St. Petersburg-based travel insurance company Squaremouth has sold its HQ building, which encompasses an entire city block on Central Avenue.
Squaremouth Inc. sold the property to Delaware-based Azzam Properties Corp. several weeks ago in a $1.86 million deal. The property was initially listed for $3.9 million.
Squaremouth purchased the property at 4355 Central Ave. in 2017 for $1.4 million to build its headquarters. Squaremouth was going to bring a Silicon Valley-inspired design to the property with building treehouses connected by rope bridges, with climbing walls and fire poles as entrance and exit points on the property. There were plans to also convert the historic “old sanctuary” into a public coffee shop and co-working space, the St. Pete Catalyst previously reported.
However, the workplace culture changed especially during the pandemic – causing the need for existing and additional office space to be scraped.
“We transitioned to a fully remote workforce last March at the onset of the Covid-19 pandemic, and have found success in doing so. We are remaining remote for the foreseeable future and have no need for the office spaces,” a spokeswoman for Squaremouth told the St. Pete Catalyst.
Additionally, the group is not renewing its lease at the downtown St. Pete location in the Northern Trust building, at 100 2nd Ave. S. Squaremouth played a key part in garnering interest in the downtown St. Petersburg scene when it took over the penthouse of the former City Center in 2012.
The future of the former Squaremouth property
The unique 1.65-acre property was the site of a church and school, from the 1940s. The site has 73,000 square feet of land and over 20,000 square feet of buildings.
Since listing the property in March 2020, it was under contract four times, said Nick Fraser, a broker with the RE/MAX All Star group who represented Squaremouth.
“People expected it to be move-in ready for a corporate HQ, but it needed some work,” he said.
The buildings include a large chapel, offices, school rooms, kitchen, large community room, a courtyard and a large parking lot.
There is a city alley that could potentially be vacated, which would add 10,000 square feet, according to the advertisement of the property listing.
The site is currently zoned as CRT-1, which means it can be redeveloped into townhomes, condominiums, apartments and mixed-use buildings, with a density of 60 units per acre.
The lots consist of different sanctuaries and a single-family home and parking lot on 1st Ave N. The old sanctuary piece of the property (West end on Central) is designated as historic and is zoned to allow alcohol/food sale uses.
The buying entity Azzam Properties Corp. is known to purchase multi-family properties and could redevelop the site into apartments. The group also recently purchased a home on 41st Street in St. Pete.
When Squaremouth purchased the property, it invested about $578,000 in repairs, including new windows and a new roof.
The firm also vied for zoning changes and historic designations to allow adaptive re-use of the 1940s structures.