by Aaron London
Rising 166 feet over North Beach Street, Brown & Brown’s newly opened world headquarters building is less a sign of past success than a symbol of future promise – for the company and the city.
The building, built at an estimated cost of $60 million to $70 million, punctuates the company’s commitment to the city as a whole and the downtown business district.
“We think it’s going to do a tremendous amount for the downtown community as well as the broader area,” said Andy Watts, Brown & Brown executive vice president, CFO and treasurer. “We’re very excited about what this means for the community.”
Watts said the building could accommodate as many as 900 “teammates” at capacity, with most initially coming from the company’s old headquarters on Ridgewood Avenue as well as some from company operations in Boston and Detroit. But the company expects to add more teammates in the coming years, and the building was designed to handle an increase in workforce levels and help recruit high-skilled teammates to the area.
Watts said while aesthetics played a role in the building’s design concept, more practical considerations were also given weight.
“We didn’t want to just put up the same building as anybody else,” he said. “We spent a lot of time to make sure it was truly iconic, not only in the community but we would say on the east coast of Florida. There is really nothing like this.”
The 11-story building features exterior lighting that can change colors to mark holidays, special events, and other celebrations. And, Watts said, it was designed to complement its location in a coastal community.
“We wanted to make sure it was something that embraced all aspects of the water and the waterfront,” he said. And that goes for the interior as well.
Watts said the open floor plan with “very few” exterior offices gives teammates a chance to take advantage of the building’s proximity to the water.
“From an interior standpoint, all of our teammates have the opportunity to enjoy the spectacular views,” he said. “It was purposefully created that way.”
Those views and the buildings’ long list of amenities are also expected to increase the new facility’s attractiveness to potential new employees.
Watts said the building adds additional luster to the Brown & Brown brand “and further symbolizes our very successful company and somewhere teammates want to work.”
With other downtown redevelopment projects underway, including Riverfront Esplanade Park, the new headquarters can revitalize efforts with its very presence.
Watts said the number of people who will eventually work in the building should help energize downtown businesses as the building will be the home for four to five businesses as well as our leadership team.
“That’s a lot of individuals down on Beach Street,” he said.
Watts likened the downtown redevelopment efforts to the economic expansion that followed the Tanger Outlet Mall’s opening at Interstate 95 and LPGA Boulevard, and the ONE DAYTONA project on International Speedway Boulevard.
“Hopefully, we can have a similar effect here in the downtown area,” he said. “There are a lot of great things going on in Daytona Beach and Volusia County.”
Keith Norden, president and CEO of Team Volusia Economic Development Corporation agrees. “The new Brown & Brown Headquarters Building is much more than the iconic catalyst to our downtown renaissance,” he said. “As corporate headquarters to a rapidly growing NYSE company, it is sure to make a bold statement to companies considering a move to Volusia County.”
Daytona Beach Mayor Derrick Henry said the headquarters is already having an impact.
“It’s making a tremendous difference already in the downtown area in terms of the aesthetics and the taxable value,” he said. “Aside from all that, the decision of a major company to locate their headquarters in our downtown is big not just in terms of their employees but in terms of their economic impact working here.”
Mayor Henry said Brown & Brown’s decision to make such a major investment also has an impact on the city’s image.
“I don’t think it can be overstated how important and significant that decision is,” he said. “They made a decision that they have never made before, to own a building, and to do it in downtown Daytona Beach.”
Henry said the boost to the tax rolls is even greater than initially anticipated and a bonus for the city.
“That in and of itself is a big win that many people aren’t cognizant of,” he said.
Beyond the economic and financial implications, Henry said the new Brown & Brown headquarters is a point of pride for the city.
“It says something about our downtown as a place of value,” he said. “A place that should appeal to both businesses and residents. It’s an exciting time for downtown Daytona Beach.”
Aaron London is a reporter and columnist who has covered business and economics for 27 years. He has worked for newspapers in Ohio and Florida and is also an adjunct professor of journalism at Daytona State College.