St. Petersburg taking another look at Tropicana Field development

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Florida Construction News staff writer

Two proposals for the 86-acre Tropicana Field site in St. Petersburg are being trashed and a new round of plans will be solicited beginning in mid-August, the mayor said last week.

St. Pete Mayor Kenneth T. Welch announced June 29 that the city is canceling the RFP issued in July 2020 and launching a new RFP process. Staff have been directed to target the new RFP release in August.

“I am impressed with the efforts from the two finalists in the current RFP process — Midtown Development and Sugar Hill Community Partners,” Welch said. “They have listened to our community and have responded with their vision of the development of these 86 acres in accordance with our community needs in terms of housing, office space, meeting space, green space and impactful economic development, including inclusive opportunities for local and minority businesses.

“There has also been robust community engagement in developing a vision for this generational project,” Welch said.

Acknowledging there has been significant change in the economic environment since the initial RFP was issued in July 2020, the mayor said he wants to “ensure the RFP meets current realities and incorporates the most up-to-date information.”

Among the new conditions that must be considered:

  • The Pandemic has affected the potential need for office space.
  • The cost of rental housing and home ownership has skyrocketed, bringing higher priority to the need for affordable and workforce housing.
  • Supply chain and labor issues are impacting the cost of capital projects.
  • The need for intentional equity and equitable development is highlighted by results of the city’s Disparity Study and Structural Racism report completed after the issuance of the original RFP.
  • The community’s desire for equity is reflected in the Community Benefits model adopted last year.

While the expiration of the Rays’ lease on Tropicana Field in 2027 presents a time constraint, Welch says it is crucial that this generational project “be done right” with emphasis on meeting the city’s needs, delivering progress for our residents and building a district that will be a world class destination.

“I am optimistic we will choose that right path, one that will bring jobs, equitable and diverse business opportunities, meet our need for housing, meeting space and innovative economic drivers, and support a state-of-the-art home for the Rays for decades to come,” he said.

The new RFP process is expected to be “relatively quick” and bidders should focus on:

Stadium model: The city is soliciting proposals containing a new baseball stadium, in lieu of including proposals that contemplate a site without one. We believe this model will provide certainty as it relates to the Tampa Bay Rays.

Affordable Housing: As population has increased, and with a new housing demand that is rapidly increasing property values and rents, affordable housing must be a key component of any new development at the Historic Gas Plant District site.

Gas Plant Promise: The site also must effectively recognize, honor, and support the community displaced due to construction of the original stadium, in an impactful and sustainable manner.

Support Community Pillars for Progress: Proposals should consider equitable access to all residents, visitors and stakeholders while continuing to pursue equitable opportunities for education, youth opportunities, economic activity and recreation.

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