St. Pete’s CBA Policy underway; first developer meeting with community set for May 13

The first project of the CBA program is located on a 4.59-acre site at 800 First Ave. S. in downtown St. Pete, which is proposed to be developed by the TPA Group in conjunction with Moffitt Cancer Center along with United Insurance Holdings Corp. Interested residents are invited to attend an in-person public meeting where the TPA Group will present a project overview on Friday, May 13 at 5 p.m. at The Sunshine Center, 330 Fifth St. N.

BY GYPSY C. GALLARDO, Black Media Alliance

ST. PETERSBURG — Implementation is underway for the new City of St. Petersburg Community Benefits (CB) Program. The Standing Community Benefits Advisory Committee (CBAC) held its inaugural meeting earlier this week. The city is poised to host its first developer meeting with citizens on the project known as “The 800 Block.”

Well over half of the CBAC meeting was devoted to process and management steps for both the CB Program and the standing committee. These included training on Florida Sunshine Law and a vote to approve CBAC bylaws (pending changes proposed by committee members).

Members of the new Standing CBA Committee, all former members of the community-led CBA Policy Advisory Council that advocated for the city’s adoption of the CBA Policy: Gypsy C. Gallardo, CEO One Community, Jason Mathis, CEO of the Downtown Partnership, Dr. Bruce Nissen, co-chair of the community-led CBA Policy Advisory Council, Dr. Ruth Whitney, National Organization of Women

One of the most substantial topics of the nearly two-hour session was the upcoming community meeting where 800 Block project developers will introduce their vision for the 4.59-acre site. Their development is described as follows in the CBAC meeting package:

“The H. Lee Moffitt Cancer Center and Research Institute, Inc. (“Moffitt Cancer Center”), TPA Group, and United Insurance Holdings Corp. (collectively the “Project Development Group”) are interested in acquiring the entire 800 Block of 2nd Avenue South [encompassing 4.59 acres] from the Intown Community Development Agency and the city for the purpose of constructing a state-of-the-art outpatient cancer care facility (“Medical Building”), a mixed-use modern multi-family residential tower with a workforce housing component of at least 10 percent and activated ground floor retail (“Residential Tower”), a to be determined development site (“Future Site”), a public-access parking garage (“Parking Garage”), and the retention and future expansion site of the United Insurance Holdings Corp. (“UPC”) headquarters.”

The 800 Block project team has indicated that they will request an exemption from the City CBA Policy, according to City staff who attended Monday’s meeting.

Per the policy adopted last July by a unanimous vote of St. Petersburg City Councilmembers, exemptions may be granted to projects that meet one of five conditions:

  1. Affordable and Workforce Housing — A minimum of 30 percent of the total dwelling units developed must be designated as affordable or workforce housing. (If a multi-use project, only the residential portion would receive an exemption, and the remainder of the project would be evaluated for CBA eligibility).
  2. Annexations — Projects that involve the annexation of real property into the city’s jurisdictional boundaries may be granted an exemption, in whole or in part.
  3. Historically Designated Properties – A historically designated project may seek a full exemption. (If multi-parcel project, only the historically designated parcel(s) would receive exemption, and the remainder of the project would be evaluated for CBA eligibility).
  4. South St. Petersburg CRA or Qualified Census Tract — If a project is located within the 7.4-square mile South St. Petersburg CRA or an eligible census tract, and if the developer can demonstrate a financial hardship that would prevent the project from occurring, they may request full exemption.
  5. Alternative Benefits — If the project includes community benefits that meet or exceed the value of the benefits that would be received through the CBA Program, the developer may request a full exemption.

The 800 Block project may qualify for exemption under condition 5. Citizen feedback will be important to the determination.

The CBAC members asked that the upcoming community meeting for the 800 Block project be pushed back to afford more time for marketing of the session. It was originally set for May 2. City staff agreed to the change and reset the date to May 13. They are now working to re-confirm the venue and prepare marketing materials.

If the project is not exempted by Mayor Ken Welch and city council, the development team will have to adhere to the CBA Policy’s “Tier 2″ requirements, including a minimum of 10 percent participation of small and minority owned businesses in the construction phase of the project (with a goal of 20 percent), the hiring of apprentices, minimum energy performance standards, and contributions to a CBA Fund or other community and city priorities.

For those interested in attending the 800 Block project’s community meeting to ask questions or provide feedback, please save the date; this meeting is scheduled for May 13 at 5 p.m. and will be held in a downtown St. Petersburg location.

The Black Media Alliance includes the Power Broker Magazine, The Bulletin News, and The Weekly Challenger.

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