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Beam signing marks milestone for ARK Innovation Center

Veronica Brezina

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St. Petersburg Mayor Ken Welch, commissioner Janet Long, ARK Invest CEO and founder Cathie Wood (centered left). were among those inking the beam, marking the topping out of the ARK Innovation Center. All images: City of St. Petersburg/TBIC.

Columns, poured floors and installed beams are vertically in place at the southwest corner of 4th Street South and 11th Avenue – creating the foundation of the new ARK Innovation Center.

St. Petersburg Mayor Ken Welch, ARK Invest founder and CEO Cathie Wood and Cynthia Johnson, director of the Pinellas County Economic Development department, alongside others, “signed the beam” Jan. 20, marking the topping out of the new ARK Innovation Center, which will be the new home of the Tampa Bay Innovation Center. 

The topping out of a structure with the signed beam indicates the final step in the vertical construction, as work continues for the interior buildout and infrastructure. 

“This business incubator will be a boon for the community and future tenants who are opening new businesses and creating jobs,” Welch wrote in a Facebook post, sharing images of the event. 

The center will be a 45,000-square-foot facility on the donated city land. The county is spearheading the project and is working with Dunedin-based Bandes Construction and The Beck Group on completing the center this year. 

The ARK Innovation Center site as of January 2023. 

The county was awarded a Federal Economic Development Administration (EDA) grant to construct the business incubator, which costs over $16 million. 

The beam signing event comes after county commissioners recently approved providing an additional $4 million through the county’s Employment Sites Program (ESP) to help fund the project. 

When it opens, it will have 30,000 square feet on the first floor for incubator companies. ARK Research will be located in the anchor tenant space, and the ARK Foundation will have an office on the third floor with TBIC, according to Ken Evans, the managing director at TBIC. 

The center will also have 2,000 square feet for a prototyping lab, a 200-person event space, a café, two dedicated classrooms and podcast studios. 

A rendering of the center.  

The programming will be tailored to businesses within the information technology, analytics, health care, life and marine sciences, and advanced manufacturing sectors.

TBIC President and CEO Tonya Elmore previously said there’s a waiting list for potential tenants and hinted that one is a “well-branded company that wants to put its innovation arm” in the center.

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