ADVERTISEMENT

Work is progressing on converting the former Sheehan Memorial Hospital into the Compass East mixed-use building, with anchor tenant Time Warner Cable taking occupancy of the first floor by mid-January.

More than 100 construction workers from multiple trades are now on site at 425 Michigan Ave., taking down walls, ceiling tiles and outdated mechanical systems as McGuire Development Group turns the 160,000-square-foot former medical facility into a modern office complex.

The redevelopment, with an estimated cost of $9 million, involves renovations and additions, including a decorative central staircase that will connect the first two floors and the basement level, through the former gift shop and two of the four elevator shafts.

Workers will also remove and upgrade the building’s plumbing and electrical infrastructure. More than 70 windows are being installed or replaced, including in new spaces cut in the brick first floor wall. The two remaining elevators will be refurbished. Asbestos is being removed, and the leaky roof is being replaced.

“We are in the midst of a controlled mess,” said James Dentinger, president of McGuire Development, the real estate arm of nursing-home operator McGuire Group. “It’s quite an undertaking.”

The front lobby is being redesigned with more color and better lighting, a more modern façade will be installed, and parking and green space will be expanded.

The exterior work is expected to be completed by late November, and the first floor will be ready by yearend. Meanwhile, interior work on the other three floors and the basement will continue on what Dentinger calls the “de-hospitalizing” of the nearly half-empty building.

McGuire bought the 8.7-acre complex out of bankruptcy after Sheehan had closed, paying $2 million for the facility before announcing its plans for Compass East.

The project was originally aimed at housing technology, workforce development and job-training functions, and Dentinger said that’s still the goal, led by Time Warner Cable.

The cable and telecommunications giant will occupy 50,000 square feet of space on the building’s main floor for its East Coast Business Class Services hub. The company will hire more than 150 new employees, while shifting existing staff there from other locations.

A community health clinic will remain on the first floor.

The second floor houses University Pediatric Dentistry, which operates a clinic on Tuesdays and Wednesdays. The practice operated there several years ago under a contract, but left when the struggling hospital’s future was in doubt.

Two high-end residential apartments – one with two bedrooms, one with one – are also being created on the second floor, next to the dental clinic, for use by visiting Time Warner executives or other staff.

The basement will be home to McGuire Group’s computer and medical training facility, with patient simulators and beds moving over from the current facility at the company’s Delaware Avenue headquarters. The remainder of the lower level will be small business “incubator” space, offering cheap rents for office space.

The rest of the building – about 70,000 square feet – is vacant, but Dentinger said the developer is talking with other potential tenants.

“Because of our location and free parking, we’ll be a viable location for many organizations,” Dentinger said.

email: jepstein@buffnews.com