Demolish a Ballpark to Save a Downtown?

While many cities are seeking to build large entertainment venues to revive their downtowns, St. Petersburg is taking the opposite track. Stephen Nohlgren examines whether Tropicana Field can be the city's next big urban mixed use development.

"Thirty years ago, St. Petersburg took a leap of civic faith when it leveled a low-income neighborhood to attract a baseball team," writes Nohlgren. "Now Tropicana Field's 85 asphalt acres offer another chance for neighborhood rehabilitation — this time without baseball."

The national trend towards dense mixed-use development has arrived in this coastal Florida city, with developers and real estate experts eying the aging home of the Tampa Bay Rays baseball team as an ideal site for redevelopment.  "It's not very common to be able to put together that large a site for a master planned project anywhere in a desirable area like Florida,'' Larry Richey, managing director of Cushman & Wakefield said. "It's a special place.''

"The Tampa Bay Rays, wanting a new stadium elsewhere, have begun to tout the Trop's redevelopment potential as more valuable to the city than baseball," notes Nohlgren. "The city 'is sitting on an enormous piece of land in a rapidly growing downtown that is, frankly, lying fallow,'' Rays vice president Michael Kalt recently told the Pinellas County Commission."

"The remaining debt on the stadium 'pales in comparison to what can come from property and sales tax generation if you put that land to use,' he said."

Full Story: Tropicana Field: The next big urban mixed use development?

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