Two days after being awarded a $2 million state tax credit to rehabilitate Columbus’ 113-year-old former municipal light plant, developer Brad DeHayswalked through the dimly lit complex, touting all the features that will make it one of the city’s most-remarkable office environments.
It takes some imagination.
“You’re going to have this massive 40-ton crane as the centerpiece,” DeHays told me while touring the 555 W. Nationwide Blvd. facility recently, pointing to what looks like a massive fish hook hanging from tracks high above what’s to become the building’s glass-walled atrium. “It’s a 50-foot ceiling.”
DeHays’ Connect Realty and project partner Schiff Capital Group LLC will preserve as much of the plant as possible in their $20.2 million restoration effort.
Still, hundreds of tons of steel equipment and bits of coal and debris must be removed by demolition company Mosier Industrial of Crestline. The whole complex feels like the bowels of an abandoned ship, with cracked gauges and knobs and levers.
Check out the slideshow for pictures of the municipal light plant as it stands today, with soot and hunks of metal strewn about, and a giant coal hopper towering overhead like the hull of the Titanic.
Up until three weeks ago, DeHays said, a knife switch actually controlled the flow of electricity to City Hall a mile away. That has been moved to a small building just east of complex.
Sandvick Architects Inc.’s office design will modernize but pay homage to the building's coal-fired past.
Large glass windows will be added to the complex's larger 1950s addition east of the original structure facing downtown. Its main lobby will be accessible from West Nationwide Boulevard, through glass doorways replacing portions of metal siding.
An unnamed tenant has signed a letter of intent for 53,000 square feet on five floors of glass-walled offices overlooking the planned atrium.
On the southern end of the newer building, away from the center atrium, is a 300-ton coal hopper. The blue whale-sized basin looms over the first two floors and will become an exterior wall on three and four, DeHays said.
“This is my favorite part of the building,” DeHays said of the hopper, which still holds coal remnants.
To the west, the original 1903 portion of the complex – more recognizable from West Nationwide Boulevard with its dramatic brick facade and "Municipal Light Plant" emblem – will house Garth’s Auctioneers & Appraisers. The Delaware auction house has signed on for 24,000 square feet for its 25 employees, with room to grow to 35, President Amelia Jeffers told me.
Another large crane there will be dangle over the basement, visible through a wide hole in the floor.
“Chains will hang down below," DeHays said. "It’s going to look like that’s how they could lift items up into the auction house."
Garth’s could move in by the end of next year, with the as-yet unnamed tenant following in summer 2018.
This article originally appeared in CBF, July http://www.bizjournals.com/columbus/news/2016/07/05/photo-tour-inside-the-former-city-power-plant.html