Honeywell raises the curtain on an upgrade

December 31st, 2015

News Coverage:

Honeywell raises the curtain on an upgrade

Posted: Thursday, December 31, 2015 10:00 pm | Updated: 11:07 am, Mon Jan 4, 2016.
By Aimee Ambrose

The Honeywell Center in Wabash kicked off the new year with the beginning stages of an overdue makeover, while plans move forward to renovate the historic Eagles Theatre as part of northeast Indiana’s regional development initiative.

A series of projects with an estimated cost of $1.2 million through 2016 will upgrade and refresh the look of the nearly 64-year old Honeywell, said Tod Minnich, president and CEO of the Honeywell Foundation, which runs the center.

This is the first major project at the facility since it underwent a renovation and a 75,000-square-foot expansion in 1994. Even with regular maintenance, the center recently started showing wear and tear from a couple decades of busy customer traffic. More than 250,000 people visit Honeywell each year.

“Twenty years of millions of people flowing through the doors, and it starts to show its age,” Minnich said. “We’re a big facility. There’s a lot of paint and carpet in this place.”

Honing Honeywell

Some of the projects began in late December thanks to the winter’s mild start. Minnich is still helping lead the final push to raise funds from donors and complete the final planning stages for the facelift.

Work includes new paint, carpeting and furniture. Other projects will expand the center’s concession stand, add a small vending area and a sought-after family restroom.

“It’s a frequently requested and needed amenity,” he said.

Most of the work is expected to be completed in the early months of 2016, and the remainder will wrap up before the end of the year. A firm timeline wasn’t in place before the end of December.

The projects will work around major performances and events for the most part in order to keep disruptions to a minimum, but the Honeywell facelift won’t be totally inconvenience-free.

“We will have to close Eugenia’s Restaurant for a short period of time,” he said.

Most of the funding for the $1.2-million upgrade will come out of the center’s deferred maintenance fund. Minnich intends to cover the rest with $500,000 from donors.

The Honeywell Center opened in 1952. The renovation in 1994 expanded the facility with the addition of Ford Theater, Eugenia’s Restaurant, Clark Art Gallery, Carpenter Plaza, the Olivette Room and spaces for meetings and banquets, the center’s website said.

Exploring Eagles architects

At the same time, the Honeywell Foundation is in the process of selecting an architect for a significant renovation of the Eagles Theatre in downtown Wabash. The group is still working on final estimates for the project.

“We’re absolutely moving forward with that project,” Minnich said.

The foundation acquired, renovated and reopened the theater in 2010. Plans now call for $5.3 million in improvements to the building housing the theater, including replacing the roof, renovating the upper floors into art spaces and adding an event space.

The project is one of the featured pieces of northeast Indiana’s Road to One Million plan, which identified dozens of projects region-wide totaling near $1.5 billion that are specifically aimed at growing the region’s population.

The plan was chosen as one of three to receive $42 million in state funds over the next two years as part of the Indiana Economic Development Corp.’s Regional Cities initiative.