A HUB OF HOPE
A great building is more than just an impressive structure; it holds the promise that remarkable things will happen behinds its doors for centuries to come.
Over a century after its doors first opened, the former Reeb Elementary School was in store for much more than a simple facelift – it was transformed into a collaborative, inviting space to bring new opportunities to Columbus’s South Side. Led by the City of Columbus, the State of Ohio, and a group of passionate donors, this collective team united to ask the question, “How can we impact the neighborhoods of the South Side Gateway?” The answer was to invest time, money, creativity, and spirit into a massive rehabilitation project now commonly referred to as a “Hub of Hope”: the Reeb Avenue Center.
The vision for the renovated building was to serve over a dozen tenants, offering everything from after-school programs to job training. New features would include a kitchen, food market, and café on the lower level, restrooms on each floor, and the installation of a new elevator to access the entire building.
MEETING THE CHALLENGE OF A DIFFICULT PROJECT
After successfully winning the project, Marker Construction dove headfirst into the obstacles this $12 million, 52,000 SF renovation and 16,000 SF addition posed. The project schedule was tight from the beginning – 11 months to abate and renovate a 108-year-old school while concurrently razing the east wing to construct a new childcare center.
Although the original schedule only detailed 200 construction activities, by the end of the project, the activities had quadrupled to over 850. Changes to the original design came on an almost daily basis, and our project management team had to keep up with over 290 RFIs and 90 change orders. Our team had to act quickly, problem solving and communicating efficiently with stakeholders and subcontractors in order to maintain control over a restoration project of this complexity and scope.
Inclement weather and unforeseen building conditions also threatened to disrupt the project’s tight schedule. Historical rain periods in the months of May and June delayed 6-8 weeks of site work. In response, our team worked weekends and carefully re-sequenced other construction activities to make up for lost time.
The elements were stacked against our team; the consensus throughout the project was that the original schedule was impossible to maintain – yet Thomas & Marker was unwavering in the face of these challenges. With resolute focus, shared responsibility, and critical thinking, our team persevered to defy the odds and meet the end user’s substantial completion date. We successfully obtained temporary occupation by July 24 so the childcare center could receive their much-anticipated federal grants.
BRINGING THE VISION TO LIFE
Although our responsibility as the General Contractor only entailed the successful construction of this project, our team went above and beyond to demonstrate our loyalty to Reeb’s dynamic ownership team. We were inspired by the vision the donors shared at the groundbreaking ceremony; it compelled us to meet every deadline without compromise and to extend ourselves beyond our contractual obligations in a variety of ways.
While the Reeb donors fought to preserve a crumbling building that could just as easily have been bulldozed, we worked to bring their vision to life. Despite the many obstacles we encountered, we brought an element of relentless determination that carried us through to the finish line, giving the South Side the resources, it needs to reignite hope in a historic community.
“Your team has been amazing over the last year, whether it was dealing with the freezing cold temperatures, water issues, boilers or our interruption of over 100 tours in the building during construction, everyone has been engaged in their work and accommodating. We have been very impressed with the quality of the workmanship and the integrity of the people working on site.”
Secretary, Reeb Avenue Center Board of Directors