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St. Petersburg NAACP gives seal of approval to one developer's Tropicana Field site proposal

The organization said it hosted a virtual town hall so developers could address the community's concerns.
Credit: Felix Mizioznikov - stock.adobe.com
An aerial drone image of Tropicana Field in St Petersburg, Florida.

ST. PETE BEACH, Fla. — As the City of St. Petersburg continues to whittle down its list of redevelopment proposals for the Tropicana Field site, one development group has gained the seal of approval from the city's chapter of the NAACP.

JMA Ventures/Sugar Hill Partners stood out as the best candidate to those who attended a virtual town hall earlier this month. The civil rights organization said the event was held to address concerns over how the redevelopment will impact "our African American citizens for generations to come."

Decades ago, the city razed the African American Gas Plant district to build a stadium for a potential major league baseball team. Community leaders say the city promised economic development that never materialized for those displaced.

The proposal by Sugar Hill Community Partners and JMA Ventures aims to address those concerns by trying to connect "form to function, design to neighborhood character, people to nature, and users to buildings."

"Workers on the Orange Belt, the railroad that put the city on the map and today is marked by the Pinellas Trail, began to settle in what became Peppertown, Methodist Town, and the Gas Plant. Those neighborhoods are gone today, victims of progress in the form of freeways and the ballpark, leaving a legacy of massive displacement, loss of cultural identity, and unfulfilled promises of urban renewal," the group's proposal reads.

Credit: City of St. Petersburg
Sugar Hill Community Partners, JMA Ventures rendering.

While the development group best addressed the concerns of participants, the NAACP says there are still many lingering questions surrounding affordable housing, tax increment financing, a timeline, and the narrowing of the city's wealth gap.

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