A 21-acre site in Clearwater will house Pinellas County’s new administrative headquarters with the execution of a $33 million land deal.
During a Nov. 15 Pinellas County Commission meeting, officials cast a 6-to-1 vote to purchase the property at 13600 Icot Blvd. from CD ICOT Properties LLC and build a more centrally located and easily accessible campus.
Today, the county’s 14 facilities, totaling 560,000 square feet, are scattered throughout the downtown core and are “functionally obsolete,” according to a 400-page property assessment report.
“Staying put and doing nothing is not an option. Our buildings were built in the ’60s and ’70s and need basic life and health safety upgrades,” County Administrator Barry Burton said. “The ICOT property not only gives us the opportunity to consolidate our campus, but we are going to have 21 acres to be able to look at future alternatives.”
The ICOT property is developed with a car dealership and a surface parking lot, which the county would demolish to construct the 300,000-plus-square-foot campus.
Real estate consultant CBRE said the overall buildout for the new campus would be between $263 million and $334 million. The estimation is based on the price per square foot and structured parking for the facilities.
The county spends $4 million annually on maintenance for the buildings. Over the next several decades, the county’s spending would total $146 million to keep the existing facilities afloat.
The purchase of the new property, located off Ulmerton Road, would allow the county to sell its aging facilities for an estimated total of $60 to $80 million, according to CBRE. The revenue would help offset the project costs.
The phased construction for the ICOT site may commence in 2025 and be completed by early 2027.
“I don’t think we could’ve picked a better location than this,” Commissioner Kathleen Peters said.
Commissioner Brian Scott made the sole no-vote on the land deal, recommending county staff and consultants to further study other previously proposed site options.
The vote comes after Rob Webster, president of Tampa-based development group Harrod Properties, asked commissioners to reconsider buying the 150,000-square-foot Bardmoor Palms corporate center on Brian Dairy Road.
“When we became aware of the county’s desire to move the facilities from downtown Clearwater, we were immediately interested in learning about how we might be able to help in the decision-making process,” Webster said.
He said the Harrod Properties team was surprised to see the price for the ICOT property site would be north of $1,000 per square foot to build anew while the Bardmoor Palms complex can be reconfigured to meet the county’s needs.
“We estimate the acquisition of BP [Bardmoor Palms] in lieu of the ground-up development would save the county over $100 million. We would even be willing to guarantee this if we were to act as the developer for this project,” Webster said.
He said the county didn’t thoroughly vet the alternative option at a previous workshop meeting and requested the commissioners delay the vote on the $33 million land deal.
However, Lee Ann Korst, CBRE Senior VP of the Southeast region, said that it appears the deal with Harrod Properties would result in spending savings until you “peel back the onion and look at other costs and financial implications.”
For example, an existing manufacturing tenant, bound to a lease through 2025, would have to vacate the commercial property and the county would have to construct a new facility for them.
Overall, the Bardmoor Palms land deal wouldn’t result in “significant savings,” Korst said.