Eastside Utility District moving to bigger home

Eastside Utility District moving to bigger home

June 2nd, 2012 by Dave Flessner in Business Around the Region

The Eastside Utility District's new building is located at the corner of Hickory Valley Road and Bonny Oaks Drive.

Photo by John Rawlston/Times Free Press.

After nearly a half century of operating from a Lee Highway office, Eastside Utility District shut down its headquarters Friday to relocate into a new and larger facility in Enterprise South industrial park.

The water utility is moving its equipment and 27-person staff over the weekend into a new $3.5 million headquarters, which will open Tuesday. The two-story office is nearly five times bigger than the current Eastside office, but the utility still is looking for tenants to occupy the second floor.

"We've outgrown where we are now and with the continued growth in East Brainerd we simply need more room," said Harold Austin, chairman of the Eastside Utility board of directors. "The new office also will be closer to our filtration plant on Hickory Valley Road [which Eastside acquired more than a decade ago from the U.S. Army]."

Don Stafford, general manager for Eastside Utility, said the utility still is studying whether to lease or sell the facility it is vacating at 7206 Lee Highway. Stafford said the new 20,000-square-foot building will give the utility room to expand, and he hopes in the meantime to rent the upper floor to another government agency.

Since joining Eastside 37 years ago, Stafford said the number of customers served has grown from 3,700 to nearly 20,000. The utility pumps about 15 million gallon of water a day and has the ability to double capacity with minimal work at its filter plant, Stafford said.

Nearly four years ago, Eastside bought an abandoned office building on Discovery Drive in the Enterprise South park for its headquarters. But the water utility agreed to give up the building when Volkswagen wanted the site for initial work toward its $1 billion automobile assembly plant.

In exchange, the county sold Eastside a 13-acre site adjacent to the county school headquarters at Enterprise South.

"It's going to be a busy weekend," Stafford said about the move, which began Friday night.

Eastside Utility District will be closed Monday to complete the move but will open in its new location Tuesday. The utility office hours will remain each weekday from 8 a.m. to 5 p.m. The mailing address will remain P.O. Box 22037, Chattanooga, TN 37422; the phone number will remain 892-2890.