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One way to pay just value for those displaced from the Historic Gas Plant site | Letters
Here’s what readers are saying about the plans to redevelop St. Pete’s Historic Gas Plant site in letters to the editor.
An aerial drone view of Tropicana Field and surrounding area.
An aerial drone view of Tropicana Field and surrounding area. [ LUIS SANTANA | Times ]
Published Jan. 22

Editor’s note: Readers have a lot to say about plans to re-develop St. Petersburg’s Historic Gas Plant site — where Tropicana Field and its parking lots are now. Here is a sampling.

Making market-value amends

Once a neighborhood, could it be that again? | Jan. 15

In regards to redevelopment of the Historic Gas Plant District, if the residents of that 1970s neighborhood were indeed railroaded out of their property at “below-market value,” it seems clear that the former residents or their descendants should get first offer of that housing at “below-market value.” It should be written into whatever contract is ultimately signed with one of the four developers. A similar deal should be made for business owners who were run off. They get first crack at getting to occupy the best storefronts. Pinellas County does not have a lot of open land left to building affordable housing. There is a lot that can be done with high-rise development, not only at the Tropicana Field site but elsewhere in the city and county, to provide affordable housing we badly need. A developer who wants to put in a 25-story condo, for example, should be required to reserve several of the bottom stories (with no view) as properties that can be occupied by people with lower incomes. To deter speculators, a deed restriction could be included that says they can only be sold or rented at prevailing affordable rates.

Stuart McKinney, Gulfport

A business decision

St. Pete Chamber backs Rays’ plan | Column, Jan. 13

The St. Petersburg Area Chamber of Commerce, among others, backs the Hines/Tampa Bay Rays’ proposal for the Historic Gas Plant. I worry that it’s a business decision, but one that may not be what is best for the citizens of St. Petersburg. In addition, the Rays have an unfair advantage in the contest to develop the Tropicana Field/Historic Gas Plant site. Not only are the Rays holding a metaphorical gun to our head with the threat of leaving, but since they will get a share of any development proceeds, they are really offering only part of what their proposal indicates; they will be getting some of that “refunded.” Unless the Rays are willing to put any development proceeds they receive into the construction of their new stadium, I think that they should be disqualified.

Hal Freedman, St. Petersburg

Inconvenient truths

Once a neighborhood, could it be that again? | Jan. 15

How dare the Tampa Bay Times publish a story about what actually happened to the Black community where Tropicana Field now sits. Gov. Ron DeSantis signed into law the “Stop the Woke Act,” which he claims makes Florida the place where being aware of social and racial injustice goes to die, although he would put it differently. How dare the Times inform Florida’s citizens of how racial inequities negatively impacted that particular Black neighborhood. Making white citizens feel bad just because it’s true is illegal here, thanks to our governor and lackeys in the Legislature. I have no doubt our governor will find the appropriate punishment for the Times exposing inconvenient truths like this one about the Trop.

Brian Valsavage, St. Petersburg

What comes later?

Sugar Hill boasts impressive partners | Editorial, Jan. 8

I think Sugar Hill has done the right thing, tactically, with a heavy emphasis on affordable housing. In 2019 the Florida Legislature passed HB 7103, which specifies developers must be compensated with incentives for the difference between affordable housing and market rate pricing. St. Petersburg Mayor Ken Welch ran his election campaign on a heavy emphasis on affordable housing, so the Sugar Hill proposal gives him lots of political air support. However, the affordable housing stipulation will eventually expire. What happens after that?

Steven Hallock, St. Petersburg

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A stadium for both

A unique idea for Rays stadium | Column, Jan. 4

What is that old saying? Something about, if you want to see the future look to history? Maybe this could help all of Tampa Bay find the best location to play major league baseball. All of the possible locations that have been presented, have their own positives and negatives. The majority include access, parking, and most of all the cost. OK, here is where history comes into play. As a young boy growing up in the New York City area during the 1960s, most of the stadiums had both football and baseball playing in them. Why not do it in Tampa? The upside is that all the money that would be spent on land and the infrastructure could instead be put into making a state of the art dual sport masterpiece of engineering. The new stadium would have a retractable roof to benefit both teams. Where the Tampa Bay Bucs play is a proven winner, with access and parking.

Joe Burns, Tampa