After 36 years downtown, the St. Petersburg law firm Abbey Adams is relocating across the city to the Skyway Marina District.
The move, taking effect June 25, is a coup for the chronically underdeveloped strip of south 34th Street, which has been actively – and not always successfully – trying to recruit new business.
Currently based in the BB&T building on Central and 4th Street, Abbey Adams’ new headquarters will consist of the top two floors – the 8th and 9th – of the Ceridian tower, the centerpiece of the landscaped 51-acre business “campus” created for original tenant Florida Power in 1971.
“Downtown is booming, and wonderful, and there’s so much going on down here now,” explains partner Jeff Adams, who spearheaded the hunt for a new location. “But it’s a little difficult for parking for clients sometimes. And there aren’t many options, building-wise, for office space downtown.”
The firm, which specializes in civil litigation, with the primary focus on defense of insurance companies, self-insureds, businesses and individuals, stayed downtown by perpetually renewing a 10-year lease.
The view out the window hasn’t changed in a long, long time.
“The Skyway Marina District’s like the hottest thing going in St. Pete,” Adams raves. “Once we get moved in, we’re very excited about being down there.”
ABR Information Services bought the aging office complex at 3201 34th Street South in 2000, spending more than $20 million on renovations. Before ABR moved in, the company was itself purchased by Minneapolis-based Ceridian Benefits Services.
Now known as Ceridian HCM Holdings Inc., the Minneapolis-based software development company employs 750 people at the Skyway Marina District complex.
The district’s potential as a key business corridor emerged in 2015, when Kobie Marketing and Jabil Inc. – the Bay Area-based electronics giant – moved into available Ceridian office space.
Jabil signed a three-year lease for 51,000 square feet; 350 employees are based – for now – at the Ceridian site.
In February, Jabil CEO Mark Mondello announced the company’s intention to rebuild and expand its existing headquarters in St. Petersburg’s northeastern Gateway area, near Roosevelt Boulevard, ending speculation that the company might acquire a more centralized site downtown and build there.
For Abbey Adams, Ceridian is the perfect fit. “It’s close to the Interstate, and that was one of our priorities for the practice,” Adams explains. “We need to be near the Interstate to go north, south or east. We’d looked at some lots down south to build on, we looked at other spaces in the Skyway Marina District.
“But it’s just a whole different feel, a whole different atmosphere. You know, they say it has a ‘campus feel’ – I was thinking ‘yeah, yeah, nice marketing.’ But as I got into my car I thought ‘Holy cow, did I just experience that?’ It’s very relaxed. It put me in a different mood.
“And when we brought the partners and the staff out there, they felt the same way.”