[IMGCAP(1)]RICHARDSON, TX-After one year of hard work and planning, Koll Development Co. is ready to break ground on a one-million-sf campus, expandable to 2.3 million sf, for Blue Cross and Blue Shield of Texas. The starting bell rings Thursday at the 34-acre corporate headquarters site.

Blue Cross and Blue Shield signed the build-to-suit lease late last year. Koll acquired the development site at 1001 E. Lookout Dr. in Galatyn Park in the past two months. “We’ve had a lot of work to do. It’s been a great team effort and we’re looking forward to starting construction,” says Tobin Grove, president of the Dallas-based Koll, whose company will own the completed campus. The ceremony is set for 10 a.m.

Grove tells GlobeSt.com that the 15-story and seven-story class A office towers and six-level parking garage will begin to go vertical in early 2008. Delivery is planned for fourth quarter 2009, with Blue Cross and Blue Shield transitioning into the space in early 2010.

[IMGCAP(2)]The project cost is being kept under wraps. Based on today’s construction costs, the tab is sure to exceed $150 million when the dust settles on the first phase.

Under the terms of the build-to-suit pact, Koll has assumed the hospitalization carrier’s 517,000-sf lease at 901 S. Central Expressway, also in Richardson. To keep the 25-year tenant in the city, council and Collin County leaders agreed to build a new road, about a half-mile in length, which will connect to Renner Road and put the campus within straight shots and easy commutes of two DART rail transit lines.

Blue Cross and Blue Shield will move at least other three teams in North Texas to the campus when it’s done. It employs 3,900 workers in the region, but is getting enough room to seat another 1,000 in the first phase and up to 8,000 at build-out. The campus is considered this year’s largest development project in Dallas/Fort Worth.

Dallas-based Corgan Architects Inc. and zpd+a of Chicago designed the campus, using Texas stone accents and custom woodwork for the class A finishing touches. The office towers will sport a full-service cafeteria, 400-seat auditorium and several conference and meeting rooms.

Grove says talks have begun with tenant’s existing building owner, Swig Co. LLC of San Francisco, to decide if sublease or redevelopment is the way to go. Blue Cross and Blue Shield renewed its long-time lease in February 2005 with a 16-year term for the 20.29-acre complex. The tenant is a division of Health Care Services Corp., which also operates Blue Cross and Blue Shield plans in Illinois, New Mexico and Oklahoma. Jeff Ellerman and Michael Sessa with Dallas-based Staubach team are Blue Cross and Blue Shield’s long-time tenant reps.

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