Wednesday: BlueCross will serve healthy meals at its new campus.
Thursday: The wellness center at the new BlueCross building will include a yoga and pilates studio.
Friday: The new BlueCross facility will include an in-house pharmacy and a clinic staffed by a nurse practitioner.
Saturday: The reforestation of Cameron Hill with native plants is under way.
Dec. 18: Wellness initiatives are becoming commonplace at companies.
* More than 1.3 million — Construction work hours on BlueCross’ new campus
* 87 — Percentage of construction complete
* 25 — Months of work put in on the BlueCross project
BlueCross BlueShield of Tennessee employees next month will start the move up Cameron Hill as the first workers to occupy Chattanooga’s largest-ever downtown office project.
Some, however, will stay put, as growth has prompted BlueCross to keep about 500 workers in the Miller Building.
“We plan to occupy it for the next several years,” said Dan Jacobson, the insurer’s vice president for properties, about the historic former department store structure at Seventh and Market streets.
But with construction winding down on the new 950,000-square-foot home office, some BlueCross employees in January will shift to the blue-glass buildings.
The site overlooking the central city, which one project architect said reminded him of the Acropolis in Greece, will hold more than 4,000 workers as the health insurer’s $299 million headquarters.
Jeff Pfitzer, of the nonprofit downtown redevelopment group RiverCity Co., said the five buildings on the hill were “thoughtfully crafted and designed” to fit the landscape.
“They could have moved to the suburbs or anywhere in the state,” he said of BlueCross. “They in fact chose to stay downtown.”
Staff Photo by Patrick Smith BlueCross BlueShield of Tennessee Miller Building.
Trevor Hamilton, the Chattanooga Area Chamber of Commerce’s vice president for economic development, said with all the attention over Volkswagen’s new plant, people shouldn’t forget about BlueCross and other employers.
“We’re excited about their continued presence and providing for our economy,” he said.
BlueCross is consolidating its work force from throughout the city to its hilltop location. The company foresees advantages from having most of its employees on one campus.
Staff Photo by D. Patrick Harding Although not completely finished, the lights of the new Blue Cross Blue Shield building on Cameron Hill can be seen from downtown Chattanooga.
“One of the big advantages correlates to efficiency,” Mr. Jacobson said. “Today, we’re in 12 buildings.”
Another advantage, officials said, is a strong, quality work environment featuring new work stations.
“There will be a whole array of things that incorporate and add to a very high-powered work place,” Mr. Jacobson said.
In addition to better business operations coming from the modern buildings, there will be one food service operation and an improved health and wellness emphasis, he said.
Mr. Jacobson said BlueCross is keeping its warehouse on Riverside Drive for now. In addition, it will keep its Gateway Building at the foot of Cameron Hill along with the Miller Building.
The insurer’s vice president said the Pine Street, or so-called “gold building,” will remain on the market for sale or lease.
“There has been a lot of interest and conversation,” he said.
While BlueCross won’t leave the Miller Building, Mr. Jacobson said the company is eyeing retail establishments for the ground floor.
“We’ll try to find people to make that happen over the next several months,” he said.
On the hill, Mr. Jacobson said BlueCross is occupying the building holding its data center and security operations first.
He anticipates a temporary certificate of occupancy on a second building by the end of January. BlueCross will fill the rest of the site from south to north and finish the move in June, he said.
The company plans to run a hybrid electric shuttle between the hill and the Miller Building. For walkers, there is a sidewalk that extends from the top of the hill down Cameron Hill Circle.
Mr. Jacobson there have been discussions with the Tennessee Department of Transportation about a connector path on a TDOT right-of-way to Fourth Street, but it’s premature to say what that will look like. Also, there have been general discussions about a spur down the north side of the hill to Ross’s Landing, he said.
For motorists, the company built an eight-level, 3,000-space parking deck. The site will have two ways for workers to enter the new campus, and flexible scheduling is designed to help ease traffic, officials said.
Video: Construction nears completionThe BlueCross BlueShield of Tennessee campus on Cameron Hill, set to begin opening in January 2009, includes indiginous landscaping and unique architectural designs providing sweeping views of Chattanooga.
Mike Pare, the deputy Business editor at the Chattanooga Times Free Press, has worked at the paper for 27 years. In addition to editing, Mike also writes Business stories and covers Volkswagen, economic development and manufacturing in Chattanooga and the surrounding area. In the past he also has covered higher education. Mike, a native of Fort Lauderdale, Fla., received a bachelor’s degree in communications from Florida Atlantic University. he worked at the Rome News-Tribune before ...