Commuters lift their necks out of car windows to peer over the fence of a Chamblee, GA, job site, sometimes causing minor fender benders and traffic jams, along the corridors of Chamblee Tucker Road and Peachtree Industrial Blvd.
Their curiosity is being piqued by the Mentor, OH-based Cleveland Construction company and its latest project.
Being built on a 15-acre (6 ha) site, the new Chamblee Village includes a 204,025-sq.-ft. (18,362 sq m) Wal-Mart, and 21 other retail shops.
“One of my workers watched at least four to five fender benders, due to drivers trying to watch what we’re doing over here,” said Matt Young, project manager of Cleveland.
And what they’re doing is rather unique.
Forgoing the usual Wal-Mart facade of a windowless concrete block, painted in Wal-Mart blue, the Chamblee Wal-Mart, along with its proposed 21 retail neighbors, will have a rare design created by Middough Associates, based in Cleveland, OH.
With brick exteriors, plenty of windows, tree-lined walkways, sidewalks and outdoor restaurants, the more contemporary design scheme reflects Wal-Mart’s new inroad into larger, untapped metropolitan areas.
Chamblee, a sleepy hamlet that once was a thriving railroad town and a training ground for WWII soldiers, is slowly becoming more gentrified and revitalized, with diverse neighborhoods dotting its landscape.
Chamblee Village includes a multi-level Wal-Mart, with the actual store sitting on top of an underground parking deck.
Not only is the mixed-use design a new concept for Wal-Mart, it’s also a new concept for both Young and Cleveland Construction Project Supervisor Ed Gartin.
“This has been one of the most unique projects I’ve ever been a part of,” said Gartin. “Partly, because we are using every acre of the 15 acres, period … and it’s restricted acreage, too. It’s locked in on all sides by interstates, so we sort of have to go down and up, in order to build here.”
When Gartin and Young say they and a team of 30 workers have to go down and up in order to build, it’s not just a figure of speech; it is reality.
Since the project began in July, geologic obstacles, unforeseen conditions and close quarters have made the project a challenge for all involved.
According to Young, the demolition team — Metro Atlanta Demolition — after tearing down the existing buildings, found another layer of concrete beneath the initial rubble.
“Metro pulled up another layer of concrete,” said Young. “The number one challenge we have is finding rock and trying to predict Mother Nature.”
Metro Atlanta Demolition demolished the existing building and finished most of the clearing in August.
Using two Norberg LT 105 mobile crushing plants, along with Volvo hydraulic excavators and a Hitachi hydraulic excavator with a 50R LaBounty demolition shear, the demolition crew crushed and recycled 6,000 tons (5,400 t) of concrete on site and has recently undertaken crushing of 4,000 cu. yds. (3,000 cu m) of granite shot rock from blasting operations.
Villa Ricca, GA’s Ellis Astin Grading is currently handling the site work and earthmoving. Using two excavators — one with a 4-yd. bucket, and one with a 5.5-yd. bucket — up to 60,000 cu. yds. (46,000 cu m) of dirt has been moved to date.
However, there is still so much rock above and below that continuing with foundation work — making and installing a combination of shear keys and auger cast piles for the Wal-Mart itself and for the 827-space underground parking structure — is proving to be more of a guessing game.
“There’s a mountain of rock we have to get rid of,” said Gartin. “Not knowing where the rock is located, we can’t put in the piles.”
Rock blasting continues to take place. Even though retail and private residences surround the construction site, there have been little or no complaints in the surrounding Chamblee area.
“The city of Chamblee met with the citizens several times,” said Gartin. “They use standard seismographs, and they check the activity when we blast … it hasn’t been an issue.”
As of now, 190 auger cast piles have been made and installed, and along with the excess rock, another problem cropped up for the Cleveland team: Federal Aviation Administration (FAA) height restrictions.
“Our site is close enough to the runways and air traffic at PDK [Dekalb Peachtree Airport] that we have to be cautious of not only what’s on the ground, but what’s also flying overhead,” explained Gartin.
“We are required to have flags and lights on any crane that extends into our FAA regulated limits. We’ve even joked that we should put a light on top of our stockpiles,” quipped Young.
A Link-Belt LS 108 crane, from South Bend, IN’s The Berkel Company — measuring 80 ft. (24 m) high — was used during auger cast pile installation, another 45-ft. (14 m) crane was used to set foundation wall forms. A 110-ton (99.7 t), 200-ft. (60 m) track-mounted Link-Belt crawler crane is anticipated for use during steel erection in January.
Once foundations are completed, the massive steel erection process will begin featuring “smart beams” which will support the Wal-Mart itself. Manufactured by Hope, AR’s SMI Joist, Young said these castellated beams are one-of-a-kind.
“A pattern resembling a frequency curve is laser-cut into a standard I-beam. Once separated, the beams are shifted so that the high points match and are welded together,” he said. “You’re left with a hole in the beam, and these beams are going to be used to support the structure.”
Even with the mountains of rock left on site, and with height restrictions, both Gartin and Young convey a true excitement over the work Cleveland continues to do at Chamblee Village.
“The design of Chamblee Village, with the open-air and underground parking, and conquering the problems as they arise, while maintaining our schedule … well, that’s what makes it fun,” Gartin said.
With crews working Monday through Saturday and from dawn till dusk, Chamblee Village’s completion is expected by December 2006. CEG