In a virtual town hall meeting on Thursday, April 22, St. Petersburg NAACP panelists gave Sugar Hill Community Partners, led by JMA Ventures in San Francisco, top scores for their Tropicana Field redevelopment plan.
Six chosen experts, including Elizabeth Siplin, an NAACP Economic Development Committee Chair, and Bridget Narvaez with Empath Health, ranked the developers from one to four, with four being the lowest place.
Portman Holdings, Third Lake Partners came second, and Miami based Midtown Development ranked third. Unicorp National Development, which operates out of Miami, came in fourth.
“This was just something we did for the community,” said St. Petersburg NAACP President Esther Eugene.
According to Eugene, St. Petersburg NAACP created the panel to give the community insight into the group’s thoughts on the projects shortlisted by the City of St. Petersburg for the Tropicana Field site redevelopment. The original development displaced thousands of African Americans from their neighborhood homes, and businesses for the ballpark, and it’s still unclear whether there may be human burials underneath the current site.
“The St. Petersburg NAACP remains dedicated to its mission to secure the political, educational, social and economic equality of rights in order to eliminate race-based discrimination and ensure the health and well-being of all persons,” reads a press release from the organization.
The branch’s choice, Sugar Hill Community Partners, proposes a man-made urban beach, a potential campus focusing on marine technology research and a convention center.
“The interest was not so much about the key designing features, including a reimagined Booker Creek basin, civic gathering space, convention centers or greenspaces, but more about community benefits,” the press release reads.
Watch for more community updates on the NAACP St. Petersburg Facebook page at fb.com/NAACPBranch5130.