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$69M U.S. Courthouse modernization a boon for local firms

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More than a dozen local companies have begun work on a three-year modernization of the Birch Bayh Federal Building and U.S. Courthouse in the state's largest individual project funded by the federal stimulus.

Renovations to the stately 4-story Beaux Arts landmark along Ohio Street between Meridian and Pennsylvania streets will cost at least 34 times the $2 million the Treasury Department paid to construct the building between 1902 to 1905.

The improvements, including the installation of a sprinkler system throughout the building, a 30,000-square-foot green roof, a rainwater-reclamation system and an energy-efficient heating and cooling system, are great news for local contractors.

Nineteen of the 23 companies selected to work on the project are based in central Indiana. Between 90 and 150 workers will be on the site at any given time until the project is scheduled for completion in August 2012. Locally based Shiel Sexton Company Inc. is leading the $69.3 million U.S. Courthouse renovation as general contractor.

And local companies are picking up even more stimulus work from at least two other federal building modernization projects. Shiel also is working on another stimulus project to add more than 6,000 solar panels to the Major General Emmett J. Bean Federal Center in Lawrence. That project will cost about $21 million, and a planned second phase could cost another $50 million, said John Andrews, a Shiel partner.

Meantime, Cincinnati-based Messer Construction is leading a more than $40 million project to add fire-suppression systems and energy3efficient features to the Minton-Capehart Federal Building along North Pennsylvania Street.

"It's no secret the construction industry is in a pretty bad situation nationally," Andrews said. "For us, stimulus projects have been a huge deal. It helps us, the subcontractors and all the tradespeople."

The U.S. Courthouse project allowed Indianapolis-based Shrewsberry & Associates LLC to add a full-time employee who had been looking for work for six months, CEO Bill Shrewsberry said.

Shrewsberry figured he might not get much stimulus work since his firm focuses on civil and environmental engineering and stimulus projects had to be shovel-ready and therefore already designed.

"Right now adding any employees or even maintaining headcount is good news," he said.

Other Indianapolis companies working on the U.S. Courthouse project include Environmental Assurance Co., Barth Electric Co. Inc., Blackmore & Buckner Roofing LLC, Gibson-Lewis of Indianapolis LLC, Connor & Co., LaForce Inc., Davis & Associates and McCammack Tile.

Nearby companies include Clayton-based Artisan Construction, Greenfield-based Valor Field Services, Carmel-based Performance Contracting Inc., Camby-based Indy Steel, Fishers-based Terstep Co., Noblesville-based Ryan Fire Protection, and the Greenwood office of International Piping Systems Inc.

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