Photo: Nathan Ray Seebeck/USA Today Sports
Southwest Florida Roundup
Last year, the Philadelphia Phillies spent $22.5 million to buy a strip mall just south of BayCare Ballpark, the 8,500-seat stadium where the team hosts spring training games and the Phillies-affiliated Clearwater Threshers play single-A Florida State League games. Now, after holding private meetings with Clearwater city officials, the Phillies’ plans for the 13-acre shopping center site are coming into focus.
The team, which has made Clearwater its spring training home since 1947, is planning a $250-million investment in the property, tearing down the strip mall and developing a mixed-use project called Ball Park Village that would include residential, dining and retail components.
“I am very excited about the possibilities of the Ballpark Village,” says Brian Aungst Sr., Clearwater’s interim mayor. “It will be transformative to that important section of the U.S. 19 corridor, an area that the city has identified as a redevelopment priority. A $250-million private investment by the organization will generate a sizable tax base and bring important economic activities to an area that needs it.”
The team, according to Aungst, also wants a $320-million upgrade to 19-year-old BayCare Ballpark, which is owned by the city. The proposed upgrades include 2,000 more seats, an event space overlooking centerfield and a two-story pool area. The project would also include improvements to the Phillies’ practice and training facilities adjacent to the stadium.
- WellnessLiving, a Toronto software firm, has opened an office in Tampa, where it says it will fill 45 jobs in IT, software development, sales, marketing, account management and recruitment.
- Erin Silk is the new president and CEO of the Economic Development Corp. of Sarasota County. She replaced Lisa Krouse, who retired. Silk joined the EDC in 2019 and was most recently the group’s vice president of business development services.
- The Clearwater City Council authorized design plans for a new 41,679-sq.-ft. city hall and a renovation of a nearby municipal services building. The estimated construction cost is nearly $45 million.
- Nearing the cap of Zephyrhills’ water-use permit, the Zephyrhills City Council approved a one-year moratorium on new development. The city’s water-use permit with the Southwest Florida Water Management District allows it to use 3.3 million gallons of water a day, but the city is nearing that amount and growth estimates indicate the city will need more than 4 million gallons a day over the next 20 years.
- Moffitt Cancer Center opened a 10-story, 498,000-sq.-ft. hospital on more than 20 acres near its existing facilities in north Tampa. The hospital includes 128 beds and 19 operating rooms. The cancer center also opened an 850-sq.-ft. resource center at Port Tampa Bay to serve cruise passengers and maritime workers. Meanwhile, W. Gregory Sawyer is the inaugural chair of Moffitt Cancer Center’s new department of bioengineering, which will utilize engineering principles to bolstercancer discovery and therapy.Sawyer previously was a professor of mechanical engineering at the University of Florida and was also a member of the original Mars Rover design team at NASA’s Jet Propulsion Laboratory.
- The Pinellas County School Board wants to convert the site of the Tomlinson building in downtown St. Petersburg into a 225-unit apartment building with 113 units reserved for county school teachers and staff. The historic building opened in 1924 as St. Petersburg Junior High and became a vocational school in 1931. To qualify for the reduced monthly rents — which will range from $1,263 to $2,160, according to estimates — the teachers and staff would have to earn between 90-120% of the surrounding area’s median income.
- Jacaranda Place, a $20.2-million assisted and supportive living facility in Port Charlotte, has opened with 88 units.
- Site prep and construction are underway on the Vantage, a 17-story, 229-unit apartment complex in Fort Myers.
- Sysco, a nationwide food distributor based in Houston, announced plans to build a $65-million, 504,000-sq.-ft. distribution center in Plant City. The facility is projected to bring about 200 jobs.
- Julie Redcay was named CEO of the National Association of Police Athletic/Activities Leagues, which works on reducing juvenile crime through more than 200 chapters nationwide. Redcay was previously senior director of federal grants at Big Brothers Big Sisters of America, which is headquartered in Tampa.
- David Oliver, who had been the senior vice president for finance, controller and chief accounting officer, at Fort Myers-based Chico’s FAS, has been named CFO. He replaced Patrick Guido, who resigned after being CFO since 2021.