A giant health care company is close to scoring a 15-year property tax abatement in exchange for moving its Williamson County headquarters three miles down the road to Davidson.
The Metro Council, on a unanimous second of three votes, gave preliminary approval of millions in financial incentives to Brentwood-based LifePoint Hospitals as a way to lure the company’s headquarters and its 400 employees to Nashville. The hospital chain will locate from three separate buildings in Williamson’s Maryland Farms to a largely undeveloped office park on Old Hickory Boulevard called Seven Springs.
Assuming the council gives final approval in January, LifePoint officials expect the new 203,000-square-foot, seven-story Nashville headquarters to open in late 2013. The council’s vote on Tuesday followed no debate.
“It’s pretty exciting to see the council sees the values of this deal,” said Metro Councilman Brady Banks, who represents the South Nashville district that includes Seven Springs. He added that the facility’s companion 25,000-square-foot retail center would offer “new opportunities for our residents.”
LifePoint, a 12-year-old company, operates 54 hospital campuses in small markets across 18 states. The company boasted $3.26 billion in revenues in 2010, and a net income of $155 million. The Nashville headquarters, a $48 million facility to be developed and managed by Highwoods Properties, would also house an IT center.
“We’re excited we’re able to do this move in the current economy,” said Diane Huggins, LifePoint’s vice president of corporate communications. “We know that our company is going to benefit by consolidating all of our employees in one location. We believe Davidson County will benefit too.”
Leading up to Tuesday’s vote, some council members were skeptical whether the deal constituted true economic development worthy of a significant tax break. Under the plan, LifePoint gets a 100 percent property tax discount in its first four years, a 60 percent abatement in years five through 11, and a 25 percent cut over the final four years of occupying Seven Springs.
Matt Wiltshire, director of the Mayor’s Office of Economic and Community Development, had told The City Paper the abatement would range between $6 million and $7 million.
But skeptics, none who ultimately voted against the deal, had noted two considerations: LifePoint’s county-line move would unlikely compel its employees to make the Davidson-Williamson jump as well. And Metro won’t see LifePoint’s full property tax revenues until after 15 years of operating in Nashville.
Mayor’s office officials and LifePoint lobbyists built their case by pointing to a combination of less conventional economic benefits.
They include: projected jobs, perhaps 80, projected to stem from the company’s continued growth; more than 600 construction jobs to build the LifePoint headquarters; new positions at the adjoining shopping center, which itself would create property tax revenue; and sales tax generated by the facility’s construction and LifePoint’s purchasing of new equipment.