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Moffitt proposes cancer treatment center in downtown St. Petersburg

The research institution has pitched building an out-patient cancer care facility on publicly owned land on First Avenue S.
Moffitt Cancer Center wants to build an out-patient cancer treatment center at this site on First Avenue S in downtown St. Petersburg. The city is considering the proposal.
Moffitt Cancer Center wants to build an out-patient cancer treatment center at this site on First Avenue S in downtown St. Petersburg. The city is considering the proposal. [ Google Earth ]
Published Oct. 9

ST. PETERSBURG — Moffitt Cancer Center wants to bring cancer treatment closer to Pinellas County residents.

The renowned cancer hospital and research center has pitched plans to the city of St. Petersburg to build an out-patient cancer treatment center on the 800 block of First Avenue S in downtown. The proposal also includes an apartment block with ground-floor retail units and a parking garage through a partnership with development firm TPA Group and United Insurance Holdings Corp.

The three-story, 75,000 square-foot center would provide medical oncology radiation therapy, infusion, screening and imaging services. It would also host clinical trials and research studies. Moffitt, which is Florida’s only National Cancer Institute-designated comprehensive cancer center, estimates in its proposal that roughly 45,000 Floridians will die from cancer this year.

“This expansion into Pinellas County, Florida is critical to reducing cancer’s death rate across the state,” the proposal states.

Related: Moffitt gets $10.2 million grant to develop lung cancer treatments

It says the new facility would provide “convenient access to the most proven treatments and a team of highly-specialized cancer experts closer to patients.” Moffitt’s main campus is located within the University of South Florida’s Tampa campus and is about a 64-mile round trip from St. Petersburg. The proposal also touts the project’s economic benefits, including new jobs and employee spending, although it does not provide specifics.

“These proposed uses represent an extremely unique and competitive economic development project, retaining and creating jobs and providing a material long term benefit to the City of St. Petersburg,” the proposal states.

Under Moffitt’s proposal, the city would sell the land to Moffitt and its partners for $5 million.

Moffitt CEO and President Patrick Hwu initially agreed to speak to the Tampa Bay Times about the project but canceled an interview. He declined to answer questions via email.

The entrance to Moffit Cancer Center in Tampa.
The entrance to Moffit Cancer Center in Tampa. [ Courtesy of Moffitt Cancer Center ]

Moffit made its pitch to the city as an unsolicited request to purchase city-owned land. By law, the city is required to seek other proposals for the site and has set up a committee to choose which will go forward. The 4.6 acre parcel, which stretches down to Third Avenue S is valued at $11 million by the Pinellas County Property Appraiser.

City Development Administrator Alan DeLisle said a Moffitt facility would be a great fit for the St. Pete Innovation District, a downtown cluster of hospitals, research facilities and organizations dedicated to education and the arts.

”Of course there are other proposals that the Mayor is considering,” he said in an email.

The city has received five other proposals. Among them are a plan from Miami developer Related Group for a 15-story residential tower that would include workforce housing and a combined boutique hotel and office block. It would pay the city $15 million for the site.

An aerial shot of the 4.6 acre parcel between First and Third Avenues S in St. Petersburg. The city of St. Petersburg is considering proposals for the site, including one from Moffitt Cancer Center.
An aerial shot of the 4.6 acre parcel between First and Third Avenues S in St. Petersburg. The city of St. Petersburg is considering proposals for the site, including one from Moffitt Cancer Center. [ Google Earth ]

Apogee Real Estate Partners has submitted two proposals, both of which include room for Moffitt’s out-patient center. One is for an office tower and under that deal the city would receive $5 million for the land. The other is for a 350-unit apartment block with the developer paying the city $12 million.

Trammel Crow Residential’s proposal would net the city the most money. Its plan for an apartment complex would use only the 2.5 acre section of the lot north of Second Avenue S. It would pay $16 million for the smaller lot.