Mayor Ken Welch makes decision on TPA/Moffitt development

Mayor Ken Welch has determined the TPA/Moffitt project does not provide sufficient community benefit and is not selecting them for the development of property located on the 800 block of First Avenue South.

ST. PETERSBURG — After a thorough vetting process by the Community Benefits Advisory Council (CBAC) as part of the Community Benefits Agreement (CBA) process and negotiations with developers, Mayor Ken Welch has determined the TPA/Moffitt project does not provide sufficient community benefit and is not selecting them for development of property located on the 800 block of First Avenue South.

Specifically, the proposal, even after guidance and recommendations from the community and the CBAC and negotiations with city staff, did not sufficiently address the administration’s goals for affordable and workforce housing on projects developed on city-owned land. The initial proposal included 10 percent affordable housing, which was negotiated to 15 percent and, ultimately, 17.5 percent.

“I appreciate the TPA/Moffitt team’s work to increase the level of community benefits within their proposal. However, our city faces continued challenges with affordable and workforce housing access, and community consensus is clear on the priority of housing as a component of equitable economic development,” Mayor Welch said.

“We must ensure we are strategically and equitably utilizing city assets to respond to community needs. This decision reflects my administration’s intentionality on the issue of equitable economic development.”

The mayor’s negotiations with the TPA/Moffitt group resulted in a final proposal of 400 total residential units, with 70 affordable and workforce housing units, half reserved for those earning at or below 80 percent of the Area Median Income (AMI) and half for those earning at or below 120 percent AMI.

The CBA process worked. The CBAC was successful in vetting the TPA/Moffitt proposal, the first project considered under the CBA, and was able to increase community benefit through that process. The CBAC then voted to support the benefits proposed in the project but referred further negotiation, specifically on housing affordability inclusion, to Mayor Welch or his designee.

“This was a strategic decision based on community benefit, shared priorities, and the significant value of the subject city land,” Welch said. “The proposed project included many attractive components, including access to a 75,000 square-foot cancer center.

“While we welcome the addition of this facility and hoped we could successfully negotiate this plan to meet our community benefit goals, negotiations did not meet needed affordable housing. We hope future opportunities can be identified to further plans for such a center in our city.”

With limited access to city-owned land, it is incumbent upon city leaders to carefully scrutinize its utilization to ensure maximum benefits to the community. The CBA ordinance and process were created to fulfill that obligation.

Next steps: No immediate next steps have been identified, but the city does have options, which will be considered in alignment with the administration’s Pillars for Progress and Principles for Accountable and Responsive Governance. Those options include continued use as parking while future opportunities are evaluated or issuing a Request for Proposals laying out a specified vision for the site.

With the CBA process now established, an RFP can include city objectives to be clearly communicated to the development community, an element that was lacking in the current process as an unsolicited proposal.

Project Background: Former Mayor Rick Kriseman moved forward with the TPA/Moffitt project, an unsolicited proposal, on Nov. 4, 2021. It was first identified as a CBA project in February 2022. An initial CBA community meeting was held this year on May 13 to gather input on desired benefits. The full CBAC met on June 27 to discuss the project.

The final CBAC meeting was held on Aug. 1. It resulted in a unanimous vote recommending further negotiation with Mayor Welch to increase affordable housing and a 5-1 vote to support the project benefits. At the direction of Mayor Welch, the City Development Administration team met with the developer on Aug. 10 to further negotiate the affordable and workforce housing component of the project.

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