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Centene office building at Hanley and Forsyth

The first phase of Centene's expansion could start later this year and include a 28 or 29-story office building with a parking structure. A separate parking and residential structure would be constructed to the east. 

Centene Corp. will break ground Friday on its $770 million expansion in downtown Clayton, which has faced opposition from nearby residents.

The campus expansion in the St. Louis suburb will make way for office space and parking to accommodate 2,000 more workers.

The project is one of the largest office developments seen in the region in decades.

The development also drew heated criticism for seeking financial help for the project via subsidies from the city of Clayton.

In the end, the city approved a tax break on the property that’s worth $75.6 million.

Centene CEO and Chairman Michael Neidorff is expected to address employees and city officials during a groundbreaking ceremony Friday afternoon near the corner of Hanley Road and Carondelet Avenue.

The first phase of the development includes a 28-story office building that is expected to be complete by 2020.

A later phase calls for a 34-story office tower with space for a hotel, retail and parking.

Centene has touted the development as benefitting the community by bringing new jobs and upscale shops and restaurants, in addition to a civic center and auditorium.

Neighbors in nearby condominiums voiced concern over the scale of the project and increased traffic due to significantly more employees.

Centene is the nation’s largest managed care company. Its core business is contracting with state governments to provide insurance to low-income residents covered by Medicaid. About 1,000 employees work at the company’s global headquarters in Clayton.

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Samantha Liss • 314-340-8017

@samanthann on Twitter