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- 2012 - October - 10th -

ING to use less space in Southside, but intends to add jobs

by Karen Brune Mathis, Managing Editor

ING U.S. spokesman Joseph Loparco said Tuesday that the company decided to condense its space in Freedom Commerce Centre to improve the efficiency of its operations while also allowing for another 30 employees.

Building permit applications show ING will consolidate operations within the four-story, 161,200-square-foot Gunti Building from all four floors to the top two floors and half of the first.

The renovation costs are shown as $2.84 million.

Loparco, head of external communications in Windsor, Conn., for ING U.S., said ING’s new lease arrangement was a “right-sizing” and not a downsizing.

“Under the current lease, we had significant space that was going unused,” he said in an email.

“This was due to a very popular work-life balance initiative available to many employees who can choose to work remotely from home under our ‘virtual’ program,” he said.

“The best way to describe this is that we are actually ‘right-sizing’ to fit our current on-site space requirements. Plus, the new arrangement gives us an opportunity to make some very positive energy-efficient updates to the premises,” he said.

Loparco said ING’s lease expires Nov. 30. The company reviewed its needs and condensed its space as it renewed its lease.

He said its current space requirements reflect the “virtual” employment program, which offers employees the flexibility to work remotely from their homes.

He said about 100 employees will work remotely.

“We’re also making some positive, energy-focused improvements to the premises which support our company’s commitment to green initiatives,” he said.

Loparco said ING has about 570 employees and the renovations will allow for 600.

“This allows for the addition of some new call center positions, which we project throughout the rest of the year,” he said.

Some of the improvements will include occupancy sensors, “daylight harvesting” capabilities, new heating and air-conditioning systems, hands-free restroom fixtures, wireless access and energy management technologies.

“Daylight harvesting” is a system that controls the use of artificial lighting when natural daylight is available, which reduces energy consumption.

As the Daily Record reported Tuesday, tenant improvement plans were filed with the City for ING, the financial, retirement, investment and insurance company, to modify its South Jacksonville office operations.ING U.S. is the U.S.-based operation of ING Groep N.V., which is based in the Netherlands. ING U.S. is based in New York.

In the United States, the ING family of companies offers financial services to retail and institutional clients, including retirement plans, IRA rollovers and transfers, stable value, institutional investment management, mutual funds, alternative investments, life insurance, employee benefits, fixed and indexed annuities and financial planning.

It says it serves about 13 million customers across the nation. Its website is ing.us.

Real estate broker Chuck White, senior vice president with NAI Hallmark Partners, said he and broker Steve Ernst, vice president at CLW Real Estate Services Group of Tampa, represented ING.

White said ING was looking for 100,000 square feet of space in the market but decided to renew at the Gunti Building, at 8900 Freedom Commerce Parkway.

Loparco said the new lease is for about 98,400 square feet of space.

ING came to Jacksonville by way of its 2008 acquisition of CitiStreet LLC. ING paid a reported $900 million for the retirement plan and benefit service administration organization, including its operation in Australia.

CitiStreet leased the Freedom Commerce Center building.

Looking back further, in early 2003, CitiStreet leased 269,000 square feet of space among three buildings in Jacksonville, comprising the Baymeadows building; 74,000 square foot deal at the Quadrant, near Butler Boulevard and Interstate 95, and 35,000 square feet Downtown.

It employed about 1,000 people.

CitiStreet was a joint venture of New York-based Citigroup Inc. and State Street Corp. of Boston, which owned Jacksonville-based Wellspring Resources.

Wellspring Resources began operating in Freedom Commerce Centre in 1997.

Dining Downtown

Jacksonville Jaguars CFO Bill Prescott and his wife, Kim, scheduled the next “Dine with Us Downtown” for Oct. 18 at River City Brewing Company.

The Prescotts have reservations for 7:30 p.m. and invite people to make reservations from 5:30-9:30 p.m. Their goal is to bring 100 diners Downtown.

“I also ask to enlist your support in sharing this invitation with your friends and business associates,” he writes in the emailed invitation.

River City Brewing Company is at 835 Museum Circle on the Downtown Southbank.

It’s the 12th Dine with Us Downtown event the Prescotts have arranged in their quest to boost business for restaurants and entertainment venues on the Northbank and Southbank.

kmathis@baileypub.com

@MathisKb

356-2466

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