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Business Observer Friday, Aug. 14, 2020 1 year ago

"A development opportunity unlike any other in the Southeast"

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St. Petersburg officials request proposals for the redevelopment of an 86-acre tract surrounding Tropicana Field.
by: Kevin McQuaid Commercial Real Estate Editor

St. Petersburg officials have formally requested proposals for the redevelopment of an 86-acre swath of municipally-owned property around Tropicana Field, which the city hopes to turn into a “multi-use center” connecting downtown to neighborhoods.

On the heels of a $93 million rehabilitation of the municipal St. Pete Pier, a 26-acre development that debuted earlier this summer with shops, restaurants and recreational endeavors, officials are seeking ambitious ideas to further the city’s image as a pedestrian-friendly and amenity-rich urban environment.

“The Tropicana Field site represents a development opportunity unlike any other in the Southeast,” marketing material connected to the request for proposals (RFP) states, adding that the property “presents endless possibilities to take this city on the rise to the next level.”

City officials are placing few specific redevelopment requirements on developers at this juncture, mandating only that proposals contain plans for up to 100,000 square feet of conference space attached to a “major flagship hotel; greenspace throughout; a mix of residences; and public gathering space. Respondents also will be required to remediate “any potential environmental issues” on site.

The city anticipates the future of the Tropicana Field site will contain residences, retail and office space, a four- or five-star hotel, recreation and open space, cultural attractions and educational institutions.

More specifically, the city intends at least a portion of the property will be dedicated to research and development space in the form of a “tech campus.”

“There’s no doubt that done correctly this could be an economic driver for the city for 20, 30, 40 years,” says Alan DeLisle, a St. Petersburg economic development administrator.

To bolster interest, city officials also have pledged to pay for $75 million worth of infrastructure within the 200 16th St. South property, which is also located in a qualified federal “Opportunity Zone” and a 123-acre Community Redevelopment Area that would allow for Tax Increment Financing, the 31-page RFP states.

“The City is looking for a developer or development team that can execute at a high level, with experience working with municipalities in developing large and complicated sites,” the RFP states.

City officials, who hope to reach an “equitable public-private collaboration” with the winning team, have set a deadline for submissions for Jan. 15 of next year. The first of at least two pre-proposal meetings with the city regarding questions is scheduled to occur on Sept. 1.

The city expects to complete an appraisal of the six-parcel property sometime this fall.

St. Petersburg hopes to have selected a development team and reach an agreement governing the property with the winning respondent by the end of next year, according to the RFP.

Several significant questions that will undoubtedly impact the future of the property are expected to remain in place even after a developer is selected, however.

Most notably, the future of Major League Baseball’s (MLB) Tampa Bay Rays remains uncertain.

The team’s lease with the city to play at Tropicana Field, a 30-year-old, enclosed stadium that has failed to draw more than lackluster fan support, runs through the end of the 2027 baseball season. The Rays have played their home games in the stadium since March 1998.

City officials acknowledge that the property’s future developer will have to design architectural schemes that could include a new Rays’ stadium.

Team officials have scouted sites in Ybor City and elsewhere around Tampa Bay for a new stadium site and floated the idea of playing up to half the franchise’s games in Montreal, but to date no firm proposal has gained traction.

Also unclear is how many developers will be able to mount a team that’s expansive and experienced enough — and financially capable — to take on such a massive redevelopment project.

City officials say respondents’ proposals must show public-private partnership experience with either a 25-acre development or a project valued in excess of $100 million; provide financial information, including a 20-year cash-flow analysis; submit color renderings of its proposals; and offer timelines for the redevelopment — including what could be accomplished prior to the end of the 2027 MLB season.

Proposals also must contain a market feasibility analysis; a job creation plan; and “architecturally significant designs.”

Aside from the proposals’ physical attributes, the RFP also mandates that respondents’ plans contain social and civic ties, including the hiring of residents living within the 86-acre site.

The property is located on the western side of St. Petersburg’s downtown, an area anchored by the up-and-coming Edge District — which is known for hip restaurants and has been the site of several new apartment projects in recent years.

“Developer will implement a strong community outreach program, seeking input from all community stakeholders,” the RFP notes.

The city also anticipates the winning developer will “create a multi-use city center that reflects the diverse and rich culture of St. Petersburg and adheres to principals developed through community engagement, including Smart Cities, sustainability, and a healthy community,” the RFP states.

As much as anything, however, it appears from the RFP that the city is seeking dynamic plans that will both transform the site and help elevate St. Petersburg’s standing for decades to come.

“It is expected that proposers will bring innovative, futuristic and cutting-edge development concepts to the table,” the RFP states.

 

 

 

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