Pinellas envisions mega-shopping complex, possible stadium for Rays

11:38 PM, Feb 9, 2010   |    comments
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ST. PETERSBURG, Florida - The vision is grand for the once dumped-upon land.

The St. Petersburg Planning and Visioning Commission voted unanimously on Tuesday to get behind a developer's plan that would build a community on the 247-acre Toytown landfill site near I-275 and Roosevelt Blvd.  The plans would include a light rail stop, a large amount of homes, offices and retail space, as well as a possible new stadium for the Tampa Bay Rays.

Toytown, named for an old subdivision, was a dumping ground from 1961-1990.  It was covered with soil and has a small amount of environmental concerns, which will be addressed, but its location in the Gateway region is considered prime real estate in an area that has a shortage of high-end retail options.

Developer Bill Tippman with Tippman Holdings, LLC says the complex would be a more-modern, more-open version of Tampa's International Plaza or Westshore Plaza.  He also said if the economy continues to improve, their $870 million project could create 800-900 full-time jobs as it's created over 10 years.

"There is potential that retail on this property could generate $1 billion a year in retail sales," Tippman said.

Pinellas County currently owns Toytown but would hand it over to the developer for next-to-nothing if Tippman follows through on development plans and assumes responsibility for any environmental problems.  Tippman said he didn't expect any, and any construction would need approval from the Florida Department of Environmental Protection.

As for the stadium idea, 70 acres of the project are expected to be reserved for "recreation/civic" use.  Tippman said his firm had a stadium in mind and, when the time comes, he would be willing to talk to the city and the Rays about it.

Modern baseball stadiums are built on about 20 acres of land with another 40-50 often used for parking and associated businesses.

"If (Toytown) is chosen as the (stadium) site," said Pinellas Co. Commissioner Calvin Harris, "you (could) have people who can come from the South, the North, and the East in a short amount of time."

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Noah Pransky, 10 Connects

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