By Steve Kemme
The Cincinnati Enquirer
NORWOOD - After standing vacant for two years, the old American Laundry Machinery building, an architectural relic of the early 20th Century, has once again become part of the working world.
Construction worker Chris Bishop walks through the third floor of The American Laundry Building in Norwood. The 60,000-square-foot building is being completely renovated.
The Cincinnati Enquirer/GLENN HARTONG
The first two floors of the American Laundry Building will be occupied by Shaw Environmental & Infrastructure.
Shaw Environmental & Infrastructure recently began moving into the restored red-brick building.
It's a milestone event for Norwood as well as for the building's owner, LandBank Group Inc. of Centennial, Co.
Shaw became the first occupant of a large piece of abandoned industrial property that is considered a key to Norwood's economic future. In recent weeks, officials in this Hamilton County city have been working to whittle down a $3.5 million budget deficit.
"From the city's standpoint, this is a very positive project," said Rick Dettmer, Norwood community development director. "It restores and preserves a building with architectural and historic character and returns it to productive use."
Shaw, which is moving from Sharonville, has 107 employees. It occupies the building's first two floors. LandBank is looking for tenants for the third and fourth floors.
Landmark has spent $9 million so far on the project, located on 6.5 acres on Section Avenue near the Norwood Lateral.
The second phase, which will cost $3 million, involves redeveloping the single-story, high-bay portion of the building.
Neyer Properties, under contract to redevelop the American Laundry site, is enclosing the single-story portion. No additional work will be done on that part until it's leased, said Jeffrey Kanable, LandBank's project manager.
Neyer demolished some of the American Laundry structures on the site, but will preserve most, including the tall smokestack.
The American Laundry Building - the structure's official name - was constructed between 1902 and 1926.
Three large limestone eagle medallions that were on the demolished portion of the building were saved and will be placed on another part of the building.
Photos of American Laundry workers in the early 1900s will be displayed in the building.
"We want to tie in the history of the building with what we're doing now," Kanable said.
The restored part of the building is wired for high-tech activities. Special care was taken to make the building energy-efficient and environmentally friendly to its surroundings and to the people working in it.
It's the first Greater Cincinnati commercial building to receive a special rating by the U.S. Green Building Council, which promotes environmentally responsible and healthy work places.
During a recent tour of the building, Kanable pointed out wall lights directed toward the ceiling.
"Indirect lighting causes less glare and creates a more warm, comfortable environment to work in," Kanable said.
The building is designed to use less energy and water than most commercial facilities, said Steve Armsey, vice president of Neyer Properties.
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