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Officials hope renovation inspires business growth

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An abandoned factory and longtime vacant property on the east side of Greenwood has been renewed.

Offices and cubicles have been constructed for 360 employees of Franciscan St. Francis Health. Classrooms and training labs will serve 100 students daily.

The former home of Alpine Electronics has been reborn as the administrative nerve center for Franciscan St. Francis Health. Hospital officials have renovated the building, creating workspace for departments such as billing, marketing and scheduling.

The addition to the Greenwood business community will help strengthen a developing section of the city and ideally serve as a spark for other businesses in that area, said Christian Maslowski, executive director of the Greater Greenwood Chamber of Commerce.

“The Emerson corridor is strategically important to our economic development and our growth, particularly to our eastern growth,” he said. “Having a stable tenant who’s very much invested in the economic stability of this section of Johnson County is a win for everyone.”

Renovation work started in April and will continue through the rest of the year before the building is completely done, said John Ross, former hospital vice president of human resources and current project consultant.

The building had been vacant since 2006. The Alpine Electronics plant opened in 1986, manufacturing car audio and navigation systems for major automakers such as Chrysler, Ford, Honda, Mercedes Benz and BMW. The company moved its manufacturing operations to Mexico in 2004 and shifted its business operations to a smaller space in Greenwood in 2006.

Many potential businesses looked at the space but passed over it through the years, Maslowski said. Franciscan St. Francis officials were interested in the site due to its proximity to the main Indianapolis campus, as well as the possibility to add value to the Greenwood community.

But the building had been left in serious disrepair, Ross said.

“When we came into it, it had been flooded. It had been mold infested. The roof was leaking,” chief operating officer Keith Jewell said. “We got into this facility and basically had to start from scratch.”

Still, hospital officials found it to be more cost effective to put employees in a renovated building than to build a new space, Jewell said.

Franciscan St. Francis Health has spent about $14 million in refurbishing and equipping the building. New electronics, telephones, walls, carpeting and decorating have gone into the project.

But much of the furniture, computers and other equipment will make the trip from Beech Grove next week, Ross said.

Each department is housed in cubicles situated in an open-floor layout. Designers wanted the open layout, with just 19 private offices in the building. The decision was intended to encourage interaction and ease of communication, Jewell said.

Individual areas for copying, printing and faxing, as well as conference rooms of different sizes, provide each department with autonomy, Jewell said.

Banks of windows on each wall add to the open feel, Ross said.

“Part of the goal was to get as much daylight in here as we could. The old building has small windows, so one of the most expensive aspects was to tear those out and put in new windows,” he said.

A cafeteria and expanded parking lot were added as part of the remodeling project. A landscaped atrium gives people a place to take a break or eat lunch outdoors. A 2,500-square-foot fitness center is open to any Franciscan St. Francis Health employee to use any time of the day.

“As a health care provider, we want to make sure we have an opportunity for all of our employees to be healthy and fit,” Jewell said. “We want to make sure you have the tools necessary to make that as easy and successful as possible.”

The Greater Greenwood Chamber of Commerce has made the eastern part of Greenwood near Interstate 65 a focus of development, and this move will help that, Maslowski said.

With more than 400 people coming to that facility every day, either for work or for training, a whole new customer base will help surrounding businesses, as well. That will add to the foundation necessary to attract industry to the area, he said.

“It’s going to bring jobs and consumer spending. Our restaurants and retailers, that will be a lift to those businesses,” he added. “Hopefully, that will allow us to attract more restaurants to that east side.”

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