American Express, which currently has about 3,500 employees in offices in Plantation, Miramar and Weston, announced Wednesday that it would purchase a 40-acre parcel of land for a regional headquarters in Sunrise.
The financial services company plans to build a 400,000-square-foot building to consolidate operations for all of its South Florida employees, with the possibility of future expansion, said American Express spokeswoman Stacey Orange.
"This is a very important step toward retaining all these jobs in South Florida," said Sunrise City Manager Alan Cohen.
American Express, which has been operating in South Florida for 40 years, currently leases space for its customer service, technology, finance, human resources, marketing and sales functions in South Florida. The printing and distribution business in Weston is being moved out of South Florida; that unit laid off 300 workers in October.
"We'll have the opportunity to bring together approximately 3,200 employees who will eventually move into our proposed new campus," Orange said. "Our expectation is that our business in South Florida would continue to grow along with our overall business, and enable us to continue adding jobs here over the long term."
Cohen said the purchase retains employees in South Florida because American Express was considering other states for the operations.
Construction of the building, on the east side of NW 136th Avenue just south of Sunrise Boulevard, could begin in the fourth quarter of 2014 and will take about three years to complete.
The site is a prize parcel privately owned by Coral Gables-based Flagler Development, said Jonathan Kingsley, senior vice president at Jones Lang LaSalle in South Florida. He said there are few sites in Broward County that can accommodate a building of 400,000 square feet or more.
On Tuesday, the City of Sunrise approved up to $10 million in economic incentives if American Express makes an estimated $167 million and $203 million capital investment in the city and $3,123 for each job.
Cohen said Sunrise's incentives would be tied to jobs.
"We're going to pay them over an extended period of time. They will be required to maintain the jobs numbers to be eligible for the annual payments," he said.
Cohen said he believes American Express will eventually expand because the new building will only occupy half the buildable space on the parcel.
But Kingsley said ownership would give the company flexibility to expand or sell remaining space to an investor.
The western Sunrise location already is a base of commercial business development. Across the street from the property is Sawgrass Corporate Park, which includes the Latin American headquarters of Emerson and Wendy's, the headquarters of Bolton Medical and GL Homes, and corporate offices of General Dynamics and BlackBerry.
American Express said it also has applied for two incentives from Florida that would provide funds for improvements to a property and an annual tax credit based on capital expenditures for projects.
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