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A developer adds partners as it prepares a proposal for the Tropicana Field site

Aerial view of Tropicana Field
City of St. Petersburg
According to a release from the developers, Sugar Hill Community Partners' proposal will include a “residential program where 50% of all of units are affordable and workforce housing.”

Sugar Hill Community Partners says it is working with the city's Housing Authority, Blue Sky Communities and Property Markets Group Affordable as it finalizes a Request for Proposal, which is due by Dec. 2.

As the city of St. Petersburg edges closer to choosing the company that will redevelop the Historic Gas Plant District — and site of Tropicana Field — one is expanding its team as it prepares to officially submit a proposal.

Sugar Hill Community Partners (SHCP) announced Tuesday it’s partnering with the St. Petersburg Housing Authority, along with Blue Sky Communities and Property Markets Group Affordable, as it finalizes a Request for Proposal, which is due by Dec. 2.

According to a release from the developers, SHCP’s proposal will include a “residential program where 50% of all of units are affordable and workforce housing.”

The St. Petersburg Housing Authority is providing assistance to about 4,000 low-income households currently.

Michael Lundy is CEO of the St. Petersburg Housing Authority. He says affordable housing is a continued priority for the organization, especially as it starts to be recognized more as a national issue.

“Forty-seven percent of renters here in St. Petersburg pay more than 30% of their income for rent,” Lundy said. “We've got about 25% of the families who own their own homes, pay more than 30% for housing here.”

Lundy said establishing a project like this will provide more equity for residents who feel stuck to one part of the city.

"They want opportunities to be able to live in any neighborhood and community,” Lundy said. "No one is going to be living in just one section of town. We’re going to be living in the north side, and the south side."

According to the release, Blue Sky Communities has developed over 2,100 units of affordable housing, with 500 coming in St. Petersburg.

Scott MacDonald is executive vice president and CFO for Blue Sky Communities. He says St. Petersburg is land-constrained because of its geography, making a project like this even more appealing.

"Stating that it's a once-in-a-generation opportunity is underselling it,” MacDonald said. “It's really once in a multigenerational opportunity for the city."

MacDonald said the project is also an opportunity for the city to make good with residents.

“Both from the standpoint of addressing the need for affordable housing and maximizing, in a smart way, the number of affordable housing units that you could put on that land, combined with the opportunity that the city has to fulfill promises that were broken on that land and writing some of the wrongs that took place,” MacDonald said.

Property Markets Group Affordable has developed over 10,000 residential units, including Robles Park Village in Tampa, which includes 1,250-1,500 units, while a quarter of the housing will be market rate or workforce housing, according to the release.

Dan Coakley is principal of PMG Affordable. He says plans like this make him optimistic about the future of affordable housing in the region.

“I'm very bullish in Tampa, very bullish in St. Pete, and much less bullish when looking at the whole global issue,” Coakley said.

He says partnerships like this make the process stronger.

"This is a 10- to 15-year project with a lot of affordable housing and workforce units,” Coakley said. “So the ability to tackle that in teams will just benefit on the execution side, and the ability to deliver this number of affordable housing units.”

The city of St. Petersburg expects to post responses to the RFP process on its website by next week, while the names of the potential developers will be published Friday.

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