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Take a sneak peek into OSF HealthCare's new headquarters ahead of January 2022 opening

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Tim Shelley
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WCBU
Jim Mormann, OSF HealthCare's CEO of Integrated Solutions, shows members of the media the space that will become a third-floor exterior patio the healthcare organization is installing as part of its new headquarters project at the historic Block & Kuhl building in downtown Peoria. The building is slated to open in January 2022.
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OSF HealthCare's new headquarters is slated to open in the historic Block and Kuhl department store building in downtown Peoria come January 2022.

That's four years after Caterpillar first donated the parcel and adjacent properties to OSF HealthCare, following Big Yellow's scrapping of its own new headquarters plans for the site.

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Tim Shelley
A construction employee putting the finishing touches on an office cubicle area of the new OSF headquarters building at the corner of Adams and Fulton in downtown Peoria.

OSF HealthCare's CEO of Integrated Solutions, Jim Mormann, said the organization originally wanted to move in this past summer, but the project wasn't immune to the material and labor shortages seen across much of the construction industry due to the pandemic.

Mormann said he's sure the January timeline will stick, however.

"There's a formal schedule that is aligned for us to meet for the end of the year we feel pretty confident about," he said.

About 500 OSF HealthCare administrative employees will work full time in the building, with another 175 "hoteling" back and forth.

"Naturally with COVID, it's changed an awful lot of how people work when people are local versus virtual," Mormann said.

The building, which OSF HealthCare is describing as "eight floors and a basement," will serve as the health care ministry's administrative hub. Those functions are currently spread across seven different buildings, Mormann said.

The project is bound by strict Historic Rehabilitation Tax Credit criteria. Mormann said OSF HealthCare is restoring the exterior, and some interior features, to how they looked in the 1950s.

"Without the historic tax credits, the building couldn't have been redone. It fundamentally couldn't be," Mormann said. "It would have been cost prohibitive for any type of construction without the tax credits into the space, and it wouldn't matter who went into it."

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Tim Shelley
This staircase is among the many historic features in the former Block & Kuhl building receiving a full makeover as part of OSF HealthCare's restoration of the building to its appearance circa 1950.

In addition to the restoration of the iconic Chicago windows, the tax credits also call allow for elaborate pillars, moldings, flooring, and staircase restoration, among other things.

Mormann said federal and state historic tax credits make up around 40 percent of the overall project funding.

Two public-facing restaurants also will call the historic 1905 former department store home.

Craig Janssen is the president of Central Illinois Doughboys that operates local Great Harvest Bread Company locations in the greater Peoria area.

He said the headquarters location offers an opportunity to invest back into Peoria.

"Seeing what OSF is how they've been committed to Peoria, the Peoria area, seeing how committed they've been to even coming downtown as a long term resident and an investment here," Janssen said. "It just made a lot of sense to continue to grow. And then you know, just be a part of this project."

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Tim Shelley
The former A&P grocery store site along Washington and Fulton will become the new home of Travis Mohlenbrink's Saffron Social restaurant and bar come spring/summer 2022.

Restaurateur Travis Mohlenbrink is opening a new eatery dubbed Saffron Social in the former A&P grocery store space at the corner of Washington and Fulton.

Mohlenbrink said Saffron Social will be a more formal sit-down eatery, decked out in a 1950s Art Deco style matching OSF's look for the building.

When making business decisions, Mohlenbrink said he weighs whether he thinks it'll get a decent lunch turnout in a location.

In this project I think we're gonna have our hands full, with a full restaurant at lunch. And you know anything at dinnertime is kind of icing on the cake. So just from a business standpoint, it just made complete sense to be here," Mohlenbrink said.

Mohlenbrink operates several other restaurants around the area, including Cracked Pepper, Sugar, Thyme, the Warehouse on State and Industry Brewing. Saffron's menu will be heavy on seafood and steaks, he said.

Mohlenbrink said he's fully invested in building up downtown Peoria.

"I've a huge investment downtown. I own buildings downtown. I have restaurants and things happening downtown. So from a personal standpoint, to not be a part of this wasn't an option," he said.

Janssen aims to open Great Harvest Bread Company for breakfast and lunch business come January. Mohlenbrink anticipates a spring or summer 2022 opening for Saffron Social.

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Tim Shelley
Exterior and interior work is wrapping up quickly on the former Block & Kuhl building in downtown Peoria. OSF HealthCare plans to move administrative employees into the eight-story building in January 2022.

The building includes an employee break area, but no cafeteria. Mormann said that was an intentional decision on OSF's part.

"We intensely felt that it was important for our Mission Partners to get out into the community as well, and to make sure that we can take advantage of the community as well," he said. "So we did not want to get into a situation where OSF had put its in house cafeteria services, and so we intentionally did that. We felt it was important for the downtown. And for local businesses in the downtown."

Mormann said all OSF employees working out of the downtown headquarters will park in the nearby One Technology Plaza parking deck, per an agreement with the city of Peoria.

He said that parking space will also be available for patrons of the restaurant outside OSF's business hours. During the day, outside street parking will be utilized for members of the public patronizing the restaurants.