"Let's lift that beam," called out Anthony Ramos of Ironworkers Local 25 on Tuesday morning to a crowd gathered along Woodward Avenue in downtown Detroit.
Within minutes, a white structural beam, signed in orange marker by dozens of ironworkers wearing orange shirts, was hoisted and put in place during the "topping out" ceremony for the $150 million Little Caesars world headquarters expansion project next to the Fox Theatre. A traditional evergreen tree, American flag and not-so-traditional large Little Caesars mascot ornament were also hoisted with the beam.
The ceremony marked the completion of the 234,000-square-foot building's steel structure.
"The next time you're at a sporting event downtown look around because from the foundations to the beams high in the sky it was built by the proudest and most skilled members of the ironworkers, my brothers and sisters of Local 25," Ramos said.
Thirty workers of Operating Engineers 324 and Ironworkers Local 25 installed 2,100 tonnage of steel manufactured by Detroit-based Midwest Steel Inc. The project is a part of the "Michigan Made, Detroit Built" mantra Detroit-based Ilitch Holdings Inc. adopted in its 50-block vision for The District Detroit where more than 60 percent of more than $315 million in construction contracts were awarded to Detroit-based businesses and more than 90 percent of $500 million in contracts to Michigan-based businesses.
Midwest Steel Executive Vice President Tom Broad said "topping out" with an evergreen tree is a more than 1,000-year-old tradition meant to bring good luck.
Workers next will complete plumbing, bolting, welding and structural integrity work on the building, he said. Midwest Steel most recently topped off the Little Caesars Arena in August.
"We have all the miscellaneous metals that we also incorporate into the building," Broad said. "We have probably about three more months. I would say it's about 75 percent done at this point."
The project is expected to be completed in mid-2018.
The next visible milestone will be to enclose the building, said Larry Brinker Jr., president of Detroit-based developer Christman-Brinker JV. That will include installing the the 14-foot pizza-shaped glass on the east, north and west sides of the building, which Brinker said would begin around September or October.
Each of the building's nine stories is 16 feet tall, project superintendent Jared Thorner said. The 130-foot bridge, which will connect the headquarter's sixth floor across Columbia Street to the Fox Theatre's seventh floor, will run slightly downhill because the Little Caesars building will be taller than the theater, he said.
Brinker said the bridge will be one of the final construction activities.
"We want to leave Columbia Street open to be able to access for material delivery and everything else," he said. "Once the bridge goes up we won't be able to set the crane to be able to travel back and forth on Columbia Street."
Brinker said the construction team is working out sequence details to install the bridge, which is likely to take place next spring.
See article on Crainsdetroit.com.