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UPC Insurance scraps plan for new headquarters downtown

Margie Manning

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UPC Insurance currently is headquartered at 800 2nd Ave. S.

United Insurance Holdings Corp. no longer will be building a new headquarters in downtown St. Petersburg.

While there have been strong hints that the company would scrap the project in the past several months, top executives made it official Thursday evening while discussing third quarter financial results with analysts.

United Holdings (Nasdaq: UIHC), a property and casualty insurance company that does business as UPC Insurance, reported a third quarter net loss of $74.1 million, or $1.73 a share, on revenue of $212.7 million. The loss was in large part due to a high number of storms during the three months that ended Sept. 30. That loss included a non-recurring expense of $2.8 million, or 5 cents a share, due to the decision to discontinue the headquarters project, said chairman and CEO Dan Peed.

Dan Peed, chairman and CEO, United Insurance Holdings.

“Covid definitely played a part in reassessing our long term office space needs, but we also want our team 100 percent focused on underwriting results right now, so the costs and distractions from that project have been taken off the table,” said Brad Martz, president and chief financial officer.

UPC Insurance has not responded to a request for additional comment.

The company planned to buy a vacant 4.6 acre parcel at 800 1st Ave. S. owned by the city for $5 million. The site is across the street from UPC’s current headquarters, which it said it had outgrown. At the time UPC announced the new headquarters plan, it said it would add about 300 jobs.

The planned headquarters would have been the first new office construction in the city since 2007.

The city council approved the land sale in May 2019 and the company unveiled renderings of the $91.5 million project, which included a four-story, 150,000-square-foot corporate office building, a 17-story, 180-room hotel and a three-story parking garage. But the land sale was put on hold in September 2019, after environmental contamination was found on the property, in a spot that formerly housed the old Webb’s City drugstore.

The city-owned land where UPC planned its new headquarters is currently used for parking.

Former CEO John Forney left UPC in June 2020, when Peed took over as chairman and CEO. In July, the city council agreed give UPC more time to complete due diligence on the property, extending the deadline to close on the sale to Oct. 15 due to emergency orders and continued uncertainty because of Covid-19.

But on Oct. 22, when the Council heard a presentation on business office space needs in the city, the UPC headquarters was not included in the list of ongoing office construction projects.

Alan DeLisle, city development administrator, declined to make an official comment about the UPC project when the St. Pete Catalyst asked about it a few days later.

After UPC’s announcement, DeLisle said early Friday that the city-owned land is a valuable parcel and the city continues to get inquiries about the site. 

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