Sunday, October 21, 2018
Business

Meet Priatek Plaza: Risky name for St. Pe­ters­burg's tallest building or ahead of the curve?

The naming rights to the tallest office towers in downtown Tampa and St. Petersburg have long been dominated by big banking names like SunTrust, Wells Fargo or Bank of America.

Big banks or corporate headquarters names, like call center heavyweight Sykes Enterprises appearing atop Tampa's cylindrical "Beer Can" building on N Ashley Drive, are the typical branding norms for downtown towers lucky enough to find a business willing to spend the money to put their name up on high.

Enter Priatek, the young technology-advertising business whose name will soon adorn downtown St. Petersburg's landmark office tower as Priatek Plaza at 200 Central Ave. This is the One Progress Plaza tower, at 28 stories the tallest office building in St. Petersburg, which was first known as the Barnett Bank tower and later the Bank of America tower among other names since it broke ground back in 1987.

The tower's current owner, family-owned Kucera Properties, went shopping a few years ago for some business to put its name atop the building, ideally for a 10-year deal for $5 million. That hunt stayed largely off the public radar until Tuesday, when Kucera, without disclosing financial terms, announced the Priatek Plaza, named after the technology company Priatek, which occupies 8,000 square feet with 15 employees on the tower's 23rd floor. The official ribbon-cutting of the new name is Sept. 17.

Pria — who? Other than a few references in the local business journal and none at all in the Tampa Bay Times, Priatek — a business that offers clients an advertising strategy based on prize promotion "UGot2Play" kiosks in malls, stores, hotels and airports — lacks name recognition. Consumers play a digital game to win an advertiser's product, but even if they lose they get a coupon offering a discount on the product. Priatek CEO Milind Bharvirkar, an entrepreneur who moved here from Silicon Valley, started the company.

The naming rights deal certainly breaks out of the traditional mold of placing a known corporate name atop a major, 309,000-square-foot office tower. Darin Kucera, managing partner of Kucera Properties, apparently wants to try something more cutting edge. More 21st century, perhaps? In announcing the tower's new name, he claims research shows Priatek Plaza will be the only Class A office tower in the United States named for a technology startup.

"By assigning naming rights for this premier property to our tenant Priatek, we are signaling our firm's belief in the West Florida region's burgeoning technology sector and the visionary entrepreneurs who are making history here every day," Kucera stated. "This is exactly the type of high-quality tenant we are seeking to develop relationships with for the remaining space in our landmark building."

Renaming One Progress Plaza, he said, "is of major historic significance because it is an outward sign of our belief in that vision for our region."

Kucera seems interested in adding tenants with tech-savvy roots. When New York-based iQor, a 32,000-employee product support service company with ties to St. Petersburg manufacturer Jabil Circuit, decided last year to relocate its headquarters and a staff of 100 to downtown St. Pete, it landed in just under 38,000 square feet — at 200 Central Ave.

The risk, of course, is the building's brand reputation will be tied, in part, to the success of Priatek. There are no guarantees, especially with young tech companies.

That may be okay. Barnett Bank, once Florida's largest bank and the tower's first branded name, was later purchased by Bank of America. And Bank of America, whose name also appeared atop the building, later relocated its street-level branch to cheaper downtown quarters.

Contact Robert Trigaux at [email protected]

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