Tectonic driving downtown Springfield renovation

(Commerce Pointe Building Renovated by Tectonic in Downtown Springfield)

“Tuttle Brothers Building Being Given New Life”
(by Tim Bucey…article appeared in RegionView magazine)

“Tectonic Rehabilitating Older Structures, Homes Throughout Springfield

Getting a handle on whether Tectonic Services rehabs older buildings or is on the cutting edge of new design can be difficult.

On the one hand, it has taken an old building like Tuttle Brothers at the corner of Main and Spring Streets and breathed new life into it. It did the same to the former 12-room, 5,600-square-foot , multi-fireplace residence of Asa Bushnell’s son at 1203 E. High St. and to homes on South Limestone and South Fountain.

But it also has taken new spaces and made them technologically savvy (Commerce Pointe) or modernistic in design (Citizens National Bank of Springfield at the Kissell Center).

 And as a partner in the former Laughlin and Scanlan Construction with Brian Scanlan, Tectonic owner Chris Simonton was the general contractor for the Assurant Group campus on Leffel Lane and the company oversaw development of Nextedge Applied Research and Technology Park, both technology intensive projects.

The company’s offices are in the historic Edward Wren home at 1115 N. Limestone St.

“I’d rather work twice as hard to figure out how to make an older building work. I think the extra effort works because of the character you get and the location you get,” said Simonton.

He quickly adds, however, “That’s not to say I don’t build things new. When it makes sense, it makes sense.”

Tectonic does development work related to construction of its own properties and for the Turner Foundation, while also managing its own office space, most notably the Kissell Center and Commerce Pointe, the Chamber’s home at 20 S. Limestone St.

Simonton, in partnership with Ray Hagerman, Nextedge Applied Research and Technology Park President, and John Landess, Executive Director of the Turner Foundation, are interested in downtown redevelopment, especially a block they have dubbed Pottersville, playing off the movie “It’s A Wonderful Life.”  Included in the development has been Commerce Pointe, Seasons Bistro next door and now the Tuttle Brothers building.

“We’re just trying to do some positive things to make an impact,” Simonton said. “We took over the Edison Center (Commerce Pointe) that was sort of in a state of decline and worked diligently toward making that a real gem downtown.”

They targeted the Seasons space for a restaurant even before finding a tenant. During that time the Tuttle Brothers building became available, which after some chin stroking, they decided to purchase.

“It lent itself to what we see in some bigger more progressive downtowns – an urban loft, adaptive re-use type of project with a nice mix that would reactivate that building,” Simonton said.

The Fitness Cellar exercise studio took over 7,000 square feet and the Vineyard Church will use another part of the Tuttle building that will be shared with two other non-traditional congregations. The space off the main entrance will be adapted to usage for a new occupant when found.

A branding for the building is being considered, one that would be associated with its mixed usage. He’s also in the process of having a brand developed for Tectonic, most likely around the “Making Exceptional Places” signature.

A plaque on the Tuttle building identifies it as the site of the first tavern in Springfield.
The building was constructed around 1923 by the Tuttle Brothers who were in the auto parts business. The building also was used as for indoor parking by visitors to the Bancroft and Shawnee Hotels.

Simonton’s “bullish” on downtown, saying there’s more activity going on now than anytime he can remember. He cites anticipated work on the Bushnell building by owner Jim Lagos, the near completion of the surgeon’s hospital and the beginning stages of the Springfield Medical Center along with the downtown park.

Because of that, he thinks what Tectonic and its partners are doing will pay off.

“It’s definitely a leap of faith,” Simonton said of rehabilitating older buildings. “These buildings take a tremendous amount of capital to make them the kind of places where people want to be.

“I look at this town and there is such a great existing – what we call in urban planning – fabric to work with that in my mind it doesn’t make a lot of sense (to build new) even though it’s cheaper,” he said.

Simonton says “out with the old” only when necessary.”

Fitness Cellar Renovation Cost: $114,000 (per building permit) – Tuttle Brothers Building
>> www.thefitnesscellar.com  | Dec. 2008 | 7600 sf
Vineyard Church Renovation Cost: $65,000 (per building permit) – Tuttle Brothers Building
>> www.springfieldvineyard.net  |  Jan. 2009  |  5800 sf
Western Southern Renovation Cost: $25,000 (per building permit) – Kissell Center Building
>> www.westernsouthernlife.com  | Sept. 2008  | 2500 sf
Commerce Pointe Third Floor Renovation Cost: $30,000 – Commerce Point Building
>>  Nov. 2007 | 4000 sf

Kissell Center article (ASI-Modulex): http://tinyurl.com/q3d8kz
Kissell Center article (Beasley Architecture): http://tinyurl.com/qp9dtz


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