are "Out of Sight" in
Ft. Worth Mall Renovation
other malls throughout the country, Ft. Worth's Ridgmar
Mall has had to contend with stiff competition, changing
consumer habits such as online shopping and catalog buying,
and a rebirth of the area strip center. In an effort to
lure customers back to Ridgmar, one of the area's premiere
and more time-worn centers, the mall is currently undergoing
a total facelift to the tune of $70 million. The renovation,
which includes installation of massive skylights, addition
of play and recreation areas, a tripling in size of the
mall's food court, and a rooftop cineplex with 16 theatres,
to just scratch the surface, is all being done without the
mall logging as much as one hour of time lost due to construction.
Much of the reason for that can be traced to Independence,
MO-based general contractor Larrison Construction Inc.,
and its reliance upon Central Concrete Pumping to make big
things happen without a lot of disruption.
Through a Phase
The renovation at Ridgmar is being done in a series of three
phases and, according to Larrison general superintendent
Mike Willsey, the project is proceeding nicely, often due
to the fact that they get creative in their work.
One was started back in November of 1998 and consisted of
construction of a new entry into the southeast side of the
mall, as well as installation of a fountain and other décor
work and a huge skylight over the Neiman Marcus courtyard
area. All told, that was about 10,000 sq. ft. of renovation.
Of particular note in that phase of the project was some
elaborate floor work that had to be poured in the area that
abuts the fountain. We had to get concrete to the area even
though it was easily 500 feet into the mall."
the pours, Aledo, Tex.-based Central Concrete Pumping used
a Schwing 4000 truck-
mounted trailer pump delivering a 4000 psi mix into 500
feet of system. They ran the system down the backside fire
exit corridors, says Willsey.
done a lot of that type of thing," he says. "Part
of the challenge of this project has been in making all
the necessary work - including concrete pours - happen without
disrupting activity in the mall. To do this we've used the
back corridors, we've pumped a huge portion of the concrete
through the night, and we've cordoned off areas to keep
pedestrian traffic away. Essentially we've done whatever
it takes to re-do the mall in full view of everyone, yet
as discreetly as possible."
Phase Two at Ridgmar, started in ___ and has entailed a
systematic gutting and refacing of the remainder of both
levels of the mall. Larrison removed all the floors, ceilings,
walls, and lights; installed new HVAC cooling towers; and
poured some unique floor sections, says Willsey.
obvious intent of the renovation is to update the look and
increase sales," he says. "However, the mall owners
also feel very strongly about the chance to bring the family
back to Ridgmar. For example, in one area, a spiral staircase
and fountain were removed and replaced with a child's play
court area. Another area features an elaborate fountain
with water-spewing turtles that has already proven extremely
popular with kids. Again, to make many of those pours we
brought hundreds of feet of system in through exit corridors.
Anytime we do that or barricade off an area in which we
are working, we work closely with the Ft. Worth Fire Department.
They visit the site almost daily and, as a result, we have
established a good rapport with them. If anything were to
happen in the mall and construction got in the way of patrons
exiting the building, the results could be disastrous. So
we work hard with them to eliminate the risk of that ever
As mentioned, a major component of the renovation involves
construction of a new food court - an addition to the east
side of the mall that will increase the food court's available
area by 8,400 sq. ft.: more than three times its previous
size Adjacent to the food court area is a large egress exit
for the theaters: the component that makes up Phase Three
of the project.
no doubt that the theater construction - even though we
are only in the preliminary stages of it - has been the
most challenging facet of this project," says Wllsey.
"We had to drill to set 64 piers inside the mall, in
some cases going down 30-feet deep, then pour 6' X 10' by
6' deep caps, then bring up 32 columns - actually a cluster
of four 8-inch by 8-inch columns laced together with angle
iron - through the mall roof."
says the subgrade work involved some sizable pours including
a 10-foot deep, 8-foot wide, 70-foot long grade beam that
took 70 yards alone. "It was in a critical position
for the theater and apparently the architects wanted to
make certain it was sufficiently anchored."
concrete pumping has been an art in and of itself on all
phases of this project. On several pours, Central has had
to go down fire exit corridors, make 90° turns, insert
thrust blocks and so on. We've had to pump distances of
better than 650 to 700 feet and they got it done with no
problems at all. The theater pours in Phase Three will involve
the use of risers to pump 40 to 50 feet up to the roof and
then across the steel; some pours will easily be in the
700 to 800 foot range to get to certain areas of the roof.
It will really be one of the most interesting part of the
importance Ridgmar attaches to its Cineplex is evident in
the design and construction specs for the upper level stadium-seating
structure. The 5-inch thick deck will have features designed
in - fireproofed columns and associated beam members, for
example - that will ensure the theaters remain standing
even if the mall itself burns down.
With the Locals
Much of the success of the construction at Ridgmar can be
directly linked to the degree to which Larrison and its
subcontractors have gone to accommodate mall tenants and
patrons alike. While pouring concrete throughout the night
alleviates the issue of disrupting mall traffic, being ready
for normal business in the morning is not always easy.
is an area in which I really have to commend Carl Walker
and his crew at Central Concrete Pumping," says Willsey.
"There have been times when, for one reason or another,
we've found ourselves finishing up very close to opening
time. Without fail, they have been able to get the job done,
get everything cleaned up and be out of there before the
first mall walkers come in at 9 a.m. Central has made nearly
120 separate pours out here and in addition to the trailer
pump, has made three of four different boom pumps available
to meet our needs for specific situations. Carl is great
about coming out in advance, assessing the situation and
then providing the appropriate pumps to make the job happen
in the most efficient manner."
too, seems to go out of its way to accommodate the locals
- sometimes by mandate, most times by choice.
is an air base close to the mall that sees a lot of inbound
and outbound jet air traffic," says Willsey. "Because
of that traffic, whenever we have to raise a boom pump or
crane, we have to contact an officer on base and notify
him or get permission to do so. That's something we've never
encountered before but we don't mind. It's all about getting
this project done without disruption and that means keeping
people informed. On our part, to keep information flowing
we have installed Plexiglas windows on the twelve-foot barricades
we erect to cordon off an area. Mall patrons can - and do
- look in to see what we're doing. It's an excellent way
to keep them abreast of where we're at in the project and,
at the same time, build a sense of anticipation as the date
of completion nears."
facelift appears to be working its magic already. Many tenants
in the mall report increased sales - some as high as 70%
- due to both the presence of new tenants and the reinvigorated
is set to officially rededicate the mall and its theatre
complex in 2001.