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Scaling the Mountain

BY Katherine Boccaccio

Six years ago, when Pace Properties eyed a rising 74-acre site at what was probably the primary retail corridor in the St. Louis marketplace, the Brentwood, Mo.-based developer knew there was potentially a goldmine in that 100-ft. hill—situated at bustling Hwy. 141 and Manchester Road in the St. Louis suburb of Manchester.

Pace also knew it needed some solid advice before it attempted to build on such steep topography.

Enter Chesterfield, Mo.-based Brinkmann Constructors, who examined the site for Pace. “They had a pretty tall mountain there, literally and figuratively,” said Andy McDonell, project director for Brinkmann. “With the 100-ft. grade change over the 70-plus acres Pace wanted to develop, we knew that construction would involve a tremendous amount of grading and excavation and dirt movement, as well as significant retaining walls.”

Undaunted by the task that loomed, Pace—and Brinkmann—took on the power-center project that would be called Manchester Highlands, and with it, took on an entire neighborhood of concerned citizens.

“The site shares a property line with 24 residential properties, and it was imperative that we work very closely with the residents and the City of Manchester to create a strong buffer between the shopping center and the residential neighborhood,” explained Rick Randall, senior VP of development for Pace Properties.

The buffer was a 15-ft.-high, 800-ft.-long berm topped by an 8-ft. stone and wood fence and abutting a significant green space. Together with dense landscaping, the buffer “effectively sealed off the residential from the sight lines and noise from the shopping center,” said Randall. The residents have expressed their approval for the buffer—and are also applauding the municipal building and public plaza that have been incorporated into Manchester Highlands. The 60,000-sq.-ft. municipal building serves as the police headquarters and a meeting facility for the City of Manchester. The plaza features an amphitheatre and public space for events.

Most noteworthy, though, is the stair-stepping of the retail. Brinkmann built two retaining walls, about 1,200 ft. long and 25 ft. tall, to separate the site into three terraces. The lowest terrace, at 15 acres, features a junior-anchor shopping center with Best Buy, Bed Bath & Beyond, PetSmart and Ulta. Twenty-five feet above is a 20-acre Wal-Mart Super-center pad, and 25 feet above that is a 15-acre Costco Wholesale pad.

To accomplish the three-tiered plan required a “choreographed dance of the excavators,” said McDonell. “We started in September of 2007, taking all the dirt from the low end, moving it up to the high end, all while we were constructing the retaining walls. It was very difficult, especially as we were racing to finish before winter.”

The finished product is a shopping center with an amazing view. “As you approach Manchester Highlands from either direction, you get front visibility on all the stores from the highway,” said McDonell. “That’s because the site is tiered up, not down, rather like risers for the choir. Everybody gets a front-row seat.”

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Staples partners with Blackhawk for gift cards

BY CSA STAFF

PLEASANTON, Calif. Staples has announced an exclusive partnership with the Blackhawk Network, the largest third-party provider of prepaid gift-cards, to carry Blackhawk’s Signature Gift Card Mall, currently found in grocery stores such as Safeway. Blackhawk’s Gift Card Mall features over 300 branded gift cards across categories such as fashion, tickets, electronics, home and sports.

“Consumers love buying and receiving gift cards, and putting the Gift Card Mall in Staples stores will make it easy and convenient for our customers to buy a wide variety of gift cards,” said Mark Mettler, senior vp and gmm at Staples.

“Staples is a valuable retail outlet for us because of its understanding of the B2B aspect of our business,” said Don Kingsborough, ceo of Blackhawk Network. “Working with Staples, we will reach small business owners and give them the ability to purchase prepaid gift cards for their employees in the same place they buy office supplies.”

Staples is the first office supply store to carry Blackhawk gift cards.

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RadioShack appoints new chief marketer

BY CSA STAFF

FORT WORTH, Texas RadioShack announced the appointment of Lee Applbaum to the position of evp and chief marketing officer. Applbaum will be responsible for advertising, brand management, customer relations management and marketing and will report to chairman and ceo Julian Day. He will also serve as a member of the office of the chairman, comprised of Day; Bryan Bevin, evp of store operations; Jim Gooch, evp and cfo and Peter Whitsett, evp of merchandising.

“Lee’s joining us at RadioShack represents another significant step in strengthening our senior management team,” said Day. “Lee’s background and successful track record position him well to add value to our brand.”

Applbaum began his career at Lederle Consumer Health, a division of American Cyanamid Co., shortly after earning his MBA in 1994 from the Isenberg School of Management at the University of Massachusetts at Amherst. He has also worked at The Coca-Cola Co., Schlotzsky’s, Footstar and The David’s Bridal Group, a division of Federated Department Stores. Immediately prior to joining RadioShack, Applbaum was the chief marketing officer for The Schottenstein Stores Corp.

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