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2020 Annual Report

February 1, 2021



2020 Annual Report

We focus on big-picture, long-rage issues and work to form a shared vision for our future – inspired by thought leadership, national models and local sensibilities. We recognize the relationship between successful cities and green space, higher education, art, transit, data-based decisions, preservation, equity and a balanced approach to economically sustainable development. 


In the midst of a turbulent year in 2020, we pivoted to focus on projects designed to mitigate the impacts of COVID-19. Our goal was to ensure downtown’s continued growth during a year of economic uncertainty. 

  • Pandemic Planning. We hosted calls with political leaders and health officials to give our members actionable information to make smart decisions. Pandemic update calls were held for all our members with Speaker of the Florida House, Chris Sprowls; Sen. Jeff Brandes; Rep. Ben Diamond and Dr. Ulyee Choe, Director of the Florida Department of Health in Pinellas County. We also provided weekly updates from our government relations partners national, state and local pandemic response efforts.
  • Fighting Chance Fund. In support of the St. Petersburg City’s Fighting Chance Fund, we funded a $25,000 contribution and matched it with The Penny Hoarder and other St. Pete companies to raise $75,000 to support small local businesses. We also provided direct financial support to USF St. Petersburg and St. Petersburg College to assist students impacted by COVID-19.
  • Diversity, Equity and Inclusion. We sponsored two community-wide diversity, equity and inclusion web seminars: Equity Amid Crisis and Allies, Actors, Accomplices. We continued sponsoring the African American Heritage Trail trolley tours and provided community development support for the Deuces Live. We contributed to funds help early-stage minority start-ups. We also funded a new website,, to support digital inclusion throughout our community.
  • Leadership Lunches. Unable to meet in person, we hosted four virtual Leadership Lunches focused on the new St. Pete Pier; the new Dean of the USF College of Marine Science, Tom Frazer; the new leadership team at Bayfront Health St. Petersburg, President John Moore and CFO LaTasha Barnes; and the new PSTA’s autonomous vehicles in downtown St. Pete with PSTA CEO Brad Miller.
  • Other Districts. We provided ongoing financial support for the Innovation District and a $25,000 contribution to an education center in the Warehouse Arts District.
  • Comprehensive Arts Strategy. In October, we launched a Comprehensive Arts Strategy with the St. Petersburg Arts Alliance and City of St. Pete to build our arts economy and support artists and arts organizations in a post COVID-19 world. Actionable strategies from this effort will be launched in April 2021.
  • Thought Leadership. We continued to author the St. Pete 2.0 community surveys on and provide support to the urban development site We have also served on the Tropicana Field Owners Representative Selection Committee, the Bloomberg Harvard City Leadership Initiative for St. Petersburg focused on equitable development of Tropicana Field and the search for a new Dean at the USF College of Marine Science.
  • Existing Programs. We have continued to provide support to the USF College of Marine Science, Car-Free St. Pete, operation of free downtown Looper Trolley and published the 2021 Development Guide. We continued work with a Developers Council made up of dozens of developers who are committed to supporting smart public policy initiatives that will help our community continue to prosper.


In a post COVID-19 world, St. Peterburg is in an enviable position as a compact, arts focused, sun-filled city on Florida’s Gulf Coast. We benefit from a booming urban economy that fuels our downtown hospitality sector and increasing numbers of creative entrepreneurs who choose to live and work in downtown. 

Our existing strengths will be amplified by new demographic and business trends. We recognize significant opportunities to build on a business and lifestyle culture that emphasizes collaboration, outdoor activities, support for art, technology, financial services, marine science, burgeoning start-up culture and a commitment to diversity, equity and inclusion. 

Building on these strengths, the Board of the Downtown Partnership has identified six priorities for 2021. Our board has also underscored our long commitment to equity and inclusion. We are working to incorporate specific equity action items into every priority while ensuring our board and staff represent the diversity of our community.  

2021 SPDP Priorities and Strategies


  • Continue to manage and operate the Lopper Group
  • Support the DTSP Mobility Study
  • Support the SunRunner Transit Oriented Development Study
  • Continue to promote Car-Free St. Pete


  • Produce the 2022 Development Guide, focusing on post-COVID lifestyle trends and equity
  • Host 12 Developers Council meetings focus on leading edge urban development issues
  • Work with national thought leaders to understand post-COVID office needs
  • Develop a plan for growing St. Pete’s tech start-up ecosystem and culture


  • Advocate for flexibility, long-range thinking and honoring the complex history of Tropicana Field
  • Facilitate data collection regarding the right size and amenities for any new conference facility
  • Build trust and shared understanding about pros and cons of development in Salt Creek
  • Support political leaders to advocate for a new courthouse in the Mirror Lake neighborhood
  • Work with political leaders and NOAA administrators to develop research facilities in St. Pete
  • Support the I-Mix up zoning strategy as described in StPete2050 for the Warehouse Arts District
  • Work to preserve and enhance the Waterfront Park System
  • Balance the interests of developers with historic preservation


  • Convene commercial real estate professionals to support workforce programs
  • Support USF St. Petersburg campus in strengthening existing outreach programs
  • Convene business, political, education and community leaders about workforce needs
  • Prioritize and manage expectations related to academic clusters at USF St. Petersburg campus


  • Facilitate conversations with business leaders about building a cultural commerce brand
  • Support independent retailers and restaurants who define the persona of our urban center


  • Develop actionable and measurable plans to build on St. Pete’s arts infrastructure and economy

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