Rick Kriseman makes the right decision on Tropicana Field developer

tropicana field
Midtown is the only developer that could realistically get this complicated project done.

After a long, arduous RFP process, St. Petersburg’s Mayor Rick Kriseman today announced he has selected a team, Midtown Development, to redevelop the Tropicana Field Site.

With Kriseman’s term coming to an end, leading the selection of the redevelopment plan for the Trop will long be part of his legacy as Mayor of St. Petersburg and, of course, an essential part of the legacy of incoming Mayor Ken Welch.

What this also means is that plans to transform the 86 acres into a mixed-use neighborhood will materialize because Midtown has been the only developer that could realistically get this complicated project done and has been for a while the only clear choice to be made.

Kriseman said during a press conference, with the Trop as a backdrop, “I chose this development company because when I compared both proposals, side by side, they had the best proposal.”

Why? Midtown diligently followed the city’s rigorous 21 guiding principles, partnered with the highly respected Reverend Watson Haynes II, President of the Pinellas County Urban League, to lead their equity and inclusion efforts for the project, and most importantly, they have the proven track record of developing thriving, successful neighborhoods and the resources to deliver on this project.

By contrast, the competing finalist, Sugar Hill Community Partners, has a track record filled with red flags and undelivered projects and has already started to pivot on project funding, among other worrisome actions.

Most recently, information surfaced that JMA Ventures, the lead developer of the Sugar Hill group, in 2011 backed out at the last minute of a $70 million cash offer to the city of Santa Clara for California’s Great America theme park. It seems like a big bullet and broken promise have been dodged.

Of course, the final decision will be up to the new Mayor’s administration and the City Council.

When the announcement was made, Welch said in a statement, “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 would do well to evaluate the process and what the previous administration did. If he does, he will ultimately reach the same conclusion and should work with Midtown Development to include his own ideas and vision in the project.

St. Pete is among the fastest growing cities in the U.S. And as the population continues to boom the city needs a development partner that can deliver and tackle the problems that the city needs to address. With Midtown, the Sunshine City has a bright future.

Peter Schorsch

Peter Schorsch is the President of Extensive Enterprises Media and is the publisher of FloridaPolitics.com, INFLUENCE Magazine, and Sunburn, the morning read of what’s hot in Florida politics. Previous to his publishing efforts, Peter was a political consultant to dozens of congressional and state campaigns, as well as several of the state’s largest governmental affairs and public relations firms. Peter lives in St. Petersburg with his wife, Michelle, and their daughter, Ella. Follow Peter on Twitter @PeterSchorschFL.


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