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Real expansion, with virtual reality

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  • | 11:00 a.m. June 2, 2017
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Suffolk Construction, one of the largest builders in country, with a fast-growing presence in the Southeast, recently opened its fourth office in Florida — and this one comes with a technological twist.

The 4,500-square-foot office, at Channelside Bay Plaza near downtown Tampa, includes a 2,200-square-foot tech lab, which features live streaming of job sites, touch screens for project updates and virtual reality stations. “We've been in and around Tampa for a few years now,” says Josh Christensen, Suffolk vice president of West Coast Florida operations, “but now we have an actual home.”

Suffolk's Tampa office currently oversees an expansion and renovation of the Tampa Hard Rock Hotel and Casino, with exclusive private suites, a salon and spa and a 58,000-square-foot convention facility. The company is also the lead builder behind the redevelopment of the former Tampa Tribune building into an eight-story, 515,000-square-foot waterfront apartment complex. Tampa's Suffolk unit has about 35 employees in the field, and 20 people in management and support roles.

Although the new home is nice, Christensen says the competitive advantage comes in the high-tech touches. Like when Christensen can hand a client/developer a pair of virtual reality goggles, so he or she can see the project in 4-D. “Visually, a client can see a project being built and how their money is being used,” Christensen tells Coffee Talk. “And the more you can plan like that, the more you can guarantee predictable results.”

Suffolk, with other Florida offices in Miami, West Palm Beach and Estero, does about $2.7 billion a year in revenue. It works in a variety of public and private sectors, from health care to aviation to the federal government. A Punta Gorda native and executive with Sarasota-based builder W.G. Mills for 13 years, Christensen joined Suffolk in 2014, initially in its then-new Estero office.

Christensen believes the timing is right for Suffolk to make an aggressive push for new business in the Tampa region. He cites a variety of work to get, from multifamily projects to expansions at Tampa International Airport and Port Tampa Bay. Says Christensen: “That diversity is the attractiveness of Tampa.”


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