Two and a half years after its downtown office was demolished by the devastating April 2011 tornadoes, Cullman County Economic Development moved into its newly renovated office space Wednesday.
The agency’s Fourth Avenue Northeast office, the former First Federal Banking building, now touts a more modern feel, with sleek glass partitions, bright green accent walls and new carpeting throughout the first floor. On Wednesday, its six-person staff began the arduous process of packing up and moving work stations downstairs from their second floor office where they’ve been working since relocating after the tornado.
“We’ve all been spread out on the second floor, but now we’ll be working closer together,” said Ashley Graves, project coordinator.
After leasing the second-floor for more than a year for the CCED, the Cullman County Commission bought the 7,400 square-foot building for around $250,000 in December 2012. Local engineering firm St. John and Associates leased the bottom floor until construction on their new headquarters (now open) could finish.
The renovation cost around $226,000, with Vinemont’s ReidCo General Contracting, Inc. completing the work. Insurance on the old economic development, located in the historic Bledsoe building on U.S. 31, covered the purchase of the new building and about half of the renovation, said County Administrator Gary Teichmiller.
The CCED’s old office was destroyed by the same April 2011 tornado that leveled a section of the city’s downtown. CCED employees — with some help from revenue commissioner Barry Willingham — spent their post-storm days rummaging through the debris of the destroyed building, salvaging equipment and moving it into the First Federal location.
Tiffeny Owens can be reached by email at firstname.lastname@example.org or by phone at 256-734-2131, ext. 135.