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.
Dave Flessner is the business editor for the Times Free Press. A journalist for 35 years, Dave has been business editor and projects editor for the Chattanooga Times Free Press, city editor for The Chattanooga Times, business and county reporter for the Chattanooga Times, correspondent for the Lansing State Journal and Ingham County News in Michigan, staff writer for the Hastings Daily Tribune in Nebraska, and news director for WCBN-FM in Michigan. Dave, a native ...