$35 million TDOT headquarters adds to Chattanooga industrial park

The new TDOT regional headquarters building at Enterprise South industrial park will look much like its office, above, in Knoxville.

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FAST FACTS› The TDOT administration building will be named after Bob Brown, the former regional director here who retired in 2014.› The TDOT region consists of 24 counties: Bledsoe, Bradley, Cannon, Clay, Coffee, Cumberland, DeKalb, Fentress, Franklin, Grundy, Hamilton, Jackson, Marion, McMinn, Meigs, Overton, Pickett, Polk, Putnam, Rhea, Sequatchie, VanBuren, Warren and White.

A building boom keeps pounding away at Chattanooga's Enterprise South industrial park.

Work has begun on a $35 million Tennessee Department of Transportation regional headquarters at the sprawling 6,000-acre Tyner site.

Coupled with Volkswagen's expansion, supplier Gestamp's new plant and factory addition and TAG Manufacturing's planned second facility, the TDOT project puts current and proposed construction at the industrial park at well over $700 million.

TDOT spokeswoman Jennifer Flynn said the new headquarters will replace an aging facility off Cromwell Road and put state resources nearer the interstate.

"Being so close to [Interstate-75's] Exit 9 gives us a real advantage to get out of the complex and get help to where we need to go," she said.

In addition to administrative staff, the TDOT facility will hold a regional garage, maintenance equipment and new salt and brine locations for bad winter weather, Flynn said.

TDOT's traffic management center already is at the industrial park, and the new facility, which also will house field inspection personnel for construction and bridge inspection, will go on a 65-acre tract, she said.

The Volkswagen Drive project, across the road from the VW assembly plant's front entrance, is expected to be done in about a year and a half and built by DBS Corp., Flynn said.

"It will lead to more efficiencies having everyone in the same complex," she said. "It will make it easier on everyone."

About 150 people will work at the complex, Flynn said.

Part of the existing Cromwell Road facility is more than 50 years old, Flynn said. It's uncertain what will happen to that property, she said.

VW is spending $900 million, including more than $600 million in Chattanooga, to expand its plant to produce a new sport utility vehicle later this year.

Spanish automotive supplier Gestamp is tripling its footprint in the city, building a 180,000-square-foot plant next to VW and expanding an existing factory at Enterprise South. It's also revamping an old Farley's & Sathers candy production plant off Jersey Pike to make auto parts.

In all, Gestamp is spending more than $180 million in its Chattanooga expansion.

Meanwhile, TAG Manufacturing, which makes attachments such as buckets for heavy construction equipment in the industrial park, plans to build a separate 200,000-square-foot facility in a $15 million expansion.,

"TAG's expansion will help us keep up with production orders and new customers," said Gary Wilt, who owns the business with brother Terry. "We're excited to be creating family wage jobs for our fellow residents."

TAG currently employs about 300 workers and it will boost its headcount to 500 over five years.

Gestamp intends to hire about 510 employees at its Chattanooga locations over the next couple of years in addition to the 300 or so it already has in the city.

VW ultimately plans to bring on about 2,000 additional workers to the more than 2,400 who work at the factory.

Enterprise South industrial park was carved out of a former U.S. Army ammunition plant site more than a decade and a half ago. The Volunteer Army Ammunitions Plant in Chattanooga began initial TNT production in 1942 and operated as a munitions plant until 1977 and supported a fertilizer plant until 1982 when the military declared the site as surplus.

Now, more than 6,000 people go to work daily in the industrial park at more than a half dozen employers such as VW, Amazon, Gestamp, eSpin and Plastic Omnium.

Contact Mike Pare at mpare@timesfreepress.com or 423-757-6318.