Four proposals make St. Petersburg’s shortlist for Tropicana Field site project

The city will soon hear public comments on the four proposals, both virtually and in person.
This rendering shows a view of a proposed Tropicana Field site in St. Petersburg, as envisioned by a team of developers led by JMA Ventures and Sugar Hill Community Partners.
This rendering shows a view of a proposed Tropicana Field site in St. Petersburg, as envisioned by a team of developers led by JMA Ventures and Sugar Hill Community Partners. [ Sugar Hill Community Partners ]
Published March 8, 2021|Updated March 8, 2021

St. Petersburg’s vision for the future of Tropicana Field is coming into a little more focus.

Weeks after unveiling the seven developers vying to reimagine the sprawling, 86-acre Trop site, the city has trimmed its shortlist to four.

“We received many quality submissions to redevelop the Tropicana Field site, and I am thankful for the time, money and energy that each team expended,” Mayor Rick Kriseman said in a statement. “Four submissions clearly stood out as truly exceptional, and I am excited for our residents to learn more about each one. The future of that site, with or without baseball, has never been brighter.”

Related: Here are the 7 proposals to redevelop Tropicana Field site in St. Petersburg

The four developers still in contention are:

  • A group called Sugar Hill Community Partners, led by San Francisco’s JMA Ventures along with other local and national investors, whose sprawling proposal for “an urban anchor and model of inclusive development” would include an urban beach, 650,000-square-foot convention center and numerous local partnerships, including a potential research campus for a California marine technology center developed with the University of South Florida. Their plan would cost $3 billion, including $836.8 million in public funding.
  • Midtown Development out of Miami, which proposed a community called Creekside built around an expanded Booker Creek, with at least 1,000 units of affordable housing. The company proposed purchasing the site for $60 million and investing more than $90 million, including $30 million for parks, but would require $75 million in tax-increment financing.
  • Atlanta’s Portman Holdings and St. Petersburg investment firm Third Lake Partners, which teamed on a proposal that would cost between $2.3 billion and $2.6 billion. It would include expanded recreational areas, including a “garden bridge” linking Brooker Creek to Campbell Park and millions of feet of commercial, retail, residential and hotel space.
  • Unicorp National Development, an Orlando-area firm with several billion-dollar projects in the works, which would build a district dubbed “Petersburg Park,” an array of homes, offices and retail around Booker Creek. About 20 percent of the land would be made up of linked parks and greenspaces surrounding an expanded Booker Creek. The project would cost at least $643 million and potentially more than $1 billion, depending on whether a stadium is part of the mix.

These four proposals best met the city’s request for proposal criteria, said Alan DeLisle, the city’s development administrator, due to their track records and the thoroughness of each proposal. The city also reviewed hundreds of online comments and emails from the public about the project.

“Some people like the way they dealt the way with greenspace, some people like the way they dealt with office development, some people liked the way they dealt with residential, some people liked the way they dealt with convention concepts,” DeLisle said. “(There were) a lot of comments about, ‘Does it fit with St. Pete? Can we see this fitting or not fitting in St. Pete?’”

The three proposals trimmed from the shortlist had slightly different focuses. One from Altamonte Springs developer Wendover Housing Partners made affordable housing a centerpiece of its plan. A coalition of firms led by local group TRS Development Services submitted a $475 million plan that did not include potential pricing for a new baseball stadium. Another group that included West Palm Beach storage company Storage Rentals of America (SROA) had pitched a plan without a price tag; its primary points of reference were storage and campus-style developments, including billion-dollar facilities built for the U.S. Army and U.S. Army Corps of Engineers.

Two other proposals were previously nixed from consideration because they did not meet the submission criteria. DeLisle said he couldn’t rule out the shortlist of four narrowing further, saying that would be Kriseman’s call.

Related: St. Petersburg tossed these two Tropicana Field site proposals. Why?

Redevelopment of the Tropicana Field site has been a contentious topic for years. The Tampa Bay Rays’ lease of the stadium land runs through the 2027 season. The city and team have engaged in discussions about what might happen on the land, but so far, the team has declined to participate in this site proposal process.

Related: Rick Kriseman calls out Tampa Bay Rays in final St. Pete address

The city said Monday that the public will soon have an opportunity to weigh in on the shortlisted finalists beyond the hundreds of emails and online comments they’ve already received. There will be a virtual meeting to discuss the plans on April 5, along with in-person meetings on April 7 and 8.

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“This is a level of interaction and conversation that quite honestly we’ve been looking forward to for a long time,” DeLisle said. “We’re right on the timeline right now, and the goal would be for the mayor to hopefully be in a position to make a decision in early May.”