Network 180 Project Consolidates Staff, Services

October 16, 2008
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Melding the new with the old into one green building is the challenge for network 180 and its contractor, Rockford Construction.

Network 180 provides emergency mental health services and contracts with 25 local agencies for longer-term services for about 25,000 Kent County residents per year. The organization is remodeling and building an addition to put its entire 115-member staff under a single roof at 728 Fuller Ave. SE, at the Kent County complex that includes Spectrum Health’s Kent Community Hospital.

Executive Director Paul Ippel said the $6 million project will bring his entire staff under one roof when it opens next spring. The organization will close its location at 833 Lake Drive SE and put that building on the market, Ippel said. The 50 employees will relocate to the Fuller Avenue site.

“We have been doing fundraising with the community. We have raised $385,000 from the community. We also will be using some of our reserves. We will borrow money as well,” Ippel said.

The goal is to raise $1 million for the project, he said.

“We are creating a new access center so there will be an accessible, accommodating place for folks to come if they need emergency psychiatric service. It’s a 24-seven, 365 days a year operation. We’ll also have space for our public meetings, and communication and planning for mental health and substance abuse services.”

It will include a public meeting area with Internet access and space for large and small groups to meet to share information about mental health and substance abuse issues, Ippel said.

“We’re excited about that happening,” he added.

Network 180’s Fuller location dates back about 112 years, Ippel said, although it has been remodeled over the years. It originally served as a nurses’ residence when a tuberculosis hospital, Sunshine Hospital, was located there in the 20th century.

Fifteen-thousand square feet on three of the building’s four floors will be remodeled, Ippel said. The remodeled area won’t be completely green — current windows are remaining, for example — but Ippel said other measures will be taken to make it as environmentally friendly as possible.

While Kent County owns the building, network 180 leases a total of 24,000 square feet for $1 per year. Network 180 was formerly a county agency.

“We’re making it a more open space,” Ippel said, primarily for administrative functions.

Rockford Construction’s Jason Wheeler said the addition, which will encompass the current front entrance, will bring 27,000 square feet of LEED-eligible space to the organization. It will include low VOC paints, caulks and adhesives, state of the art electrical and HVAC systems, and stormwater collection systems.

“Our project team is extremely sensitive to the client needs and consumer privacy issues, and we’re doing everything we can, from a specialized safety plan to scheduling, to ensure that this project is a positive experience for everyone,” added Joe Kuhn, of Rockford’s health care division.

The architect is Design Plus. CQX

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