The demolition of former Whirlpool Plant 1 is currently underway, following the completion of the razing of its Plant 2 neighbor last year.In August, heavy equipment operators began the task of …
The demolition of former Whirlpool Plant 1 is currently underway, following the completion of the razing of its Plant 2 neighbor last year.
In August, heavy equipment operators began the task of tearing down the former appliance plant that has straddled King Edward Avenue S.E. for a century.
The much-anticipated leveling of the structure was one more step toward the city’s downtown transformation, which will include utilizing the site as a focal point for attracting patrons to downtown. Proposals for the site include construction of a sports complex and music venue, as well as a green space.
The demolition of the sprawling plant is being carried out by Steve’s Trucking & Excavating, a demolition and excavation company based in Decatur, Ill., which also completed the razing of former Whirlpool Plant 2.
Butch Smith, owner of the excavating company, told he Cleveland Daly Banner last year the the approximately one million-square-foot structure will take some time to tear down. The facility consists of two main structures: Plant 1 East and Plant 1 West.
There is no timeline set for the teardown.
“It will take as long as it takes,” Smith said. “We plan to do it in stages.”
Plant 1 is the segment of the old Whirlpool complex that once housed the company's manufacturing predecessors, such as Dixie Foundry, Dixie Products, Magic Chef and Maytag.
According to Whirlpool Corporation Director of Corporate Reputation and Community Relations Deborah O’Conner, debris removal for Plant 2 will continue throughout the next months.
Whirlpool is headquartered in Benton Harbor, Mich.
“Whirlpool Corporation is continuing to partner with the city in its redevelopment efforts of the downtown area, particularly in regard to the best future use of the former Whirlpool manufacturing site,” O’Conner said.
O’Conner also said an additional Whirlpool facility, known as the Flat Top building, will also be demolished in the future.
Other buildings on the site will remain — including the Whirlpool Distribution Warehouse, insulation building, buildings B and C, and the truck terminal — O'Conner said in a story previously published in the Cleveland Daily Banner.
The company relocated to a new one million-square-foot, state-of-the-art, LEED-certified facility on Benton Pike in 2012.
Cleveland Mayor Kevin Brooks said that while the demolition of Plants 1 and 2 clears the way for future development in downtown Cleveland, the city will forever remember the historical legacy of the two plants, as well as the thousands of men and women who worked there.
“From its humble beginnings in the backyard foundry of Christopher Hardwick in the 1870s, to nearly 150 years later, we proudly continue celebrating the innovation and industrial heritage of stove-making in Cleveland,” Brooks told the Cleveland Daily Banner. “The former plant being cleared enables the vision for tomorrow as we reimagine downtown Cleveland.”
Brooks said generations of Cleveland families found good-paying jobs and fulfilling careers at the two plants.
“We are grateful to the pioneers of early stove-making production like Christopher Hardwick, his sons Joseph and John Hardwick,” Brooks said. “To the modern-day manufacturing men like Skeet Rymer, Hoyle Rymer, Reeves Brown and Don Lorton, our city and our citizens owe a great debt to the men and women of Whirlpool, Maytag, Jenn-Air, Magic Chef, Dixie Products and all the way to Dixie Foundry.”
Brooks expressed gratitude for the commitment Whirlpool Corporation has shown the community.
“Since the opening of its modern, state-of-the-art manufacturing plant, the decades of dedicated stove manufacturing in Cleveland is preserved and protected for another generation,” Brooks said. “We are grateful for the multi-million-dollar investment from Whirlpool to keep Cleveland working for our future. Now the future of the former Whirlpool site is at hand.”
While demolition of former Whirlpool Plants 1 and 2 remains in progress, Cleveland City Manager Joe Fivas is predicting significant developments will take place this year regarding the future of the site, located in the city’s downtown.
The plants were vacated in 2012 when Whirlpool transitioned its local manufacturing operations to a new plant on Benton Pike.
After standing vacant for seven years, plant demolition by a Whirlpool contractor began last year, in order to clear the way for future redevelopment.
“They're doing what they said that they would do: to take down the buildings, and I would suspect this will be the first year of either redeveloping their property or finding a partnership or get it in the hands of someone that wants to redevelop it,” Fivas said told the Banner earlier this month.
Late last year, Whirlpool Corporation agreed to write a letter granting the city control of the site where former Whirlpool Plant 2 once stood, contingent on the city securing a grant to construct a planned $7.8 million, 62,000-square-foot sports complex, as well as a green space and a lake.
The agreement took place during a meeting in August at Whirlpool’s corporate offices in Benton Harbor, Mich., which was attended by Cleveland Mayor Kevin Brooks, Fivas, Cleveland/Bradley Chamber of Commerce President and CEO Mike Griffin and Cleveland/Bradley Chamber of Commerce Vice President for Economic Development Doug Berry.
The city also announced around the same time that it was applying for a $4 million grant from BlueCross BlueShield of Tennessee Health Foundation's Blue Cross Healthy Place Projects program for construction of the sports complex, which will feature eight basketball courts and eight volleyball courts.
City leaders expect the complex will attract up to 200,000 visitors each year to Cleveland's downtown.
“They have agreed to send us a letter that they would cooperate and give control of the land to the city of Cleveland,” Cleveland Mayor Kevin Brooks told the Banner in a previous interview. “That was the language they used.”
Brooks' comments came as an update on the pivotal gathering held at the Whirlpool headquarters site. The session ended on a positive note — for both the city of Cleveland and Whirlpool — and that led to Brooks' encouraging assessment in the newspaper interview.
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