ST. PETERSBURG, FL — After months of negotiations, Mayor Ken Welch has rejected a development proposal from Moffitt Cancer Center for the 800 block of 1st Avenue South in St. Petersburg.

He found the cancer center’s proposed facility “does not provide sufficient community benefit,” according to a news release from the city. The proposal went through the vetting process by the Community Benefits Advisory Council as part of the city’s Community Benefits Agreement process.

Welch’s administration didn’t feel that the project met the city’s goals for affordable and workforce housing developed on city-owned land. Moffitt’s initial proposal for the 75,000-square-foot project included 10 percent affordable housing, which grew to 15 percent and 17.5 percent during negotiations, the city said.

Moffit’s final proposal called for 400 residential units with 70 affordable and workforce housing units, half reserved for those earning at or below 80 percent the area median income and half for those earning at or below 120 percent AMI, the city said.

“I appreciate the TPA/Moffitt team’s work to increase the level of community benefits within their proposal. However, our city faces continued challenges with affordable and workforce housing access, and community consensus is clear on the priority of housing as a component of equitable economic development,” Welch said.

He added, “We must ensure we are strategically and equitably utilizing city assets to respond to community needs. This decision reflects my administration’s intentionality on the issue of equitable economic development.”

Mayor Rick Kriseman initially moved the project, an unsolicited proposal from Moffitt, forward in November 2021, the city said. It was identified as a CBA project earlier this year in February and the initial community meeting about it was held May 13.

The full CBAC met June 27 to discuss the project and unanimously approved it Aug. 1 for further negotiation with Welch’s administration. His team met with the developer Wednesday to discuss the affordable and workforce housing component of the project, according to the city.

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