St. Pete residents echo affordable housing concerns, city ownership for Trop site

tropicana field
Residents also shared some new concerns.

More than 100 St. Petersburg residents joined Mayor Ken Welch for the second “Community Conversations” meeting to give their input on what they’d like to see included in development plans for the Historic Gas Plant District, which currently serves as the site of Tropicana Field.

The attendees echoed concerns expressed in the first gathering, like keeping development focused on residents — not investors or tourists — as well as prioritizing affordable housing.

Participants also shared some new priorities, like making the new site a place with green space and recreation. Residents suggested integrating Booker Creek into the design, using it to activate surrounding neighborhoods. People also said they want to see the local art scene incorporated into the project, including a flexible public space and outdoor open areas for local talent to perform and practice.

Other suggestions focused on work and housing.

Under work, participants suggested:

— Offering youth and future workforce training, apprenticeships, career path opportunities.

— Skill building pipelines for jobs being created.

— Prioritizing local hiring.

— Including a variety of business types and sizes.

— Accessible transportation and affordable child care.

As for housing, residents said they wanted to see:

— Affordable, attainable housing, including a social housing concept, for all ages.

— Housing programs, such as a workforce development housing program and an innovator/entrepreneur in residence program.

— Prioritizing former Gas Plant residents for home ownership.

— Providing pathways to ownership.

The Council of Neighborhood Associations (CONA) co-hosted the second session.

“As we move through these conversations, we are learning valuable lessons from our constituents about their personal priorities in redeveloping this important site. Governance works best when we are informed, and even better when we’re informed by the people we serve,” Deputy Mayor Stephanie Owens said in a statement.

“We look forward to utilizing the information gathered during these meetings to inform our redevelopment process to guarantee success at the Historic Gas Plant District site.”

With rents continuing to skyrocket across Tampa Bay, it’s no surprise residents want to prioritize affordable housing. St. Pete is one of the country’s hardest-hit cities for inflation and rental increases.

Community members also want to see priority given to those displaced when the existing Trop site was developed. Participants suggested the social housing concept, where housing costs are based on a percentage of the occupant’s income.

One additional community engagement session will be held this Thursday at USF St. Pete at 5:30 p.m. and will follow the same format. It is also available virtually.

The input will be used as the city hopes to start the process for the Trop site redevelopment, again.

Welch announced at the end of June that the city is launching a new request for proposal (RFP) to redevelop the 86-acre site, canceling the previous RFP and selection issued by former Mayor Rick Kriseman in 2020.

Welch has instructed staff to target the new RFP release for August and will recommend a developer before the end of 2022, according to a timeline from the city. By May 2023, he hopes to complete a term sheet with the selected developer and present the development agreement to the City Council by fall 2023.

Welch said he made the decision after careful consideration and communication with city staff regarding city needs, current economic trends, and changing workforce needs. He also emphasized intentional equitable development, citing results of the city’s Disparity Study and Structural Racism report.

The session utilized the same public engagement model from Welch’s original Community Conversations, held in late 2021 before his inauguration.

Kelly Hayes

Kelly Hayes studied journalism and political science at the University of Florida. Kelly was born and raised in Tampa Bay. A recent graduate, she enjoys government and legal reporting. She has experience covering the Florida Legislature as well as local government, and is a proud Alligator alum. You can reach Kelly at [email protected]


10 comments

  • Richard Bruce

    July 25, 2022 at 3:39 pm

    Who is going to pay for the “social housing concept”? Why should the taxpayer allow subsidized housing at a prime real estate location? Who will be allowed to access this subsidized location and who is going to select them? Seems like a very few vocal and politically connected people wants lower than market price housing in a great location with someone else paying the bill.

    • James Kidder

      July 25, 2022 at 5:53 pm

      Tenants pay for it, there’s no subsidy given. It’s self funding.

    • Bryce Springfield

      July 25, 2022 at 6:14 pm

      Social housing in other places like Vienna or Singapore are actually profitable for their cities. Initial funding can come from existing grant programs and federal funding.

      • Darryll

        July 25, 2022 at 9:01 pm

        And how long does that take? Many, many years. It’s better to have sustainable funding.

        • James Kidder

          August 2, 2022 at 2:54 pm

          How long does it take to build a building? What are you trying to ask?

    • Mike

      July 26, 2022 at 10:03 am

      That is exactly what it is. It’s all lies and mental gymnastics. These people need to be stopped.

  • Just a comment

    July 25, 2022 at 4:48 pm

    High priced homes …no employment….. no loans …criminalize ….sounds like the final solution…how many days of this?
    I guess it is like this high paying jobs or the final solution.

  • Just a concept

    July 25, 2022 at 8:51 pm

    Nice ideas but how much space

  • Daryll

    July 25, 2022 at 9:00 pm

    The “new” ideas mentioned like affordable housing, green spaces, and consideration for the arts are the same as they have been for the past 7 years and were in the original RFP. Does no one read? Nothing new here. The Midtown proposal that Welch scrapped was the only self funded proposer who came forward. I hypothesize absolutely nothing will get done with a recession looming because no one will be able to foot the bill and those other guys won’t want to touch this.

  • Mike

    July 26, 2022 at 10:01 am

    Stop affordable housing now. Their job is to provide ‘housing’. It’s only called ‘affordable housing’s because ‘subsidizing the destruction of the neighborhood and condemning the residents to eternal poverty housing’ does not have the same ring to it.

Comments are closed.


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