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Three developers bid to redo Trop

ST. PETERSBURG — Three national developers bid this morning to purchase and redevelop Tropicana Field and its parking lots into communities that mix housing and retail options.

City officials announced the bids shortly after 10:15 a.m. Most details, including the price developers are offering for the land, will not be released until Tuesday afternoon, city officials said.

The bidders are:

• Hines, an international, mixed-use developer based in Houston. Hines has been working with the Tampa Bay Rays on a proposal called WestEnd St. Pete, likely to include 1-million square feet of retail space and about 900 homes.

• Archstone-Madison, a partnership between Washington, D.C., developers Archstone Smith and Madison Marquette. Their project is called EcoVerde.

• Williams Quarter, a developer with offices in Tampa and Nashville, Tenn. The company is teaming up with prominent retail developer DeBartolo Holdings.

All three bids were received Tuesday morning, city officials said.

"We haven't even looked at them yet," said senior development administrator Rick Mussett.

Redeveloping Tropicana Field is a critical step in the Tampa Bay Rays' proposal to build a $450-million downtown waterfront stadium at Al Lang Field.

The Rays are counting on the money generated from the redevelopment to help pay for a new stadium.

Rays senior vice president Michael Kalt said the bids confirm developers' interest in the property. Now the Rays must begin putting together a more detailed financing plan to show how a new stadium could be constructed.

Of the possible redevelopment of Tropicana Field, Kalt said: "This is one of the few ways the city and county have to put untaxed property back to work." Kalt said the redevelopment could create new revenue for schools, the city and the county.

St. Petersburg officials weren't saying publicly how many bids they expected. But quietly, the city had hoped for at least three.

The city hasn't committed to selling the land or even supporting the Rays' stadium plan, but officials conceded that more developers give the city more options.

City staffers will brief the City Council on the proposals next week and hope to make a recommendation to the mayor in April whether or not to proceed.

A followup vote by the council could come in May.

In any scenario, the redevelopment and the Rays' stadium plans must past the test of voters. The council is scheduled to decide in June whether to hold a November referendum.

This story will be updated.

Three developers bid to redo Trop 03/18/08 [Last modified: Wednesday, March 19, 2008 5:25pm]
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