BLOOMINGTON — A Texas developer broke ground Thursday on a $1.5 billion project in Richardson, Texas, that includes 1.5 million square feet for a new State Farm regional facility.
That facility is part of a massive expansion plan by the Bloomington-based insurer to create a trio of hubs in the Dallas, Atlanta and Phoenix metro areas — moves that also have fueled speculation about the possible impact on its headquarters in Bloomington.
And while “a few” job functions in Bloomington are under review for relocation, State Farm plans to maintain its overall employment of about 15,000 people here, spokesman Phil Supple said, declining to discuss specific jobs being evaluated. It’s also possible other job functions here could expand, he said.
“Bloomington is our home. We’ve been here 91-plus years,” Supple said. “Our headquarters remains here, and we expect to maintain our very large presence here.”
But in tandem with that, McLean County’s largest employer said it also needs to plan for growth by creating the hubs in cities selected because of their established employee base, growing populations, public transportation and other amenities, and different time zones.
In Richardson, State Farm will lease space in three office towers that are part of a 186-acre project by KDC Real Estate Development & Investments that also includes 1,000 multifamily residential units, a 150-room hotel, a health clinic and fitness facility, and more than 75,000 square feet of retail and restaurants.
By comparison, its Corporate South campus in Bloomington sits on 131 acres.
The development, in a community of about 100,000 residents, is about 13 miles north of Dallas. The company declined to release terms of the lease.
It is slated for occupancy in late 2014.
When it is complete, State Farm will have capacity for up to 8,000 employees in the Dallas metro area; it currently has space for about 2,500. By comparison, the Dallas-Fort Worth’s largest private employer, American Airlines, has 24,700 employees, according to the city of Dallas’ Office of Economic Development.
The Richardson facilities will provide claims, service and sales support — as will the hubs in the Atlanta and Phoenix areas. The company has held job fairs recently — particularly in the Dallas and Phoenix areas — with more scheduled throughout the summer.
“Our move here to Richardson and the creation of a larger multifunctional facility is one of many changes we’re making across the country to better meet the ever-expanding needs of our customers,” said Mary Crego, State Farm senior vice president.
To the west, State Farm also will be an anchor tenant in a similar project — the $600 million multiuse Marina Heights project in Tempe, Ariz., the largest office development deal in Arizona history, according to the city of Tempe.
There it will lease nearly 2 million square feet in five buildings — space about equivalent to the size of Corporate South when it opened in 1996. The more than 20-acre campus, on land owned by Arizona State University, also will include 40,000 to 60,000 square feet of retail space and a 10-acre public lakeside plaza. Occupancy is slated for fall 2015.
State Farm has 2,100 employees in Phoenix. Supple did not have information on potential employee growth there.
In metro Atlanta, the company has 1.2 million square feet of leased space and is evaluating its future needs, Supple said. The area is home to nearly 3,500 State Farm employees — the company’s second-largest concentration, after Bloomington.
In tandem with the developments, there also will be assessments of needs at other locations throughout the country. The company is not sure whether its overall employment, now about 65,000, will be affected.
“We do have some facilities being actively evaluated now,” Supple said, partly because of the planned expansions as well as for other reasons, including efficiencies connected to technology.
For example, the company recently decided it will close a call center with more than 500 employees in West El Paso, Texas, next year and move those duties to the Phoenix and Dallas area hubs.
The expansions come on the heels of a robust 2012 in which the company quadrupled its profits and increased its net worth 7.5 percent, to $65.4 billion, thanks largely to improved underwriting and fewer natural disasters.
“We’re having a 2013 that’s better than 2012, which was one of the best years we’ve had,” Supple said.