GREENFIELD — Inch by inch, the two-story office building atop a set of integrated, remote-controlled dollies rolled off its lot and toward its new home.
Over the next several hours late Thursday, June 24, and into early Friday, the brick-wrapped former F.C. Tucker building made its way from 1726 N. State St. a short distance away to 1615 Fields Boulevard.
(You can watch a video of the building’s journey here.)
Dozens of workers with companies and the city coordinated to transport the structure, allowing an Indianapolis businessman to preserve it for future use as it makes way for a car wash at its former site. The 24-year-old property, weighing approximately 400 tons and spanning about 70 by 68 feet, drew a crowd of marveling spectators watching from a safe distance on its slow and steady journey down a deserted State Street and West McClarnon Drive.
Building owner Dan Van Treese hired Wolfe House & Building Movers to lead the move. By around 9 p.m. Thursday, the building had begun edging forward toward a series of steel plates leading onto State Street. Several Wolfe workers oversaw the transport, including one steering the structure with a handheld remote control.
Throughout the trip, the building paused as workers took down power lines, traffic lights and other obstacles that they then restored after the building had passed.
After a far enough path had been cleared, the building turned onto State Street by 11 p.m. and moved south about 700 feet at a good pace to McClarnon Drive, where it waited for traffic lights to come down before slowly but surely turning west.
After another pause for more power lines, the building turned north just before Fields Boulevard and onto its new lot at about 1:30 a.m. near its new foundation.
Van Treese said he was relieved after the building had successfully traversed the streets.
“I would like to have had it over the footers tonight, but everybody’s wore out,” he said at about 2:30 a.m. Friday. “It’s tough to do this at night — makes it twice as hard, I believe.”
By morning, the building was in place and level in its foundation footprint, a rectangular gouge in the earth a few feet deep.
Van Treese said the dollies and other equipment will come out next week before block starts getting laid to build up the foundation to the building.
“I can’t wait to go inside later,” he said.
Everything came together nicely throughout the transport, Van Treese also said.
“It really worked out well,” he said. “The power guys did a great job. It was a pretty smooth move.”
As he watched the move unfold, he thought about how it was a culmination of efforts that began in December, when he first learned of the building and got the idea to move it.
“I’m a dreamer,” he said. “Everything has to start with a dream, an idea, and then you have to make it happen. And luckily with the team of people that I was able to put together, it happened.”
Andrew Heck, a vice president with Wolfe House & Building Movers, told the Daily Reporter Thursday afternoon how the transportation process works. He said the driver, equipped with a remote control, would stand about 30 feet away from the building to maintain a good visual while coworkers walking along with it would watch from various angles and report any important information to the driver.
“Really it’s not that bad of a route,” Heck said, adding most of the move’s time would consist of clearing obstacles and making turns. “We don’t move very fast, it’s pretty slow, but it’s not very far, either.”
He estimated travel speeds would be about 2 mph on straight shots.
“We like precision, not speed,” he added.
He supposed the building’s size falls somewhere in the middle of the kinds of properties the company moves. Wolfe does a lot of structures smaller than Van Treese’s, he said, but has also done some six to eight times larger.
Heck has been in the building moving business for 16 years.
“It’s just a job for me,” he said with a chuckle. “I know it’s exciting and fun for everybody else.”
Those who felt that way gathered in the nearby Burger King and Big Lots parking lots to witness the start of the building’s journey, many of them capturing the spectacle on their smartphones.
While some called it a night after watching the building’s initial entry onto State Street, others continued following it at safe distances.
Hunter Hood was among the onlookers amazed by the sight.
“I just think it’s crazy — they’re going to move a whole building through town,” he said.
Jack Irwin and his wife, Vi, brought lawn chairs to catch the display.
“You don’t see it every day, for sure,” he said.
Roy Wilson’s F.C. Tucker agency moved out of the building and finished moving into its new location at 928 N. State St. last month. One of the spectators Thursday night, Rita Fish, a Realtor with the agency, had worked in the building since it was built in 1997.
“That was my office — upper left corner,” she said, pointing as she watched the building roll on.
She applauded Van Treese’s efforts.
“It’s wonderful that a building like this can be saved instead of torn down,” she said. “It’s awesome for everybody to see, too.”
Several officers with the Greenfield Police Department blocked traffic in the area and oversaw spectator safety, including Capt. Chuck McMichael.
“This is as smooth as I could ever dream,” McMichael said at around midnight, when the building was on the final leg of its journey. “I expected a few hiccups. These guys are definitely good at what they do.”
Once the building is ready to go at its new location, Van Treese plans to seek a tenant or tenants for the property. He also plans to pursue adding another building of about 30,000 square feet available for small businesses to rent office and warehousing space. The development will be called the Fields Business District.
Katherine Rayner, marketing supervisor for Crew Carwash, said the company hopes to start construction at 1726 N. State St. in the next few weeks and open in December, weather permitting.