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From sod ... to mod

Driving north on Interstate 275 in St. Petersburg, past Gandy Boulevard, it is obvious that construction is under way at La Entrada, originally known as the sod farm. If built out as planned over the next 15 to 20 years, it will have offices, manufacturing, warehouses, a hotel, retail and residential with a possible job total of 35,000. Developer Grady Pridgenintends for La Entrada to be a complex where people can live, work and play using walkways and a trolley. Two companies already are building at La Entrada. Cox Target Media, which publishes the coupon book ValPak, is building a plant that will have 10 acres under one roof. The foundation has been poured and walls are beginning to go up. ValPak's building, visible from I-275, will house 500 workers initially. The company plans to be in the new building by the second half of 2007. Halkey-Roberts Corp., which manufactures components for medical equipment, started its building last year and expects to complete it in early June. The company's 200 employees will move in in late summer. Another 50 workers will be hired.

BY THE NUMBERS

$1.5-billion - estimated value of La Entrada by the time the project is completed.

5.9-million - square feet of office space

1.3-million - feet of retail space

700,000 - square feet of light industrial and manufacturing

2,494 condominiums

1,000 feet - the distance from the county's landfill to the site

1,000 - jobs that two companies building there are expected to bring

300 - hotel rooms

133 - acres of the site

15 to 20 - years to complete La Entrada

- SHARON BOND

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