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Rock Hill, S.C., Welcomes New Sporting Goods Store to Town

Fri January 06, 2012 - Southeast Edition
Peter Hildebrandt


Academy Sports building with front in place; supports have not yet been removed.
Academy Sports building with front in place; supports have not yet been removed.
Academy Sports building with front in place; supports have not yet been removed. Telescoping Grove crane moving a panel into position from the exterior of the building under construction. Mobile telescoping Grove crane begins panel work; concrete slab already in place below. Front face of Academy Sports as work on roof begins. Interior work begins on Academy Sports building after side panels are installed. Roof structure construction begins.

Academy Sports & Outdoors, a fast growing sporting goods store, has worked hard and fast to get on the map, at this point the map of the southeastern United States. This Houston-based chain now has another store up in Rock Hill, S.C. It is ready to have the finishing touches put on the building before it is outfitted with everything from kayaks, fishing line and badminton rackets to cameras, golf GPS equipment or range finders and radar detectors for area customers; it will even have an in-store baseball batting cage for anyone wanting to give it a try. More stores are planned for the Charlotte area, attesting to the fact that this retailer supplies equipment still in demand, despite economic strains of the past few years.

Academy Sports & Outdoors would like to open this store in mid-March 2012. Such a short time period prior to opening means that the weather has been a huge factor. Keeping an eye on that and working as much as possible when the weather was good has kept things on schedule so far.

The developer on-site was the Warren Norman Company, Rock Hill, under which a number of subcontractors worked. Myers and Chapman, Charlotte, N.C., is the general contractor on the job. It subcontracted out for the concrete work, electrical work, plumbing, drywall, sprinkler/fire alarms, glass/windows and roofing — some 20 subcontractors which it also manages on the job.

Local subcontractors are used for the most part. Ironworkers and steelworkers as well as the roofers came from Texas to do that work. United Rental, a local rental company in Rock Hill, supplied much of the rental equipment many of the subcontractors used.

Kent Companies, Charlotte branch, did the concrete subcontracting on the job. Its main challenge was the tight schedule it was on, one associated with a normal tilt-up job, according to Dave McCauley division manager for the Charlotte branch of Kent Companies. It had to have the foundations in, floors in and tilt-up panels poured and stood up within five weeks.

It used a telescoping forklift to haul rebar on the job and a Komatsu track hoe excavator to dig the footings. Its Somero laser screed was used to pour the floors and a 300-ton (272 t) crane to erect the panels. Kent Companies owns the Somero laser screed, but it rented all the rest of the equipment it used on this project.

A high-strength concrete was used for the panels so that they could be erected more quickly, according to McCauley. Concrete was poured for the floor slab at the site and then the walls to the structure were poured on forms on the floor. Two days later they stood up those walls. The largest of the 52 panels weighed 125,000 lbs. (56,699 kg); but most averaged around 45 to 50 tons (40 to 45 t). The crane was kept outside the building during the wall-raising operations.

“We’ve done quite a few tilt-up jobs such as this one,” said McCauley. “Basically your crane size determines where your panels go and your panel erection sequence determines where you start and stop. We ultimately base that on the crane size. Usually work starts with the heaviest panel; that goes in place in front where it’s supposed to go and then all the other panels kind of push aside. You must be careful not to run out of floor slab or you’ll cast a panel out in the center where the crane can’t reach it or pick up that much weight. A lot of design planning goes into it before we ever show up on the job.”

Kent Companies does a logistics study of where the panels are to be formed on the slab and handles the decisions regarding what the best crane size is for the job. It also has an engineer who engineers the brace points and erection points to make sure the panels can be lifted from the slab. Getting the proper crane size for the work is critical.

“We installed the concrete on this job and met our schedule,” said McCauley. “We certainly enjoyed working with Academy Sports as well as the general contractor which was Myers and Chapman. The roof on the job was done by another contractor once we had the walls up.

“Within our five-week schedule we also had a week and a half of rain,” explained McCauley, “Work on our end of the project ended officially on October 21 after starting up on September 19. We still made our scheduled completion date even with taking a week off for rain.”

The Warren Norman Company, Rock Hill, S. C., managed the overall project. Ray Revels was the project manager for the grading work on this job. As work progressed it has had some issues with the material it has on-site. Soils on this job are rather moisture sensitive, according to Revels.

“The weather has ended up playing a big factor in this work on our end of things,” said Revels. “We were under such a tight timeline and we got behind so that we ended up having to put in a lot of overtime to get caught up. But as of now we’re in pretty good shape on our timeline. We hope to put the paving and curbing in soon as long as the rainy fall weather doesn’t hurt us too much.”

On the actual building site it did have to remove some areas of soil and replace them with better-suited soil.

“This wasn’t a huge amount of soil brought in. We had a long run of nice weather, got in there and started digging footings but then the weather turned bad,” said Revels. “That didn’t help us. The main problem with that situation was us having holes in the ground and those holes subsequently filling up with water. That however was a bit earlier in the season when we were still getting large quantities of rain in a short period of time.

“We’ve got some different subcontractors doing different work. We do a lot of the grading ourselves as far as moving dirt and actually putting things on a specific grade. And due to the fact that we’re on such a tight schedule we’ve got some guys coming in that are going to do some of the fine grading. They are set up with GPS and can knock it out a little bit quicker than we can. We’ll move onto something else and leave them to complete that.”

Buddy Clawson Construction and Matthews Construction will be starting some of the fine grading work. The target date for finishing the roof, Nov. 20, was met. Electrical and plumbing work also was done by sub contractors, some dozen different contracts total.

“We do a whole variety of work as we own several shopping centers and we carry out up-fitting within the shopping centers,” explained Revels. “We’ll build a shopping center with an anchor such as a grocery store or something along those lines. We do a little bit of house-building work. We’ve gotten away from that after being heavy into that for a period of time and have now gone to 90 percent commercial.

“Going into the fall time of the year the soil is always a challenge — even more so with the particular type of soil we’re dealing with here. The timing of these big box stores always seems to be either spring or fall and by the luck of the draw we were dealt a spring opening, meaning we had to do our work during the winter; it’s just part of the game. Academy Sports, the business about to open up at the end of this project also has its own twist on sports sales.

“For the bulk of the work we’re involved in we are using off-road trucks, pans, track hoes, bulldozers and motorgraders. We own some of our equipment being used for the grading work on the job and then each one of the contractors own some as well; it’s kind of a team effort. The brand of the equipment is a mixture of Caterpillar and Komatsu on the job.”

The curb-making equipment should be on the job soon, according to Revels. Cross Pointe Drive will continue on to Red River Road. The Tractor Supply Company already in existence faces Cross Pointe Drive. Cross Pointe Drive will then connect up to Red River Road and run right by the new building. On the left hand side there will be some more outparcels possible and some small businesses.

“The project of course is not near to completion at this point and details on the amount of earth moved or needing to be moved has changed drastically since we first started the project,” added Revels. “Regarding the actual conceptual drawings, we’re nowhere close to what we started with. I’m going to say we’re moving 150,000 plus cubic yards of earth with this project. That’s on the lower end estimate-wise. Dirt that was going to be moved ended up not being moved and then some that we weren’t planning on moving we did move; we still have quite a bit to move.

“Nothing has really changed. But whereas we had calculated the numbers at X amount of earth moved, they ended up being Y moved instead — it could be more, it could be less. Once you get up into the numbers, they all kind of run together I guess I’ll say. Of course the cost is a major factor. Thus far we’ve moved all the good dirt we had on-site.”

Dealing with the weather this time of year — with red clay — has meant weather has been its biggest challenge. Water and red clay don’t mix, according to Revels. Snow can really be a problem, making things sloppy as it slowly seeps into the ground with alternating cold and warm weather.

There were a couple of homes on-site which simply had to be moved to a different location. They were hidden in dense new growth forest and shrub growth. They’ve been moved to a place where they’ve been out of the way for now. They’re preparing another site to move the houses to for a more permanent location.

Contractors involved have kept safety as a primary concern on the job. Coordination of efforts among all the many different trades, materials suppliers and subcontractors with a wide variety of rented equipment has kept logistics in the forefront too. Loading dock equipment, air conditioning units are among the materials needing to be handled after delivery on-site. Typically, subcontracting work out as much as possible has been how such jobs have been handled. The job overall is right on schedule. It is a good thing that the roof for this new Academy Sports center went up in November, 2011 — just in time for December’s fairly unpredictable, fickle weather in this area of the country.