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Salomon invests $20-million in Tampa

Salomon Brothers Inc.'s plan to move its backroom operations to Tampa have always been shrouded in some secrecy. The New York brokerage house first investigated the area without telling anyone who it was. It then negotiated with developers and economic development officials in private.

Once the company announced it had chosen Tampa and would bring about 600 jobs to the area, one of the most nagging questions has been: What's the deal worth?

That question can now be answered. Court documents show the deal for the first phase of the project is valued at about $20.5-million.

The contract to build Salomon's trade data center, awarded to R.R. Simmons Construction Co., is valued at $18.06-million. The company will build a 132,000-square-foot, state-of-the-art building in the Hidden River Corporate Park, at Fletcher Avenue and Interstate 75.

Hidden River sold the company 17 acres for about $2.4-million, records show. Only about 11 acres is usable, the rest being part of the park's preservation area.

Joe Taggart, one of the park's owners, said the per-acre cost of about $141,000 is just a little below market, but it was worth it.

"It's pretty close to market on a deal that size and with a name like that," Taggart said.

The deal is actually worth a bit more than the total $20.5-million. Salomon is renting 28,000 square feet of office space in the park for three years and has an option to buy another 13.7 acres. No money has changed hands on the option.

Groundbreaking on the building is scheduled for Friday.