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An Even Bigger Deal: New Nashville HQ Pulls in Other Units

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Bridgestone-HQ-NewBack in 1988 when Bridgestone first fully arrived in Nashville, few could have imagined how a 300-person corporate headquarters in the outskirts could blossom into a 30-story office tower in the heart of downtown.

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But that is exactly what has happened, as Bridgestone Americas affirmed what city and county wags have been openly discussing for months: the tire giant is moving into prime real estate adjacent to Nashville’s shiny new convention center, the Country Music Hall of Fame and its namesake arena.

Coming, too, are 1,700 jobs as the corporation pulls together operations in Bloomington, Ill., and Indianapolis, Ind.

The city and county have committed a reported $50 million in incentives, and the state is chipping in with an undisclosed sum that approaches the same dollar level. And part of the entire incentive package, said a report, give Bridgestone a 100% real estate property tax abatement for 20 years starting in 2018, as well as a $500 credit for each new employee added to Davidson County over the next seven years.

“Uniting teammates from our core business units in one location is fundamental to continuing to build a bright, sustainable future for our company,” said CEO and president Gary Garfield. “Under one roof, we will increase collaboration, innovation and growth across our lines of business. Current and future teammates will benefit by being part of an exciting and motivating workplace culture intensely focused on meeting the needs of those who buy our products and services.”

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Bridgestone Americas’ tire operations, with some 1,100 employees based near Nashville International Airport, will occupy most of the planned 514,000-square-foot, 30-story headquarters building, located at 4th Avenue South and Demonbreun Street. Joining them will be Bridgestone Retail Operations, presently based in Illinois; and Firestone Building Products Co. and Firestone Industrial Products Co., both currently in Indianapolis.

One report said that Bridgestone would fill 506,000 square feet of the building, with the remainder to be used for retail businesses.

Groundbreaking won’t officially happen until early 2015, with the facility slated for completion in mid-to-late 2017.

Yesterday’s announcement (not a formal groundbreaking, as had been reported locally), included Garfield, as well as Tennessee Governor Bill Haslam; Tennessee Economic and Community Development commissioner Bill Hagerty; Nashville Mayor Karl Dean; Nashville Chamber of Commerce president and CEO Ralph Schulz; and Highwoods Properties president and CEO Ed Fritsch.

While in his speech yesterday Garfield stated that, “We received world-class receptions and very competitive offers from several major cities,” Nashville was never in doubt. The Nashville Business Journal noted that Bridgestone explored several parcels in downtown, including one on the north side of Broadway Avenue (the city’s major east-west corridor, and north-south demarcation line) on the site of the former Nashville Convention Center, which is being redeveloped. “But construction couldn’t get going soon enough in order to have an office building ready for Bridgestone when the company needed it,” the Business Journal reported.

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Over the span of two days last month, Highwoods Properties, the developer and now the city’s largest office landlord with 23 buildings and 3.4 million square feet of floor space, according to reports, dropped $8.54 million to acquire the parcels needed for the Bridgestone office tower.

Flirtations aside, “At the end of the day, Nashville prevailed,” Garfield said. “The city offers a great quality of life and low business costs, with a reasonable cost of living for our teammates. Downtown Nashville is vibrant and growing. And the support and leadership shown by the State of Tennessee, Nashville Metro government and the Tennessee Valley Authority really made our decision clear.”

Architecture firm Perkins+Will has been retained by Highwoods and Bridgestone to design the new facility and tenant improvements, which are expected to be LEED-certified at the Gold level and reflect best practices in workplace space design.

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