Price & Sons Clears Way for Atlanta Redevelopment

Wed March 14, 2007 - Southeast Edition
James A. Budd

In-town and urban areas in Atlanta are seeing a resurgence of development and redevelopment as an increasing number of suburban residents are opting to shorten their commutes by moving back to the city and escaping the gridlock of sprawl.

Price & Sons Inc. has been one of the go-to companies for demolition in the Atlanta area for more than 40 years. Demand for its service has stepped up in recent years as old parts of the city are razed to make way for redevelopment. Many of the city’s old warehouses, sitting on valuable tracts, have been targeted for demolition by developers.

Ronnie Price, vice president of the company his father, Grady Price, founded in 1965, said the company is usually able to juggle several projects simultaneously, whether it’s tearing down a warehouse or a hotel or parking deck.

The Atlanta-based company has eight full-time employees with five to 25 years of experience, but the staff is augmented by subcontract labor and trucking services, Price said.

“As a result, Price & Sons works on up to four projects simultaneously, if sufficient experienced personnel and project management oversight are available,” he said.

The company is currently demolishing a two-story, 109,000-sq.-ft. (10,100 sq m) metal and brick warehouse on Ellsworth Industrial Boulevard in a rundown area of Atlanta’s west side near I-75. The 16-acre (6.5 ha) warehouse site will be replaced with an apartment complex.

Despite the area’s deterioration in recent decades, the west side is experiencing a resurgence. The company plans to start soon on the demolition of a Holiday Inn sitting along I-75 and it just completed razing two office buildings on the city’s north side near I-285.

The west side boom has been spearheaded by Selig Enterprises’ 600,000-sq.-ft. (55,700 sq m) mixed-use development, The District at Howell Mill, at nearby Howell Mill Road and I-75. The project included a 150,000-sq.-ft. (14,000 sq m) Wal-Mart Supercenter — the first in the city limits of Atlanta —that opened last fall.

Another developer is planning a $98 million mixed-use community on Collier Road just west of Interstate 75 nearby.

Most of the Price & Sons’ work is in the $250,000 to $300,000 range, officials said, and the average size is between 25,000 and 50,000 sq. ft. (2,300 and 4,600 sq m).

However, the company has been selected for such prestigious projects as the Fifth Runway Project at Hartsfield-Jackson International Airport and the renovation of the Woodruff Arts Center.

Larry Watkins, who has been with Price & Sons for 25 years, has been clearing the warehouse site with a John Deere 450C LC trackhoe with grapple and shear attachments.

The graffiti-emblazoned warehouse was stripped of all copper wiring by vagrants, said Watkins, but part of his job is to separate the remaining recyclable material once as each part of building comes tumbling down.

“There must have been $100,000 worth of copper in there,” said Watkins. “Every bit of it was stripped out. I don’t even see how they got it out of some of the conduits.”

Watkins said he appreciates the 450C’s steel encased cabs for safety reasons. Watkins admits he’s had a few close calls, but no serious injuries.

“This is one of our smaller projects,” said Watkins, who said he’s razed an 11-story building for the company in the past, as well as a 5-story parking deck.

Watkins is using the company’s 450 C LC to fold the steel and put it into a Dumpster.

“When I was young [back in Detroit] I used to get into trouble for tearing things up and now I get paid for it,” Watkins said.

The warehouse building, which encompasses approximately 1 acre (0.4 ha) of the entire 16-acre (6.5 ha) site, will be removed, including slabs, footings and foundations. A Cat 980 wheel loader will help facilitate the hauling of materials.

“A major focus of the company is to recycle as much as possible,” said Price. “As part of the Ellsworth Industrial project, we expect to recycle approximately 70 percent.”

Bilmar Environmental Inc. was responsible for asbestos removal from the 40-year-old building. In addition to Price & Sons truckers, ACTS Trucking and Bills Hauling and Demolition also are subcontractors.

Three John Deere 450s trackhoes were used, along with four roll-off trucks, 10 dump trailers and 15 to 20 tandem dump trucks.

“We have made a good start and have already transported several loads of metal and concrete to recycling facilities,” Price said.

The project was started in December and was expected to wrap up in March.

“Price & Sons primarily focuses on commercial and industrial demolition projects, mainly in Atlanta and surrounding counties, although in the past we have worked on projects in surrounding states,” Price said.

The company provides selective and structural demolition, asphalt and concrete removal and has “developed a long-term” relationship with other companies to provide asbestos abatement and hazardous materials services, he said.

Price & Sons has landed a contract for tearing down six rundown blocks of the famous Buckhead area of Atlanta to make room for a $600 million mixed-use development Buckhead Avenues.

Famed Atlanta developer Ben Carter envisions a Rodeo Drive-type area with blue chip retailers and hotels. The developer has assembled more than 21 properties in the area, now known for its seedy bars and wild nightlife that often spills out into the streets and nearby neighborhoods.

“It’s a major project,” said Price. “We’re hoping the start in April, but it depends on the permitting. With the city of Atlanta and you never know how that’s going to go.”

Other officers in Price & Sons include John R. Price, president; and Thomas Price, secretary and treasurer. The company recent moved into new headquarters at 642 Northside Drive, Atlanta. CEG

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