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Star of the show

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  • | 11:00 a.m. April 15, 2016
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A large and high-tech new business incubator is in the works for downtown St. Petersburg.

The project is in its infancy stages. But Pinellas Economic Development Director Mike Meidel says the center, when it opens, could house a combination of manufacturing, bioscience and tech startups, among other businesses. The 45,000-square-foot building, with a planned location at the southwest corner of 11th Avenue South and Fourth Street South, will also be home to 3-D printers and other high-tech gadgets, Meidel anticipates.

It's expected to cost up to $14 million to build, and funding will come from a variety of state and local sources. Construction on the incubator, if all the funding possibilities come through, could begin by July 2017. “We want to make this the cornerstone of the innovation district in downtown St. Petersburg,” Meidel tells Coffee Talk. “The demand is there.”

A chunk of the funding, says Meidel, will come from Pinellas County, with proceeds from the potential sale of the Young-Rainey Star Center on Bryan Dairy Road in Pinellas County. A deal for that 96-acre industrial center, for about $10 million, has been in the works since late last year. Meidel is negotiating details of the sale with Los Angeles-based Industrial Realty Group. More than 25 companies, including electronics giant Raytheon, have manufacturing and other facilities on the campus, which stands for Science, Technology and Research Center.

The Star Center has a rich history. Pinellas County has owned it since 1995, and before that it was a farm General Electric turned into an engineering center. The U.S. Atomic Energy Commission used it to build components in the 1960s, and then the U.S. Department of Energy ran the facility for two decades. “It's a good day to declare victory and move on,” Meidel says. “We want to create a new place.”


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