Inside the $300 million Moffitt Cancer Center campus in St. Petersburg • St Pete Catalyst

St. Petersburg is set to see the first-ever Moffitt Cancer Center in its backyard, which will bring a caliber of medical and research expertise as part of a planned new development.

The team at the H. Lee Moffitt Cancer Research and Research Institute presented their plans Friday night at the first public meeting of the Community Benefits Agreement (CBA) advisory committee. The committee was formed to examine the social and community impact of major projects receiving significant public funding under the ABC program that St. Pete approved late last year.

Conceptual renderings of Moffitt’s planned St. Petersburg campus.

Moffitt plans to develop a 4.59 acre site at 800 1st Ave. S. in downtown St. Pete into a 75,000 square foot cancer center that would be three stories tall next to a 30-story residential tower. Moffitt and his partner, Atlanta-based developer TPA Group, also plan to build a potential 14-story hotel development and parking lot with 300 publicly accessible parking spaces.

Moffitt’s proposed development must be submitted to the ABC’s advisory committee, as the estimated value of the property is $24 million, which is significantly higher than Moffitt’s offer of $5 million. Moffitt is also requesting an exemption, according to city officials.

“We want to bring a mini Moffitt main campus to the St. Pete community. With the exception of on-site surgery, you can expect a full NCI full suite [National Cancer Institute]level of care,” Matt Bednar, vice president of ambulatory and virtual care operations at Moffitt, said during the meeting.

The three levels inside Moffitt’s St. Pete Cancer Treatment Center.

Last year, Moffitt submitted his unsolicited proposal to the city to purchase the site. Former St. Petersburg Mayor Rick Kriseman selected Moffitt’s proposal after receiving additional proposals from other groups vying to buy the land to develop a mix of projects, from apartments to office towers and hotels.

Key takeaways and areas of concern discussed at Moffitt’s project meeting:

  • Several participants spoke of the urgent need for more affordable housing and how Moffitt and TPA should increase the amount. Representatives for Moffitt and TPA said the project initially had less workforce housing in the 350-unit tower and they increased it by up to 15%, explaining that it must be capped at a certain amount to be financially viable.
  • The Moffitt Cancer Center will provide services in radiation therapy, advanced imaging and screening, phase 2 and 3 clinical trials, medical oncology, hematological oncology, radiation therapy, infusion and diagnostics. Although Moffitt will offer these services and consultations, it will not offer outpatient and inpatient surgeries. A representative for Moffitt said the site did not have enough space to support surgery services and patients would have to travel to the main campus.
  • Moffitt Cancer Center operations will bring 260 new jobs to St. Petersburg. During construction, the group will employ 3,500 construction workers with a 20% diversity inclusion. The contract will be placed by Horus Construction, which has a long-standing relationship with Moffitt and mentors contractors through an apprenticeship program.
  • The public has expressed concern about health disparities faced by minorities. Susan Vadaparampil, associate director of Moffitt’s Center for Community Awareness, Engagement and Equity, said Moffitt is aware of these disparities and has financial assistance programs and community benefits.
  • Moffitt representatives said they are funding infrastructure improvements, including sewer upgrades, which will cost about $6 million, and roadway overhauls. A meeting attendee said these improvements benefit Moffitt and the project specifically, but not the community as a whole.
  • The St. Petersburg chapter of Sickle Cell Disease Association of America founder Mary Murph shared how she could work with Moffitt because there is a huge disparity in sickle cell disease care and research. Several attendees expressed concern that Moffit did not appropriately acknowledge Murph’s comments. Gypsy Gallardo, chair of the ABC’s advisory board, said she was contacting Murph about creating a certification program for healthcare workers.

After the presentation, Gallardo said she enjoyed questions from attendees, hearing from some of the region’s leading black entrepreneurs about business opportunities, seeing a diverse crowd, and a speaker’s suggestion to incorporate art into the project. which pays homage to the Quartier Végétale gas, among other topics.

She also talked about her dislikes.

“I really don’t like the exemption talk,” Gallardo said. “I don’t think you all are in a position or need an exemption.”

She went on to say that she had met some of the partners involved.

“We as a community do not want to see the first project covered by this policy exempt from this process,” Gallardo said. “With the package you bring, I honestly don’t think you won’t need it…we’re not here to slow the pace of development, we want as much economic impact in our city and community as possible. ”

St. Petersburg Mayor Ken Welch attended the meeting and thanked the public for attending, but did not comment directly on the project.

A conceptual rendering of Moffitt’s planned campus in St. Petersburg.

The inner fabric

Nate Pramik, director of TPA Development, explained to the crowd that this project has been in the works for a long time.

He said Mark Stroud, chairman of the Stroud Group, called him and they met in person to go over the vision for the site.

“We were puzzled that UPC Insurance [United Insurance Holdings Corp.] controls the property through a 65-year lease. As the property stands today, it is undeveloped,” said Pramik, adding that without the UPC company, this project would not be feasible.

Pramik said the UPC planned to build a new headquarters at the site, but due to the pandemic, it halted those plans. However, Moffitt’s team is booking space for a potential future site of UPC’s new headquarters, which was included in the original proposal.

Pramik and Stroud approached Moffitt about the possibility of a cancer center in St. Pete.

“When we started that conversation, the project really took off and the viability of the project started to make a lot of sense. The mixed-use nature of the project started to materialize,” he said.

The organizations are also working with Barr and Barr, Alfonso Architects and civil engineering firm George F. Young Inc. on the project.

The group told the St. Pete Catalyst he hopes to close on the property by the end of the summer.

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