Starting Monday, Jacksonville-based Availity LLC and about 400 employees will operate at its new headquarters offices at Town Center One. Until then, most employees will work from home as the move is completed to the newly constructed building at 5555 Gate Parkway, across Butler Boulevard from St. Johns Town Center. “This whole office was built for you to get up and move around,” said Molly Miles, vice president of marketing, during a tour Tuesday.
Availity previously used 62,726 square feet of space at the nearby WaterView building. The health care IT company will lease most of the five-story, 160,000-square-foot Town Center One, taking 105,000 square feet on the entire third through fifth floors and part of the first.
Town Center One developer VanTrust Real Estate LLC moved into part of the first floor. City incentives approved in April 2017 call for Availity to add 250 positions at an average annual salary of $70,000 by December 2021.
The space for those additional employees will be ready. Miles said Availity outgrew the WaterView space and design.
“Not only do we need more desks and chairs to support our future growth, we need a layout that is designed for collaboration and innovation,” she said. Brasfield & Gorrie LLC built-out the space at a project cost of $4.82 million, according to a permit issued in February, but that doesn't include furniture, appliances and other amenities.
The project represents a capital investment of at least $12.1 million for the build-out and furnishings and equipment, according to the incentives agreement. The space designer was Connie Turner Interiors.
Miles described the Town Center One space as designed with open breakout rooms, meeting rooms that feel like living rooms, and a café that is designed for work and play, with space for a pingpong table and arcade games.
And there’s the “floating” staircase that connects the third through fifth floors internally, allowing employees access within the offices without having to use elevators or to move outside the secured space. “That’s just cool,” Miles said.
She said the space was set up “to get you to move around. If you sit at your desk all day at Availity, you’re missing the point,” Mile said. For example, she said in an email: “Stretch out on the couch and take that conference call from the Nightingale room. Pick up your laptops and plug into the counter in the café. Take a break from coding and play the giant game of Scrabble,” she said. “Everything is packaged with innovation and collaboration in mind,” she said.
All desks are designed for sitting or standing; each of the upper three floors has an open floor plan with living-room type areas on each corner and a central coffee kitchen. The first floor is named for Availity’s hometown area. Conference and smaller collaboration rooms are labeled Orange Park, Riverside, San Marco, Ponte Vedra, Saint Augustine and Amelia Island, for example.
A fitness center and a large cafe area are complemented by the building's outdoor Wi-Fi-enabled space with patio tables and chairs and space for food trucks. There also are electric car chargers. Each of the top floors is themed and branded with one of Availity's three colors.
The “green” third floor carries an academic theme. “Think ‘Big Bang Theory,’ to play up the personalities of our talent,” Miles said. “We are proud of the fact that we employ some very smart people and we wanted a floor that celebrates ‘Learning’” in a fun and relatable way.” That floor will accommodate HR, account management, customer service, the call center, finance and the operations center.
Conference and collaboration rooms carry names like the study, strategy, genius, entrepreneur and wisdom. The “blue” fourth floor, which is the executive area, is branded with “some of the great minds of technology and health care,” Miles said. “We wanted to surround ourselves with the people who inspire us,” she said.
The smaller collaboration rooms carry names and décor such as the Franklin room for Ben Franklin, the Carver room for George Washington Carver and the Cooper room for Martin Cooper, inventor of the handheld cellphone. The executive conference room is the Klapstein room, named for former CEO Julie Klapstein, who was recruited to build the organization when it was formed in 2001.
The “orange” fifth floor is where Availity’s code and product developers will spend most of their time, “so we knew we needed a space that emphasized creativity,” Mile said. Conference and huddle rooms there are named and decorated as a result of feedback from its teams, resulting in names such as the garden, culinary, music, dance and brewery rooms.
Availity Corporate Communications Director Travis Froehlich said the design and layout of the space was determined based on staff needs and movement. “A lot of it was data-driven,” he said.
As Project Avalanche, Availity sought $1.875 million in incentives. Of that, $1.5 million is a Qualified Target Industry Tax Refund program grant from the city and state and a Florida Flex Training Grant of up to $375,000. The QTI equals up to $6,000 a job for the 250 new positions.
The city pays $300,000 and the state is responsible for $1.2 million. That grant is paid after the jobs are created. According to the agreement, Availity would add 130 full-time jobs by 2019, an additional 55 positions in 2020 and another 65 jobs by December 2021.
As a joint venture between Florida Blue and Humana, Availity was launched in 2001 in Jacksonville. It says the goal was to make it easier for health plans and providers to collaborate by streamlining processes among payers. Availity has grown to almost 800 employees in the U.S. and more than 200 in India, for a total of 1,024 employees.
Its three primary U.S. Locations are Jacksonville, Indianapolis and Dallas. It also has a smaller presence in Helena, Montana.