Woodson Museum moves to Commerce Park with city’s $1 million pledge

Mayor Rick Kriseman announced on Tuesday the relocation and $1 million pledge to the Carter G. Woodson African American Museum along with other plans for Commerce Park and Tangerine Plaza.

By Roger K. Clendening, Staff Writer

ST. PETERSBURG – The Carter G. Woodson African American Museum, now operating from cramped quarters on Ninth Avenue and 22nd Street South, will relocate a few blocks north to Commerce Park. The 5.5-acre site will allow the popular cultural institution to expand, Mayor Rick Kriseman announced on Tuesday.

“I’ve heard you. There’s been much debate about what happens on this corridor,” he remarked during a news conference at the Manhattan Casino, attended mostly by black business and organization leaders and representatives.

“We’ve seen passion and frustrations rise because buildings haven’t,” he noted, referring to failed efforts to develop the Commerce Park site.

Kriseman’s news this week came after receiving an unsolicited proposal from the Sankofa Vision Group, a collection of organizations active in the effective redevelopment of Midtown, with their recommendations and his staff’s reviews producing a reimagining of the 22nd Street corridor they’re rebranding as Deuces Rising.

Kriseman, mindful of those critics of his administration’s less than successful efforts producing economic development and affordable housing for black residents, in particular, said he remains “committed to the mantra: ‘I brought to City Hall when I was first elected, to listen, learn and lead.'”

With that said, he introduced a reimagined vision for the 22nd Street South corridor.

“Today, with the goal of honoring our past as we pursue our future, with enthusiasm for an unprecedented partnership and a reimagined corridor, we are hitting the reset button on the land formerly known as Commerce Park.”

Kriseman reports that the unsolicited proposal, which the city will have to formally advertise for, begins with a more than 2.5-acre site where workforce-owned housing, not leased but owned property, would be found, along with commerce and retail facing 22nd Street.

The commerce and retail would be operated by an inclusive community consortium, and would contribute to a community redevelopment fund, he added.

Specifically, he noted, Deuces Rising continues with providing a “long term, nominal lease on land that fronts 22nd Street, along with a financial commitment of one million dollars for a future Carter G. Woodson African American Museum,” remarks that drew a hearty round of applause from those present, including Terri Lipsey Scott, the museum’s executive director.

Mayor Kriseman said he “loves the Woodson Museum” and its potential.

“Our city, this very community and the rich history associated with it, is deserving of a proper museum on a well-traveled corridor. We have set aside more than 5 acres for this purpose, and we expect a community-driven capital campaign to complement our efforts.”

Building the institution will likely cost in the $15-million range, according to Lipsey Scott.

Kriseman also announced that it’s time to “move forward” on redeveloping Tangerine Plaza, the troubled site a mile south on 22nd Street and 18th Avenue.

“My administration took control of that site a couple of years ago so that we would no longer have to depend on others to do the right thing,” he declared. “We will do the right thing,” he proclaimed.

The city will issue a Request for Proposal soon, so look for it in The Weekly Challenger.

“We are requesting a mix of housing types to help achieve our ‘Housing for All, from All’ goals, as well as a much-needed fresh food component,” the mayor explained.

The mayor said they’ve had community conversations, had walk-throughs with the private sector and conducted a market study.

“And we believe it’s now time for Tangerine Plaza to also rise,” he added, noting that given the plaza’s location and the possibilities stemming from a Deuces Rising that he’s confident whoever is awarded the site “will be rewarded by those who live here and want to live here.”

According to the Concept Summary: a Sankofa Vision to Help Revive the Deuces, the vision is for a partnership with the City of St. Petersburg that is broadly inclusive of the community in the design, development and operations of built products.Proposed community partners and invitees would include, but not be limited to, among others, in alphabetical order:

  • African American Heritage Association (as an advisor to community history)
  • Binger Financial Services
  • Carter G. Woodson African American Museum
  • Collective Empowerment Group of the TBA
  • Community Development & Training Center/New Deal
  • Corporation to Develop Communities of Tampa
  • Felton-Howard Law
  • Zion Human Services
  • One8Development
  • Pinellas County Urban League
  • The 2020 Plan/One Community Plan
  • Tampa Bay Black Business Investment Corporation
  • VISION Investors and others
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