BlueCross BlueShield puts 11-acre Gateway site up for sale in downtown Chattanooga

Staff Photo by Mike Pare / The main entrance to the BlueCross BlueShield of Tennessee Gateway site at 401 W. M.L. King Blvd. in downtown Chattanooga is shown Friday.

Chattanooga-based health insurer BlueCross BlueShield of Tennessee aims to sell a key 11-acre tract of its downtown campus as the company continues to embrace a remote-first work model.

The company has listed for sale its Gateway campus at 401 W. M.L. King Blvd., which sits just below its high-profile Cameron Hill location, officials said Friday.

Lisa VanCleave Lay, the company's vice president of properties and corporate services, said officials aren't predicting how long it will take to find a buyer and complete a sale.

But she said in an email that "we feel confident that the location and layout will be attractive to other businesses that wish to have a presence in the heart of downtown Chattanooga."

Dalya Qualls White, senior vice president and chief communications officer for BlueCross BlueShield, said in a note to employees that the company's facility needs have evolved now that most employees work remotely.

"We remain committed to our Cameron Hill space as the long-term headquarters for serving our members, and we're continuing to explore enhancements that make it a destination for all employees," she said.

BlueCross BlueShield, which employs about 4,000 people in Chattanooga, has 185,000 square feet of office space in the Gateway property, according to the real estate listing.

Real estate broker Jones Lang LaSalle said the property is zoned commercial and allows for redevelopment flexibility as residential/multi-family with a five-story height limit.

"This part of Chattanooga is a rapidly transforming area," the listing said, citing the massive redevelopment undertaken at the former Alstom manufacturing site nearby on Riverfront Parkway, now called The Bend.

The listing doesn't include a sales price, but the Hamilton County Assessor of Property values the land and building at $11.8 million.

John Hawbaker, the insurer's director of corporate communications, said in the note to employees that the company is considering its work space needs amid its remote-first model.

He said that "every cost reduction step we take can help us meet member and customer expectations for affordability."

Hawbaker said that following the sale of BlueCross offices in Johnson City, Knoxville and Nashville's West End in 2022, the company is moving forward with listing the Gateway facility.

"Many staff members in our Gateway building have already been relocated to Cameron Hill," he said. "Optimizing our physical space helps us focus more on people, and it's another way of practicing responsible stewardship of our members' premium dollars. This move will also help consolidate our teams and processes for a more connected and effective work environment."

BlueCross has occupied the Gateway complex since 1993.

In 2009, BlueCross consolidated its headquarters staff that had been working in 10 different buildings in Chattanooga into a new $299 million headquarters built atop Cameron Hill overlooking downtown.

The 950,000-square-foot office complex was designed to house employees of Tennessee's biggest health insurer in a more secure and efficient setting. But a decade after its completion, much of the sprawling five-building complex remains vacant as most workers are now doing their job at home.

When the pandemic quickly forced BlueCross to move thousands of workers out of its offices in March 2020, the employer quickly changed the way it did business. The company said most employees like working from home better and are often more efficient.

Before BlueCross acquired the Gateway property, for many years it held commercial space including a Zayre department store, a grocery store and a television studio.

Contact Mike Pare at or 423-757-6318.