Deconstruction on Kodak campus

WINDSOR – Current and former employees gathered at the Eastman Kodak facility just east of Windsor Wednesday to reminisce about the plant, the friends they made, the stories they remember and what Kodak Colorado Division has meant to Northern Colorado.

June 1 marked the beginning of the third and largest step toward the deconstruction of four of the buildings at the plant, which broke ground 42 years before, nearly to the day, on May 27, 1969.

Buildings C11, C13, C16 and C60 will eventually be leveled as part of Kodak’s plan to reduce the footprint of the Division, a cluster of buildings that has become a partial ghost town since the company announced that 300 employees would be laid off in 2009.

Building C13 was emptied in 2007 after Kodak removed itself from the health imaging business, selling its interests in X-ray and other health-care technology to Onex Corp. for $2.55 million.

Onex, a private equity firm based in Canada, opened Carestream Health Inc., a company focused on health imaging, in Buildings C20, C42 and C50 on the campus. In addition to inhabiting the buildings, Carestream took on 750 Kodak employees.

With the consolidation of the entertainment imaging and lithoplate manufacturing divisions, buildings C16 and C60 were emptied, in September 2009 and September 2010 respectively.

Building C11 housed administrative offices, which have relocated to C6, as well as a cafeteria and other employee amenities.

Demolition, deconstruction

The demolition of the four buildings, which encompass more than 1 million square feet combined, began in October 2010, when Kodak launched its four-step footprint reduction program. The program will eventually leave the northernmost portion of the 2,200-acre site just as the company found it in 1969, and will minimize adverse environmental effects.

Steps one and two, which involved asbestos abatement and material salvage, have already been completed.

The third step, which began June 1, is the demolition phase. Alpine Demolition, based in Arvada, will be handling the demolition, and intends to reuse and recycle as much as 90 percent of the building materials. In order to achieve this, the buildings must be carefully deconstructed.

Alpine estimates that it will remove and recycle over 100,000 tons of concrete, in addition to electrical and mechanical components, wood, steel and copper.

When deconstruction is complete, in the fourth phase, Alpine will reseed the area with native grasses, leaving it ready for new developers to purchase. The 320-acre industrial parcel is being marketed through CB Richard Ellis in Denver for an undisclosed price.

Kodak is doing what it believes is best for the community and the businesses that remain at the site, according to KCD plant manager Vikki Wagner. She said that Kodak considered many options for the empty buildings, and deconstruction was the best option to relieve the company of the overhead costs associated with their upkeep.

“The buildings were built for Kodak processes,” Wagner said of the possibility of simply selling the buildings. “It would have been very difficult to repurpose them.”

Wagner said that in addition to alleviating the expense of the buildings, Kodak didn’t want to leave decaying buildings standing.

“Everyone wanted to do the right thing for the community,” Wagner said.

‘We are still here’

Since its arrival, the Kodak Colorado Division has been known as a good corporate citizen, contributing to local schools and nonprofits and participating in every aspect of the community. In 1999, the Business Report called Kodak “an indelible part of Northern Colorado,” employing 1,800 people with an annual payroll of $80 million. The company had plans to hire 200 to 300 more in 2000.

The Windsor site was the primary manufacturing center for medical X-ray film, thermal media, motion-picture film and color paper, and involved in some stages of manufacturing other photographic films and cameras. Kodak Polychrome Graphics, a subsidiary that manufactured printing plates, was also located on the Windsor campus.

Kodak saw steady growth every year until 2005, and then a sharp decline began, Wagner explained. Traditional photo film, made with the compound silver halide, gave way to digital photography, and more and more consumers adopted the practice of keeping their photos on digital media, lessening the demand for photo paper.

These changes, among others, led to the eventual consolidation of some of Kodak’s Windsor divisions to plants in other states.

Despite the consolidation, two divisions of Kodak remain at the site: color paper manufacturing, in building C15, and thermal media manufacturing, in building C29. These two businesses employ about 200 people, Wagner said.

Between Kodak and Carestream, six buildings will remain occupied after the demolition is complete, and the fact that there is still business being conducted at the Kodak campus is very important, according to Wagner.

“We are still here,” she said.

Primary employer

According to data released by the town of Windsor last month, between 1960 and 1970, the population of Windsor climbed only 3.6 percent. In 1970, the year after Kodak broke ground, the population was just over 1,500, but by the time the next census was conducted in 1980, the population had jumped 173 percent to more than 4,200. As of the 2010 census, Windsor’s population was over 18,500.

Other cities and towns in Northern Colorado also experienced growth as new Kodak employees and transplants from the main plant in Rochester, N.Y., moved to the area.

“Kodak was the primary employer in the region,” said Kelly Arnold, Windsor town manager. “A lot of people relocated here, have a history with Kodak, and settled their families here.”

Once the buildings are cleared, officials hope that the land will be purchased and again become home to a company that will create jobs and add to the vibrancy of the region.

Stacy Johnson, Windsor’s business development manager, said that there will be 270 acres available when the deconstruction is completed. She hopes the site can attract primary employers to join companies such as Vestas Blades and Hexcel Corp., both of which are located near the Kodak plant in the Great Western Industrial Park off Eastman Parkway east of Windsor.

Johnson said that Windsor is a prime location for new business, since it sits in the middle of the triangle formed by Fort Collins, Loveland, and Greeley.

Johnson is also an example of how Kodak helped the community grow by moving employees to the area decades ago. Her father, Bud Miller, was one of the first 60 transfers from the Rochester plant to the KCD plant. Johnson was five weeks old when her family made the move, settling in Loveland.

Miller commuted to the plant in Windsor for 20 years until he retired in 1991, and he and his wife Becky still reside in Loveland. Johnson attended Colorado State University, and has recently moved to her position with the town of Windsor from the Northern Colorado Economic Development Corp.

In an effort to preserve the memory of what Kodak meant to the community when it was in full force, company artifacts have been given to the town of Windsor. According to Arnold, a model of the Kodak plant, as well as other historical items, will be kept at the Windsor Art and Heritage Center, 115 Fifth St.

Officials expect deconstruction of the buildings to be completed in August, and reseeding will take place in September.

And another chapter in Northern Colorado history will come to an end.

WINDSOR – Current and former employees gathered at the Eastman Kodak facility just east of Windsor Wednesday to reminisce about the plant, the friends they made, the stories they remember and what Kodak Colorado Division has meant to Northern Colorado.

June 1 marked the beginning of the third and largest step toward the deconstruction of four of the buildings at the plant, which broke ground 42 years before, nearly to the day, on May 27, 1969.

Buildings C11, C13, C16 and C60 will eventually be leveled as part of Kodak’s plan to reduce the footprint of the Division, a cluster of buildings that has become a partial ghost town since the company announced that 300 employees would be laid off in 2009.

Building C13 was emptied in 2007 after Kodak removed itself from the health imaging business, selling its interests in X-ray and other health-care technology to Onex Corp. for $2.55 million.

Onex, a private equity firm based in Canada, opened Carestream Health Inc., a company focused on health imaging, in Buildings C20, C42 and C50 on the campus. In addition to inhabiting the buildings, Carestream took on 750 Kodak employees.

With the consolidation of the entertainment imaging and lithoplate manufacturing divisions, buildings C16 and C60 were emptied, in September 2009 and September 2010 respectively.

Building C11 housed administrative offices, which have relocated to C6, as well as a cafeteria and other employee amenities.

Demolition, deconstruction

The demolition of the…