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Mall work requires extensive setup, cleanup

Rob Sabo

Shoppers will hardly notice the work done by construction crews as Simon Property Group brings its Meadowood Mall into the modern era.

Brian Feckler, senior project manager with general contractor Graycor of Oakbrook Terrace, Ill., says most of the work will be done at night, with crews beginning at 9 p.m. and spending the final hour or so of their 10-hour shifts making sure they leave no trace of their demolition and construction activities.

Workmen began renovation of the 35-year-old mall early this month and will work toward completing the upgrades before the holiday shopping season begins late this year.

A Reno building permit for the project values the work at more than $3.5 million.

The key element of the job, says Feckler, is ensuring shoppers aren’t annoyed by jackhammers and construction dust.

“Nobody will know we are doing our work except for the barricades. It really is impressive at the end of the shift how it all comes together,” Feckler says.

Each night, crews roll down sheets of heavy-duty plastic attached to the ceiling in front of storefronts to reduce the amount of dust filtering into shops.

They spend the majority of the graveyard shift demolishing the old planters, floor finishes and other outdated fixtures throughout the public areas. With about an hour to go, workmen begin an extensive cleanup process to ensure that mall patrons see as little of the work as possible.

At peak about 30 to 40 workmen will be working through the night, Feckler says. Other challenges include keeping access open throughout the mall, sequencing work in a logical order, and keeping an eye on the clock during the night. Crews must use quick-set materials for the tile flooring to make sure shoppers can walk on it hours after it’s set.

“There are limited areas that we can barricade off,” Feckler says. “Simon Properties wants everything to be accessible. And you really need to watch the clock and make sure you have all the tile set by 3 a.m. at the latest so it has a few hours to set up. We put a lot of thought into how we are going to phase the work and where we can get the most impact.”

Kelly Hartsell, regional vice president for Simon Property Group, says the mall’s age and its lack of renovation over the past few decades were the driving factors behind management’s decision to upgrade the facility.

The heart of renovation efforts includes upgrading mall entryways, the Palms food court, the semi-circular mall’s center court and restrooms to create a more contemporary shopping environment.

“It’s time,” Hartsell says. “We believe in the Reno market. We have got a lot of leasing activity, there is momentum in the market, the new freeway interchange is great for us, and we thought it was the right time to capitalize on that momentum and upgrade the property.”

No upgrade can change the fact that Meadowood is an enclosed mall, a dated retail concept. The last two large malls built in the Truckee Meadows Legends at Sparks Marina and The Summit both capitalize on the area’s majestic mountain scenery and use a lot of natural colors and other native aesthetics to entice shoppers.

Still, Hartsell says, having an enclosed mall especially when daytime temperatures fail to break the freezing mark for weeks benefits northern Nevada shoppers.

“The enclosed mall, especially in this market, actually works to our advantage, especially in the last few weeks,” Hartsell says. “We look at it as an opportunity to take something that is already great, modernize it, improve it, and add amenities that aren’t currently in existence.”

Richard Wilden, senior design architect with KA Architecture of Cleveland, says that the enclosed mall may be an old concept, but it’s not a dead concept.

“The enclosed indoor mall will continue to be an important part of the retail environment especially in harsher climates. It still seems to be the best format for department store-anchored fashion tenants,” Wilden says.

KA reviewed existing drawings and made site visits to best determine how to upgrade the mall’s aesthetics. The challenge, Wilden says, is to spread the renovation budget wisely over the entire mall.

“There are several ways to look at a project like this but it always comes down to what the budget is,” Wilden says. “You want to make the biggest impact with the dollars that are being spent. I am proud of the solution we came up with, and I think it is going to make a huge transformation in how this mall is perceived.”

Much of the existing ceiling work will remain intact, as well as some of the existing flooring in lower-trafficked areas. Work will primarily focus on upgrading the mall’s key public spaces.

SIDEBAR

Simon Properties announces new retailers at Meadowood

Simon Property Group said last week three new tenants at Meadowood Mall will absorb more than 25,000 square feet of vacant retail space.

Forever 21 will occupy 20,000 square feet and Van’s and Pink will take much smaller spaces. Simon Property Group regional vice president Kelly Hartsell says the company is working with another significant mid-sized tenant that could be announced within the next 60 days.

NNBW staff


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