PHOTO TOUR: Inside the Gateway Center, opening early 2016


A 9,500-square-foot retail space along East College Street.

A 9,500-square-foot retail space along East College Street.


Workers install a cover over a beam near the south entrance of the facility.


The retail space remains wide open without walls dividing the space into smaller businesses.


The second-story balcony offers a view of downtown and Tappan Square.


Oberlin College’s Ben Jones and Scott Wargo look out toward downtown from the second story balcony.


A worker waits for another piece of material before finishing his job.


Two people work on finishing a conference room large enough to accommodate 300 people.


A look down into the entrance off Rt. 58 where a staircase will be installed.


Photos by Valerie Urbanik | Oberlin News-Tribune

The main entrance and drop-off area for the Peter B. Lewis Gateway Center is shown here.


A look into a model suite that was designed for the new hotel rooms.


Two workers install brown siding along East College Street.


The main drop-off and entrance to the Peter B. Lewis Gateway Center.


A 9,500-square-foot retail space along East College Street.
http://aimmedianetwork.com/wp-content/uploads/sites/44/2015/10/web1_IMG_8968.jpgA 9,500-square-foot retail space along East College Street.

Workers install a cover over a beam near the south entrance of the facility.
http://aimmedianetwork.com/wp-content/uploads/sites/44/2015/10/web1_IMG_8969.jpgWorkers install a cover over a beam near the south entrance of the facility.

The retail space remains wide open without walls dividing the space into smaller businesses.
http://aimmedianetwork.com/wp-content/uploads/sites/44/2015/10/web1_IMG_8971.jpgThe retail space remains wide open without walls dividing the space into smaller businesses.

The second-story balcony offers a view of downtown and Tappan Square.
http://aimmedianetwork.com/wp-content/uploads/sites/44/2015/10/web1_IMG_8973.jpgThe second-story balcony offers a view of downtown and Tappan Square.

Oberlin College’s Ben Jones and Scott Wargo look out toward downtown from the second story balcony.
http://aimmedianetwork.com/wp-content/uploads/sites/44/2015/10/web1_IMG_8975.jpgOberlin College’s Ben Jones and Scott Wargo look out toward downtown from the second story balcony.

A worker waits for another piece of material before finishing his job.
http://aimmedianetwork.com/wp-content/uploads/sites/44/2015/10/web1_IMG_8976.jpgA worker waits for another piece of material before finishing his job.

Two people work on finishing a conference room large enough to accommodate 300 people.
http://aimmedianetwork.com/wp-content/uploads/sites/44/2015/10/web1_IMG_8978.jpgTwo people work on finishing a conference room large enough to accommodate 300 people.

A look down into the entrance off Rt. 58 where a staircase will be installed.
http://aimmedianetwork.com/wp-content/uploads/sites/44/2015/10/web1_IMG_8979.jpgA look down into the entrance off Rt. 58 where a staircase will be installed.

Photos by Valerie Urbanik | Oberlin News-Tribune

The main entrance and drop-off area for the Peter B. Lewis Gateway Center is shown here.

http://aimmedianetwork.com/wp-content/uploads/sites/44/2015/10/web1_IMG_8983.jpg

Photos by Valerie Urbanik | Oberlin News-Tribune

The main entrance and drop-off area for the Peter B. Lewis Gateway Center is shown here.

A look into a model suite that was designed for the new hotel rooms.
http://aimmedianetwork.com/wp-content/uploads/sites/44/2015/10/web1_IMG_8984.jpgA look into a model suite that was designed for the new hotel rooms.

Two workers install brown siding along East College Street.
http://aimmedianetwork.com/wp-content/uploads/sites/44/2015/10/web1_IMG_8990.jpgTwo workers install brown siding along East College Street.

The main drop-off and entrance to the Peter B. Lewis Gateway Center.
http://aimmedianetwork.com/wp-content/uploads/sites/44/2015/10/web1_Inn-Sept.-26.jpgThe main drop-off and entrance to the Peter B. Lewis Gateway Center.

Construction is nearly at an end at the corner of Rt. 58 and East College Street for the 100,000-square-foot Peter B. Lewis Gateway Center.

The News-Tribune had the opportunity last Wednesday don a hard hat and tour the new building.

We got an inside view of the 9,500-square-foot retail space along East College Street, 70 guests rooms, the bar and restaurant area, an outdoor patio area, a 300 person conference room overlooking Tappan Square, a fitness room, and a jazz club.

There will be three stories of hotel rooms stretching along College Street with six suites and a bridal suite.

Christopher Noble of Smart Hotels — the company serving as project developer — said a model suite was built in April during the process of installing the framework for the new hotel rooms to get an idea of how the rooms should be laid out.

Sixty changes were made to the original layout of the room, Noble said: “It was very useful to build the model suite.”

A few of those changes included rearranging the layout of the bathroom, the type of furniture in the rooms, and the size of the windows.

The restaurant and bar area will be located on the north end of the first floor of the building, facing the square.

The 300-person conference room will be on the second floor above the restaurant area. It can be divided into five individual rooms for separate events.

Guests will be able to access a small outdoor patio from the conference room that overlooks downtown and Tappan Square.

“I think this will just be a fun space,” Noble said, showing off the space, which must still be painted and railed. “It will be the largest conference room in Lorain County.”

A second small meeting room will also be available on the second floor along East College Street and above that room will be a fitness center.

A jazz club with an industrial feel will be located in the basement of the building along College Street. Guests will be able to access the music room from a staircase along the sidewalk or from inside the center.

Noble said the jazz room will have state-of-the-art acoustic sound.

The east side on the first floor of the Gateway Center will house retail businesses and management offices.

Noble said no companies have yet been selected for inside the retail spaces but each will have a glass front entrance.

Forty-eight geothermal wells were dug this summer along Rt. 58 to heat the water running through pipes underground.

The building will also feature radiant ceiling panels except in the two-story auditorium entrance and the conference room, Noble said.

The Gateway Center will incorporate renewable energy systems to meet the United States Green Building Council’s LEED Platinum rating. That’s the highest standard the agency has for energy efficiency and sustainability.

Even the materials used on the exterior of the facility will help the center receive a platinum rating. The center will need to receive a minimum of 80 points from the council to receive the top rating.

The scoring cannot be completed until the entire project is done, including the second phase.

That will include destruction of the current Oberlin Inn, where the Oberlin College administration offices will be built on the north end of the Gateway Center. A large parking lot will also be built where the current inn is situated.

Noble expects the center to be a focal point for both the community and college. The center is expected to be completed by early 2016.

Valerie Urbanik can be reached at 440-775-1611 or on Twitter @ValUrbanik.