ST. PETERSBURG — Expanded parks and waterways. Giant convention centers and technology campuses. Baseball museums and an “urban beach.”
And seven potential new baseball stadiums.
City officials on Tuesday offered the public the first look at seven proposals to redevelop St. Petersburg’s 86-acre Tropicana Field site. Combined, they offer ambitious visions of the city’s residential, commercial and recreational future that could price out at more than $3 billion.
“The quality of these proposals, the amount of work that went into them, is quite remarkable,” Mayor Rick Kriseman said Tuesday at a press conference near Tropicana Field. “When you see these submissions, I think you’ll quickly realize that the future has never been brighter.”
Redevelopment of the Trop site has been on the table for years, though a lot must happen before it can begin. The city and Tampa Bay Rays are still engaged in discussions about the land, although Kriseman said Tuesday that the team declined to be part of any one proposal, and the sides remain far apart on a deal. The city must also balance a desire to grow its downtown economy with a push to restore historic connections to the city’s Black community, which was disrupted when the stadium was built in the 1980s.
“This site needs to deliver some justice, and it needs to begin delivering that now,” Kriseman said. “Not two years from now, or seven years from now. We need to move forward with redevelopment — and the opportunities that come with it — right now.”
Kriseman and city advisors will spend months going through each plan, taking comments from the public, before a shortlist is unveiled. After that: More community outreach and discussions with various stakeholders before the mayor makes an official recommendation.
Initially, city leaders said only eight bidders submitted proposals. On Tuesday, Kriseman said there were nine, but two didn’t meet the city’s criteria.
“Not everybody can do this project,” said Alan DeLisle, the city’s development administrator. This is a big project, national in scope. It requires a special, unique team of individuals to come together. And that has happened.”
Here are the seven proposals, all of which include two visions: one with a baseball stadium, and one without.
JMA Ventures, Sugar Hill Community Partners
San Francisco’s JMA Ventures and New York’s Sugar Hill Community Partners delivered an ambitious proposal that calls the Trop site “a difficult reminder of a once vibrant neighborhood,” but aspires to create “an urban anchor and model of inclusive development.” It would feature an expanded Booker Creek including an 11-acre park and “urban beach” as well as a 500-room hotel and 650,000-square-foot convention center. Unlike other proposals, it names a few specific partnerships, from a minority-owned brewery created in partnership with 3 Daughters Brewing, to a potential deal for a 500,000-square-foot campus for California marine technology center AltaSea created in conjunction with the University of South Florida. A new, 25,000-seat Rays stadium would be integrated into the topography, creating Wrigley Park-style viewing from nearby buildings.
JMA and Sugar Hill are among the leaders of a sprawling network of developers and investment groups whose projects dot the globe, from Atlanta’s Ponce City Market to San Francisco’s Chase Center. Many partners and consultants have local ties, including Stantec, which has worked on the St. Pete Pier and Water Street Tampa; and Behar + Peteranecz Architecture, which designed the Bryan Glazer Family Jewish Community Center in Tampa. The plan calls for $836.8 million in public funding out of a total cost of more than $3 billion.
SROA Capital, Holabird and Root, ARGO
Three firms have partnered on a vision they liken to “canal communities,” built around an expanded Booker Creek that would offer public gathering spaces, flood mitigation and natural cooling for buildings on the site. The site calls for up to 810,240 square feet of office space and 2,520 residential units, with more available if Interstate 175 is later demolished. Other amenities: A 390,000-square-foot technical campus, 500 hotel rooms with 100,000 square feet of conference space, an outdoor event space and a baseball museum named for onetime Philadelphia Athletics executive Ben Shibe. The proposal calls for public funding “for all developed infrastructure,” including streets, waterways and a new stadium.
West Palm Beach storage company Storage Rentals of America (SROA), Chicago architects Holabird and Root and Maryland construction management company Argo Services submitted a handful of storage and campus-style developments for references, including $1-billion-plus facilities for the U.S. Army and U.S. Army Corps of Engineers in Philadelphia and Baltimore. They did not offer a potential price tag for the Tropicana Field site.
Portman Holdings, Third Lake Partners
Atlanta developers Portman Holdings and local investment firm Third Lake Partners presented a proposal expected to cost between $2.3 billion and $2.6 billion, with public funds used “sparingly.” The plan promises integration into regional transit programs, tech- and environment-friendly architecture, and memorials to past generations of residents of the city’s demolished Gas Plant District. It suggests an expansion of Brooker Creek recreational areas and a “garden bridge” over Interstate 175 linking the site to Campbell Park. It would have at least 305,000 square feet of retail, between 1.9 million and 2.5 million square feet of commercial and office space, a 400-room hotel with 50,000 square feet of meeting space and, if a stadium is not needed, a 203,000-square-foot hub for the creative arts.
Portman is responsible for an array of eye-catching hotel and office properties, including the Marriott Marquis and Peachtree Center in their hometown; San Francisco’s Embarcadero Center; the New York Marriott Marquis in Times Square; and the Shanghai Centre in China. Third Lake Partners, a firm connected to the owners of Ashley Furniture and WingHouse Bar and Grill, has invested in several high-profile Tampa Bay properties, including Centro Ybor and the ONE St. Petersburg and 200 Central skyscrapers in St. Petersburg. Third Lake CEO Ken Jones is an advisor to Tampa Bay Rays 2020, a nonprofit group conceived to support the team moving across the bay to Tampa. Another local development partner: St. Petersburg’s Echelon, whose local work includes Carillon Park.
Wendover Housing Partners
Altamonte Springs developer Wendover Housing Partners centered its proposal on affordable housing, with nearly 60 percent of its 2,196 residences aimed at “workforce multifamily.” It would give nearby residents, and those in the city’s historically Black communities, the first crack at housing. Its office buildings would surround an expanded Booker Creek, and it incorporates plans for two hotels and a technical or trade school.
Wendover’s portfolio includes 41 residential communities across the South. Its partners on the project include local engineering firms George F. Young and Kisinger Campo and Associates; and Jupiter’s Business Park Development Corporation, led by Clearwater native Craig Govan. The partners’ local developments include St. Petersburg’s Warehouse Arts District and Deuces Live projects. The proposal indicated developers would rely on outside investors rather than local bonds or tax increment financing.
Unicorp National Developments
Unlike the other six bidders, Orlando’s Unicorp National Developments shared its proposal, dubbed “Petersburg Park,” on Jan. 15. About 20 percent of the land would be made up of linked parks and greenspaces surrounding an expanded Booker Creek. Unicorp also envisions a 400-room hotel, around 3,000 residences, a 70,000-square-foot conference center, 155,000 square feet of office space and up to 312,000 square feet of retail. The plan describes the park as “the heart for all civic (and) social activities ... where people of all races and income levels can congregate, live, work, play and relax.”
Unicorp has built mixed-use and retail projects from Sarasota to Troy, Mich., but most are centered around the company’s headquarters in Orlando. Among them are multiple properties on International Drive, including the Wyndham Orlando Resort and ICON Park, anchored by a 400-foot-tall Ferris wheel. Expected to break ground this year is O-Town West, a $1 billion mixed-use project near Walt Disney World and SeaWorld; and a $1 billion redevelopment of the Orlando Fashion Square mall. Just south of the Sunshine Skyway Bridge, the company is developing two upscale residential projects near Sarasota, including the Residences at St. Regis Longboat Key Resort, located on the Gulf of Mexico.
Miami-based Midtown Development unveiled a proposal called Creekside, which makes Booker Creek one of the key components of the development, creating five distinct areas around the water feature. A largely residential development — homes will be on the higher floors of buildings while ground-level storefronts will be reserved for retail, dining and other customer-facing uses. Midtown promises to build at least 1,000 units of affordable, workforce or moderately-priced homes into the project, accounting for at least 20 percent of all housing. It promises to bake the site’s history into the project, with a partnership with the Pinellas County Urban League and a commitment to fund “vocation, education and equitable justice initiatives.” The proposal also includes expanding upon the city’s heritage trail and creating a Heritage Bridge, which would connect the project to Campbell Park to the south.
Midtown Development built the 18-square block, 62-acre Midtown Miami city-within-a-city atop the former Buena Vista Rail Yard in Miami, and owns the 22-acre Orlando Sentinel site, which will be a master-planned development project. The company proposed buying the Trop property outright for $60 million, plus it will invest more than $90 million in infrastructure upgrades, which includes $30 million in parks. The deal does include using $75 million in tax increment financing the city has made available for the project.
TRS Development Services, Ryan Companies, Brennan Investment Group
Tampa Bay firm TRS Development Services is leading a team that includes Minneapolis developer Ryan Companies and Chicago real estate investment firm Brennan Investment Group. The team is proposing a project, called Rome Yard, that would cost at least $475 million, which doesn’t factor in the costs of a baseball stadium, transportation hub or infrastructure improvements. The project promises a hotel with 50,000 square feet of conference space, plus a childcare facility, job training center, cultural center, ground level retail and parks. Rome Yard is broken up into 12 development phases, which would start in 2025 and run through 2037.
Members of the team have done major projects in the past. Ryan Companies, a national mixed-use developer, built a $588 million project in Minneapolis called Downtown East. And Blue Sky Communities, which partnered with the group, is a local affordable housing company that has already done projects in St. Petersburg.
Correction: A previous version of this story said Miami developer Midtown Development was based in the wrong city.