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Bankers Financial to move HQ back to downtown St. Pete
By Ashley Gurbal Kritzer
Tampa Bay Business Journal
Published: Jul 9, 2024

Bankers Financial Group is moving back to downtown St. Petersburg after signing a major sublease deal in Duke Energy's office tower on First Avenue North.

Bankers has signed a 10-year lease for 54,000 square feet at 299 First Ave. N., the Tampa Bay Business Journal has learned. The company will vacate its suburban headquarters at 11101 Roosevelt Blvd. N.

“We are really excited about returning to downtown,” Bankers Chairman and CEO Dr. John Strong said in a statement. “We previously had our offices in downtown until 2007, so this move represents both a return to our roots and a step into the future. We will be placing our employees into an exciting modern-designed office right in the heart of St. Pete’s vibrant downtown. And because we stress a culture of community involvement, this will create more opportunities for our people to engage with the community.”

Brent Miller and David Green of JLL Inc. represented Duke Energy in the transaction; Chris Butler of Franklin Street represented Bankers Financial. A 54,000-square-foot office lease is more than quintuple the size of the average office deal in this market. Since 2015, 60% of all office leases in this market have been under 10,000 square feet, according to data JLL released in the third quarter of 2023.

Duke Energy controls the entirety of the 226,798-square-foot office tower, which is home to its Florida headquarters, through a long-term lease. The tower was built in 2006, property records show.

The utility said in a statement that it "continually looks for opportunities to operate in the most efficient way possible, which includes optimizing our flexible and collaborative office spaces with the ultimate goal being to benefit and better serve our customers and employees."

"As a result, we are subleasing three floors of our building at our Florida Regional Headquarters in St. Petersburg to Bankers Financial," a spokesperson for Duke said in a statement. "While the overall impact to our teammates should be minimal, we are excited to support the vitality of downtown with the addition of this new business."

Bankers, which is a holding company for insurance companies Bankers Insurance Group, Bankers Surety and Maverick, was headquartered in downtown St. Pete before it moved to Roosevelt Boulevard.

It will cut its office size nearly in half with the move; it occupied 100,000 square feet in the Roosevelt building. But the move is evidence of a larger trend in commercial real estate, in which office tenants downsize their space to move to modern properties in a mixed-use environment like downtown St. Petersburg.

Downtown St. Pete has long been known for its arts and food scenes and luxury condo towers, but corporate leaders have taken note of the area's appeal in recent years. The total vacancy in St. Pete’s central business district was just under 12% at the end of the first quarter, according to CBRE Group Inc. Several mixed-use projects in the works in St. Pete include office space, including The Residences at 400 Central and The Central.



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