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Crews Surmount Severe ME Weather, Shoppers Rejoice

Wed February 13, 2002 - Northeast Edition
Kip Fry

When the foundation was poured for the new Maine Crossing Mall in South Portland, ME, this past February, contractors were not optimistic.

“Do you know what kind of winter we had?” said Gary Owen, senior project manager for Sheridan Corporation, the general contractor for the project. Several snowstorms ravaged northern New England late in the season and wreaked havoc with the construction schedule. Owen explained, however, that by working six days a week since then, crews have been able to catch-up and get back on schedule.

Several New England companies have been working to complete the mall in time so that stores can move in and prepare for the holiday shopping season. Packard Development Company of Newton, MA, is overseeing the entire 146,000-sq. ft. (13,563 sq m) project, while Sheridan Corporation of Fairfield, ME, is the general contractor.

Packard is well-experienced in developing shopping malls. In Massachusetts alone, it has been involved in Fashion Crossing in North Attleboro, Worcester Commons Fashion Outlet in Worcester, South Shore Plaza in Braintree, Cambridgeside Gallery in Cambridge and Atrium Mall in Chestnut Hill. Packard also developed The Western Hotel in Waltham, a circular, six-story glass building with 347 rooms.

Owen said that the mall, which contains three major stores, a restaurant and nine smaller ones, was 80 percent completed in mid-July and was finished by the middle of August. Stores in the mall were open for business by October. The entire project had a price tag of approximately $20 million, according to Howard Mintz of Packard Development.

Sheridan concentrated its efforts on the shell of the art deco building, which measures 680 by 215 ft. (207 by 65 m), Owen said. The building is L-shaped and consists of standard features, such as a rubber roof and large glass panes in the front, making it ideal for retail construction. A plaza format was used for the design.

“If you were to see it, you would understand,” Owen said, “although stores such as Old Navy and Babies “R” Us have their own characteristics and that’s a challenge to deal with.” The two stores are among the four major tenants at the mall, along with Bed Bath & Beyond and Applebee’s Restaurant.

Maietta Construction of Scarborough, ME, the site contractor, was at the location nearly two years before any of the other workers were there and started the job by laying a pad for the mall. Scott Bois of Maietta explained that the ground was half ledge and half clay when they started preloading it.

Maietta uses only Caterpillar machinery in all of its projects. Bois said that Caterpillar machinery — 330s, 325s, 320s, 311s and 317s — were used at Maine Crossing, while bulldozers included the Caterpillar D8, D5, D6 and D3. In the early parts of the work, Maietta also used two Caterpillar crushers.

Sheridan had used a variety of machinery in its part of the construction, including forklifts, boom lifts (such as JLG lifts) and cranes.

S&S Concrete Floors of New Ipswich, NH, was responsible for the 5-in. (12.7 cm) concrete slab required by Bed Bath & Beyond. Each tenant had requirements for flooring that obligated the concrete contractor, Portland’s Dragon Concrete, to create custom-made mixes for each.

Despite these strict guidelines, S&S moved the concrete onto the site in record time by using a Laser Screed 240, invented by the company’s owner, Dave Somero. With the help of this machinery, S&S was able to increase its production to as much as 90 yds. (82.3 m) an hour.

The building is constructed on 37 acres (14.9 ha) of land at the corner of Running Hill Road, on which the primary entrance to Maine Crossing is located, and Spring Street in South Portland, just a short distance from Exit 7 on Interstate 95. Of the entire plot of land, buildings take up 30 percent of it. Parking requires 50 percent and green space needs the remaining 20 percent. There is enough parking for 1,343 cars.

Shoppers need only travel across a bridge spanning the Interstate to get to the new plaza from nearby Maine Mall. Businessmen who are already established in the area said they don’t believe the new facility should cause any problems for them because it will simply draw more shoppers into the immediate area, some of which will go to the other mall.

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