May 9, 2024 - News

Loose ends hold up Gas Plant District, Rays deal

A rendering of the Historic Gas Plant District redevelopment surrounding a new Rays stadium.

A rendering of the Historic Gas Plant District redevelopment surrounding a new Rays stadium. Courtesy of Tampa Bay Rays/Hines

St. Petersburg city administrator Rob Gerdes told city officials he woke up in a cold sweat one night.

  • What happens if the city signs a deal committing $700 million to the Gas Plant District redevelopment and a new stadium, but the Rays aren't "here to stay?"

Why it matters: It was a question multiple city council members also had at Thursday's meeting discussing the redevelopment.

  • And while Gerdes assured them the city would be protected, several still felt unsettled by outstanding questions.
  • Issues like affordable housing and loose ends that could put the city more in debt, or make promises unachievable, made for a tense discussion.

State of play: Voting on the deal, that was supposed to happen this month, will likely be delayed until at least June.

  • Before then, the committee that met on Thursday will meet again to discuss details of the $1.3 billion stadium plan.

Tick tock: Construction needs to start in November to ensure a new ballpark is ready for Opening Day 2028, the Rays and its developer, Hines, have said.

Zoom in: Four council members — enough to squash the deal in a vote — said they were unhappy with the affordable housing terms.

  • As it stands, the deal would call for the Rays to build 1,250 affordable or workforce housing units, or pay a penalty that starts at $25,000 per unit.
  • Council members said that sum wouldn't be enough to build the housing, leaving the city to foot the bill to get it done.

What they're saying: "The agreement calls out multiple times that we're not actually getting any affordable housing from this deal. We're going to have to pay more for it," Council member Richie Floyd told Axios.

  • "I want to see a really prosperous redevelopment here and I think it's totally possible but we have to make sure we protect ourselves."

Other friction points: Floyd and fellow council member Gina Driscoll want apprenticeships built into the requirements for disadvantaged workers in vertical construction.

  • "Many but not all" workers will be paid enough to live in the redevelopment they're building, City development administrator James Corbett said.
  • Housing and Neighborhood Services administrator Amy Foster offered that workers who live on-site could save money since they won't need a car in the community.
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