When it comes to preparation for a new project, it can be easy for a civil engineer to look at what’s been done in the past when developing plans for site redevelopment. This decreases the liability on the civil engineer, and it’s easier to simply remove and replace elements that don’t work because it takes less effort.
However, this method of design development can lead to a much larger cost than is necessary. By taking the time and effort to think outside of the box and create alternative design plans, it can potentially save developers and clients millions of dollars.
This proved to be true for a Walmart redevelopment project in Chicago at the intersection of South Ashland Avenue and West 76th Street. This was once the location of an old brick manufacturing facility, which had since been demolished. In its place, a Walmart and adjoining parking lot were to be built from the ground up. An existing RTM developer client was required to work with another civil engineer in Chicago. The civil engineer prepared draft plans for the project and presented them for bids, but when the site work cost projections came back extremely high, RTM was asked by the developer to peer review the plans.
RTM reviewed the designs for this Walmart redevelopment and came up with a list of issues that, if resolved, would save a great deal of money. Stormwater issues were one of the biggest complications. The underground detention system was not designed properly, so RTM suggested changing the location, type and depth of the system. Another point of savings was with the earth work. Instead of taking the easy route and simply replacing the unsuitable soils, RTM’s geotechnical engineer developed a more unconventional plan to save a lot of the soils. By implementing these ideas, RTM and the developer were able to estimate more than $1 million in savings for the client.
Because of these creative and well-thought-out alterations to the original designs, Walmart ultimately decided to move in a different direction, and RTM was officially hired to work on this project. The results of this site redesign and reconfiguration – which included keeping the current soil in an out lot on one side and constructing a surface detention pond on the other, saving money on an underground detention pond – brought this from a $5 million to a $3 million project for a total actual savings of approximately $2 million.
Though it took about a year from the start to bring on RTM in an official capacity, the project moved quickly once RTM was hired. There was a tight time frame to meet the deadline, but luckily the team was ahead of schedule with their planning and obtaining permits so there were no delays or hang ups when it came time to execute.
This new Walmart had its grand opening in March 2015 with Mayor Rahm Emmanuel in attendance. Walmart was very happy with the end result, and at the grand opening, the developer credited RTM for making the project feasible due to the savings achieved through innovative and thoughtful planning and design.