ST. PETERSBURG, Fla. (WFLA) — St. Petersburg Mayor Ken Welch announced his choice for the redevelopment of the Tropicana Field site Monday during the State of the City address.
Last year, the mayor narrowed down the proposals to four finalists. He said the goal is a plan that preserves history, includes affordable housing, and accommodates a state-of-the-art baseball stadium.
“As your mayor, I have done my homework,” Welch said during the Monday morning address. “I am fully confident that this decision is the best path forward for our city, and I am excited to announce that the partner for progress in the development of the Historic Gas Plant District Will be the Hines & Rays development team.”
“This team is the best partner for this generational endeavor, and now the next phase of work begins to bring this dream to reality for everyone in St. Petersburg,” Welch added.
Welch’s vison is one that includes restorative economic opportunities, and honoring the past of the historic gas plant district.
“I am a child of the gas plant. My grandfather was one of those businesses that was uprooted when the interstate came through.”
The commitment from Hines & Rays includes a $50 million benefits package that will serve to grow minority businesses that were once dislocated.
“We want to keep the Rays here they brought in a strong financial package $1.8 billion in equity, which is substantial and they have a great impact into the future property, taxes, employment all those economic benefits, and it became pretty clear to me that this was the right choice,” said Welch.
The proposal includes 5,700 residential units, affordable housing, a hotel, a new ballpark as well as food and entertainment.
“The mayor put an enormous challenge in front of us, and he pushed us to sharpen our pencils to put equity and inclusion first and foremost in our plans, and to generate a place-making project that can advance the city forward and honor all of its constituencies,” said Brian Auld, Rays President.
Auld said he intends to work with St. Pete moving forward but it’s early in the process and he said they’re still talking with Hillsborough County about a potential stadium.
“We’re excited,” said Michael Harrison with Hines. “It’s been a challenging process, but we think it’s been a well-thought-out process.”
City staff will now work with the developer to create an agreement. It then goes to the city council for a vote.
“It has been a long road to get to this point, and this is really just the next step,” said Councilwoman Gina Driscoll who represents District 6. “I mean, after this, we will be working on negotiations with the chosen team and really moving forward with a vision for the future.”