Mudslides Threaten Lodge, Force Road Closures

Dust Control Vital in $100M Shopping Center Project

Thu March 03, 2005 - Southeast Edition
Bonnie L. Quick



More than $100 million will be spent by the time a project at the site of the old-style multi-level Pinellas Park Mall is transformed into the one-story Shoppes of Pinellas in Pinellas Park, FL.

McGeehan Construction’s bulldozers and excavators are busy tearing down the buildings and tearing up the underground utility system to prepare for the installation of new infrastructure that will support the Shoppes of Pinellas.

A Komatsu 300 trackhoe places stormwater pipes, which have lasers set inside to keep them on-grade at the water flows by gravity.

Dumptruck after dumptruck is filled with dirt.

Concrete crushers operate within the walls as the buildings come down to break the material down into small pieces. Most of the aggregate will be used as the foundation under the surface for roads and parking lots. The concrete processed on site will be reused as road material. There will be 3,000 parking spaces, all reinforced. What aggregate is left over will be sold for use on other projects.

Ingersoll-Rand rollers flatten material and keep roads open for trucks that are hauling away thousands of cubic yards of material.

As with all projects close to large populations, dust and noise levels are monitored with sophisticated computer equipment at all times. Sprinklers constantly run to keep dust at acceptable levels.

“We need dust control for several reasons,” said Mike McGeehan, job superintendent. “For one thing, with so much dirt blowing around, it is hard to see what you are doing. Trucks can get bogged down and stuck in the sand. The water trucks help compact the soil and keep dust down.”

“Pinellas Park Mall was built in the 80s when it was thought only big indoor malls were going to make it,” said Project Designer David Goree, formerly of Avid Engineering. “Today people want basic one-story shopping. It saves time. A big part of the design for the Shoppes depends on the visibility of the stores. We are using the optimal visibility level to attract consumers.

“This project will be designed in stages to decrease the time line,” continued Goree. “We are attempting to keep the project rolling as getting the permits for the work can take some time.”

The project started in July 2004 beginning with demolition, crushing and hauling away of dirt and other materials. The process is still going on, with up to 800 truckloads per day carrying 21 tons (19 t) of dirt each.

Due to the four hurricanes that hit Florida, and the rain that followed, the demolition and construction had to be delayed. Approximately a month was lost, but the project is now going well and it is anticipated that the job will be completed in December 2005 on its original time line.

“Nothing is delaying us now,” said Joe McGeehan, owner of McGeehan Construction. “We lost time in the summer because of the storms and the rains, but more because we found asbestos that we did not expect to be there when we began to tear down the buildings. Asbestos removal was a real problem and so was permitting. We ran into additional waiting time due to permitting issues. We had to wait for all the holes to open up so we could get on schedule.”

The wall near the old Dillard’s department store is about 25 ft. (7.6 m) tall. The dirt that once made up the bank has been hauled away by numerous truck loads.

“We will be selling off the dirt to recycle good soil and save money,” Goree said. “It may not sound like much but we can get up to $6 a yard.

“Storm drainage for the old mall is almost the same and requirements for utilities are similar to those that will be needed for the new one.” Goree commented. “Our job is to rip out the old infra-structure and put in the new. In Florida today, more and more of your work is in re-development rather than development due to the growing community and lack of land.”

When the Pinellas Park Mall was built more than 20 years ago, most of the underground utilities were clay, PVC and some concrete reinforced pipe. Storm drainage went through clay pipes. The new system will be rebuilt with PVC piping of various diameters following a recent trend to use fiber reinforced plastic pipe.

There will be no directional boring needed to place the 8,000 to 10,000 ft. (2,500 to 3,000 m) of new pipe since it will follow the original route under the roadway to the retaining lake on the south side of 70th Avenue North.

“So far, it is estimated that almost a quarter of a million yards (191,000 cu m) of dirt has been moved, along with 900,000 sq. ft. (83,600 sq m) of concrete and building materials,” Mike McGeehan said. “The western side of the sewer and water systems are done. We are ready to put in the curbing.”

Today shopping malls are directed outward to attract shoppers. New or existing malls are being revamped into the modern open air configuration.

Open-air malls are less expensive to operate, especially in Florida because they avoid the huge air-conditioning costs required to maintain indoor malls.

Also, shoppers can park in front of the stores, allowing them to get through faster and easily view all the venues.