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Big change ahead for downtown St. Pete Raymond James branch

Margie Manning

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Raymond James & Associates at 200 Central

Raymond James & Associates is relocating its downtown St. Petersburg branch office to the top floors of 200 Central, downtown’s tallest office building.

The company will take over the space that once was the corporate headquarters for the former Florida Power. Those floors have been vacant since Third Lake Capital purchased the building in 2017.

Raymond James is leaving about 15,000 square feet on the first two floors of the building, freeing up that space and its prime Central Avenue access for restaurant or retail use.

Third Lake Capital, the investment fund controlled by the owners of Ashley Furniture HomeStores, last month unveiled a multi-million dollar lobby renovation for 200 Central. Ken Jones, president and CEO of Third Lake Capital, said he can’t comment on who will go into the location Raymond James is leaving, but he added “there are more exciting things to come.”

More effective use of space

After the move, Raymond James will have as much as 20,000 square feet available on floors 24, 25 and 26, said Evan Whittle, branch manager and senior vice president, investments.

The three upper floors are accessed from a private elevator, with stairs connecting each of the floors. The company initially plans to use just the 24th and 25th floors, with about 13,500 square feet. Although that’s less square footage than it currently has, the current space was built out piecemeal and it’s not a very effective use of floor planning, Whittle said.

The new space will be gutted and completely rebuilt. “We’ll have three or four more offices and two conference rooms. It’s a much more effective use of space,” Whittle said. All the offices in which clients see advisors will have windows with what Whittle said are “the most spectacular views in Pinellas County.”

Raymond James & Associates, the broker-dealer subsidiary of St. Petersburg-based financial services firm Raymond James Financial (NYSE: RJF),  has been at 200 Central for 20 years. The company has had a Central Avenue address for more than 40 years, Whittle said. The downtown branch currently has about 22 financial advisors, four advisors in a training program, and about 15 support staff.

The move was not based on staff growth but the new space will accommodate more advisors who want to join the firm as well as organic growth, Whittle said.

The company expects to move in the summer or early fall, Whittle said in a letter to clients.

“The only difference is that you’ll eventually be taking the elevator to the top floor to see us,” Whittle wrote.

Vacancy rates cut in half

A tenant like Raymond James in the building attracts other first class tenants, Jones said.

Dynasty Financial Partners, a financial services firm, is relocating its headquarters from Manhattan to St. Petersburg and will lease the entire 15th floor. Synzi, a healthcare technology firm, recently leased the 20th floor while and 360 Advanced, an information security and compliance company, doubled its existing space in 200 Central and soon will occupy the 21st floor.

Vacancy rates have dropped by more than half since the Third Lake purchase.

“We’ve got tremendous interest in the building and are in active discussions for every single square inch of space,” Jones said.

Cushman and Wakefield is marketing about 6,000 square feet on the first floor for restaurant and retail use, said Wendy Giffin, director. Giffin and Barry Hanerfeld, senior vice president, negotiated the new Raymond James lease.

Two restaurants currently are in the building — The Mill, which offers inventive New American food with a Southern spin and craft cocktails, and Craft Kafe, a specialty coffeeshop and café. SoFresh, which makes healthy cooked-to-order food, will open this summer.

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