By SHELLEY TERRY - firstname.lastname@example.org
It looks like it’s going to be a happy new year for Signature Health.
That’s when the mental health services agency will be moving into what will be the renovated Hotel Ashtabula. The building is under reconstruction.
“It’s been a long time coming, but we finally made it work,” said Charlie Borsukoff, in charge of business development for JCI Contractors. “Our deadline is Dec. 15 and we are going to make it.”
The building is owned by 4726 Main Avenue, LLC (comprised of four partners/developers) and Signature Health will be the main tenant.
Sandvick Architects of Cleveland is the architect, and JCI Contractors is the construction company.
In November 2011, Jonathan Lee, president and CEO of Signature Health, signed a lease with the owners of the building. He planned to move all of Signature’s Ashtabula offices into the former hotel within a year.
Work began in August 2012, and passersby watched bulldozers removing top soil on the property just south of the old hotel. It wasn’t long before the parking lot and landscaping was complete.
On the outside of the brick building, workers sandblasted, replaced motar joints and and worked on the front sandstone.
Inside the six-story, 109-room former hotel, the work is taking longer than expected, but JCI’s construction superintendent, Nick Pizzi, said saving the 93-year-old hotel’s high ceilings, wide hallways, fixtures, windows and woodwork is worth it.
For example, each pane of glass in the lobby’s magnificent windows was removed and reglazed bringing the southern sunlight into the lobby, he said.
The hotel boasts 177 windows in 11 styles, Pizzi said, noting that except for the lobby windows, all the others will be replaced with new windows.
The marble staircase and tile floors are being saved, restored and polished, he said.
The hotel’s former lobby will be Signature Health’s waiting area. The front desk in the lobby will be the check-in area.
Burn’s Kid College, housed on the backof the first floor will move soon to 4314 Main Ave., also known as the former Social Security office. The space the daycare now occupies will be the pharmacy, Pizzi said.
Borsukoff said two new elevators will be installed, and Signature Health will occupy four floors with an option to move into five and six.
The project’s total price tag is $4.1 million.
The ballroom, fondly remembered by many Ashtabula County residents at prom time, is being restored and will be used as a large meeting room or divided into smaller rooms with folding partitions, said Paul Brickman, director of marketing for Signature Health.
Signature Health also is partnering with Ashtabula County Children Services to offer a child advocacy program. This will allow sexual assault victims to stay in the county for the interview process with police and prosecutors.
“Basically, it will be all-purpose in terms of mental health,” Brickman said, noting Signature Health will employ about 120 people on-site.