LAND O’ LAKES — Two months after T. Rowe Price stunned Pasco officials by announcing it had scrapped plans for a new regional campus on State Road 54, the company is now looking to sell its 90-acre site.
Pasco County Administrator Michele Baker said officials at the Baltimore-based finance company quietly gave her the O.K. to start marketing the property. “What we have here is a pad-ready, incentivized office site at a prime location that’s 20 minutes from the airport,” Baker said. “They are willing to sell to the right user. Obviously, they’re not going to get the same price per acre from a residential developer that they would for offices.”
Company spokesman Brian Lewbart confirmed the understanding with Pasco. “We do not have a target selling price, although we believe it would be prudent business to consider a sale if we received an appropriate offer,” he said.
Lewbart said T. Rowe Price extended the lease on its Tampa headquarters in the West Shore district through 2020.
T. Rowe Price bought the Land O’ Lakes property in 2009 for $13.5 million and planned to build 450,000 square feet of office space there. The company inked the deal after state and local officials pledged $30 million in subsidies and incentives to keep 400 Tampa-based jobs and add up to 1,200 more.
Most of the state-funded road improvements are already underway. The Florida Department of Transportation will spend $18.2 million to widen S.R. 54 from four lanes to six between the Suncoast Parkway and U.S. 41 next year.
The county already spent millions on a new intersection and entrance road at S.R. 54 and Sunlake Boulevard. Chief Assistant County Attorney David Goldstein said Pasco was supposed to get reimbursed by the state for that as a part of the incentives for T. Rowe Price.
“It’s up in the air now as to whether we’re going to get that money back,” he said. “If we’re able to get a new user in there, hopefully we’ll be able to recover that state money.”
The developer of the neighboring Long Lake Ranch subdivision will finish building the connection between the Hillsborough and Pasco segments of Sunlake Boulevard by December. County officials saw the southern extension of Sunlake as crucial to attracting the financial services company because it offers Hillsborough commuters an alternative to U.S. 41.
A state grant would have paid up to $12 million to T. Rowe Price if the company had completed the Pasco complex. “That goes away,” said John Walsh, vice president of the Pasco Economic Development Council. “The state would negotiate a new package if a different user came in. Whoever buys it, it’s going to be a different scope and size than the 450,000 square feet that T. Rowe Price was proposing.”
Another $4.8 million in state and county incentives were tied to job creation, and those expire in December. Baker is hoping they can be transferred to a new user as long as it’s one that creates the same type of high-wage jobs. Company officials have said it was up to Pasco County to either terminate the incentives agreement or allow it to lapse.
“Our intention was to let it lapse,” Baker said. “But in the meantime, we’ve got a pad-ready site that’s ideal for another user, and we have kind of started marketing that site. There’s nothing in writing, but they told us verbally they’re ready to sell.”
Baker said her proposed fiscal 2015 budget carries over the $2.5 million economic development grant, which the county has included in every budget since 2008, in the hopes that it will help attract a new buyer for the site.
“This would be a very quick deal, so it’s a great opportunity for someone who is in a hurry to relocate,” Baker said.