Morning Sun
  • CDL Electric purchases long-vacant McNally building

  • There’s a lot of affection in Pittsburg for the McNally building, which has been vacant for 11 years.

    “It’s kind of nice to see the old girl back,” said Larry Seward, CDL Electric president. “If you lived and grew up in this area, you know this building. It was one of the mainstays of Pittsburg.”

    • email print
  • There’s a lot of affection in Pittsburg for the McNally building, which has been vacant for 11 years.
    “It’s kind of nice to see the old girl back,” said Larry Seward, CDL Electric president. “If you lived and grew up in this area, you know this building. It was one of the mainstays of Pittsburg.”
    And now, after nearly 11 years of sitting vacant and dormant, the McNally building will be active and vital once more.
    Tuesday night, the Pittsburg City Commission helped put the final piece of the financial puzzle in place for Seward and CDL Electric to buy the McNally building. Wednesday, the deal was closed and CDL crews were on the site by afternoon, clearing space for their future workspace.
    Building and History
    The first thing to note about the McNally building is that it’s not a building. Rather, it would be better described as the McNally complex or the McNally entire-city-block. One building was used for manufacturing, while the other was a foundry.
    The brick exterior portion of the manufacturing building was constructed in 1954, with additions in the early and later 1970s.
    “If you didn’t work for McNally, you had an uncle or a cousin or someone that was working for them,” said Jim Villamaria, CDL ELectric vice president/general counsel.
    The large foundry, before work began on Wednesday, seemed more like the setting of a Scooby-Doo mystery than a once-thriving workshop. In fact, the foundry was used in June 2012 for a hazardous materials training for local firefighters.
    The gargantuan manufacturing building appears these days to be more like a cathedral that underwent an Industrial Revolution makeover, with steel and chains serving as backdrop to light streaming through nearby windows.
    While there will be changes, there won’t be too much upkeep. The place has been cared for well, Seward and Villamaria said, by Geary Meador. They said that every broken window was replaced by Meador.
    “He took pride in this facility,” Villamaria said. “I’ve been in a lot of old facilities. Usually there are pigeons that get in the place. None here. Or vandals attacked it. Not here. We couldn’t be happier with how it’s worked out.”
    One of the biggest things Meador kept working for future owners were the 14 cranes inside the building, ranging from a 50-ton crane (“I have no guess on what that would cost. It’d be in the hundreds of thousands, I’m sure,” Villamaria said.), a set of 20-ton cranes, and more cranes scattered throughout the complex.
    Villamaria and Seward both said, completely seriously, when they said the cost of the cranes were almost on par with the cost of the building itself.
    City involvement
    Page 2 of 3 - The project will cost a pretty penny. CDL Electric has put together $273,000 on its own for the facility, and the Pittsburg City Commission approved Tuesday night to add another $150,000 in forgivable loans from the revolving loan fund. The loans would be forgiven provided CDL adds another five jobs over two years.
    “The city realized that your best bet is working with the local businesses that know a building like that,” said Blake Benson, Pittsburg Chamber of Commerce president. “There aren’t many relocating companies that want a building that big. To be able to work with a local company to fill those needs has been a good strategy for the city.”
    At Tuesday’s city commission meeting, talk was mostly about the extraordinary progress of CDL Electric. Commissioner Marty Beezley said she didn’t think it would be difficult for CDL to add five jobs by 2015. Commissioner Patrick O’Bryan saw another effect of the purchase.
    “I echo the feelings of the other commissioners. I’m so pleased you all are doing so much for yourself and the community. You’re giving employment to so many that need it is a boon to the community. You’re bringing life back to the McNally building and have to put the right value on it,” O’Bryan said. “It was a constant reminder of loss for the community. To see it occupied by a viable company looking to grow... Doing this with a building already built, there’s nothing greener than using an existing building. It’s better than putting in new sewers and starting from scratch.”
    One area of concern for the city commission was also a concern for the CDL Electric officials. Notably, the former owner, Metso Minerals, was tasked with cleaning the property up through the Kansas Department of Health and Environment.
    But as part of the sale, Metso will retain any clean-up duties related to the site until such time as the location is deemed clean by the state.
    “That’s what let us move forward,” Villamaria said.
    At the city commission meeting, Seward and Villamaria thanked not only current city staff like City Manager Daron Hall and Benson, but also former interim city manager John Van Gorden and former economic development director Mark Turnbull.
    Future of the building
    Villamaria and Seward can walk through the complex and point out where their operations will be.
    This side, they say, will be storage for the heating and air portion of the building. Over there will be where we work on railroad cars, a growing portion of the CDL business.
    CDL does electrical, heating/air, security systems, and railroad work, including signalization. CDL crews are across the country, from Texas to Wisconsin, Alabama to Idaho.
    Page 3 of 3 - “We take care of and maintain every signal Watco has in the states they’re in,” Seward said. “We’ve been very successful. When we have a partner like Watco, loyalty is big. CDL has a good working relationship with a lot of companies for 30-40 years.”
    Villamaria said not to worry about how the company will use the roughly 140,000 square feet in the complex, according to a number on a city listing for the property.
    “We need to be consolidating. We’ve completely outgrown the property we lease on the bypass,” Villamaria said. “We use the property on Langdon Lane. People working at 201 N. Joplin are bursting at the seams.”
    It’ll be a while before the McNally building is up to full speed. The 4,000 square feet of office space will need to be tripled, a process that could take 6-7 months.
    “We’ll be in the facility this week,” Seward said. “Some of the operations and offices will get going in the next 5, 6, 7 months.”
    The project has already drawn the attention of the public.
    “I bet we had 200 people stop by and watch us work,” Seward said. “I had a guy stop by and say, ‘I worked here in 1952.’”
    Now, thanks to CDL Electric, the city and others, another generation will be able to stake their own claim to the building.
    Andrew Nash can be reached at andrew.nash@morningsun.net or by calling 231-2600 ext. 140.

    Comments are currently unavailable on this article

      Events Calendar