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St. Pete Mayor Rick Kriseman announces developer for Tropicana Field site

“They understand the need to honor the site's history and provide real opportunities," St. Pete Mayor Rick Kriseman said.

ST. PETERSBURG, Fla. — Midtown Development has been selected to redevelop the 86-acre Tropicana Field site.

“They understand the collaborative nature of this partnership with our citizens, with the City of St. Petersburg, and perhaps with the Tampa Bay Rays,” St. Pete Mayor Rick Kriseman said while announcing the news on Thursday.

“They understand the need to honor the site's history and provide real opportunities," he added.

Back in July 2020, St. Pete began its search for world-class developers to reimagine the land located between 5th Avenue South and 1st Avenue South, and 16th Street Street and Dr. Martin Luther King, Jr. Street.

At the start of the year,  Kriseman said he was looking for the project to help the city and community ensure social equity and opportunities in the build.

The project, which will likely take about 20 years to complete, is seen by many as an opportunity to make up for promises broken when the site was originally redeveloped in the 1980s.

“We will honor our past while we pursue our future. That future includes a development that provides jobs, mixed-income housing, office space, entertainment, and emphasis on the creek, the natural environment, and the Pinellas Trail," the mayor said.

The past he's referring to is the historically Black Gas Plant neighborhood that was cleared to make room for Tropicana Field.

“We were just told – you’ve got to move,” recalls Reverend Watson Haynes, now President of the Pinellas County Urban League.

Rev. Haynes remembers his and other families being uprooted and promised a better future shaped by urban development that instead became the home of Tropicana Field.

“A stadium? But what about the jobs and what about the other efforts that supposed to happen for the people?” He remembers people asking.

For decades, many in St Pete’s African-American community have lived with resentment and disappointment.

Kriseman’s choice of Midtown Development, which has made promises of inclusiveness and equality, is seen by many as a chance to finally make things right.

“You can’t necessarily address it in a way that everyone feels absolutely 100-percent comfortable,” said NAACP St. Pete Chapter President, Esther Matthews. “But what you can do is you can ensure that the descendants of those individuals in the past receive some level of - I don’t want to say compensation - but some level of give back.”

As for whether the future plans will include our baseball team, Kriseman said "the Tampa Bay Rays will help solve that outstanding question."

In response to the announcement, Mayor-elect Ken Welch, who will take office on Jan. 6, said he plans to move forward with developing the plans put in place by Kriseman.

"Mayor Kriseman has worked hard to develop thoughtful and promising plans for the future of the Tropicana Field site. As mayor, I plan to put the same amount of effort in evaluating those plans as well as new ideas and moving forward with a version that capitalizes on St. Petersburg's incredible momentum and reconnects our community," Welch wrote.

Initial plans for the Midtown proposal included a retail space, a hotel, a conference center and green-certified housing, including at least 1,000 lower and moderate-income units. Midtown's proposal also said it would support $30 million for public parks and bring 16,000 to 20,000 construction jobs.

“I look forward to, and I am excited about the connection to ensure that the southside of St. Pete feels what the north side and Central Avenue feels,” said Matthews. “And that’s progression, that’s economic development, and that is movement so that we can have some level of success in life.”

You can watch the full announcement below.