In 2018, the Kalamazoo-based Catalyst Development Co. purchased the Old City Hall in Traverse City, with hopes of renovating the building and revitalizing it for modern uses. First built in 1904, the Old City Hall structure has significant historic meaning to the community but had sat vacant for many years. Catalyst Development worked with the Traverse City Historic Districts Commission and got approval to do a complete gut and remodel of the building, after which Windemuller came aboard as a project partner.
Two Windemuller teams were involved on the project: our electrical department and our communications crew.
The electrical team was tasked with providing and installing a completely new electrical system for the Old City Hall – though our crews also helped in the demolition process. After other trades had rebuilt much of the subflooring in the building to make it structurally safe, we installed the new wiring, implemented a complex lighting control system (with some lavish lighting fixtures to go with it), and brought in a generator that will take care of the majority of the building’s power in the case of an emergency. The electrical team also helped put in a new snowmelt system that will keep the building’s parking lot clear and slip-free during the colder months.
Our communications department installed data cabling and security cabling—components supplied by project partner Knight Watch. Those installations included 132 Category 6 data cables running to various locations throughout the building, as well as 33 Category 6 cables for Knight Watch’s security camera system.
The biggest obstacle we faced on this project was the COVID-19 pandemic. Originally, the goal was for the Old City Hall building to be completed and ready to open by the end of summer 2020. When our jobsite was shut down for several months during the early stages of the pandemic, that target completion date drifted further away.
When work was allowed to resume, it was challenging to get back to full productivity, due largely to the size of the building. Old City Hall is a 15,000-square-foot facility, and with many different trades working at the same time, that footprint began to feel cramped.
The size limitations were particularly problematic once we had to observe social distancing and other safety protocols to ensure that nobody got sick.
Because the job was a remodel, there also wasn’t a straightforward way for our communications crew to run cable down to the basement MDF closet.
The key solution, in this case, was teamwork. The small building footprint and limited on-site parking, combined with the strain of keeping up with all COVID protocols, could have created a tight and tense working environment. Instead, Windemuller communicated regularly with other contractors to coordinate the worksite, establish must-follow procedures, and come up with a plan that allowed everyone to coexist harmoniously and productively. Everyone came together to honor the big-picture project goals.
Windemuller’s teams set a strong example for collaborative harmony: our electricians teamed up with our communications crew to find a way to run cabling down to the MDF closet.
The result is a revitalized Old City Hall: a historic Traverse City jewel now restored to its classic beauty. The space will act as the new home to Greenleaf Trust, an investment firm that had outgrown its existing Traverse City space. Greenleaf, which specializes in large investments, will rent the entire second floor of the Old City Hall building.