An office building once used by Answer Financial on Union Valley Road is now home to employees working on the multi-billion-dollar Uranium Processing Facility at the Y-12 National Security Complex.
The UPF employees now located at 90 Union Valley Road, which is across Scarboro Road from Y-12, were previously split between offices at the U.S. Department of Energy’s Office of Scientific and Technical Information and 1099 Commerce Park, said Bridget Correll Waller, Y-12 community and government relations manager. The new consolidated offices include space for UPF federal staff, project managers, and workers in procurement, security, quality assurance, project services and project controls, and Environment, Safety and Health, or ES&H.
The new location also provides the needed space for project growth, Waller said.
The building is owned by R&R Enterprises of Oak Ridge, and the company is having an invitation-only open house on Thursday afternoon, a reception to welcome the UPF Project Office to the property.
“We’ve been negotiating with them for quite some time,” said Rick Chinn of R&R Enterprises. “We’re extremely excited to get them in there, to have a tenant to backfill the property after Answer Financial moved to Knoxville.”
Answer Financial’s 10-year lease ended this spring, and the UPF Project Office began moving into the building in mid-May.
Waller said the UPF team has increased in size during the past year. In June 2012, the National Nuclear Security Administration had 14 full-time employees working on the project, and that increased to 43 by this June. Meanwhile, B&W Y-12, the management and operating contractor at Y-12, had 606 full-time workers on the team in June 2012 and 727 this year. Combined, that’s an increase from 620 full-time workers last year to 770 this year.
“The increase was expected as the project moves forward in completing the design for the new UPF and readies the site for construction,” Waller said.
On Thursday, she said UPF Federal Project Director John Eschenberg is hiring 10 new employees and “continuing to hire industry and subject matter experts to supplement the project teams technical and project management capabilities.”
Waller said the UPF engineering team has consolidated into other space, including at 1099 Commerce Park and at 2410 Cherahala Boulevard off Hardin Valley Road. The construction team is at Y-12 as site readiness work proceeds and officials prepare for construction, Waller said.
She said planning is under way for the second phase of the move into 90 Union Valley Road.
“Both 1099 Commerce Park and Cherahala are over capacity, and conference rooms have been converted into office space in both facilities,” Waller said. “Portions of the engineering staff and several technical new hires will be housed in 90 Union Valley Road over the next several months.”
Answer Financial announced plans earlier this year to relocate its local sales center to Knoxville. One of the largest auto and home insurance agencies in the United States, the company broke ground on a new facility on Bridgewater Road in Knoxville in January.
At the time, Chinn said R&R Enterprises was discussing possible leases with other potential tenants at the Union Valley Road building, which has space for about 450 workers.
Note: This story was last updated at 7:30 p.m.