals address the lack of Class A office space in city. Mayor Welch is wrong about the impact of the pandemic on the demand for office space and has placed an unending quest for equity above all of else yet the city has received a perfect score on the human rights campaign’s municipal equity index for 9 consecutive years.
    Mayor Welch fails to understand the actual problems in the city.

  4. Avatar

    Mike

    December 8, 2022at1:06 pm


    100% minority-owned development firm, which specializes in projects that engage and serve residents including minority and disadvantaged groups

    It’s funny how quickly people’s opinion of blatant racism changes as soon as it benefits them.

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