Construction won’t start anytime soon on the Tropicana Field site redevelopment, but we know that St. Petersburg Mayor Ken Welch wants the Tampa Bay Rays development team to take the field for the project.
In his January 30th State of the City speech, Welch announced he’d selected the group led by real estate investment and development firm Hines and the Rays.
“I am confident that they are the best partner for this generational endeavor,” Welch said during comments at the State of the City.
Moving ahead, Welch’s administration and the development team have to negotiate the terms of a developer’s agreement. The City Council then has to approve the agreement for the project to move forward. The city’s timeline has a final agreement taking effect in the summer of next year.
“Here we are at the end of the beginning,” Rays President Brian Auld said at a January 30th Rays press conference after Welch’s announcement. “We have made it to the starting line and we have a long race ahead of us.”
Four development teams vied to lead a multi-phase, mixed-use project that could take decades to complete. Per the city’s criteria, the development has to include mixed-income residential with affordable housing; retail and restaurants; a flagship hotel with a conference center, park and recreation space with a focus on Booker Creek and the Pinellas Trail; a multimodal transit hub; jobs and economic opportunities for residents and small businesses in south St. Petersburg; cultural attractions and the arts; an innovation, research and technology presence; and space for a baseball stadium.
The Rays/Hines proposal discusses a 30,000-seat ballpark with a roof over the field, that will open in 2028 as the focal point of a walkable, mixed-use district with retail and events. The city is handling stadium negotiations separately and details on the projected cost and funding of the new stadium are not included in the Hines/Rays proposal.
In response to questions at the Rays’ January 30 press conference, Auld said discussions on how much public funding the team is going to seek for a new stadium are private at this point. He did not rule out continuing discussions with Tampa and Hillsborough County officials about moving the team there, saying the top priority is to keep the Rays in the region.
The Hines/Rays team’s development plan for the property has 5,278 residential units, 1.4 million square feet of office, 320,000 square feet of retail, 700 total hotel rooms and 14 acres of public space. They plan a total of 1,459 affordable housing units, with 859 of them on site.
They propose a $15 million contribution to home ownership and rental assistance programs to go toward 600 affordable housing units in other areas of the city. That is part of a planned $50 million investment in equity initiatives that include workforce training, business assistance, internship, cultural, educational and other programs focused on former Gas Plant residents and business owners and residents and businesses in South St. Petersburg.
They also propose a $5 million multi-cultural incubator “that will include a cooperative working space for diverse entities including non-profits, businesses, and entrepreneurs to work and collaborate in scalable business space.”
For prior coverage, please go to In St. Petersburg, four visions to redevelop the Tropicana Field property.
Gas Worx and Ybor Harbor
Ybor City real estate investor Darryl Shaw’s Gas Worx, a remaking of older industrial and vacant properties between Ybor and the Channel District into a walkable, mixed-use development, is under construction this year.
Construction of the first phase, located between Nuccio Parkway and Scott Street, started in October, according to the project developer Kettler. The property will include 317 apartments and 2,400 square feet of retail and will open in spring 2024. South of that, a second apartment community with 370 apartments and 8,000 square feet of retail will begin construction in late 2023.
Kettler is also starting design on three sites in the core of Gas Worx located between Second and Fourth Avenues, Channelside Drive and 14th Street. This includes two more multi-family developments with approximately 450 apartments and the conversion of a 70,000-square-foot brick warehouse into a mixed-use development containing retail, restaurants, office and public space.
At build-out, Gas Worx is planned for nearly 5,000 residences, 140,000 square feet of retail and half a million square feet of office space. New additions that preserve history include renovating a 1950s-era warehouse into a food hall.
As construction on Gas Worx starts, Shaw has unveiled plans for Ybor Harbor, an adjacent 33-acre mixed-use waterfront development on Ybor Channel south of Adamo Drive. In a press statement, Shaw describes the project as a “transformative new addition” to Tampa's urban core that will connect Ybor to the Channel District and downtown. Ybor Harbor is planned to have up to six million square feet of residential, office, hotel and retail space at build-out. The developers want to work out an agreement with Port Tampa Bay to take a section of restricted waterfront and develop it into a public area with piers, boat slips, floating docks, green space and a boardwalk lined with restaurants and shops.
The Imagine Clearwater reconstruction of Coachman Park on the downtown waterfront finishes this summer.
The $84 million project looks to turn an underutilized park in a prime location overlooking Clearwater Harbor into a centerpiece park that draws out-of-towners for concerts and events and locals for a day in the park.
A new amphitheater will have a 4,000-seat covered pavilion and lawn seating for 5,000 more people at a concert venue that, with no permanent infrastructure, previously relied on its waterfront location to draw performers and crowds. Ruther Eckerd Hall will manage and operate the amphitheater under an agreement with the city.
The park will have a new walking trail, lake, garden, a large open lawn, public art installations, a playground and play area for children, splash pads, restrooms, a grand staircase and newly planted landscaping and trees.
Assistant City Manager Michael Delk said the city will have a week of special events in late June and early July for the opening of the park and amphitheater, with a concert by The Florida Orchestra and a fireworks display on July 4th.
The other major piece of the city’s effort to breathe new life into the downtown waterfront, the redevelopment of city-owned properties on the bluff overlooking the park and waterfront, is still a ways away from construction.
The City Council last year selected a development group led by New York’s Gotham Organization and The DeNunzio Group out of Palm Harbor to build the project. In November 2022, city voters approved a referendum allowing for the sale of the city-owned property to the developers.
Delk says the developers are doing their due diligence on the project and then will move forward to design and engineering.
For prior coverage, please go to Imagine Clearwater vision begins to take shape in redo of Coachman Park.
The development boom along downtown Tampa’s riverfront carries on with a major City of Tampa project, the expansion of Tampa Bay arts institutions and high-rise projects.
Overlooking the Hillsborough River, the 31-story luxury apartment tower Arts and Entertainment Residences is under construction next to the Straz Center for the Performing Arts and is planned to be complete in the spring of 2024. In early 2023, construction started on The Pendry Residences Tampa luxury riverfront hotel and condominium tower overlooking the river at Ashley Drive. Pendry has a scheduled opening in 2025.
The $38 million Tampa Convention Center expansion, the largest renovation in the center’s history, is on schedule to finish this June. The project renovates the building facade and existing meeting rooms and adds 18,000 square feet of space, including 18 new waterfront meeting and event rooms overlooking the river.
Long-established arts institutions along the Hillsborough River are also expanding. The Straz Center for the Performing Arts will start work on a long-planned major $100 million expansion that will, among other things, add terraces, a pavilion and a rooftop bar for the public. The Tampa Museum of Art’s $100 million renovation and expansion will add a four-story waterfront structure and 50,000 square feet of space.
The development boom on the west side of the Hillsborough River also continues. The Related Group has announced plans for a mixed-use project overlooking the river near Kennedy Boulevard that will include 32,760 square feet of retail space, 1,079 residential units, 10 boat slips, a helistop and $8 million of improvements to the Riverwalk.
Related also continues as the master developer of the West River mixed-use, mixed-income project with the Tampa Housing Authority and will helm the $500 million Rome Yard mixed-use project, a pedestrian-friendly neighborhood with multiple modes of public transportation, a workforce training center, a cultural center and an art pavilion highlighting West Tampa history.
The City of Tampa also plans to expand the Riverwalk on the west side of the river with the addition of 3.5 more miles. The city is expected to select a firm to handle the design and construction of the project in the next few months, with the expansion expected to be complete by late 2026.
Downtown St. Petersburg
Along the Central Avenue corridor from downtown St. Petersburg to the EDGE District, tower cranes are a recurring part of the city scenery. A slew of high-rises are in various stages of construction.
Construction starts in early 2023 on Red Apple’s The Residences at 400 Central, a 46-story, mixed-use tower that will reach a height of 515 feet and have office space, shops, restaurants, a rooftop observatory and 301 condominiums.
The Nolen, a 23-story condominium tower, is under construction on the 100 block of Fourth Avenue Northeast. The boutique condo building will have 31 units and is scheduled for completion in 2024.
Art House, the 42-story condo tower at 200 Central Avenue, is under construction with an expected late 2024 opening. The 35-story condo tower Saltaire St. Petersburg, 300 First St. S., is scheduled for completion this summer and has sold out all units already.
The Evo apartment tower on the 300 block of Second Avenue South and Ascent St. Petersburg, a 36-story hotel and apartment tower at First Avenue and Second Street North, is opening early this year.
Tampa Medical and Research District
Tampa General Hospital has partnered with the Tampa Bay Economic Development Council to help guide the development of a medical and research district adjacent to downtown anchored by TGH and the USF Health Morsani College of Medicine.
The long-term plan is for at least 26 current and future institutions to be part of the district, including a pharmacy school, urgent care centers, specialized care and research centers like the Global Emerging Diseases Institute, a behavioral health hospital, the TGH/USF Health Precision Medicine Biorepository and the region’s first proton therapy center.
With the partnership in place, the Economic Development Council is launching a survey of land in TGH’s set medical district boundaries General Hospital to identify and assess possible development and redevelopment sites for medical, research and healthcare business uses.
Florida Aquarium and ZooTampa
Fresh off record attendance of nearly 925,000 in 2022, the Florida Aquarium begins a $40 million expansion in 2023. The three-year, three-phase project will add habitat and exhibit space for puffins, African penguins and California sea lions.
It starts this year with the renovation of a second-floor ballroom into a 3,700-square-foot traveling exhibit space. In 2024, there is a two-story indoor exhibit that will be anchored by puffins, the black and white seabird typically found in the North Atlantic, and include Atlantic salmon and other large fish species. Last, the expansion will move outside, transforming the aquarium’s outdoor plaza into separate habitats for the first California sea lion exhibit on Florida’s West Coast and for a breeding colony of endangered African penguins.
More long-term, ZooTampa has announced plans for a 20-year, $125 million expansion that would add features like a new entrance, water taxis on the Hillsborough River, and an African habitat with gorillas and lions. Moving forward, the plan needs approval from the City of Tampa because the zoo is on city-owned property at Lowry Park.
ARK Innovation Center
In the St. Pete Innovation District, the 45,000-square-foot ARK Innovation Center is scheduled to open for business in July. The business incubator and innovation space will have an event center, innovation lab, coworking space, conference rooms and classrooms.
The Tampa Bay Innovation Center will manage the center and its startup and incubator programs and have its office there. Financed by the federal Economic Development Administration, Pinellas County, and naming sponsor, ARK Invest, the center is expected to birth and grow companies with global impact in the tech, fintech and science industries.
Tampa Union Station
Following the renovation and upgrades to the Tampa Union Station baggage building in 2022, the city is set to embark on a $2 million renovation and restoration of the main building at the historic train depot in 2023.
Tampa’s Community Redevelopment Agency has put funding in place up front to accelerate the project with the idea that city government and the nonprofit Friends of Tampa Union Station group will go for grants to reimburse the CRA.
After the renovation, the big picture vision is to maintain the Amtrak station while turning unused and underused areas of a building with rapidly redeveloping downtown neighborhoods all around it into a community event and gathering place steeped in character and history. Ideas include a downstairs coffee shop and a business incubator or coworking space upstairs.
Horizon West Bay
The City of Largo replaces an out-of-date City Hall and looks to spur redevelopment along the West Bay Drive corridor with Horizon West Bay.
Now under construction now and scheduled to open in 2024, the mixed-use project includes a new City Hall to replace the current Highland Avenue location and retail space in a corridor where the city wants more business activity.