Executives from T. Rowe Price confirmed what many had expected – that it will be several years before the investment giant starts construction on a new regional campus in Pasco County.
Speaking to members of the Pasco Alliance of Community Associations on Thursday night, T. Rowe Price Director of Real Estate Mark Ruhe said the company's "timeline has been extended several years because of the economy."
It's been nearly two years since the Baltimore-based investment firm closed on a 90-acre parcel at the corner of State Road 54 and Sunlake Boulevard for $13.5 million. The 450,000-square-foot complex eventually will employ 1,600 workers, although the first 430 jobs will be moved from its current Tampa operation.
"We will grow at a thoughtful and deliberate pace," Ruhe said. "We are not afraid to buy land and hold it for a long amount of time."
It will likely be more than a decade before the project creates any new jobs.
"It's a little disappointing to hear that it's going to take several years before they move up here," Meadow Pointe resident Daniel Portlatin said.
PACA President Jim Flateau said there were several positive things to take from Ruhe's comments, particularly how complimentary he was of county officials and the community as a whole.
"It's not going to happen tomorrow," Flateau said. "But they want Pasco to know that they intend to be a part of our community for a long time."
Ruhe did drop some hints about how the campus will look once it is designed. He said the company chose the Land O'Lakes site because it allows them to use the same type of site plan as its two other regional campuses in just outside Baltimore and in Colorado Springs.
The complex will consist of three buildings facing a shared courtyard. It will have parking decks and other amenities for employees, such as a cafeteria, onsite training facility, a health club and outdoor green space.
"We want to build places that help us attract and retain the top professionals in the field," John Townsend, vice president and general manager of the Tampa Financial Center, said. "The age group we tend to hire is very interested in green design."
The project will be LEED certified, which means it will meet U.S. Department of Energy's definition for Leadership in Energy and Environmental Design. Ruhe said the exterior would likely feature a great deal of glass, and the buildings would make extensive use of solar technology.
Both of the company's other regional campuses have developed over several years. In each case, the company started construction on the first building about a year after buying the property and on the second building within seven years. T. Rowe Price completed the third phase of its Owings Mills, Md., campus in 2008 – 15 years after buying the property – but it has not expanded the staffing levels to utilize the new offices.
"Owings Mills has significant vacancy now because we opened two new buildings in 2008 – right as the market crashed," Ruhe said.