Laser Spine Institute 18 months after closure — What happened to its $56M Tampa HQ?

Fourteen years after opening, Tampa-based Laser Spine Institute shuttered in March 2019 following a series of financial blows and lawsuits that led to its eventual demise.

But before its downfall, the company had achieved significant success.

Three physicians — James St. Louis, MD,  Glenn Hamburg, MD, and Michael Perry, MD — started Laser Spine Institute with nine employees and one operating room in 2005, according to Tampa Bay Times.

At the height of its operations, the practice grew to more than 1,000 employees and had surgery centers in Tampa, St. Louis, Cincinnati and Scottsdale, Ariz. 

In 2016, it opened a $56 million 176,000-square-foot headquarters in Tampa. The following year saw the practice report $220 million in revenue, up from $216.9 million the prior year.

Despite impressive revenue growth, Laser Spine Institute was in the troughs of several large lawsuits. 

The most significant case, dating back to 2006, was brought by a competing spine center and accused Laser Spine Institute of breach of fiduciary duty, defamation, tortious interference and violation of a Florida law, among other charges.

In 2018, a federal court ordered Laser Spine Institute to pay $264 million in damages to the complainant. A string of surgery center closures and a reduced operating cost structure sparked the beginning of the practice's downfall. 

In March 2019, after the banks froze Laser Spine Institute's accounts and stripped them of cash, the practice closed its Tampa headquarters and its remaining locations, laying off 354 employees in the process.

In February 2020, real estate investment company Highwoods Properties leased three of the six floors of the Tampa headquarters. 

While the surgery center still remains vacant in the building, sports retailer Fanatics Brands has leased 92,000 square feet of the 176,000-square foot space.

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