(Carl Cronan is editor of Real Estate Florida.)

CLEARWATER, FL-The 25,279-square-foot Offices at Park Place is the first new office building in the Tampa Bay area to be awarded LEED “gold” certification by the US Green Building Council. The two-story structure serves as the new headquarters of TUI Marine, a yacht charter management firm.

Hallmark Development of Florida Inc., based in Clearwater, worked with contractor the Murray Co. and architects Collman & Karsky in building the first of three planned office buildings near the intersection of Park Place Boulevard and Drew Street. The second building, which will measure 25,662 square feet in two stories, is 40% preleased and will commence construction soon. A single-story building with 12,348 square feet is planned in a future phase.

“This was a milestone in commercial green building for Clearwater, and we look forward to continuing our commitment to green building in 2009,” Paul Engelhardt, Hallmark Development vice president, stated in a release. “We feel strongly about the benefits of green buildings.”

The LEED rating system evaluates a commercial building’s energy consumption, lighting, water and material use, and various other sustainability factors. Environmental performance, health of occupants and financial return are also keys to the USGBC ratings system.

Green features of the Offices at Park Place include room lighting that turns off when not in use, a cool-roof system, building positioning that maximizes natural light, tinted windows designed to block heat and low-flow water fixtures. The building also has recycled and low-toxicity materials, preferred parking for high-efficiency vehicles and showers for employees who commute by bicycle.

Established in 1965, Hallmark Development has built more than 630,000 square feet of office and service-center space in Clearwater and nearby areas. The company now places an emphasis on green development, with plans for nearly 150,000 square feet of new space to be built within Pinellas County.

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