Newspaper article The Florida Times Union

AOL Call Center's Move to Tech Park Starts out A-OK GM's Find No Hang-Ups with New Building

Newspaper article The Florida Times Union

AOL Call Center's Move to Tech Park Starts out A-OK GM's Find No Hang-Ups with New Building

Article excerpt

Byline: Joe Humphrey, Times-Union staff writer

Talk about a major upgrade.

Internet giant America Online, which in 1995 converted a North Jacksonville warehouse into a call center, has begun moving its 1,500 area employees to a sparkling new building in the First Coast Technology Park.

The 125,000-square-foot Southside facility already houses 40 AOL employees, who made the move last weekend. Some 400 more are moving this weekend, and the transition should be complete by the end of May.

The new call center is AOL's largest. It features a spacious cafeteria, tranquil break areas, indirect lighting, high ceilings, all new furniture. And windows. Lots of windows, overlooking ponds and landscaping around the building.

"This was built with a call center in mind," said AOL's Paul Volner, a Jacksonville-based general manager. "The other one was a converted warehouse."

The Northside center, on Imeson Park Boulevard, was once part of a Sears, Roebuck and Co. distribution center. There are low ceilings, harsh fluorescent lights and no windows.

The new building provides about one-third more square footage, which is noticeable not so much in the actual call center -- where hundreds of cubicles are lined up -- but rather in the rest of the building. There are training rooms large enough so that students don't have to turn their back on the teacher. There are break areas strategically placed for employees to unwind.

"There's a lot more chill-out space," Volner said.

The new center reflects how AOL has grown in recent years. When AOL came to the Northside seven years ago, the service had 1 million subscribers and the Internet's popularity was just gaining momentum. The company has since merged with Time Warner, creating an Internet, media and entertainment conglomerate with unparalleled reach. …

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