The former Bata Shoe factory continues its transformation from factory space to living and working place. The Dalton Company has been making steady progress converting the former shoe factory into a mixed-use condominium.
But this project is much more than a factory being converted into a condo—it’s about a changing community. Led by Chairman Sonja Bata, the Batawa Development Corporation’s (BDC) has a vision to build a beautiful, sustainable, vibrant, and friendly community in Batawa, ON that serves as a model to inspire others around the world. The community also has a rich history to draw upon, too.
The Bata Shoe Company first planted its roots in the area in 1939 with the construction of the factory. Homes, schools, churches and sports facilities were also built over the years, and a vibrant, active community grew in Batawa—which included many families that emigrated from the former Czechoslovakia—that organized everything from pick-up baseball games, to community dinners, to lawn parties with live music.
Fast forward to 2005 when Sonja Bata—who worked alongside her late husband, Thomas Bata, to build the community—established BDC to redevelop the factory (it closed in 1999), as well as the surrounding lands as part of a broader plan to revitalize Batawa.
BDC has entrusted Dalton to oversee the transformation of the building into 75 units. As the project’s construction manager, we’re leading a project team that’s comprised of more than 70 companies, which includes architects—notably DUBBELDAM Architecture + Design and Quadrangle Architects—consultants and trades, that will ultimately build upon the legacy of the iconic structure and the surrounding community.
Roughly one year into the project, we’ve made considerable progress. We’ve taken down the old exterior, removed unnecessary interior elements, added balconies and glass windows, and we’re currently building a new roof that will support a 12,000 square-foot patio. On the ground floor, extensive work is being done to prepare for a floating, feature staircase made of structural steel.
As part of Mrs. Bata’s vision, our efforts are being guided by sustainable building principles to ensure energy efficiency. For example, a geothermal heating system will keep building residents warm in the winter and cool in the summer.
Crews are currently drilling over 60 holes that descend 600 feet underground for the heating and cooling system. Tubes will be inserted into the holes and a special fluid—which captures and transfers the earth’s energy—will circulate through the closed loop system to heat and cool the condo.
The $18M project is scheduled for substantial completion in fall 2018. For more information on Batawa and the history of the Bata Shoe Company, visit BDC’s website.
This post was edited Feb. 6, 2017.