Sunday, Dec 21, 2014

New corporate HQ part of growth in north St. Pete

BY JOSH BOATWRIGHT Tribune staff
Published:   |   Updated: May 22, 2013 at 10:05 AM

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ST. PETERSBURG -

The completion of a multimillion-dollar corporate headquarters in the city's Gateway area Tuesday is a good sign that the area's economic recovery is gaining momentum, city officials said.

American Strategic Insurance's new three-story, 11,000-square-foot headquarters near the intersection of Gandy Boulevard and Dr. Martin Luther King Jr. Street North is the first phase of a $42-million expansion by the St. Petersburg-based insurer.

Work on a second building for the company's partner, e-INS, is already under way and should be finished next year.

Within a few miles of the new office, construction crews are already busy at work building about 900 units of residential apartments to house a growing work force in north St. Petersburg, home to large employers such as Jabil and Raymond James.

The cranes and work crews on the site of American Strategic Insurance's new headquarters over the past year helped spark some of the nearby development, Mayor Bill Foster said Tuesday at a ribbon-cutting ceremony.

“There's a renewed confidence in the economy of St. Petersburg,” Foster said.

Last year, American Strategic Insurance bought the 13-acre property where there once stood a fading K-Mart and Sears.

The company had an ambitious plan to build its new headquarters before the start of hurricane season June 1.

The modern building has a soaring open-air lobby that reaches to the third-floor and a variety of amenities for the company's 275 employees, including a gym. The next phase of construction will include child care facilities.

The new building is designed to withstand a Category 5 hurricane with 400-pound glass windows.

The building has applied for the U.S. Green Building Council's Leadership in Energy and Environmental Design certification with efficient heat and air conditioning, reduced water usage and other features.

The company has hired 115 people in the past 18 months and is looking to fill 20 more positions, CEO John Auer said.

Since starting in 1997, the company has expanded from its Florida base to sell insurance in 24 states and the District of Columbia and currently has $878 million in written premiums.

“Our new headquarters is a symbol of the company's success and a celebrated milestone,” Auer said.

The new office is also an indicator of what's coming in the gateway area of St. Petersburg.

Just north on Gandy Boulevard, the Ibis Walk development is building 350 apartment units adjacent to a shopping center with businesses such as Tijuana Flats, Verizon and Dollar General.

Apartments are also planned near the intersection of Dr. Martin Luther King Jr. Drive and 118th Avenue North as well as near the Carillon office park.


jboatwright@tampatrib.com

(727) 215-1277

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