St. Pete residents echo concerns over affordable housing and city ownership for site Too
More than 100 St. Petersburg residents joined the mayor Ken Welche for the second “Community Conversations” meeting to provide input on what they would like to see included in development plans for the Gasworks Historic District, which currently serves as the site of Tropicana Field.
Participants echoed concerns expressed at the first gathering, such as keeping development focused on residents – not investors or tourists – as well as prioritize affordable housing.
Participants also shared new priorities, such as making the new site a place of green spaces and recreation. Residents suggested incorporating Booker Creek into the design and using it to activate surrounding neighborhoods. People also said they wanted to see the local arts scene incorporated into the project, including flexible public space and open outdoor spaces for local talent to perform and train.
Other suggestions related to work and housing.
Under the work, participants suggested:
— Provide young people and the future workforce with training, apprenticeships and career development opportunities.
— Skill-building pipelines for the jobs created.
— Favor local hiring.
— Including a variety of business types and sizes.
— Accessible transportation and affordable daycare.
When it comes to housing, residents said they want to see:
— Affordable and accessible 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.
— Give priority to former residents of the gasworks for home ownership.
— Provide access routes to the property.
The Council of Neighborhood Associations (CONA) co-organized the second session.
“As we move through these conversations, we are learning valuable lessons from our constituents about their personal priorities in the redevelopment of this important site. Governance works best when we are informed, and even better when we are informed by the people we serve,” the deputy mayor said. Stephanie owen said in a statement.
“We look forward to using the information gathered from these meetings to inform our redevelopment process to ensure success at the site of the historic Gasworks District.”
With rents continuing to soar in Tampa Bay, it’s no surprise that residents want to prioritize affordable housing. St. Pete is one of the countries cities hardest hit by inflation and rent increases.
Community members also want priority to be given to displaced people when developing the Too Existing site. Participants suggested the concept of social housing, where housing costs are based on a percentage of the occupant’s income.
An additional community engagement session will take place this Thursday at USF St. Pete at 5:30 p.m. and will follow the same format. This is also available virtually.
The contribution will be used as the city hopes to reinvigorate the Too Site redevelopment process.
Welch announced at the end of June that the the city launches a new call for tenders (RFP) to redevelop the 86-acre site, canceling Previous DP and selection issued by former mayor Rick Krisman in 2020.
Welch has asked staff to target the new RFP release for August and will recommend a developer before the end of 2022, according to a chronology from the city. By May 2023, he hopes to complete a terms and conditions sheet with the successful developer and present the development agreement to 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 labor needs. He also emphasized intentional equitable development, citing the results of the study on disparities and report on structural racism in the city.
The session used the same public engagement model as Welch’s original community conversations, held in late 2021 before its inauguration.