Portman Holdings CEO: Anthem’s new 21-story Atlanta IT center is about ‘looking to the future’ (Slideshow) – Atlanta Business Chronicle

Anthem Inc. is the latest high-profile employer to bet on the heart of Midtown Atlanta — an area that has attracted 17,000 mostly tech jobs since January 2015.

The Indianapolis-based Fortune 50 health insurer, on Wednesday, broke ground on its 21-story Anthem Technology Center at Tech Square, where it will create 3,000 jobs. The expansion, first reported by Atlanta Business Chronicle in October 2016, was codenamed Project Whitney in economic development circles.

“As of today, with the constriction of (the Anthem tower), we have 22 large-scale construction projects that are rising out of the ground in a square-mile area of Tech Square,” Kevin Green, CEO of Midtown Alliance, said at a groundbreaking event Wednesday. “This area is rally delivering on a powerful combination of innovation (in) a walkable urban district, with great transit access.”

Anthem will develop software products and mobile applications for members and health-care providers at its Atlanta IT hub. The insurer will modernize core applications, such as claims, enrollment and billing.

Demographic and regulatory trends are driving health insurance carriers to beef up their technology capabilities. Millennials, grown up on mobile devices, expect their health information to be available on-the-go. Healthcare reform, meanwhile, requires insurers to use data analytics to work smarter and more efficiently.

The Anthem tower, which will have 14,000 square feet of outdoor patio space, will rise next to the 770,000 square foot square foot Coda office tower currently under construction. Both towers are being developed by Atlanta-based Portman Holdings.

Georgia Tech will serve as the anchor tenant for Coda, occupying about half of the building. The remaining space will be available for corporations and Georgia Tech research partners. New York co-working giant WeWork is expected to lease 50,000 square feet — or two floors — at Coda.

Atlanta’s strong odds of landing Amazon.com’s $5 billion second headquarters has elevated the city’s profile as a corporate relocation and expansion destination, said Travis Garland, leasing director at Portman Holdings.

“The calls we get now from corporations are not about a specific building, it’s more about ‘tell us about the neighborhood, tell us about Tech Square,’” Garland said Wednesday. “We are seeing the tip of the iceberg (in terms of corporate interest in Atlanta).”

The Anthem office tower, which will be ready in early 2020, is a bet on the future of transportation.

The building is expected to have 500-to-600 parking spaces — fewer than the typical two parking spaces-per-1,000 square feet found in Midtown office towers, according to real estate industry sources.

“The lower parking ratio… means fewer cars, and more ride-share, and more transit, and more walking,” Portman CEO Ambrish Baisiwala said. “It’s looking to the future…and that’s what we are building”

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