The Ice Man: Building Up From the Ashes

After plans for a massive upgrade to the historic Crystal Ice and Cold Storage building went up in smoke, Mike Heller and his team were forced back to the drawing board – here’s how they forged ahead

By Russell Nichols

Nov. 7, 2015
The morning air smells like burning wood.

It’s just after 5 a.m. on a Saturday. Yellow tape blocks off the area between 16th and 18th streets. Mike Heller is sitting by the train tracks on R Street, watching the century-old Crystal Ice and Storage building get burned alive with his dream inside.

No one died. But as fire crews battle the blaze, Heller thinks of his team and the time lost on this project: Two years, 89,000 square feet with 40 percent of tenants ready to move in, a vision for transforming the historic ice plant into an urban hotspot for retail and business – all shot to hell.

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