Newspaper article The Florida Times Union

Renovation on Blue Cross Complex Planned to Start This Week

Newspaper article The Florida Times Union

Renovation on Blue Cross Complex Planned to Start This Week

Article excerpt

Blue Cross and Blue Shield of Florida intends to start the lion's share of the $36 million renovation of its downtown complex by the end of the week and complete the project within three years.

Blue Cross executive Steve Davis said interior demolition for the project began in December. The city issued permits last week for the Jacksonville-based insurer to proceed with $21 million in renovations to the 594,157-square-foot complex. Abatement, design fees and other improvements, like potential elevator and window modernizations, would make up the $15 million difference, according to Blue Cross.

"All of the usable space" in the complex will be renovated, said Davis, vice president of corporate project development.

The structures sit at 532 Riverside Ave. and comprise a 22-story, 369,843-square-foot tower; a 10-story, 156,137-square-foot center building; and a three-story, 68,167-square-foot north building, according to building plans.

The Haskell Co. is the contractor for the project, and Spillis Candela DMJM of Coral Gables is the architect.

In November, City Council approved a grant that would rebate up to $1.1 million for Blue Cross to renovate the structure, which formerly housed its corporate headquarters, and keep 1,500 jobs there with room to grow. Blue Cross has relocated much of its operations and its headquarters to a Deerwood Park campus in Southside.

The grant is an Enterprise Zone incentive based on the increase of property taxes that the renovations would generate. It would be paid out over five years to Blue Cross after construction is completed. The grant payments start in May 2005 and conclude in May 2009, city documents show.

As part of the deal, Blue Cross pledged to spend the $36 million in renovations and start work on the project by Jan. 2 this year. Completion is due by the end of 2003. …

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