LANSING, Mich., Oct. 8 In a bold move that will awaken aslumbering giant on the Grand River, accommodate up to 500 new jobs forLansing and further revitalize the downtown area, Blue Cross Blue Shield ofMichigan subsidiary Accident Fund Insurance Company of America announced todayit will establish its new national corporate headquarters in the Lansing Boardof Water & Light's Ottawa Street Station power plant. The plan is part of aredevelopment agreement reached with the city and state.
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The agreement signals the start of a historic partnership processrequiring the supportive efforts of local and state agencies as parties moveforward to make this transformation a reality.
"Today, Accident Fund and our parent company - Blue Cross Blue Shield ofMichigan - are committing long-term to the city of Lansing, the state ofMichigan and the people of mid-Michigan," said Elizabeth R. Haar, AccidentFund president and CEO. "We are here in Michigan to stay, we are growing jobshere and we are stating to the nation that Michigan is a great place to dobusiness."
The announcement was made this morning by Accident Fund together with BlueCross Blue Shield of Michigan, as well as many state and local officials whogathered for a panoramic view of the site along the banks of the Grand River.The redevelopment will be the largest adaptive reuse of a historic power plantin the state.
"This is great economic news for Lansing and Michigan, and anotherdemonstration of our corporate commitment to Michigan," said Daniel J. Loepp,president and CEO of Blue Cross Blue Shield of Michigan. "Accident Fund hasgrown significantly since becoming a national carrier of workers'compensation. We believe the company will continue to grow and expand here inMichigan if given more opportunities to do so in the future."
Accident Fund said it expects to create up to 500 new jobs for Lansing andMichigan, bringing its total workforce to 1,200. The new jobs will be createdto accommodate the company's planned strategic growth over the next severalyears. Accident Fund determined it would outgrow its two present Lansingfacilities by 2011, requiring a search for new national headquarters.
"Accident Fund will preserve a downtown landmark while transforming itinto an exciting state of the art business campus," Haar said. "Thisredevelopment will be a catalyst to a revitalized downtown and Lansingcommunity. It shows what can be accomplished by a strong, stable company thathas the freedom to execute its strategic vision."
"We considered several sites for this expansion," Haar continued. "After athorough analysis, we decided this decision was best not only for AccidentFund, but also for our home city and state."
The Ottawa Street Station power plant is presently owned by the LansingBoard of Water & Light. A redevelopment agreement was signed by Accident Fund,BWL and the City of Lansing. Accident Fund is working with The ChristmanCompany of Lansing as the developer.
Haar said the downtown site offers room for growth and space for on-siteparking in a campus-like setting. Preliminary plans include renovation of thepower plant into Class A office space, as well as construction of an adjoiningcomplementary building providing additional office space and a central energyplant. A 1,000-car parking deck also will be built, and the present OttawaStreet parking structure will be razed. Plans also include a linear publicpark along the riverfront.
The project is still in a developmental phase, and other details remain tobe worked out. The seven-acre project site stretches north from Ottawa Streetto Shiawassee Street between Grand Avenue and the Grand River. Planning isunderway and the projected start date for the