At the same time demolition crews have been tearing down the Hamilton Inn at 1767 Dixie Highway, the 112-year-old manufacturing company that bought the property in November was working with architects on its new building that will replace it.
“It will take some time, but we are working with architects now to put a new building pretty much on a lot of that space,” said Hamilton Caster President Dave Lippert, whose company operates next door to the inn property now.
“We’re going to cover more space than the hotel did. It won’t be on the exact same piece of the property.”
The building will contain about 50,000 square feet and will be along Dixie.
Lippert, whose company employs 85, said it now is “squeezed into the current buildings at this same property.”
A two-level building on the company’s existing property at 1637 Dixie Highway will be emptied because “it’s very unproductive, hard-to-use space” that also has low ceilings in its lowest level, Lippert said.
Lippert’s great-grandfather, who founded the company in 1907, moved it to Dixie Highway in 1920 and put up the ground-level caster building the company plans to continue using. In 1927, the company constructed the two-level building that isn’t very useful today, he said.
“The casters we make are bigger than we made back then, and the carts and dollies are much bigger, and so we need bigger space to make the bigger things,” Lippert said.
“The new space will be as close to ideal as we can get it, because we can design that.”
Eventually, the company will probably demolish its two-level building, although there are no immediate plans for that.
Hamilton Caster makes industrial wheels, casters, carts and dollies that serve the material-handling market in factories, distribution centers and warehouses. The company designs and engineers its products.
“In our world, if you move heavy stuff, we might be your guy,” Lippert said.
Hamilton Caster’s expansion also rids Hamilton of a motel that was well regarded decades ago, but in recent years has been a crime problem and increasingly a nuisance. Each year between 2014 and 2016 there were more than 100 police calls there, including for robbery, rape and drugs. In 2016, there were 273 police calls, leading Police Chief Craig Bucheit to say it was a blight on the surrounding area.
Problems the company had with people associated with Hamilton Inn were “nowhere near the scale of the city’s problems,” he said. “We had problems with syringes and that kind of trash sometimes next to our property.”
The company, which bought the motel land for $400,000, also had problems with people trespassing onto its property.
“Nothing serious ever happened, but we don’t need people wandering in, we don’t want them to get hurt, and all those things,” Lippert said. “It got worse over the last 5-10 years before it got shut down.”
“How exciting for a manufacturer that’s been in Hamilton since its inception,” said Dan Bates, the president and CEO of the Greater Hamilton Chamber of Commerce.
“Isn’t it fantastic and a testament to that company and a city like Hamilton?. Here’s a company that has been successful and continues to grow for generations. Even though some of their processes are similar to how they first started, others are high-tech and really moving forward.”
“Now they’re shipping internationally. It’s pretty cool for a local, family-owned business to still be family-owned and thriving.”
Lippert said his company didn’t save anything from the inn.
“I had a guy who wanted the Hamilton Inn sign, but it turned out to be pretty well rotten and un-salvageable,” he said. “I’m not sure what, if anything, was in good shape in the hotel. It was pretty dilapidated, there was a lot of water damage from roof leaks and things that hadn’t been addressed.”