To celebrate the return, the local power provider hosted an open house at the service center on Wednesday evening. The celebration was a way to show off the $1.4 million project to the community.
“We actually completely gutted the building,” BLP Administrative Services Manager Renee Molyneux said. “It’s all new inside. It’s an open-concept office space.”
According to Molyneux, the BLP started working on the project to update the facility about two years ago. It was built in 1989.
“I don’t think they’ve changed anything since then,” Molyneux said. “It was in dire need of upgrades and improvements.”
The BLP worked with Grand Rapids-based Via Design Inc. and Rockford Construction on the project.
RELATED: Photo Gallery: BLP service center before and after
At its April 2016 board meeting, BLP trustees discussed the project with Via Design associates. The board went forward with a recommendation to remodel the current space and add room to accommodate the needs of the board. The project was incorporated into the BLP’s 2017 budget and business plan, which was approved in May 2016.
According to Molyneux, the BLP has a five-year Capital Improvement Plan, which includes major capital projects such as the transmission system rebuild, the service center remodel and replacement of its customer Information and financial information systems.
“In July 2016, the bonds for Sims Unit 3 were paid off, which freed up revenues to plan for other necessary capital improvement items along with the implementation of a 3 percent average reduction in customer base rates, effective July 1, 2016,” Molyneux said. “A further 3 percent reduction has been passed on to our customers through the power cost adjustment.”
Molyneux noted that the service center remodel project was planned to occur over fiscal years 2017 and 2018, with construction costs spread over that two year period.
“In other words, the BLP is meeting its long term capital needs while implementing rate reductions to our customers,” she said.
The result of the renovation is a brighter, more open office with increased workspace and energy efficiencies — including energy-efficient lighting, new office furniture, keyless door locks, a new board room and a relocated customer entrance.
Updates were also made to the distribution and technical services spaces in the back of the building.
“Now, they have a nice break area,” Molyneux said. “We refurbished or repurposed all the furniture up front to the back so now that has nicer furniture, too.”
The in-depth nature of the work required employees to move off-site for about six months. Molyneux said this meant some departments worked out of trailers on the Eaton Drive site, while others worked out of leased office space on Robbins Road.
“It was a little disjointed, but we’re all back,” she said.