Archive for Thursday, July 17, 2008

Lumberyard work continues

Jim Niehoff works inside the Lumberyard Arts Center, which is being prepared to have a concrete floor poured, possibly in August.

Jim Niehoff works inside the Lumberyard Arts Center, which is being prepared to have a concrete floor poured, possibly in August.

July 17, 2008

Despite the sweltering summer heat, construction continues on at the Lumberyard Arts Center.

Workers at the site are currently tearing up the walls and floorboards to examine the building's foundations. This phase of the project began at the beginning of June, and construction manager Jim Niehoff said that the foundation was in surprisingly good shape, although it still needed work.

"We're going to raise the building up to do some new foundation work," Niehoff said. "Some of the foundation is good and some of it isn't. Some of them are sagging and we need to jack them up so they're level."

So far, workers have logged more than 400 hours in the lumberyard's construction. And although most of the walls and floorboards have already been uprooted, Niehoff said he still has a few rooms to work on.

"I'm saving the bathroom for last," Niehoff said. "I'm not looking forward to dealing with the septic."

In addition to work on its foundation, the lumberyard will also receive a cement floor, another reason for tearing up the floorboards.

But before that phase of the project can begin, Niehoff still needs to submit an architectural drawing and construction plan to the city council for its approval. If the council approves of these, work can begin on the foundation and concrete floor. Niehoff said he planned on submitting these documents to the council in about two weeks.

Niehoff said he thought construction would go smoothly following the council's approval, with the concrete work taking a little more than a month to complete.

"It depends on how much help I'm going to get, but I'd like to see concrete here by the end of August," Niehoff said.

The lumberyard, at 718 High St., was built in 1914 and housed the Ives-Hartley Lumber Co. The lumberyard closed in 2002, and the building was left empty until the Baldwin Community Arts Council spearheaded a movement for its renovation. Control of the renovations was eventually transferred to a separate nonprofit organization created specifically for the project, the Lumberyard Arts Center board.

Once the renovations are complete, the lumberyard will house a gallery, classrooms, restrooms and offices for the Baldwin City Chamber of Commerce. The gallery will also include a common area groups can rent for functions.

Niehoff said that he was satisfied with the project's progress so far, which the hard work of its volunteers had made possible.

"We sure aren't getting any further away from getting done," Niehoff said. "We're getting along pretty well. We've got wonderful people helping and they're here everyday I am. It's coming along pretty well, I think."

Niehoff said that there was a regular group who came in to help with the construction, many of them working almost as long as him. And although he said he appreciated the help, Niehoff also said the people who had been turning up to help had been different than the ones he had expected.

"What surprises me is lack of local people we have working," Niehoff said. "A lot of people coming haven't been here very long. Some I thought would come haven't been here."

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