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Master plan for Trop redevelopment begins

Residents gathered at the Coliseum Monday night to pitch their ideas on how to redevelop Tropicana Field

Charlie Frago

Residents gathered at the Coliseum Monday night to pitch their ideas on how to redevelop Tropicana Field



The city kicked off its public discussion Monday on how to reimagine the 85 acres around Tropicana Field as planners and city officials promised a dense, walkable destination that, for now, includes a baseball stadium.

The city has paid $320,000 (with the Rays kicking in $100,000)  to HKS Architects to come up with a master plan for the Trop site. Originally due by the end of September, HKS said it was working with the Tampa Bay Rays to extend the deadline by about a month.

On Monday a healthy crowd turned up at the Coliseum to sketch their dreams and trade ideas in small groups. Deputy Mayor Kanika Tomalin urged them to dream big.

"What you think absolutely matters and it's how we get to the right place," she said.

Architect Randy Morton said the emphasis would be on a pedestrian and bike friendly landscape. He pointed to another plan the firm had done for the Braves on a slightly smaller site in Cobb County outside Atlanta as an example of having a site that isn't dominated by parking lots. 

Properly done, Morton said, the redevelopment would link Campbell Park (where another public meeting is scheduled for Tuesday) and more affluent neighborhoods to the north and east. The Trop would also be linked to the city's prosperous waterfront, he said.

Once fully developed, the site could be worth $1 billion, he said.

"Everyone would benefit from the rising tide," Morton said.

If the Rays decide to move out of the Trop, HKS would start another plan, this time without a ballpark.

Karen Morris, 64, arrived early for the presentation with her own dream and probably a minority position. She said she preferred that the city keep the dome intact and convert it to a convention center.

"So we can have truck shows over here. Instead of Orlando," she said.

At the end of the event, Morton answered questions on cards from residents. Many were about parking, but one reached for the wider frame: "What's the biggest challenge?"

"Getting everyone to believe that something great can happen here," Morton said. A successful redevelopment depends on building the political will, he said.


[Last modified: Monday, July 18, 2016 8:00pm]


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