SEPTEMBER 12, 2019

O‑A‑K Turns Historic Building into Community Foundation

Nearly 100-year-old railroad depot transformed into welcoming space for collaboration efforts.

by: Jay Schlichter Lee-Collier Editor/Business Observer

Decades ago, passengers waiting to board a train at the Atlantic Coast Line Railroad depot in Fort Myers were segregated along racial lines.

Today, those once restrictive spaces have been transformed into an open, welcoming building designed to connect neighbors with one another.

That place is also now home to the Southwest Florida Community Foundation and a new technologically-enhanced space called the Collaboratory, a 13,000-square-foot building added onto a renovated version of the depot’s original structure, built in 1924. The foundation has invited nonprofits and other groups to use the center for meetings and other events.

“We were very intentional with the concept of the Collaboratory as a space rather than a place,” says Sarah Owen, president and CEO of the Southwest Florida Community Foundation, in a statement. “We’ll be taking Collaboratory ideas and energy and events all over the region, and people will be able to connect to us digitally in what is a virtual hub that’s geographically unbound.”

The transformation of the historic structure and the building of the addition came about through a public-private partnership between the foundation and the City of Fort Myers. Funding included a $10 million New Market Tax Credit program that assists with economic development in distressed neighborhoods.

In addition to four conference rooms, the LEED-gold-certified building contains nine offices, multiple lounges, six tenant spaces and a large meeting area. The foundation invested in high-tech features like energy-efficient air conditioning, an outdoor air-scrubber system, water-efficient plumbing and solar power trees.

But the organization didn’t remove all the building’s storied past, which included being a history museum following the railroad’s departure in 1971. The builder, for example, found a way to repurpose items like the original red brick walls, windows, benches and signs. The Fort Myers construction company, Owen-Amen-Kimball, even found a way to keep the railroad tracks, which pass right through the middle of the building, while still making it Americans with Disabilities Act (ADA) compliant.

Unfortunately, though, crews weren’t able to salvage and keep one of the last remaining Pullman train cars that sat at the site for years. It was removed by a massive crane.

“It was very important to the client to keep the historical significance of the train station,” O‑A‑K President David Dale says. “We married it up to a super modern building.”

Project

• Project: Southwest Florida Community Foundation, Fort Myers

• Builder: Owen‑Ames‑Kimball Company, Fort Myers

• Designer/Architect: Jeff Mudgett, Parker Mudgett Smith Architects, Fort Myers

• Location: 2031 Jackson Street, Fort Myers

• Start date: January 2017

• Completion date: September 2018

• Value: $5,297,702

• Size: 22,500 square feet

• Challenges: Owen‑Ames‑Kimball President David Dale says one of the biggest challenges in renovating the nearly 100-year-old railroad depot was to find ways to bring it up to current building codes and make it accessible under Americans with Disabilities Act rules, while also adding in high tech features.

“It was very important to the client to keep the historical significance of the train station, We married it up to a super modern building.”

Dave Dale
President, O‑A‑K Florida

In Other News

Ottawa County Road Commission Update

Ottawa County Road Commission Update

Recap from previous Ottawa County Road Commission video:…
OAK Naples 5100 Tamiami Trail N

Owen‑Ames‑Kimball expands Collier…

Owen‑Ames‑Kimball expands Collier County operations, relocates Naples office

Owen‑Ames‑Kimball Company (O‑A‑K), a preeminent general…
FGCU Center for Entrepreneurship and Innovation Rendering

Owen‑Ames‑Kimball Florida Chosen for…

Owen‑Ames‑Kimball Florida Chosen for FGCU Center for Entrepreneurship and Innovation

Owen‑Ames‑Kimball Company (O‑A‑K), a preeminent general…
Dale Dave OAK

Owen‑Ames‑Kimball Florida Recognized as…

Owen‑Ames‑Kimball Florida Recognized as a Top Business in Florida

Owen‑Ames‑Kimball Company (O‑A‑K), a preeminent general…
San Cap Bank Front 6527

Owen‑Ames‑Kimball Completes Sanibel…

Owen‑Ames‑Kimball Completes Sanibel Captiva Community Bank Renovations

Owen‑Ames‑Kimball Company (O‑A‑K), a preeminent general…
Phil and stairs

Hope College's Haworth Inn & Conference…

Hope College's Haworth Inn & Conference Center

Hope College’s Haworth Inn and Conference Center, adjacent…
06 2020 Fredrick Meijer Gardens Update Social V1 1 00 00 28 10 Still001

Thank You Interns

Thank You Interns

This summer, O‑A‑K had the pleasure of hosting 11 interns…
MM 1st Walls YUNC0781 lr

Owen‑Ames‑Kimball Florida Reaches…

Owen‑Ames‑Kimball Florida Reaches Milestone in Middle School MM Construction

Owen‑Ames‑Kimball Company (O‑A‑K) Florida, a preeminent…
OAK Family Health Centers Summer Ridge smaller

O‑A‑K Florida Chosen for Family Health…

O‑A‑K Florida Chosen for Family Health Centers Clinic Construction

Owen‑Ames‑Kimball Company (O‑A‑K), a respected general…
News Austin Baumann Diemer Eaton

O‑A‑K Welcomes 12 New Employees

O‑A‑K Welcomes 12 New Employees

(Grand Rapids, MI) June 26, 2020 – Owen‑Ames‑Kimball Co.…