Blue Cross to sell iconic Chapel Hill headquarters to SECU

Posted July 1, 2015 11:52 a.m. EDT
Updated July 1, 2015 12:15 p.m. EDT

— Blue Cross Blue Shield of North Carolina has agreed to sell its elevated, glass, rhomboid-shaped headquarters building in Chapel Hill to the State Employees Credit Union for $35 million as the insurer prepares to shift its operations to Durham.

"This is one of those 'right place at the right time' opportunities," Blue Cross President and Chief Executive Brad Wilson said in a statement. "This transaction involves two North Carolina companies and one very special property with a proud history."

The five-story, 240,293-square-foot building, which has nearly 5,000 panes of reflective glass on its exterior, opened in 1973 and has been featured in The New York Times Magazine, Time, Newsweek and a design exhibition at the Museum of Modern Art in New York.

In addition to the building on U.S. Highway 15/501, SECU is buying the 39 acres it sits on and another 3.7 adjacent acres that include six houses.

SECU President Jim Blaine said the deal will address two goals for his company.

"Our regulators have long encouraged us to construct a new disaster recovery center outside of Raleigh. The BCBS building has in place a substantial information technology infrastructure, including data center, back-up generators and data communication lines which the Credit Union will be able to use," Blaine said in a statement. "We also hope to be able to relocate our Elliott Road branch, which is well beyond capacity, to the new site."

The deal is expected to close this fall, but Blue Cross will then lease the property from SECU until construction is finished on its new Durham campus next year, officials said.