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Why Kriseman selected Midtown to redevelop the Tropicana Field site

Veronica Brezina

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Midtown Development's Creekside proposal for the Trop site. Rendering: Midtown Development.

St. Petersburg Mayor Rick Kriseman has 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. The city received a total of seven proposals earlier this year from which Kriseman selected two proposals for the Trop site – Midtown and Sugar Hill. 

“I choose Midtown Development for many reasons. When I compared the two finalists, side-by-side, they had the best proposals and, equally important, they had the resources to get this done,” Kriseman said at Campbell Park during a Thursday press event. “I’m fully aware of the time I have left in office – it’s 35 days. It was important that I make this decision not in the heat of a mayoral contest where it can be unnecessarily politicized, thereby trivializing the importance of the decision.” 

Kriseman connected with the incoming mayor about the decision. “I am comforted by the conversations I’ve had with mayoral-elect Ken Welch,” he said. “He knows we can’t start this process over. This is not a mayoral project, it is a St. Petersburg project. It is the biggest and most important one yet.” 

The planned redevelopment has been described as a “generational” opportunity to transform a major part of the city and to restore equity to an area that once was home to a thriving Black community. Both proposals would create thousands of new jobs and millions of square feet of office space.

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.

Kriseman said both teams understood the 21 principles the city outlined, including the collaborative nature of the public partnership and “the need to honor the site’s history and provide real opportunities.” 

“Mayor Kriseman has worked hard to develop thoughtful and promising plans for the future of the Tropicana Field site,” Mayor-elect Ken Welch said in a statement. “As mayor, I plan to put the same amount of effort in evaluating those plans as well as new ideas and moving forward with a version that capitalizes on St. Petersburg’s incredible momentum and reconnects our community.” 

Kriseman’s administration has said it will move forward with the Trop site redevelopment, with or without a baseball stadium on the site. 

“The city and the Rays along with our partners in Pinellas County have had ongoing conversations with the Tampa Bay Rays over the last several months,” Kriseman said, adding that the city hired a consultant regarding the future of the team

“I think there’s a real opportunity here now that we have a developer selected for us to bring the Rays in and really talk some serious numbers with the team. Knowing the developer actually helps make it easier if we are going to put a deal together to do so,” he said. 

Midtown Development partner Alex Vadia speaks at the podium in the park adjacent to the Trop. Photo: Veronica Brezina.

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. 

“We look forward to working with the new mayor and their staff,” Midtown Development principal Alex Vadia said during the event. “Now the real work starts from turning this from a project to a neighborhood.” 

Breakdown on Midtown’s Creekside proposal:

  • 6,000-8,000 residential units for the project, which includes more than 1,000 affordable/attainable housing units
  • 100,000 square feet of spec office space
  • 300,000-400,000 square feet of art and cultural spaces
  • 500-room hotel and 50,000 square feet of convention space
  • 3.3 million-3.95 million square feet of indoor/outdoor office space
  • 36-acres of “public realm” space, including 24 acres of dedicated parks and Booker Creek

Kriseman and others traveled to Miami and saw Midtown’s Midtown Miami development, a 56-acre mixed-use walkable community nestled in the heart of the arts district in Miami. 

Similar to Midtown Miami, the group will create an area for artists and micro-retail spaces for entrepreneurs.

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, Kriseman said, adding how the interstates have historically separated communities. 

Read more about Midtown’s proposal here.

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8 Comments

8 Comments

  1. Avatar

    Brad Banks

    December 2, 2021at4:21 pm

    “There’s currently a study underway to peel back part of I-175 or all of it, Kriseman said, adding how the interstates have historically separated communities.”

    Having no buffer between the two types of neighborhoods is either going to create white flight or gentrification. Forcing people who don’t throw trash on their lawns and in their streets to live amongst those who do is not going to change those who do!

  2. Avatar

    Mike Connelly

    December 2, 2021at5:21 pm

    Banks …. WOW. I read that twice and find it offensive and racist to state the least.

    White flight? The city bulldozed homes businesses and churches for the Trop and highways to ghettoize low income black and brown citizens families men woman and children.

    History only repeats itself cause no one (you) listens the first time.

    Black Lives Matter

  3. Avatar

    Georgia Earp

    December 2, 2021at8:16 pm

    It sounds like Mayor Kriseman and his staff have conducted a thorough evaluation of the proposals. I am glad that the proposal honors the site’s history and calls for tiered affordable housing.

    But, I don’t understand why only 12.5 to 16% (1,000) of the 6,000 to 8,000 residential units will be affordable. The lack of affordable housing is one of the major issues facing St Petersburg. The Trop site is on land the City took by eminent domain. It is in the public interest to create more affordable homes for young families and workers and to adequately compensate Gaslight district families dislocated when the City took their property. Private developers are already building hundreds of luxury apartments and condominiums. We need more affordable housing.

    I am also glad that the proposal calls for the demolition of I-175. We don’t need anymore barriers in this City.

  4. Avatar

    steve sullivan

    December 2, 2021at10:10 pm

    Georgia Earp. I agree with your sentiments in regards to the amount of affordable housing. I should be at least 50%. These carpetbagging developers are sickening even when they are getting free land and tax waivers. There is no excuse for that. The locals who make St. Pete what it is are being locked out of the economic boom.

  5. Avatar

    steve sullivan

    December 2, 2021at10:19 pm

    Brad Banks. Where do you get this stuff from. If you actually venture on that side of the interstate you will not see what you describe. You will see poor infrastructure but not trash. Why do you assume the divide is color as opposed to economics? St. Pete minority community is not L.A., NY. Chicago. It is actually close knit and the way St. Pete has evolved over the years the neighborhoods for the most part are very diverse in terms of color and economics. People who think like you are the problem. I am a Pinellas county native and lived in Pinellas Point for many years. In addition to being Black I know what I am talking about. I have quite a bit of family that live there.

  6. Avatar

    Corbin Supak

    December 2, 2021at11:54 pm

    You can’t engineer communities, they have to be organic. Convention centers and the like are big voids. There will not be a diversity of use cases, people, businesses, etc. And I’m sure they’ll have plenty of parking, which is the death nell to a city. Disappointed.

  7. Avatar

    Bob Rapoport

    December 3, 2021at2:06 pm

    Eliminating I-175 for some altruistic fantasy will make it harder for the thousands of visitors feeding into downtown for theater, entertainment, dining, movies, The Pier, its a terrible idea. However, building a bridge over I-175 to enable foot and bike traffic from the south side is a reasonable and thoughtful gesture. I love the expansion of the creek with a walking path and storefronts lining this strand, I can easily imagine that destination being appealing to many. The Rays can stay put in the Trop with a new lease, we’ll build them some parking structures in the adjoining property to the West. They need to stay in St. Pete, its their home and they’re hugely successful here with their $1.2 Billion 10 Year broadcast deal with Fox / Ballys Sports Network, net worth of $1.4 Billion, #5 out of 30 teams in Live Streaming with a worldwide audience and # 1 in Primetime in the greater Tampa Bay market. eSports is coming next with millions in new revenue for the team and players. They don’t need to move but if they do, that space becomes new housing.

  8. Avatar

    Jared Klein

    December 3, 2021at5:26 pm

    50% of affordable housing would not work – it just wouldn’t. It will turn the development into a large project and not offer enough diversity on the site to make sure the dollars are there to help small businesses and other local ventures thrive.

    And WOW to you, mister BANKS and shame. No human being deserves that treatment. Let’s do better,

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