St. Petersburg’s four paths for redeveloping the Tropicana Field site


fans walking outside tropicana field

The exising Tropicana Field. Photo: Matt May/MLB Photos via Getty Images

We’re getting close to finding out what redevelopment of St. Petersburg’s historic Gas Plant District will look like.

Driving the news: The city released plans this week from four finalists vying to develop the 86-acre space in the heart of downtown.

Why it matters: The Rays will get a new stadium that will (hopefully) make them proud to play in St. Pete, after previous plans for an arena in Ybor and splitting the season in Canada didn’t work out.

  • Black families and businesses that were moved out to build Tropicana Field could once again return with dedicated space for affordable housing — a focus in the city’s request for proposals.

Between the lines: This is likely going to be the defining move of Mayor Ken Welch’s term following a rough first year marked by office shakeups and reports of his lack of presence at City Hall.

Some highlights from each proposal:

Sugar Hill Community Partners, a previous finalist under former Mayor Rick Kriseman’s original request for bids, proposed dedicating half of its 5,200 housing units to affordable housing, with 325 offsite units.

  • The proposal includes two hotels, office and retail space, a performance hall, a museum, a transit hub and urban farming.
  • Sugar Hill also detailed plans for a Community Equity Endowment to fund the offsite affordable housing and give grants to small and minority-owned businesses, as well as a workforce development program, a renovation of Campbell Park, a $1 million donation to the African American History Museum and a redesign of Booker Creek.

The Tampa Bay Rays and Houston-based Hines want to build a 7 million-square-foot, mixed-use development with a Rays stadium at its center.

  • It would include 5,700 multifamily units and 600 senior living residences, with more than 850 affordable and workforce housing units on-site, and about 600 such residences off-site.
  • There would be office, retail and hotel space, a music venue, a new Carter G. Woodson African American Museum, full activation of Booker Creek and a connecting bridge.

Restoration Associates proposed between 2,800 and 3,800 affordable housing units and wants to dedicate up to two acres to self-storage units.

  • The group plans to build an intermodal center and a stacked mixed-use and a technology park, a convention center hotel with guest room towers, the African American History & Cultural Museum and Gas Plant Memorial Park.
  • The proposal includes a new retractable roof baseball stadium, or making improvements to the existing Tropicana Field.

50 Plus 1 Sports put forward what it called “the most aggressive plan for including minority- and women-owned businesses,” a managing partner for the Coral Gables-based company told the Tampa Bay Times.

  • That plan includes 6,748 residential units, with half allocated for affordable and workforce housing; 4,483 parking spaces, and retail, hotel, office and cultural space.

What’s next: The public is invited to hear presentations from each group on Jan. 4 at the Coliseum before Welch announces the selected developer sometime next month.

  • Terms will be set with that developer by May, and a development agreement will be presented to City Council for approval by September or October, according to the city.

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