Huntsville-based IT & Engineering giant Torch Technologies will be expanding their property and their operations through 2016. CEO Bill Roark says that Torch has wanted to expand for the last five years, and that the conditions are finally right to act upon those plans. In an interview with AL.com and WHNT News 19, Torch announced a 9-18 month long construction project to renovate existing facilities, and develop a new headquarters plus conference center.
“With the wires running across the floor and the dated facilities that we have, it’ll be nice to have a new modern facility that we can have meeting rooms and host those customer meetings in,” says Roark, “It will help us attract employees to be a part of the company and help with our image in the community and with the customer base.”
Torch Technologies, along with the newly-formed affiliate Freedom Real Estate & Capital recently acquired office buildings at 4090 South Memorial Parkway and 4035 Chris Drive, along with 12 acres of surrounding property. The companies hired Matheny Goldmon Architects, Turner Construction, and 4 Site to develop their expansion project.
The 40,000-square-foot vacant facilities at South Memorial Pkwy and Chris Drive will be renovated. A 10-000 square-foot conference center will be built interconnecting the two facilities, and the combined property will be called The Freedom Center. After renovations, a portion of the Chris Drive facility will be leased to area businesses, with the rest occupied by Torch and Freedom. The accompanying acreage has enough room to build a three-story, 54,600-square-foot facility in the none-too-distant future.
The decision to stay at the Chris Drive location was not a foregone conclusion. “By staying here in south Huntsville, we’ll be keeping this campus from going dark,” admits Roark. “If we had moved to Research Park, this building (on Chris Drive), the building next door and a large portion of the building across the street would be empty and essentially not operating.”
Torch was compelled to stay by the nearly $2.1 million incentive package granted to the project by the city of Huntsville, the State of Alabama, and the Tennessee Valley Authority. Tax abatements and grants will aid the further development of the property.
Torch president John Watson says this expansion is a milestone for Torch’s business growth goals. “We felt like this is really going to meet all of our needs, gives us the best location we can get in terms of the customer, has nice proximity to downtown Huntsville for those folks that are coming outside of town,” he said. “And we are doing it for a discount below where we could do it in other areas in town.”
The formal groundbreaking for this $10-$12 million project took place on Friday, March 20, at 4035 Chris Drive, the location that the 12-year-old employee-owned company has occupied for over a decade. Along with the expansion comes 150 new jobs.
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