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Jabil plans to spend $67 million remaking its headquarters in St. Petersburg's Gateway area

Jabil's headquarters in the Gateway area of St. Petersburg is expected to undergo a $67.3 million expansion. Drone image courtesy Jabil.
Published Mar. 16, 2018

ST. PETERSBURG — Jabil plans to invest an estimated $67.3 million expanding its corporate headquarters in the Gateway area of St. Petersburg, according to Pinellas County records.

The project, announced in February, is expected to include $52.2 million in new construction and renovations, $12.3 million in equipment and $2.8 million to buy real estate.

Once complete, the expanded headquarters should have room for 300 more new full-time jobs and the addition of an innovation lab for the electronics manufacturer, which is based in St. Petersburg with operations at 100 sites in 29 countries.

PREVIOUS COVERAGE: Jabil will rebuild its existing St. Petersburg headquarters instead of moving to downtown St. Petersburg (w/ video)

Construction on the innovation lab, which is planned for the old Tampa Bay Research Institute building, is expected to begin in May and be done by the end of the year.

Following that will be the demolition of a two-story office building that faces Roosevelt Boulevard and the construction of a new four-story building in its place. That work is expected to take two years.

Renovation of Jabil's main headquarters building, which faces Dr. Martin Luther King Jr. St. N, will follow the completion of the building on Roosevelt.

The cost estimates were included in a report to the Pinellas County Commission, which is scheduled on Tuesday to consider a resolution of support for providing Jabil with a property tax exemption designed to spur economic development.

The commission still would have to pass a separate ordinance authorizing the exemption, which would be based on the projected value of the new improvements and could cover a period of up to 10 years. The exemption on Jabil's real estate has been estimated to be a maximum of $225,000 per year. The exemption on tangible property such as computers, electronics and other furnishings, could start at $66,000 a year, then drop over time due to depreciation.

Jabil made its decision to rebuild its existing campus after considering what CEO Mark Mondello described as some "very aggressive proposals" from various states and cities, some from as far away as Singapore.

But one of those overtures came from much closer — the city of Tampa.

"We went after them hard," Mayor Bob Buckhorn said in a recent interview.

The pitch took place about six years ago and involved the city, Tampa Bay Lightning owner Jeff Vinik and one of Vinik's top executives at the time, Tod Leiweke. (Leiweke left the Lightning in July 2015 for a job as chief operating officer of the National Football League.)

"In 2012 we conducted a national and local site selection review," Jabil senior vice president for communications and investor relations Beth Walters said in a statement Friday. "During this time we met with Jeff Vinik and discussed his site. We believe the site and his vision are tremendous, but simply not the right fit for Jabil."

At the time, Vinik was in the early stages of the land purchases and planning that later evolved into plans for Water Street Tampa, a $3 billion mixed-sue project on which Vinik has partnered with Cascade Investment, the personal wealth fund of Microsoft founder Bill Gates.

Tampa's pitch focused on building a headquarters for Jabil on what is now a 2.8-acre parking lot just across Old Water Street from the Tampa Marriott Waterside Hotel & Marina. Vinik and Cascade now plan to build a 519-room JW Marriott there.

While the idea of having Jabil in Tampa was attractive, Buckhorn said the city didn't set out to poach from a neighbor.

"We were just responding to an inquiry," he said. "I think St. Petersburg knew about it because St. Petersburg was pitching them at the same time."

Besides, the mayor said, Jabil was "very conflicted about leaving St. Pete and Pinellas County."

In February, when Mondello said the company would not move, but rebuild its campus in the Gateway area, he said, "when the day's done, we're a Tampa Bay area company, and maybe a derivative of that is we're a St. Pete company."

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Contact Richard Danielson at rdanielson@tampabay.com or (813) 226-3403. Follow @Danielson_Times

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