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Firm Could Put Station, Development Near Rays Ybor City Ballpark

Tampa Bay Rays Ybor City ballpark rendering 3

A Miami-based firm is reportedly looking at sites near a proposed Tampa Bay Rays ballpark in Ybor City, with intentions of constructing a rail station and development. 

Brightline, a Miami-based railroad and development firm, could end up winning a state bid to develop high-speed passenger rail service that would run between Orlando and Tampa. It remains to be seen whether the company will win the bid, but it is reportedly already evaluating sites for a downtown Tampa terminus.

Several options are apparently in the mix, and it could ultimately lead to a terminus being constructed near the 14-acre site that is targeted for the Rays’ proposed ballpark in Ybor City. While it remains to be seen whether the concept could become a reality, having a terminus near the ballpark would not only improve access but have could also have implications on surrounding development. More from the Tampa Bay Times:

Among the sites that have caught the interest of Brightline are Tampa Union Station, Tampa Park Apartments and the old jail site on North Morgan Street, officials said.

That could put a new rail terminus within walking distance of a new Tampa Bay Rays ballpark proposed for Ybor City. And with Brightline subsidizing railroad cost by cashing in on development around stations, it could make the area just north of the Channel District a potential new hub of downtown’s expansion.

“They’re real estate developers,” said Bob McDonaugh, Tampa’s administrator for economic opportunity, who recently met with Brightline officials. “If a station is well-sited, it does create real estate opportunities.”

Florida Gov. Rick Scott announced last month that the state will consider bids to revive the rail project that was considered dormant after Scott in 2011 turned down $2.4 billion in federal funding for the same project.

It came after Brightline submitted an unsolicited bid to build and run the service from the Orlando International Airport Intermodal Terminal into downtown Tampa.

Keep in mind that these concepts are very preliminary at this point. While it remains to be seen whether Brightline will win the bid and which site option it will choose for a Tampa terminus if it does so, it is also uncertain whether the Rays’ new ballpark will become a reality. Last month, the team unveiled the concept for a new ballpark in Ybor City. The plan calls for the fixed translucent roof ballpark to be constructed as part of an $890 million project, and replace Tropicana Field in St. Petersburg as the team’s home. However, the Rays and local government will have to figure how to pay for the new ballpark and what the parties involved will contribute financially.

That being said, the potential for a nearby rail terminus would certainly provide a boost to the ballpark in terms of access. It could also be another draw for development, a key aspect given that local officials hope a new Ybor City ballpark could help lead to development in the surrounding area. The ballpark is being pitched for a 14-acre site north of Ybor Channel.

Rendering courtesy Tampa Bay Rays.

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