CRC hopes to break ground next month

Published 12:00 am Thursday, March 29, 2001

Cooperative Response Center Inc.

Thursday, March 29, 2001

Cooperative Response Center Inc. will be breaking ground late next month or early May if all goes according to Todd Penske’s expectations.

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Penske, CRC’s president and CEO, presented his time line for construction and development to the members of the Austin Port Authority on Wednesday afternoon. CRC’s new facilities will be located in the Burbank Addition, north of 18th Avenue NW, east of True Value and across the street from Hy-Vee Food Store.

CRC is a 24-hour customer contact and alarm monitoring center that counts electrical cooperatives in 28 states across the country as customers.

The location that currently houses the corporate office near Brownsdale opened in 1992. It is located near the junction of Interstate 90 and County 56. CRC recently opened a regional office in Dunlop, Tenn.

The new facility will provide 12,200 square feet of space, a change from the 4,500 square feet space CRC rents from Bob Krueger of Krueger Grain and Trucking.

"We built growth into the facility," Penske said of the new construction project.

The new space will be dominated by the call center and the customer service representatives who staff the phones. Sixty-five employees work here in all departments of the company, while 20 work in the Tennessee facility.

Because CRC’s customers make contact with the company over the phone, the new location can be farther off the road, in the northeast portion of the Burbank Addition. The company is the owner of the first of five lots currently for sale in the addition.

During the meeting, authority member Larry Maus made a motion to make the other four lots "available to all individual real estate agents in Austin." As part of the motion, whomever makes the sale will receive the commission, which will be negotiated up to 6 percent for the agent. The board unanimously approved the motion.

Bidding for subcontractors opened Monday and will continue until April 6, Penske said. The subcontractors will work under the direction of the general contractor, The Joseph Co. Inc.

The actual groundbreaking will be in late April or early May, according to Penske. The ceremonial groundbreaking should take place on May 16. Completion of the construction and the full operation of the company in their new facility should take place in November or December.

The original groundbreaking was scheduled for last fall, but two factors kept that from happening on time. First, soil problems were discovered and had to be corrected, but were delayed because of flooding in the area.

Second, as Penske said, "with the original design, the project was not going to be affordable to us." Company administration looked at the project and made design feature changes to bring the project in on budget.

Though the total project is expected to cost $1.5 million, Penske would like to "tighten the numbers more" and bring it in under the budgeted amount.

Penske has submitted an application for a mortgage loan to a commercial bank. Three-fourths of the total cost of the project will come from this funding source. The other one-fourth of the costs will be paid with money from the city and state.

Penske made a commitment to bring 25 full-time jobs into the city’s economy in a specified amount of time. To date, 11 full-time equivalent positions have been created.

"We are right on track to meeting or exceeding that number by the due date," Penske said. The due date is December 2003.

"On behalf of CRC, I appreciate your support of this project," Penske said to the port authority commissioners and President Dick Chaffee.

Call Kevira Mertha at 434-2233 or e-mail her at