Ten years ago, attorney Robert Bleakley could hardly believe his good fortune when he acquired five acres of land at the top of Carrollwood in North Tampa, and built a 5,200-square foot high-end commercial office building that he believed would be home to The Bleakley Law Firm for the remainder of his career. Located less than a mile from his home in Avila and less than a mile from his boys’ school, Bleakley believed he had made the final move of his career. However, space in Bleakley’s dream office got tighter when good fortune struck again. In 2011, Bleakley’s former mentor and boss, Chuck Bavol, an AV-rated first-class litigator, merged his firm into Bleakley’s firm. The firm name changed to “The Bleakley Bavol Law Firm”, and Bleakley began to wonder if the firm could remain contained in his office building. When AV rated litigators Rob Grace and Ron Denman joined the firm in 2012 and 2014 respectively, the writing was on the wall. “On the one hand, I was glad the firm was growing and adding high-quality lawyers, on the other hand, the firm’s growth was really disrupting the long-term plans I made when we acquired our office in North Tampa”. Bleakley remarked, “The office building located at 15170 N. Florida Avenue was perfect for The Bleakley Law Firm and at least adequate for The Bleakley Bavol Law Firm, but Bleakley Bavol & Denman simply blew the walls off our building.”
As previously reported in this paper, Bleakley’s vision for his firm was more than just providing a comfortable work environment for himself and the firm’s employees, but additionally to bring a first-rate AV rated full service law firm geographically closer to the businesses, families and individuals needing legal representation in Northern Hillsborough County, as well as Pasco and Hernando Counties. “The addition of key corporate, estate planning, and tax lawyers, combined with the growing strength of our commercial litigation group made our firm and its location an ideal fit for many business clients who just didn’t want to deal with downtown traffic and parking.”
Beginning in 2012, Bleakley started looking around for an office space solution for his growing law firm. For some time, Bleakley had his eye on the unique building located directly next door to his present building. However, at nearly 28,000 square feet the building was too large, too expensive, and demanded too much renovation for his law firm. Bleakley and his partners looked at other locations including considering the possibility of moving back downtown. Attempted acquisitions of other properties fell through and for the past five years, the firm has been split into two separate building locations while seeking a new home. However, in 2017 the law firm experienced record growth and very early in 2018, it became apparent the firm would greatly exceed its 2017 performance. Bleakley added, “Earlier this year it became obvious that I just had to step out of my comfort zone and sacrifice some personal goals and go all in for the future of our firm. We looked at all of our options including moving our firm back downtown or to another location in Tampa. But finally, the opportunity arose to purchase the building right next door and remain true to our vision of providing a full-service law firm to the businesses and individuals located north of Tampa. After many months of planning, we acquired the future home of our law firm that I truly believe was our destiny from the very beginning.”
Bleakley Bavol & Denman recently added its 18th attorney and another has recently accepted an offer to begin next year. According to Bleakley, after the substantial renovations are completed next year, the building can accommodate growth up to 36 lawyers plus staff. In addition, the architectural plans will accommodate elevated conference room space and a full-service gym with shower facilities. The oversized atrium that likely scared off investors seeking to maximize rentable space actually attracted Bleakley and his partners. “The atrium can probably accommodate 30-40 tables and over 200 guests. This will allow us the opportunity to further our business and community development goals of hosting legal education events, community events, banquets, and the like, both as a means to serve our community and create exposure for our law firm. We fully expect the atrium to be a community event center located literally in the center of our law firm.”
By acquiring the two-story office building located at 15316 N. Florida Avenue, Bleakley Bavol & Denman has announced it is here to stay in Carrollwood.