SALINA — Nationwide Mutual Insurance Co. plans to move its Salina claims center this fall, leaving a building that it built and once owned for a smaller location about a mile away.
Columbus, Ohio–based Nationwide will withdraw its Salina operations from their longtime home at 110 Elwood Davis Road this September and relocate them to a facility at 225 Greenfield Parkway..
The move is a way to cut costs, according to Roy Kunkle, Nationwide’s associate vice president of corporate real estate. He declined to share the savings Nationwide estimates it will see from the relocation, but says the company will lease less space at its new location than it currently leases at Elwood Davis Road.
“We have a little bit more space than we need, and we thought it would be a good idea to lift folks out of there and get them in a new place without having to go through a reconstruction effort,” Kunkle says.
Nationwide has 50,000 square feet at Elwood Davis Road in a lease set to expire in October. However, it uses only about 27,000 square feet of that space, according to Kunkle. It will have 29,000 square feet at its new location on Greenfield Parkway.
The insurer needs less space because it reduced staffing at the claims center about 10 years ago, when new technology made its operations more efficient, Kunkle says. Nationwide declined to say how many employees worked at the building before those reductions. Currently, 130 claims associates and support staffers work there.
The smaller space at Greenfield Parkway will have enough extra room to allow Nationwide to increase staff levels at the claims center by 10 percent if it ever needs to do so, Kunkle says. He added that the insurer currently has no plans to add employees at the claims center.
Nationwide will leave behind an Elwood Davis Road building that it has been in for nearly 40 years. The company built the facility in the early 1970s and moved into it in 1973, according to Kunkle.
The insurer decided to sell the building in the mid-2000s, Kunkle says. It sold the facility to Ambani Realty Inc. of Warren, N.J. in 2006, according to records from Onondaga County’s Office of Real Property Tax Services, which lists the building as having a gross floor area of 78,656 square feet.
Kunkle declined to disclose the financial terms of the sale. The building had an assessed value of $4 million in 2011, according to county records.
“We made a strategic decision to sell it,” Kunkle says. “It’s kind of the smart way of doing business these days. Real estate has to be flexible to the work force.”
Nationwide chose the Greenfield Parkway building for its new location in part because it is close to Elwood Davis Road. The Greenfield Parkway facility is just over a one-mile drive from the company’s previous location, meaning employees will not have to overhaul their commutes when the center moves, Kunkle says.
The insurer also liked the Greenfield Parkway building because it will help maintain Nationwide’s visibility. Signs for the new location will be visible to drivers getting off of Interstate 81, which is similar to Nationwide’s current home, which can be seen from the New York State Thruway (I-90), Kunkle says.
The insurer’s space at Greenfield Parkway will be renovated with new carpeting, new lighting, and new office partitions. Nationwide declined to share the estimated cost of renovations.
Nationwide expects to split renovation costs with the building’s owner. The Edgewater Salina Co. of Salina owns the building, which has a gross floor area of 75,204 square feet, according to records from Onondaga County’s Office of Real Property Tax Services.
No general contractor has been selected for the work, Kunkle says. He expects to put the project up for bids within 30 days. BDHP Architecture, which is based in Cincinnati, is the project’s architect.
CBRE Syracuse, Nationwide’s commercial real-estate broker, helped the company find the new space, Kunkle says. Nationwide has agreed to lease the Greenfield Parkway space for five years.