The Haslam administration’s plans to demolish the historic Cordell Hull building are still under review, the governor said recently.
“The evaluation is to decide whether we’d be better off to use that and reconfigure it or to use it in some other way,” Gov. Bill Haslam told reporters at state economic development conference in Nashville Friday.
“Regardless, that building is going to have to be reconfigured,” he said.
In the spring, the administration sought approval to demolish the 59-year-old building after a real estate firm was hired by the administration to study the condition of the state’s buildings.
Jones Lang Lasalle, a Chicago-based company that Haslam once invested in, determined that the state would need to spend $40 million to repair the Cordell Hull structure and an adjoining building. The firm then recommended tearing the office building down as the most cost-efficient plan of action.
The Haslam administration has agreed that the Hull building is more of a liability than an asset to the state, saying its layout isn’t conducive to the style of office design that the state is seeking to implement.
Employees who are currently housed in the Cordell Hull building, located adjacent to the State Capitol on Charlotte Avenue, will move to the William R. Snodgrass Tennessee Tower, 312 Rosa L. Parks Blvd. in downtown Nashville. The move is estimated to save the state $100 million over the next 10 years, Haslam said.
“Either way economically we are a lot better off having people move out of there to somewhere else. And if that building is deemed it’s the best place and worthy of being used, then we’ll do the reconfiguration,” Haslam said.
JLL also suggested either selling the land to a private developer who could then lease office space back to the state or creating green space.
Despite the claims of neglect from JLL, a report from News Channel 5 said it would only take $2.8 million to repair the building’s leaking foundation and only $28 million to repair all the issues currently plaguing the National Register-eligible government building.
Haslam’s plans came under fire after a tour of the building by state lawmakers didn’t turn up as many problems as questions.
The Tennessean furthermore reported in July that Jones Lang Lasalle will receive a 4 percent commission when state workers are relocated.
And the company was initially hired for $1 million to evaluate the state’s $6.2 billion in property holdings, “but that agreement gradually grew to $38 million to manage state buildings and represent Tennessee in lease negotiations,” the newspaper reported.
At least one group thinks the building is worth saving. Historic Nashville Inc. listed the Cordell Hull Building on its annual Nashville Nine. The list is made up of buildings “threatened by demolition, neglect or development”
The group said the Cordell Hull Building is worth saving because it is “one of the best examples of mid-century modern office architecture in the state.” Also it was designed by a local architectural firm and it’s public spaces are lined with “now-rare Tennessee pink marble on the walls,” Historic Nashville wrote in a press release.