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CHATTANOOGA, TN-The Staubach Co., now part of Jones Lang LaSalle Inc., worked with Volkswagen Group of America Inc. on its year-long search for a new North American automotive production plant. The effort culminated earlier this month with the official announcement that the $1-billion project will be built on a 1,350-acre site in Hamilton County.

Volkswagen, the world’s fourth-largest automaker, plans to build its new plant at Enterprise South Industrial Park, 12 miles northeast of Downtown Chattanooga. Production is scheduled to begin in early 2011 at the park, which was previously certified as an industrial megasite by the Tennessee Valley Authority.

Gregory Lubar, project leader and senior vice president, and Keith Scott, incentives negotiation leader, led a 20-member team involving Staubach personnel nationwide. Chattanooga reportedly edged out Huntsville, AL, as the site of the plant.

“We looked at many sites in many states all around the country,” Lubar tells GlobeSt.com. “For a project of this size, there wasn’t that many places it could go.”

Enterprise South is fully owned by Chattanooga and Hamilton County and has long been planned as a major industrial site, giving it a possible edge over other cities where land assemblages would take extra time. Lubar and Scott say the site selection process was made less secretive because Chattanooga increasingly became a logical choice, though that didn’t necessarily eliminate others from consideration.

Scott tells GlobeSt.com that Staubach was pleased with the collaboration and innovation encountered with all locations being considered. “They all had very strong teams that worked diligently throughout the review process,” he says.

Stefan Jacoby, president and CEO of Volkswagen Group of America in Herndon, VA, expressed appreciation to Staubach as its real estate advisor in the transaction. “From day one, they had a very strategic approach and took the time to understand our business and culture, translating our operational needs into the right overall solutions for us,” Jacoby stated in a release.

The US division of Volkswagen AG plans to turn out roughly 150,000 mid-size sedans annually at its Chattanooga facility. The German automaker expects to hire 2,000 residents from southeast Tennessee and neighboring Alabama and Georgia.

About the same time Volkswagen was finalizing its Chattanooga plans this month, Dallas-based Staubach was completing its own merger with Chicago-based Jones Lang LaSalle. However, Lubar says the Staubach team maintained its focus on the transaction rather than being distracted by internal corporate matters.

Besides extending Staubach’s long-standing relationship with Volkswagen, Lubar says the Chattanooga land deal was one of the largest and most complex its team ever completed. “There are very few people who get to work on a project like this,” he said, “because they don’t happen very often.”

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