published Wednesday, September 19th, 2012

Tennessee evaluating office building here

The state of Tennessee's Chattanooga State Office Building is at 400 McCallie Ave. in downtown Chattanooga, Tenn.
The state of Tennessee's Chattanooga State Office Building is at 400 McCallie Ave. in downtown Chattanooga, Tenn.
Photo by Alyson Wright.

NASHVILLE — State General Services Commissioner Steve Cates said Tuesday he isn't ready just yet to declare that the Chattanooga State Office Building and its operating systems are "obsolete."

Department officials are looking at a consultant's findings "and evaluating those," he said.

After the state's consulting firm, Jones Lang LaSalle, studied problems and usage at 33 office buildings owned and operated by General Services, it said the 58-year-old, seven-story McCallie Avenue structure is one of four "old and obsolete" buildings with inefficient space plans and numerous structural or operating system needs.

Fixing the 147,269-square-foot building is estimated to cost $8.49 million, the consultants say, and of that, about $7.9 million is for heating, ventilation and air conditioning problems.

A decision will be made before year's end on whether to make repairs or find some other use for the buildings, Cates said. Two of the other buildings are in Nashville while one is in Memphis.

"What we're trying to do is look at total operating costs for our buildings then compare that to what the value of the buildings are versus what replacement cost is versus spending what they're recommending," Cates said.

Cates, a developer and civil engineer who became commissioner 20 months ago, brought in the consultants to look at how Tennessee handles its owned and leased property.

Jones Lang LaSalle found numerous problems at state-owned buildings, inefficient operating systems that boost utility costs and outdated and worn out office environments.

Consultants also revealed a decades-old "run to fail" approach in which the state often neglected routine maintenance and repair until officials were forced to act.

While the state is seeking to eliminate 1 million square feet in its lease-space portfolio, consultants outlined a process to gauge whether the state should leave some state-owned buildings for leased space.

Last week, Cates' spokeswoman Kelly Smith said officials couldn't rule out whether that would happen with the Chattanooga State Office Building.

about Andy Sher...

Andy Sher is a Nashville-based staff writer covering Tennessee state government and politics for the Times Free Press. A Washington correspondent from 1999-2005 for the Times Free Press, Andy previously headed up state Capitol coverage for The Chattanooga Times, worked as a state Capitol reporter for The Nashville Banner and was a contributor to The Tennessee Journal, among other publications. Andy worked for 17 years at The Chattanooga Times covering police, health care, county government, ...

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