The first official step to bring 200 employees to Downtown St. Joseph happened on Friday, Jan. 23, when Mosaic Life Care hosted a groundbreaking ceremony at the German-American Bank Building, 624 Felix St.
“Thank you for the synergy you’re bringing Downtown,” said Brad Lau, Vice President of Economic Development for the St. Joseph Chamber of Commerce. “Downtown is a reflection of the community and what gives a community character.”
He said that site selectors always consider a city’s Downtown when determining if they’ll suggest a company locate there. A vibrant Downtown signifies investment and a high quality of life.
“When I first worked at the City of St. Joseph, there were literally tumbleweeds blowing through Felix Street Square from the urban renewal period,” Mr. Lau said. “There have been a lot of small projects throughout the years that have helped Downtown since then, but this is finally a big bang project.”
Felix Street in particular has gone through many improvements under the guidance of the St. Joseph Downtown Partnership.
“Thank you, thank you, thank you to Dr. Mark Laney and Mosaic’s Board of Directors for believing in our vision for a viable downtown,” said Becky Boerkircher, Executive Director of the St. Joseph Downtown Partnership.
Dr. Laney, Mosaic Life Care’s President and CEO, said the initial discussion about moving Downtown began when problems started to arise at the Business Plaza located on the Belt Highway. The building was originally a box-style department store.
“It was never meant to be an office building,” Dr. Laney said. “We try to take care of our caregivers and it was clear it wasn’t going to be possible in that building.”
He said Mosaic considered building something new on its campus to house the 200 employees, but decided to restore a building Downtown.
“We were smitten when we saw it,” Dr. Laney said of the German-American Bank Building. “The outside will be beautifully restored and the inside will have open, flexible space perfect for creativity.”
The building was constructed in 1889 and has many beautiful original architectural features that were displayed in a tour. The renovation project will take about two years to complete and the investment could equal up to $20 million.
Mosaic Life Care also purchased two properties at 620 and 618 Felix Street that could be demolished and used for parking spaces, although that has yet to be determined.
The building has served many purposes throughout its history. Recently it had some space filled by a law office and a community bank. Mosaic Life Care will renovate and fill all five floors.
“It’s a bold step for your company and it is great for the community for you to take this building, which is an icon, and make it a useful space,” said Mayor Bill Falkner.