Tropicana Field Redevelopment and the Historic Gas Plant District: A New Chapter
The upcoming City Council meeting on October 26, 2023, is set to be a pivotal moment for the City of St. Petersburg as it centers its attention on the Tropicana Field Redevelopment. Hosted in Room 100 of City Hall within the Historic Gas Plant District. The meeting will commence with opening remarks from Mayor Ken Welch. The highlight of the agenda will be the Rays/Hines Presentation, which promises insights into the transformative potential of this redevelopment project. Subsequently, City Development Administrator James Corbett and Economic Development Director Brian Caper will present the Stadium Development Term Sheet, followed by a session of committee questions and discussions. Equally significant is the Historic Gas Plant and Tropicana Field Development Term Sheet. Also presented by Corbett and Caper, which will be subject to committee scrutiny. Lastly, Assistant City Administrator Tom Greene will unveil the Bond/Financing Plan, sparking further deliberations from the committee members. This meeting stands as a critical juncture in the city’s evolution, with the Tropicana Field Redevelopment poised to reshape its landscape and future.
The Historic Gas Plant District’s redevelopment stood out as the highlight of the meeting. Mayor Ken Welch, in his opening comments, emphasized the importance of this project in revitalizing an area steeped in history, while aligning it with the city’s future vision.
The Rays/Hines presentation laid out a comprehensive plan, detailing the intricacies of the proposed redevelopment. The committee members, attentive and inquisitive, engaged in a robust discussion, scrutinizing the plan to ensure it aligns with the city’s goals.
Tropicana Field Stadium Development Term Sheet
James Corbett, the City Development Administrator, and Brian Caper, the Economic Development Director, presented the Stadium Development Term Sheet. Their presentation was an invitation for the committee to dive deep into the potential outcomes, financial implications, and long-term benefits of the stadium development.
Historic Gas Plant Development Term Sheet
The Historic Gas Plant Development Term Sheet, also presented by James Corbett and Brian Caper, outlined the vision for the broader district. The committee’s questions and discussions centered around ensuring sustainable development, preserving the district’s historical significance, and maximizing economic benefits for the community.
Tom Greene, the Assistant City Administrator, presented the Bond/Financing Plan, a critical component to ensure the financial viability of the project. The committee, with its fiduciary responsibility to the citizens of St. Petersburg, thoroughly examined the plan, asking pointed questions to ensure fiscal responsibility.
The Attachments: A Closer Look
The committee had a wealth of information at their fingertips, with various attachments provided for review:
- Historic Gas Plant District Redevelopment Memo
- PowerPoint Presentation
- Stadium Development Term Sheet
- Historic Gas Plant Development Term Sheet
- HR&A Economic & Fiscal Benefits Memo
These documents provided a detailed and comprehensive overview of the redevelopment project, ensuring that the committee members were well-informed and equipped to make decisions in the best interest of the city.
The Committee Members: Serving St. Petersburg
The Committee of the Whole, comprising Council Chair Brandi Gabbard, Council Vice-Chair Deborah Figgs-Sanders, and Council Members Copley Gerdes, Ed Montanari, Lisset Hanewicz, Gina Driscoll, John Muhammad, and Richie Floyd, played a pivotal role in steering the discussions. Their diverse perspectives and commitment to the city’s well-being were evident in their engaged participation and thoughtful questioning.
The Support Staff: Behind the Scenes
Kimberly Amos, the City Council Legislative Aide, was instrumental in ensuring the smooth functioning of the meeting. Her role, though behind the scenes, was crucial in facilitating the committee’s work.
A Step Toward a New Future
The St. Petersburg Committee of the Whole’s meeting on October 26, 2023, was a testament to the city’s dedication to progress, transparency, and civic engagement. The discussions around the Historic Gas Plant District Redevelopment showcased the committee’s commitment to sustainable development, economic prosperity, and preserving the city’s rich history. As St. Petersburg continues to grow and evolve, the decisions made in this meeting will undoubtedly play a crucial role in shaping its future.
Background on the Tropicana Field Redevelopment and the Gas Plant District
The Historic Gas Plant District and Tropicana Field Redevelopment project represents a significant initiative in St. Petersburg, aimed at fulfilling promises made nearly 40 years ago when residents and businesses were displaced to make way for the construction of Tropicana Field, the home of the Tampa Bay Rays. Despite the promises of job opportunities and equitable development, these benefits did not materialize for the displaced community.
Recently, on September 19, 2023, a historic agreement was reached, ensuring the Tampa Bay Rays’ continued presence in St. Petersburg. The City of St. Petersburg, Pinellas County, the Tampa Bay Rays, and the Hines Development team have collaborated on a comprehensive redevelopment plan for the Historic Gas Plant District. This project, spread over 86 acres, includes the construction of a state-of-the-art ballpark and a vast mixed-use development encompassing 8 million sq. ft. The total investment in St. Petersburg over a 20-year period is estimated to exceed $6 billion, making it the largest development project in Tampa Bay history.
Key elements of the development agreement emphasize equity, inclusivity, and community benefits, particularly to honor the legacy of the Historic Gas Plant neighborhood. This includes a commitment of $50 million for intentional equity initiatives, such as affordable housing funding, support for employment and businesses, educational programs, and commitments to hire Minority/Women Owned Business Enterprises.
Mayor Kenneth T. Welch emphasizes the importance of this project in promoting inclusive progress, aligning with his administration’s five pillars for progress, which focus on education, equitable development, safe neighborhoods, housing opportunities for all, and environmental sustainability. The redevelopment project is expected to generate jobs, affordable housing, educational and cultural facilities, office space, community space, green space, and equitable opportunities for local and minority-owned businesses.
The project’s next steps involve going through the Community Benefits process and obtaining final approval from the St. Petersburg City Council and Pinellas County Commission. The approval process is set to begin in the fall of 2023, with construction scheduled to commence in the fall of 2024. The first phase of development is anticipated to open alongside the new Rays ballpark in the fall of 2027, with the official opening day scheduled for 2028. This initiative represents a significant step toward fulfilling long-overdue promises and preserving the legacy of the Historic Gas Plant community and Tropicana Field Redevelopment.