published Thursday, August 8th, 2013

Haslam administration expected on Aug. 19 to propose a landlord for Chattanooga state workers

Gov. Bill Haslam answers a question during a news conference in this file photo.
Gov. Bill Haslam answers a question during a news conference in this file photo.
Photo by Associated Press /Chattanooga Times Free Press.
  • photo
    The state of Tennessee is seeking office space to relocate from the Chattanooga State Office Building on McCallie Avenue in downtown Chattanooga.
    Photo by Staff File Photo.
    enlarge photo

NASHVILLE — The Haslam administration plans to go before a state agency on Aug. 19 with recommendations on which Chattanooga landlord should win a contract to lease office space to the state.

Peter Heimbach, a General Services Department official, said today that officials hope to have a recommendation ready for State Building Commission Executive Subcommittee members to consider by then.

“That’s the plan,” Heimback said. “That’s what’s outlined in the schedule.”

His comments came following a meeting of the full State Building Commission in which members approved decommissioning five state-owned buildings statewide. Among them are the Chattanooga State Office Building on McCallie Avenue and the nearby James R. Mapp Building.

A state consultant and contractor, Jones Lang LaSalle LLC, recommended shuttering the buildings to save money either through constructing new buildings or leasing space from private vendors.

Gov. Bill Haslam and General Services Commissioner Steve Cates opted for leased space. Jones Lang LaSalle, which determined constructing new buildings was the least costly route, will earn a 4 percent commission fee on the leases.

For Chattanooga, General Services is studying seven lease proposals from building owners, including four owned by Chattanooga businessman Henry Luken to house an estimated 400 state workers.

  • photo
    The James P. Mapp Building currently houses state offices, but the state wants to close the facility citing costly needed repairs.
    Photo by Staff File Photo.
    enlarge photo

General Services solicited the bids under a request-for-proposal process in which the vendors’ pitches are being scored in terms of meeting state needs as well as cost.

But the public won’t be able to see any information about the scoring and who comes out ahead until the day it is acted on by the Executive Subcommittee.

Other state buildings slated for decommissioning are in Nashville and Memphis. The administration has backed off for now on its plans to demolish the state’s historic Cordell Hull State Building and a connecting building pending a second evaluation.

In other State Building Commission action today, members gave final approval to a budgeted $200,000 grant to the Chattanooga Zoo for a new giraffe exhibit and another $200,000 in the state budget for installation of a new otter exhibit at the Tennessee Aquarium.

The go ahead for both projects had previously been approved by the commission but formal action was required for the grants themselves.

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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