St. Pete real estate developer pumps profit back into the community

Margie Manning

Published on December 13, 2019

The Royal groundbreaking

Salt Palm Development will use half of its profit on its latest real estate project to benefit the St. Petersburg community.

Mayor Rick Kriseman and Jared Meyers, chairman, Salt Palm Development, at the groundbreaking for The Royal

Jared Meyers, chairman of Salt Palm, made the pledge at the groundbreaking for The Royal, a 13-unit townhome development at 545 4th Ave. S, just south of downtown and on the edge of the Innovation District. The project is across the street from Salt Palm’s initial project, Sabal Smart Homes, where profits also were reinvested in the community, Meyers said.

Salt Palm is a certified B-Corp, a type of for-profit business that balances purpose and profit.

“B-Corps are all about giving back to the community, taking  a portion or in some cases all of their profits and investing them back into the community,” said Mayor Rick Kriseman at the groundbreaking. “Philosophically, they are aligned with what we’re trying to accomplish here in St. Pete.”

A rendering of The Royal

The Royal, with prices starting in the $500s, will be built with sustainable living in mind, with features such as LED lightning, energy star appliances, water efficiencies and others.

It also will be solar ready. The company has committed to be net zero by 2030, meaning the total amount of energy used by the building on an annual basis is equal to the amount of renewable energy created on the site.

Salt Palm is tapping into the “positive energy” in St. Petersburg, Meyers said. “Downtown St. Pete is unique and special. I felt that when I came here and wanted to be part of it and elevate it,” Meyers said.

There are only 23 B-Corps in Florida, and Salt Palm is the only one that is a real estate development firm.

“It’s a certification that companies receive that says you perform at the highest levels of social and environmental responsibility. It’s a hard certification to attain and that’s why there’s only 3,000 of them worldwide, half in the U.S.,” Meyers said. “I view this to be the type of business model that is best for any community. At the end of the day, communities need businesses that are there to lift the community up to the best of their abilities.”

Salt Palm has a formal commitment to use at least half its profits for the betterment of  St. Petersburg and Florida. The company also has committed 1 percent of its revenue to environmental causes In September, Salt Palm was named a “Best For The World” honoree, a recognition from B Lab, the global nonprofit that certifies and supports certified B Corporations.

Meyers also has launched St. Pete For Good and Florida For Good.

“Businesses are coming together to say we want to do good, we’re responsible, we would like your help to improve on that and we provide free resources for them to get there,” Meyers said. “Whether they become a certified B-Corp at the end of it, or they just improve along the way, that’s fine. We just want you to contribute more to your community, take care of your employees, be more inclusive, and focus on regenerative thoughts processes, not exploitative ones.”

St. Pete For Good, with about 50 businesses in its directory, has inspired other “for good” organizations in central and northeast Florida and Boca Raton, as well as a similar group in Miami, Meyers said. The statewide Florida For Good has about 150 businesses.

The Royal one of two new structures going up in the area. TRB Development is building a new headquarters for insurance technology company Neptune Flood across the street at 400 6th St. S.

Trevor Burgess, CEO, Neptune Flood

Neptune will have about 20 employees on the second level of the building. The ground level will house Lingr, an upscale casual eatery and bar developed by Jeffrey Jew, an alumnus of Bravo’s Top Chef.

“What we’re excited about is this entire part of St. Petersburg is getting the investment Jared is making, that we’re making, to help create this urban, walkable, livable, workable environment, where all of those elements can happen together in one place,” said Trevor Burgess, CEO of Neptune Flood and chairman of TRB.

Neptune fits St. Petersburg’s Grow Smarter economic strategy, which focuses on high-growth businesses. It’s the second business here for Burgess, who was president and CEO of C1 Bank before it sold to Bank OZK.

“Trevor has always been incredibly involved in the community, and so to have him back here with another business, employing people, paying a living wage, that’s a great thing,” Kriseman said.