Renovations, expansions top commercial projects

Construction brings millions to economy.

New construction of commercial projects in Butler County is down this year compared to past years, but renovations and expansions are bringing millions in construction dollars to the local economy.

Construction being dominated by renovations and expansions instead of new construction isn’t necessarily a bad thing, said David Fehr, Butler County’s economic development director.

“We actually would rather fill our existing vacant buildings before we start new construction, but we’re not always able to accommodate companies with our existing facilities,” Fehr said. “I think until we see those vacancies filled, we’re not going to see a whole lot of new construction.”

The largest project under construction in the county is in Middletown, where Air Products is tackling an $80 million plant renovation/expansion of its facility at 2500 Yankee Road. The project is scheduled for completion this December.

The largest projects in Fairfield and Hamilton also are improvements and expansions, city officials said.

Sinking money into renovation and expansion has an added benefit, Fehr said.

“Although the new companies coming into the area make the big splash, we definitely want to grow the companies we already have here and typically, with the physical expansions, it typically means more jobs and more employment, also,” he said.

ThyssenKrupp Bilstein of America, the manufacturer of vehicle shock absorbers, is in the midst of an approximately $6 million expansion project at its Hamilton facility to invest in new technologies and equipment, as well as constructing a new parking lot and truck staging area on the plant’s grounds off Berk Boulevard.

TriHealth is scheduled to start a $3 million renovation effort this week for about 11,000 square feet of space at its newly acquired 23-acre medical campus Bethesda Butler County, formerly Butler County Medical Center, on Hamilton-Mason Road, according to Antony Seppi, Hamilton’s business development specialist.

Fort Hamilton Hospital submitted plans Thursday for a $2 million reconfiguration of the hospital’s emergency room, Seppi said.

Hamilton also is the site of 6,500-square-foot building near Tractor Supply Co. store, 1372 Main St., courtesy of Brandicorp and Cincinnati Commercial Contracting. Tenants announced for the $1 million project include Hot Head Burritos, Marco’s Pizza, Verizon Wireless and Jimmy John’s Gourmet Sandwiches, Seppi said. Construction is expected be completed by August.

Pilot Chemical’s major renovation of its facility at 3439 Yankee Road in Middletown is estimated at $35 million, including building and equipment, according to Denise Hamet, Middletown’s economic development director.

Texas-based Metal Coaters is making $18 million worth of renovation and interior improvements to its metal coil coating plant at 2400 Yankee Road, Hamet said.

Cincinnati State’s office renovation of 2 Main Street is scheduled to be completed this summer at a cost of $3.5 million.

MTR Martco, a manufacturer of metal components for the paper and steel industry, is in the midst of a $1.5 million, 10,000-square-foot expansion at its 3350 Yankee Road facility that adds office and manufacturing space to existing buildings and adds new equipment, company officials said.

Mercy Health Fairfield Hospital is in the midst of a $10.5 million renovation and expansion project that officials expect will add 200 jobs when it is completed this fall, according to Mercy Health spokeswoman Nanette Bentley.

The project will add 29 private medical surgery rooms to 18,000 square feet on the hospital’s vacant fifth floor, then renovate semi-private rooms to private rooms on the third floor.

Also under construction in Fairfield is a new industrial expansion project for Rolled Alloys, a company that is relocating from smaller leased space into 65,000 square feet of new build-to-suit space at 4085 Thunderbird Lane, according to Greg Kathman, Fairfield economic development manager. The $3.5 million project, which broke ground this spring, is expected to be completed by the end of the year, he said.

“2012 has been a significantly stronger year than the past few years” in terms of permit numbers and general construction activity, Kathman said. “There’s no question about that.”

Fiehrer Motors, a GMC auto dealership founded in 1932 on Dixie Highway in Hamilton, is building its new 26,000-square-foot home at the southeast corner of Gilmore and Princeton roads in Fairfield Twp.

The $4 million project is within a joint economic development district where 75 percent of all revenues collected go to Hamilton.

Alan Kyger, Oxford economic development director, said the city’s biggest project is a new Hampton Inn, a $6 million, 72-room hotel scheduled for completion this October.

Construction is scheduled to start this year for a $2.6 million mixed-use project in the city’s uptown district that will feature 16 residential units above 5,400 square feet of commercial space. The building isn’t expected to be complete until summer 2013, Kyger said.

Miami University is working this summer on construction efforts for three new residence halls on Western Campus for no more than $64.25 million, said spokeswoman Claire Wagner. Construction is expected to be complete in 2014.

A new $52 million Armstrong Student Center under construction is set to be completed by January 2014. Miami also is investing $73 million into construction of a new residence and dining hall.

In West Chester Twp., Schmacher Dugan Construction is working on a two-story, 32,000 square foot office building at 9032 Union Centre Boulevard. Construction, which started in early May, is projected to be completed this December for $5 million, according to Mark Schumacher, vice president of Schumacher Dugan Construction.

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