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ST. PETERSBURG, FL-The Kessler Enterprise Inc. of Orlando and St. Petersburg-based Progress Energy Florida plan to break ground in September on the most ambitious mixed-use undertaking to be seen here in more than two decades–an estimated $100-million Downtown community that will occupy an entire 80,000-sf block.

In a joint announcement, the partners say Progress Energy Florida will use all or most of the 200,000-sf, 16-story office building to house 670 employees who will relocate from other Pinellas County branch offices. The building will be owned by a subsidiary of SunTrust bank and leased to Progress Energy under a 40-year, multimillion-dollar lease.

The office building will be built adjacent to the 205-room, 28-story Grand Bohemian Hotel, the new St. Petersburg College and the new home of the Florida International Museum. The office building is expected to be completed in November 2006; the hotel at an undetermined period in 2007.

Carter & Associates of Atlanta is developing the office complex which was designed by Cooper Carry, the base building architect, also of Atlanta, and Wannemacher Russell, the interior architect of St. Petersburg.

Other components of the development include 62 high-end condominium homes, 5,000 sf of plaza-level retail, a 5,000-sf spa, 16,000 sf of meeting, banquet and pre-function space, a restaurant, lounge, art gallery, pool, fitness center and a six-level, 340-space parking deck. The development site is bordered by Second Street North, First Avenue North, Second Avenue North and Sunshine Alley. The nine stories of office space will be built atop the six-level parking deck.

Richard C. Kessler, president and CEO, the Kessler Enterprise Inc., has developed office and hotel projects throughout Georgia, Florida and Colorado. He says the St. Petersburg project will be “a world-class, mixed-use development project that will recognized by the international community.” He says he is confident St. Petersburg is “well on its way to becoming an outstanding commercial, business, meeting and leisure destination in the United States.”

Bill Habermeyer, president and CEO of Progress Energy Florida, is just as bullish on this west Florida coast community. “Downtown St. Petersburg has experienced a resurgence in recent years and our new headquarters represents Progress Energy’s commitment to the revitalization of our city’s core.”

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