Team EME joins Bell Building renovation

Former Michigan Bell Building exterior

CREDIT: THOMAS HAWK The Bell Building’s iconic sign was 32 feet by 48 feet.

Environmental Maintenance Engineers teamed with the Neighborhood Service Organization when a skilled partner was needed to renovate the former Michigan Bell Telephone Co. Building into 155 one-bedroom apartments for Detroit’s homeless.

NSO bought the 273,300 square-foot, 12-story structure in Detroit near Highland Park and will spend $50 million on the conversion, which is expected to be complete in the fall of 2012. Team EME joined the project in April 2011 to provide asbestos abatement, lead paint abatement, universal waste and PCB cleanup.

NSO raised $40 million of the project’s cost through donations, equity financing, tax credits, loans and grants and $10 million from donors, corporations and foundations.

The Bell Building was built between 1929 and 1930 as the Michigan Bell and Western Electric Warehouse. The Art Deco-style structure will be headquarters for NSO’s social services programs as well as the supportive housing.

Residents of 882 Oakman Boulevard will have access to vocational training and educational programs through Focus HOPE, as well as, addiction treatment; mental-health counseling and case management services; life skills training; a library; computer, art and music rooms; a gym and fitness center; chapel; laundry; walk-out roof gardens; and a small sundry shop.

  • Project contributors include the Michigan State Housing Development Authority, City of Detroit, Wayne County, Kresge Foundation, McGregor Fund, National Trust Community Investment Corp., Bank of America, Corporation for Supportive Housing, Detroit Local Initiatives Support Corp. and Opportunity Resource Fund.
  • Key consultants on the project have been Environmental Testing and Consulting, Testing Engineering and Consultants and NTH Consultants.
  • The key supply vendors are Quest Environmental Safety Products, Aramsco and Eagle Sanitation.
  • The project’s impact includes 232 construction jobs, 299 permanent jobs, and $878,400 in local taxes and $1,158,200 in state taxes.
  • The renovation project was funded by MSHDA (Michigan State Housing Development Authority). EME was working with O’Brien Edwards Construction and key sub-contractors Birks Works, EQ Environmental Services, DKI Demolition, RAM construction and Daniel Electric.
  • Chad Grossa and Michael Houston have been the Team EME field supervisors on the Bell Building project working with Project Manager Jeff Chaney.