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ProMedica shows off Steam Plant as workers near move-in day

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    Maurice Martin, an employee of AEI in Indiana, installs a hand rail at the new ProMedica headquarters at the renovated Steam Plant on Tuesday.

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    Anthony Montalto of HKS Architects speaks about the progress at the new ProMedica headquarters at the renovated Steam Plant.

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    Part of the original east wall at the new ProMedica headquarters at the renovated Steam Plant downtown.

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    Mike Herr, an employee of Toledo Mirror and Glass, caulks a window at the new ProMedica headquarters.

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    The fourth floor at the new ProMedica headquarters at the renovated Steam Plant.

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    Work continues at the new ProMedica headquarters.

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    Randy Oostra, President and CEO at ProMedica, speaks about the new ProMedica headquarters at the renovated Steam Plant.

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Anthony Montalto of HKS Architects speaks about the progress at the new ProMedica headquarters at the renovated Steam Plant.

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It is impossible to miss.

The massive steel beam stretches across the ceiling of the old Water Street Steam Plant, which, along with the the triangle-shaped former KeyBank building now dubbed the Junction Building, will serve as ProMedica’s new headquarters.

In the mid-1900s, workers used the thick black beam to hoist heavy equipment across the plant. Now, the beam serves as a monument to the historic roots of a newly renovated building that will bring hundreds of employees to downtown Toledo during the next two weeks.

“It’s purely a memorial, a preservation,” said Anthony Montalto, the design director for HKS Architects, which worked on the renovation.

This Friday, 250 hospital employees — including high-level executives, and marketing and public relations officials — will move into the top two floors of the Steam Plant. Another 200 employees will join them after construction on the first and second floors wraps up at the end of August.

Next door, hundreds of ProMedica employees have already moved into the Junction.

VIDEO: ProMedica project engineer Bernie Merritt and CEO Randy Oostra talk about renovations 

The Steam Plant was originally constructed in 1895 to provide heat to downtown buildings. In 2003, it was added to the National Register of Historic Places. But when ProMedica purchased the plant, it had been vacant for three decades.

During the last two years, ProMedica spent $46 million — including $5 million in state historic preservation tax credits — to renovate and expand the facility.

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Part of the original east wall at the new ProMedica headquarters at the renovated Steam Plant downtown.

The Blade/Andy Morrison
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The conveyor beam is just one of dozens of small tributes to the Steam Plant’s history that architects incorporated into the renovated structure. Much of the original brickwork remains in place. Exposed steel runs along the walls and ceiling. And arched windows — a signature feature of the old design, now updated with modern glass technology — overlook the Maumee River.

“We’re really pleased — taking a building that had been vacant for 30 years, and bringing it back to life,” ProMedica President and CEO Randy Oostra said. “It honors the old, and brings in the new.”

The facility’s transformation was still underway Tuesday as company officials led reporters on a tour. On the second floor, a construction worker was drilling nails into a guardrail. Other workers carried furniture through the building or darted between rows of computers covered in plastic wrap.

The opening of ProMedica’s new headquarters marks the largest influx of jobs to downtown Toledo in decades. Since 2015, more than half-a-dozen restaurants have opened in the area, anticipating a surge in business.

But Mr. Oostra said, the company’s downtown expansion has only just begun. ProMedica hopes to move another wave of employees into the Toledo Edison building on Madison Avenue by the end of 2019. And because of space constraints at the headquarters, the company is also in the market for a fourth downtown facility.

Mr. Oostra declined to name the specific sites ProMedica is considering for that project. But the company has a short list of “three serious options,” he said.

“We’d like something fairly close to our campus so people can walk back and forth,” Mr. Oostra said. “Anything that’s probably in a couple-block radius is what we’re looking at currently.”

For now, however, ProMedica is focused on ensuring a smooth transition for the employees moving downtown.

The original plan was to open the Steam Plant in early August, followed by the Junction two weeks later. But the company had to retool in March after engineers determined the Steam Plant’s historic smokestacks would need to be dismantled because of decaying brickwork.

“We lost many weeks, many months at that point,” project engineer Bernie Merritt said. “It made sense to give us a little more time at the Steam Plant. Two weeks ago, we would not have been ready.”

The smokestack issue forced the company to flip its schedule and begin moving employees into the Junction earlier this month, during a noisy phase in the construction of the Chop House restaurant scheduled to open inside the building later this year.

“Right now, it’s noisy and dusty in there,” Mr. Merritt said. “But ultimately, it was either [the Steam Plant] suffers or that, and that was a little easier to work around.”

Contact David Yaffe-Bellany at: dbellany@theblade.com, or 419-724-6050, or on Twitter @yaffebellany.  

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