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TAMPA, FL-T. Rowe Price Group Inc. appears to be making good on its promise to move its Tampa Bay operations to southern Pasco County. But when it will begin construction of its new offices is anyone’s guess.

The Baltimore-based financial services company closed Wednesday on the purchase of 75 acres along State Road 54 near Interstate 75, where it plans to develop a three-building, 450,000-square-foot campus with more than 1,600 employees. The company paid $13.5 million for the family-owned Long Lake Ranch site, which calculates to $180,000 per acre or just over $4 per square foot.

T. Rowe Price has had the site under contract for more than a year and had to go through extensive county and state approvals, says Eric Schoessler, principal of Tampa-based Amprop Development Corp. who brokered the deal. The company is considered a target industry for Pasco County, which has long sought to add office development to its residential and retail sectors.

“A lot of time and effort went into making sure the right package got to T. Rowe Price,” Schoessler tells GlobeSt.com. The company currently has approximately 400 employees at the Corporate Center Two at International Plaza building in Tampa’s Westshore submarket.

Heather McDonold, a T. Rowe Price spokeswoman in Baltimore, says the company’s Tampa operations date back to 1994 and the decision to buy land is based on long-term growth plans. However, the current recession is causing the company to slow down those plans.

“Given that the market and business environment has changed dramatically over the past year, the timeline for our expansion plans has become less certain and we are unable to commit to a specific timetable for the start of construction,” McDonold said in a prepared statement. “We are very pleased with the support we have received from the county and state, and look forward to growing our presence in Florida and the Tampa region over time once the market fully recovers.”

Schoessler says T. Rowe Price’s entitlements at the Pasco County site are effective until 2020. “They won’t take that long,” he adds.

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