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CLAYTON, MO-US Equities Realty and Clayco Realty Group have been selected to develop Centene Plaza, the $190-million, mixed-use urban center that will serve as the national headquarters for Centene Corp.

“Our shared vision for Centene Plaza is that it will take its place among the area’s most dynamic places to work, shop and dine,” says Robert A. Wislow, chairman of US Equities. “We expect Centene Plaza to become a hub of activity for workers and residents.”

The 600,000-sf development has had its share of hurdles getting to this point. In 2005, the City of Clayton for the first time approved $10 million in long-term tax abatement and the power of eminent domain when approving Centene’s development application. Centene, a provider of Medicaid-based programs and services, pursued legal remedies in addition to negotiating with five property owners along the property who refused to sell.

As a result, local residents helped form the locally based Committee to Stop Abuse of Eminent Domain, and going as far as to circulate a referendum opposing the project, which was denied by a local court ruling.

The project, which is moving forward despite grass-roots opposition, is slated for completion within the next two to three years. Centene officials say they expect to break ground on the first tower by late summer or early fall of 2007, and the company will initially occupy half of the office space.

Earlier this year, Centene hired Bethesda, MD-based Robert Charles Lesser & Co. as the project’s development adviser. In April, it signed St. Louis-based architects Hellmuth, Obata + Kassabaum Inc. to design the project.

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