St. Pete teens share their vision for the future of the Tropicana site

ST. PETERSBURG — An important component of any successful master plan initiative is to ensure comprehensive outreach to all potentially impacted stakeholders on the intended development or project – no matter how young those stakeholders may be.

Last Tuesday, August 3 at the Thomas “Jet” Jackson Recreation Center,  the HKS consultant team, which was hired by the City of St. Pete to conduct the Tropicana site redevelopment master plan, met with perhaps some of the future Tropicana Field project’s most important stakeholders – a group of more than 50 teens!

The enthusiasm exhibited by the teens was refreshing.  More importantly the level of engagement and honest feedback from the collective group was invaluable to this important initiative.

Bottom line, they all understood the historical significance of the site as well as the future impact of the “Trop” to their community. These teens were not shy about sharing their vision for the future of the Tropicana Field site – with or without the baseball stadium.

Popular themes included diverse options for places to eat, shop as well as retail and recreational options that cater to all ages and price ranges.  There was a strong consensus for entertainment features such as water and theme parks, skating, movie theatres, bowling and other such options.

Several teens also indicated their appreciation for the historical story and struggles from both sides of a highway that seems to divide much more than St. Pete’s real estate.  They seem to recognize this redevelopment as an opportunity to honor the history while bridging the gap to all areas of the city.

“It’s very clear these kids are starving to have somewhere they can go and just be – kids!” said Randy Morton, principal architect at HKS Urban Design Group.

There was no doubt the consultants happily got more than they bargained for. It was inspiring and impressive to witness how much these young kids care about their community and want to see it succeed, especially considering the impact of this redevelopment initiative on its most important stakeholders – the future St. Pete leaders of tomorrow!

Rounding out the public outreach session was Nikki Gaskin-Capehart, director of Urban Affairs for the City of St. Petersburg, who closed the meeting by reminding the teens how valuable their feedback and input was to the Tropicana redevelopment effort but also to other important current initiatives the city is considering for surrounding communities.  The feedback received, related or unrelated to Tropicana Field, is very relevant to the future of St. Pete’s youth and the greater community at-large.

The next community meeting about the Tropicana Field site will be held Monday, Aug. 22 at the USFSP University Student Center, 200 6th Ave. S. The meeting will start promptly at 6:30 p.m., and you can expect to see early conceptual ideas reflecting community input obtained at recent meetings.

For more information or to RSVP, please call 1-800-317-8449 or email tropicanafield@garthsolutions.com.

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