The Building Tradesman Newspaper

Friday, May 31, 2013

Uptown development on the rise

By Marty Mulcahy, Editor

BAY CITY – The Uptown development on the city’s riverfront is going up quickly, but there’s a lot more work to be done.

Structural steel has been completed on the first building at the site, which will house corporate office space for the Dow Corning Corp. It’s the first building of a planned campus of construction that also includes construction commitments from McLaren Bay Region for a new medical office building and surgery center, and a retail branch of Chemical Bank.

The 43-acre riverfront site, between the Veterans Memorial and Lafayette Street bridges, has plenty of room for new tenants. The Uptown property is under purchase agreement for development by SSP Associates, Inc., a real estate development company based in Saginaw. They announced the commitment of those three tenants last fall, and hope for more to come.

“We are pursuing additional interest for corporate offices, specialty retail, unique restaurant options and complimentary businesses to serve the needs of the hundreds of new employees soon-to-be working and living uptown,” said Peter Shaheen, vice president of SSP Associates.

SSP’s plans also include residential apartments and a hotel/conference center for the site. Early phase investments in the development could reach $50 million and the group said it is expected that once the project gets into full swing that investment could double.

“The Bay City riverfront will be a destination for riverside dining, shopping and recreation, giving residents of the region, and visitors, fresh new options for day and night,” said Shaheen.

The first sign of progress is rising starkly on the landscape: a five-story building for Dow. Work started in December. The 100,000-square-foot building’s steel has been topped out, and now the trades are busy pouring concrete, performing light-gauge framing, building stair and elevator shafts, and doing electrical and plumbing rough-ins. About 60 Hardhats are currently on the project, said SSP Associates Construction Supt. Tom Gessey.

“The trades are doing a real good job, they’re very professional,” he said. “I’d say the job is going very well.”

The riverfront property has mostly been empty for the past decade. It has been the site of a number of industries, including crane manufacturer Industrial Brownhoist.

Dow Corning will occupy a portion of the riverfront corporate office building, estimated for completion in mid-2014 in Phase One of the Uptown project. The 400 employees it will bring to the site will be doing “non-manufacturing” work, according to Dow.

“Dow Corning applauds SSP Associates for taking the lead to develop a vacant industrial site and turn it into a vibrant urban business district along the riverfront. Their vision provides Dow Corning the opportunity to lease new space to meet our corporation's growing needs,” said J. Donald Sheets, Dow Corning Executive Vice President & Chief Financial Officer. “We recognize how important it is to continually invest in the communities where our employees live and work during both strong and challenging economic times. The Great Lakes Bay Region has been Dow Corning’s home for nearly 70 years, and we plan to keep it that way.”

Bay Aggregate agreed to move from the Uptown site to the mouth of the Saginaw River, which finally cleared the way for the redevelopment of the site. And according to MLive, Consumers Energy bored a subterranean tunnel under the Saginaw River to house an electric transmission line, replacing a pair of 188-foot-tall electric towers that have stood on each side of the river since 1953. The work is part of a $5 million electric overhaul at the site.

“This is a very exciting time for the citizens of Bay City,” said Robert Belleman, Bay City’s city manager. He said it’s “a day we envisioned more than 10 years ago when the City acquired the property with the goal of redeveloping the industrial site into a mixed-use development complementing our existing downtown and Columbus Avenue Business District. This vision is now coming to fruition.”

OPERATING ENGINEERS Local 324 members clear land at the Bay City Uptown development site. In the background is the new building under construction for Dow Corning on the Saginaw River.

ALL HANDS ON DECK: a floor section for the building’s second floor is prepared for a lift by Carl Bozer of Iron Workers Local 25. Up top is Jeff Finney. Both are employed by Tri-Steel Erectors.

ROUGHING IN A BATHROOM sink drain on the first floor of the building for Dow Corning in the Uptown Bay City development is Bob Anderson of Plumbers and Steamfitters Local 85, employed by Remer Plumbing and Heating.