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First Buildings Take Shape As Milestones Are Reached

The downtown skyline is starting to change adjacent to Falls Park as The Steel District is making progress on its first structures.

The parking ramp is fully enclosed, and now there will be a few months of mechanical and electrical work inside, said Luke Jessen, Vice President of Development for Lloyd Companies.

“From an exterior perspective, the structure is done,” he said.

The parking ramp will soon start serving its intended purpose: a place to park. It will be used by all the team members and subcontractors coming to the site whose existing parking will start to be taken up by new construction.

“A lot of the area of the site has been able to be used for parking and circulation, and things like that will go away,” Jessen said. “The site is going to start feeling like an urban, dense area, so we’re putting all the subcontractor and worker parking in the ramp itself.”

Foundations will start this week for a building that will wrap around the parking ramp and include 95 apartments in the first phase, condominiums and ground-floor retail space.

“We’re expecting it to open next fall,” Jessen said, adding condo sales will start this summer.

Interest from retailers in the main-floor space has been solid, according to Lloyd's Vice President of Commercial Real Estate Raquel Blount.

“There’s interest in a cafe, clothing store, fitness store and others,” she said. “They’re intrigued by all the expanding development opportunity, the traffic between the Levitt and the future Jacobson Plaza and the combination of office, living space and restaurants at The Steel District. And people are very excited about the new hotel, plus the success of other nearby retailers at The Cascade.”

That mixed-use building at Second Street and Phillips Avenue is anchored by Severance Brewing Co. and Papa Woody’s Wood Fired Pizza.

Next to the parking ramp, the nine-story office and restaurant building also is making progress, reaching its full height. A crane will be used to top it off, likely before the end of the month.

The building is the first of its kind in the nation to use an ultra-high-performance concrete, provided by Gage Brothers Concrete Products, Jessen said.

“It eliminates all the center columns within the structure,” he said. “It’s used in Europe and the Middle East quite a bit, and because of cost, it’s typically only used in the U.S. on bridges, but Gage was able to work closely with us, and their structural engineers have done buildings like this in the past, and we worked together to adjust the building type and technology.”

The center one-third core of the building is done, and from there two wings will brace off of it “and go up at basically double the speed,” Jessen continued. “We’re expecting it to be completely enclosed around January, with tenant build-outs starting in the first quarter and offices able to be operational by June.”

C&B Operations, whose business interests include a large John Deere dealership network, and Lloyd will be anchor office tenants, and there has been “a lot of interest from smaller tenants lately,” he said.

Several proposals are in various stages of leasing.

“To not see any columns really gives a lot of cool design options for tenants because they don’t have to work around those, so it makes it really unique,” Jessen said.

“There’s going to be a lot of glass on this building, which allows a lot of natural light to flow through. In our office, every workstation will have access to natural light, and I think that’s going to be pretty common given the dimensions of the building and having glass on both sides.”

The Canopy by Hilton hotel foundations could start within the next month, on track for a spring 2024 opening, and Lloyd is working on a model hotel room that should be ready to show early this fall, Jessen said.

“It’s looking good, and we’ll be able to share pictures of that,” he said. “Things overall are going well. We’ve had really good weather the last eight weeks, which was good because it was a rough spring with the wind, trying to lift concrete into place. We’ve gotten back on schedule and had some really good days.”

Financing also has been closed for the entire Steel District development, said Jake Quasney, Lloyd’s chief operating officer.

“A number of institutions were involved,” he said. “We had great partners that worked with us on this, which was great to see, and we’re now financed across the entire project and moving forward.”

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