Raymond James Financial Inc. said it expects to close on the purchase of 65 acres in Pasco County within the next three months.

Raymond James (NYSE: RJF), based in St. Petersburg and one of the largest public companies and employers in Tampa Bay, isn’t ready to say when it might build a campus on the land, but finalizing the purchase would be a big step forward for the financial services firm and for Pasco County, which could pick up hundreds of jobs after a facility is constructed.

“It’s been a while. There’s pent-up demand and I think the community was starting to wonder,” said Bill Cronin, Pasco County Economic Development Council president and CEO. “This reconfirms everything Raymond James said about their commitment to Pasco County and making sure they deliver on the project.”

The St. Petersburg-based financial services company signed an agreement in 2011 to buy the land, subject to the outcome of due diligence, for potential future expansion of its office facilities in Tampa Bay. Pasco County commissioner approved a package of incentives, based on a projection of 750 new jobs in 100,000 square feet of office space, in September 2011, and in November of that year, Raymond James recorded a $3.5 million commitment to purchase the landin a filing with the U.S. Securities and Exchange Commission.

Completion of the purchase was subject to the satisfactory resolution of permitting matters, Raymond James (NYSE: RJF) said in its most recent annual report filed with the SEC.

The U.S. Army Corps of Engineers proffered an environmental permit earlier this month, JD Porter, an owner and operator at Wiregrass Ranch Inc., the land’s current owner, told Tampa Bay Business Journal.

“The next step is to get before the BOCC [Board of County Commissioners] in the next 30 days or so and update the overall agreement with closing shortly after that,” Porter said in an email.

Raymond James also was optimistic about quick action.

“Raymond James continues to evaluate occupancy needs as a part of the firm’s long-term growth strategy. We believe the Wiregrass Ranch property is a good future development opportunity and expect to close on the property within the next three months, but cannot commit to a specific construction schedule at this time,” an emailed statement from the company said.

By:  Margie Manning

Tampa Bay Business Journal