Newspaper article The Florida Times Union

Aetna May Be Closing in on Developer, Site for Office Center

Newspaper article The Florida Times Union

Aetna May Be Closing in on Developer, Site for Office Center

Article excerpt

We're told Aetna Inc. might have narrowed to a handful the list of developers and sites for its potential 300,000-square-foot Jacksonville office center.

Sources familiar with the deal, but not authorized to discuss it, said yesterday that the potential sites appeared to include Southside and Regency, although no official word was forthcoming, so other sites can't be ruled out.

Sources also suggested that up to four or five developers might have landed on the short list, although again, the information is unofficial.

We've reported that Aetna, based in Hartford, Conn., has been considering development of a 300,000-square-foot, one- or two-building campus on 32 acres to consolidate functions of an estimated 2,500 employees now operating at its downtown and North Jacksonville offices.

As explained, speculation has focused on an initial campus of that size with an option to add eight or 12 more acres and build another 150,000 square feet.

Based on industry estimates of $100 a square foot, the project could start at $30 million.

Aetna bought Prudential HealthCare last year and has been considering whether to consolidate the Jacksonville offices into one large location or remain in its current sites, including the 480,000-square-foot, 20-floor Prudential building on the downtown Southbank.

Aetna leases much of the building, and the lease expires in July 2002.

Through a Tampa real estate company, Aetna had requested proposals from developers for 300,000 square feet of space and a potential expansion to 450,000 square feet.

We heard again yesterday that a decision is expected by July whether to pursue the project, and a building would have to be completed by mid-2002.

An Aetna U.S. Healthcare spokesman confirmed last year that Aetna was reviewing its real estate options and explained that the review was routine in light of pending lease expirations and the amount of space involved. …

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