Nissan HQ construction continues as BellSouth Tower up for sale

Published 7:36 pm Wednesday, November 29, 2006

The high-rise building where Nissan Motor Co. has temporary offices while the Japanese carmaker builds its North American headquarters in suburban Nashville is for sale, though company officials don’t expect the deal to affect its lease or plans to move to new offices.

The tallest building in Tennessee has been put on the market by New York private equity firm Cerberus Capital Management, which acquired the building in July when it bought a subsidiary of mailroom equipment manufacturer Pitney Bowes Inc.

Telephone company BellSouth Corp. has a long-term lease on the entire building and shares it only with Nissan, which has space in about half the building, according to Nissan spokesman Fred Standish.

Sign up for our daily email newsletter

Get the latest news sent to your inbox

Nissan, which announced plans last year to move its North American headquarters in Southern California to Tennessee, began construction on its new $100 million, 450,000 square-foot headquarters in Franklin in June and is expected to move to the 10-story building in summer 2008.

Standish said Nissan’s lease at its temporary offices is up around the same time it plans to move to its new headquarters, where the company will consolidate operations it had in four main office buildings at its former corporate campus in Gardena, Calif.

Construction is on schedule for the new headquarters, with builders finishing site preparation activities like laying pipes and completing survey work, Standish said. The building’s first steel beams are expected to go up in January.

“We haven’t had any really severe weather that would delay the work we’re into now,” he said.

The occupancy capacity of the new building — around 1,500 people — is higher than the number of employees the company will initially put into the location because it plans future expansions, Standish said.

The headquarters will house around 1,000 sales, marketing, product planning, dealer operations, communications and administration employees. The old headquarters employed a staff of about 1,300.

Nissan’s President and CEO Carlos Ghosn has said technological and organizational improvements will allow the carmaker’s new headquarters to be supported by a smaller staff than at its offices in California.

Ghosn also cited technological options like virtual offices and telecommuting as reasons for trimming staffing levels.

Nissan’s decision to move was influenced by the company’s more than two decades of manufacturing experience at its plant in Smyrna, about 30 miles away. The company also has an engine plant in Decherd.

The Smyrna plant is the company’s largest U.S. manufacturing facility and produces about 550,000 vehicles a year, including the Frontier pickup, the Pathfinder sport utility vehicle and the Maxima sports sedan. The plant is also producing Nissan’s redesigned 2007 Altima sedan.

On the Net: