BAC Journal > "The Place Where People Want to Be": BAC members help transform Indianapolis’ Bottleworks District into multi-use mecca

"The Place Where People Want to Be": BAC members help transform Indianapolis’ Bottleworks District into multi-use mecca

2021 Issue 3
Members at Work

Lifting a ceremonial shovel alongside 11 area business and governmental leaders nearly six years ago, Indianapolis Mayor Joe Hogsett announced that “Bottleworks is simply a place where people want to be and will want to be.”

Thanks to the skills of BAC Local 4 IN/KY members, the Mayor is being proved right.

Standing in a spot that would culminate in a 12-acre fusion of arts, workspaces, fashions, and foods, Hogsett was presenting a pre-celebratory toast to the multiuse downtown mecca for residents and visitors alike. Featuring 180,000 square feet of office space and 175,000 square feet of retail space, the Bottleworks District’s first phase opened in spring 2020 amid the initial onslaught of the pandemic. When the entire complex is completed, the seven-year, $300 million downtown hub is expected to attract two million-plus visitors per year and add 4,000 permanent parttime jobs. The second phase, which includes apartments and condos, will take place over the next few years.

The revitalization project includes this 139-room boutique Bottleworks Hotel that occupies the top two floors of the historic administration building.

The Bottleworks District involves the transformation of the historic Coca-Cola bottling plant on the northeast end of Massachusetts Avenue. Built during the Great Depression, the plant pumped out two million bottles a week in its heyday. In the ensuing years, it housed the car collection of Indianapolis Motor Speedway owner Tony Hulman and served as the transportation hub for Indianapolis Public School Board’s bus fleet. In its day, the bottling facility was an architectural marvel, featuring a terracotta façade, terrazzo floor, and impeccably designed marble and bronze interior.

The decision to transform the 1930s Art Deco building was the brainchild of Isaac Bamgbose, Vice President of Asset Management for Hendricks Commercial Properties, who envisioned the Bottleworks District to become a destination the likes of New York’s Chelsea Market or Seattle’s Pike Place Market.

But the Bottleworks’ revitalization would be just a dream without the BAC craftworkers entrusted with making the transformation a reality. As Local 4 Indianapolis Chapter Field Representative David Murray explained, the job was tailor made for BAC.

“The Bottleworks District project in Indianapolis encompassed many aspects of our trade, including terra cotta restoration, red brick, tile and terrazzo,” Murray said. “We had three signatory brick contractors (Broady-Campbell, Purdy LLC and Hagerman Construction) and two TMTs (Blakely’s and Santarossa) on the project.”

The total BAC manpower logged on the first phase of the Bottleworks’ project clocked in at an amazing 77,400 hours. The teams working on the project included Broady Campbell (terra cotta restoration), 34,800 hours; Purdy LLC (brick/block), 12,500 hours; Hagerman Construction (brick/block), 8,100 hours; and Santarossa and Blakely Corp. (tile/ terrazzo), 22,000 hours.

Nick Purdy, Project Manager for Purdy LLC, says his team’s work on the Bottleworks Hotel is one that will not be forgotten anytime soon, as it was fraught with challenges. The revitalization project included the Bottleworks Hotel and Garage dining facility. The hotel features 139 guest rooms, and 12,000 square feet of event space and boutique retail shops. “From the estimating side to the material allocation, this project was a challenge in every way. Managing the project brought many hurdles, but with the good team we have here, we did not have any issues to overcome what was thrown at us. We are very proud to have been a part of this project.”

The North Pittsboro, Indiana firm played an instrumental role in the project, working on the restoration of interior glazed brick wall, concrete masonry units, adding new brick veneer, glass block restoration and thin brick installation, and the installation of 53 new windows in the courtyard windows. “This project ran through every aspect of masonry at one time,” Purdy says, “whether it was new veneers, masonry restoration, structural CMU walls, glass block, shoring or demos.”

An exterior wall before (above) and after (below) its restoration.

BAC members of Local 4 IN/KY on the job, including Thad Smith, Nick Montoya, Justin Tucker, and Tom Parlmer.

One of the tasks on Purdy LLC’s to-do list was the restoration of interior glazed brick walls, which was made even more challenging as they had to match the original building’s look. The original building was constructed with green glazed brick on all the interior walls. In total, there were roughly 70,300 square feet of glazed brick that had to be restored. The restoration consisted of 100% restoration cleaning, tuckpointing, patching and rebuilding many sections that had been damaged over time. The new design also required new window and door openings—all of which had custom shaped brick from the jambs, head and sills. Many of the building’s areas had to be demoed to modify the walls to the new configuration.

“We had a team of guys salvaging the glazed brick and cleaning them for reuse,” Purdy says. “The original building had three different colors of glazed brick. Due to the lack of custom shapes (bullnose/ sill shapes), we had to order three different custom-colored bricks with multiple shapes to match the vintage units.”

Purdy says the task required much time and effort working with the Indiana Brick Corp. to find matches for all three colors, as well as matching the existing shapes. The time-consuming process required a production time of 25 weeks. His team hit the same issue during the installation of the brick veneer on the addition of the third floor. Because the original building had multiple additions, Purdy LLC had to use three different bricks, once again working with Indiana Brick Corp. to match the material. The new brick work consisted of 17,000 modular units in three different colors.

For the glass block restoration, the Bottleworks’ designers did their best to restore the windows’

BAC Local 4 IN/KY member Joe Page on the job.

Exterior of the historic Coca-Cola bottling plant before (left) and after (right) restoration performed by BAC Local 4 IN/KY members.

BAC Local 4 IN/KY member John Foradori painting the exterior wall of the historic building.

BAC Local 4 IN/KY members on the job, from left, Justin Tucker, Joe Page, Nick Montoya, Joel Matthews, Abel Rojas, Ty Dickerson, and Andrew Page.

looks, keeping as much of the existing glass block as possible. All the original glass block windows were ground out and repointed to match the original look. During the construction process, the designers also decided to use thin brick on the new penthouse, which Purdy says was no easy task. “The walls are 30 feet high, and all of the material had to be moved by hand. This part of the project consisted of 40,000 thin bricks with the use of the Tab TI system. This system utilizes continuous insulation with the Air Barrier system.”

To a craftworker, working to keep the look of such a historic landmark was both rewarding and confounding. “Honestly the most challenging part was trying to match the original work,” says Brian Bandy, Purdy LLC’s Project Superintendent and BAC Local 4 IN / KY member. “Taking demo and salvaged brick to patch and repair walls for a seamless finish. It was a fun and challenging project that took coordination of all trades.”

Another one of the construction crews on the project was Hagerman Construction in Louisville, Kentucky, which assisted in the remodel and small additions. To work on such an iconic building was a thrill for Hagerman President Tim Norton and his team. Norton employed four BAC Members during the project, who worked for six months on the project, generating 4,000 work hours. The team used 14,000 CMUs and 72,000 bricks.

“The owner did not want a perfectly finished project,” Norton says. “Understanding the level of rustic feel they wanted was a challenge, but in the end, it was a one-of-a-kind project with amazing results and finish.”