State Farm Moving To Collin County

State Farm Insurance’s new regional campus in Richardson will allow the Illinois-based company to boost its Dallas-area employment to 8,000 workers.

The buildings open in early 2015.

The mammoth commercial real estate development — already under construction at Bush Turnpike and Plano Road — will contain three office towers plus parking garages.

The tallest of the high-rises in the 1.5 million-square-foot office project will be 21 stories. And there is parking for almost 7,000 cars.

The insurance company development tops all other such corporate projects in North Texas.

“It’s the largest project that has been built in Dallas-Fort Worth ever as it relates to a corporate facility,” Steve Van Amburgh, CEO of project developer KDC, said at the groundbreaking Thursday morning. “The mission given by the team at State Farm was to create a really great workplace.

“They want us to develop a very world-class facility.”

With an estimated price tag of more than a half-billion dollars, the project was too large for one lender to fund.

“We’ve got six banks that are participating to finance this great project,” Van Amburgh said.

JPMorgan Chase, U.S. Bank, Wells Fargo, Bank of Texas, Capital One Bank and Regions Bank joined forces to provide construction loans for the development.

Dallas architect Corgan Associates — the same firm that did the Blue Cross Blue Shield of Texas headquarters in Richardson and the new Encana Oil & Gas Tower in Plano — designed the State Farm complex.

Austin Commercial is the general contractor for the project.

And Randy Cooper and Craig Wilson with Cassidy Turley negotiated the office transactions.

State Farm Insurance officials started working with KDC and the city of Richardson in June 2012 to lay the groundwork for the big development.

Until Thursday’s groundbreaking event, the company had kept almost all details of the Richardson project under wraps. State Farm still isn’t talking about where it’s relocating employees from, how many total jobs it plans to create here or where exactly those workers will be housed.

‘Aggressive schedule’

Even with all of the employees the insurer is adding in North Texas, State Farm will still be at the bottom of the list of top 20 employers in the Dallas-Fort Worth area.

Construction of the three Richardson buildings actually started in April.

As State Farm senior vice president Mary Crego talked at the ceremony on the building site, construction equipment rumbled just yards behind her.

“It’s a sign of the aggressive schedule that we have that I don’t even mind,” Crego said. “This new facility will help us better serve the insurance and financial services needs of our customers across North America.”

The State Farm campus is just part of an even larger, $1.5 billion, 186-acre development KDC is building.

KDC in the first phase will also build almost 1,000 apartments, more than 75,000 square feet of retail space and a 150-room hotel. The developer hopes to open a portion of this about the same time State Farm moves in.

“We are also talking to businesses about a couple of other office buildings across the street,” said KDC president Toby Grove.

Grove said his company is studying plans on how to connect its development on the west and east sides of Plano Road.

“We are looking at a signature bridge or maybe a tunnel,” he said.

Beyond saying “several thousand,” State Farm officials aren’t detailing just how many people will work in its huge Richardson complex — one of three such facilities the company is building around the country.

The others are near Phoenix and in the Atlanta area.

Bringing in workers

The insurance company in the last year has rented more than 1.8 million square feet of office space in Richardson and Irving to house its workers. Some of that space will be vacated when the new buildings are finished, but perhaps not all.

“The need or use of those leases will be determined over time and by business needs going forward,” State Farm spokesman Gary Stephenson said.

State Farm is relocating an undisclosed number of workers from other cities to the Dallas area.

In March, the company held a hiring event to recruit between 500 and 600 employees.

“We plan to hire 700 in the Dallas area in the next six months,” Stephenson said.

Most of the positions relate to the company’s claims operations, customer service and sales support.

Richardson officials see the project as a turning point for the city.

“State Farm will become by far the largest employer in the city of Richardson,” said City Manager Dan Johnson. “This development will change the dynamics of our local and regional economy — it will alter the profile of our skyline.”

Richardson’s current top employer is AT&T, which has about 4,300 workers in the Telecom Corridor.

Bank of America, Blue Cross Blue Shield of Texas and Verizon are also major job providers in the city.

At the height of the 1990s telecom boom, Nortel Networks had almost 10,000 workers in Richardson before the company went bankrupt and fired thousands in the Dallas area.

Now, State Farm is planting a big flag in the area that was once dominated by high-tech firms.

“When one of the top 50 largest corporations in the nation decides to build a regional hub in our neighborhood, it is a special occasion,” Johnson said.

Follow Steve Brown on Twitter at @SteveBrownDMN.

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