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Dynasty CEO discusses potential site for new HQ, innovation hub

Veronica Brezina

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Shirl Penney, founder, President and CEO of Dynasty (left), and Steve Case, founder and CEO of Revolution LLC (right). Photo: Dynasty Financial Partners.

St. Petersburg-based wealth management firm Dynasty wants to transform a dirt lot used as parking for the Rays into a live-work-play development that would recruit tech companies. 

A group consisting of Dynasty Financial Partners, ARK Invest and GF Investments was one of the additional six collaboratives that submitted a proposal to purchase the city-owned, 2-acre undeveloped land at 910 2nd Ave. South.

Under Dynasty’s proposal, the firm would offer the city $6.25 million to purchase the site. It intends to build 60,000-90,000 square feet of Class A office space, which would serve as the headquarters for Dynasty, and potentially the HQ for Cathie Wood’s ARK Invest firm; 400 residential units that will include a combination of affordable housing; and notably, an innovation and recruiting hub among other components. 

“There’s not a reason why the Tampa Bay region cannot become a wealth management hub. This is an opportunity to anchor two of the city’s biggest brands,” Shirl Penney, founder and CEO of Dynasty Financial Partners, told the St. Pete Catalyst

The entire grand vision may cost anywhere from $140 million to $160 million to develop.

A rendering from Dynasty Financial Partners. City of St. Petersburg documents.

Dynasty, which relocated from New York to St. Petersburg in 2019, is based in the 200 Central office tower, which is also where  Wood’s ARK Invest firm is headquartered. 

While the new opportunity to purchase the land in the 900 Block surfaced this month, Dynasty had eyed potential sites for expansion before the Covid-19 pandemic began. 

“We are now the largest independent wealth management platform services company and one of the fastest-growing wealth technology businesses in the country. Over time, we are going to acquire companies and we need more space to consolidate them here,” Penney said.

“From the start, we came into town thinking about making this type of investment in this community. During the pandemic, like most companies, we focused on our people and clients. As things started to rebound, we decided to dust off where we left off.” 

Penney became aware of the opportunity to purchase this site after Atlas Real Estate Partners made an unsolicited bid to buy it to build a 10-story development. The unsolicited bid from Atlas triggered an open process for others to submit proposals. 

Penney, who referred to Wood as a good friend and “incredible entrepreneur,” said he knew she also needed a larger physical space.  

Sources familiar with Wood’s lease at 200 Central told the Catalyst she was going to quickly outgrow the space, but she wanted the business to remain in St. Petersburg. 

(Left to right) Josh Brown, CNBC Halftime Report and co-founder and CEO of Ritholtz Wealth Management, Shirl Penney, founder, President and CEO of Dynasty, and Cathie Wood, founder and CEO of ARK Invest, at Dynasty’s Investment Forum in Nashville in November 2021. Photo courtesy Dynasty Financial Partners.

In the proposal, Dynasty listed Wood as a “potential investor” and stated Dynasty along with ARK Invest and Third Lake Partners, which owns 200 Central, would be involved in the innovation hub piece of the project. Steve Case, known for co-founding America Online (AOL) and running Revolution, a Washington, DC-based investment firm that now backs entrepreneurs, would also be a contributor. 

“We are deliberately creating a development with the excess capacity not just for the future of our home, but we are adding more commercial real estate space for the city to recruit tech-focused companies. The companies can get mentorship from Steve Case and leverage the research of ARK,” Penney said. 

Penney also made calls to Lonny Sweet of The Connect Group, a New Jersey-based premier culinary marketing agency. 

The duo spoke on the potential of Iron Chef and Michelin star holder Marc Forgione of New York and Chef Michelle Bernstein, a James Beard Foundation Award-winning chef, bringing their culinary concepts to the development. 

“Forgione is really excited about doing something in St. Pete that fits his brand, and Bernstein is one of the hottest chefs in Florida. This is going to create a destination. My hope is that this will tie in and create more enthusiasm for the Trop site redevelopment,” Penney said. 

Penney said there have been discussions about adding a high-end club for business members in the building. They also discussed incorporating a rooftop bar.

While the development would focus on innovation and fresh restaurant concepts, a housing option was a critical key aspect Penney wanted to include. 

“The city can use this development as an asset to recruit companies. We want to have a residential component with an affordable housing option. I was thinking about it from an employee perspective to create a live-work-play environment,” he said. 

When asked what could potentially happen if the city does not select Dynasty’s proposal, Penney said the firm is bullish on growing in St. Petersburg and right now is fully focused on the site. 

“If we are selected, we will quickly start working with the city and team,” he said. 

Dynasty would also form a mutually agreeable parking plan to provide sufficient parking to satisfy the requirements in the Rays stadium plaza lot lease without negatively impacting the visual appeal of the neighborhood.

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    Ray

    December 14, 2021at5:48 pm

    Great op to anchor two of the Burg’ biggest brands partnering & networking with heavy hitters starting a tech hub, world class resto, housing, and will attract more big, bright companies & names that will continue to make St. Pete an awesome destination for awesome live, work & play. Love it & look forward to seeing come to fruition here or another city sight downtown. Thanks all involve, for their vision, aspirations, beliefs” and wherewithal.

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