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Is the Gas Plant redevelopment's benefits package enough? No!

The City of St. Petersburg has a Community Benefits Advisory Council (CBAC). Its role is to evaluate the community benefits for projects that receive public assistance, measure their impact and then advise the Mayor, City Council and the citizens of St. Petersburg.

CBAC, led by City Council Chair Deborah Figgs-Sanders, reviewed and approved (with some modifications) the community benefits outlined in the proposed Rays Hines deal to build a new stadium on 22 acres of the Gas Plant site, and redevelop the balance of the 64 acres for commercial and residential purposes. As explained in the St. Petersburg Catalyst in their article Is the Gas Plant redevelopment’s benefits package enough? "City officials hope to fulfill broken promises to a once-thriving Black community displaced from the area."

It's good that CBAC proposed some modifications adding "some teeth," as pointed out by Colleen Wright in the Tampa Bay Times article Advisory group approves Gas Plant project, stresses affordable housing.

But is the community benefits package enough? No!

It's not enough - the impact is not enough - because the deal is not fair.

As we have explained in our Analysis of the Rays Hines Stadium Deal, Rays Hines is not paying a fair price for the 64 developable acres. For the new stadium, the Rays are not paying fair real estate taxes, not paying any rent on the use of valuable city land, and they are not paying any return on the money they are asking the city to invest. The Rays pay nothing for the use of the stadium.

A fair deal would result in $1.6 billion available to St. Petersburg to fulfill broken promises and meet so many other community needs - not $50 million.

What could St. Petersburg do with $1.6 billion that it cannot do with $50 million?

The Hines Rays deal = $50 million OR just 5 $10 millions.

A fair deal = $1.6 billion OR 160 $10 millions.

What could St. Petersburg do with 160 times $10 million?

Some ideas could be...

  • $50 million (or 5 $10 millions) - Establish a Community Benefit Intentional Equity Trust to fund everything in the Hines Rays commitment.

  • $250 million (or 25 $10 millions) - Establish a Citywide Affordable Housing Trust.

    • The Trust could help to build thousands of affordable housing units and help up to 10,000 qualified residents buy and fix up homes citywide.

    • The construction would provide a significant amount of work for local contractors.

  • $50 million (or 5 $10 millions) - Establish a Career Opportunity Scholarship Fund

    • Improve the outlook for long term job opportunities for 2,500 students who might not otherwise pursue a degree or certification after high school.

    • Provide scholarships, for a 2-year degree at St. Petersburg College, including transportation cost.

  • $1.25 billion (or 125 $10 millions) - Upgrades to road, water, sewer and storm-water systems (estimated costs - $700 million), and other high priority city needs including other opportunities to fulfill broken promises.

Is the community benefits package enough? No!  Because the Rays/Hines deal is not a fair deal for St. Petersburg.



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