Constructing The Brick Yard Business Park

By Jim Romeo | September 28, 2010

The Brick Yard Business Park, in Beltsville, MD, stands on what once was the Washington Brick Company manufacturing complex and mine. The new business park will consist of over 650,000 square feet of light industrial flex and warehouse space in a professional, established, 60-acre campus setting. The Brick Yard offers unparalleled access to US Route 1, I-95, The Baltimore Washington Parkway, and The Capital Beltway (I-95/495).

Because the business park was built on the site of a former pit mine, the site had to be reclaimed. Reclamation took about two years, and the first construction phase started in late 2007 with the first two buildings, as well as the road and utility extensions into the site.

"The ultimate build-out of the business park is expected to take three to five years," explains Chase Galbraith, vice president of Regional Development for Jackson-Shaw, the project's developer. "The initial three phases of the project consist of seven buildings and represent approximately $21 million in site and building shell construction, in addition to nearly $10 million in site preparation for a total of $31 million. At the recent height of construction activity Nardi Construction, the general contractor, had two project managers, four superintendents and two assistant superintendents on the job. There were numerous subcontractors, frequently two or more per trade. Many days more than 150 people were at work on the site."

The project had several phases to follow. The first effort was the reclamation of the mine. This entailed the excavation and recompacting of all mine tailings. Material from the site was then moved to prepare the pre-graded sites for the buildings and road extension.

"Over 1 million cubic yards of earth was handled to reclaim the approximately 70 acres of this portion of the site," says Earl Seboda, senior project manager for Nardi Construction. "Off-road mining equipment was used for this phase. During the height of the operation American Infrastructure, the excavator, had four large excavators; 20- to 40-ton end dumps; four (Caterpillar) 815 sheepsfoot rollers; and eight (Caterpillar) D-8 dozers. Some days as many as 23,000 cubic yards of earth were moved and placed, all under the inspection of Hillis-Carnes Engineering Associates."

Actual construction on the project started in late 2007. This included a quarter-mile extension of Mid-Atlantic Boulevard, a public street with water, sewer, natural gas, and electric utility extensions. The site also required the construction of a 60,000-cubic-yard storm water management pond to manage a 100-year storm event. This included laying the network of pipes to feed the pond from the street and the 45 acres it serves.

Also included in this first phase of construction where two speculative buildings: one 100,000-square-foot, 24-foot clear light industrial warehouse; and one 50,000 square-foot, 24-foot clear industrial flexible office that could also be used as a warehouse. The construction contract for this phase exceeded $10 million and was substantially completed in December 2008.

Phase II of the construction started in early 2008. This phase included four industrial facilities, which could serve as office space or warehouse space. "They ranged in size from 22,000 square feet up to 44,000 square feet," says Seboda. "Three of these buildings quickly became build-to-suit shells and sites which were modified during the final design phase as well as early in the construction phase. Contract purchasers are completing interior fit-up in their respective buildings."

Construction of these latter facilities included fine grading for building pads and modifications to the existing storm water management piping, as well as new driveway aprons and modifications to the existing public streets and sidewalks. In addition, they required connections of all utilities to the new building sites. The construction contract for this phase was approximately $8 million and is scheduled for completion before mid 2009.

Phase III of the project started in early 2008 and includes a 120,000-square-foot industrial warehouse with a pre-lease for 82,000 square feet. The shell, site and fitting for the tenant were performed as one construction contract valued at approximately $6 million. The remaining 40,000 square feet is warm, sprinkled shell space with a restroom and is ready for lease. The construction contract for this phase was approximately $6 million and was completed in January 2009.

At present, the project is completing Phases II and III and preparing for Phases IV and V. "We have completed shell and site construction of buildings B and D in Phase II," adds Seboda. "Building B is complete and occupied, and the Building D purchaser is about six weeks from completion and occupancy. Buildings A and C of Phase II are nearing shell and site completion. Building A will be completed by the end of February 2009. Tenant fit-up is being contracted for by the purchasers. Phase III was completed in early January 2009, and the tenant has begun a phased move-in, first occupying the warehouse, then the office and finally the showroom."

A highlight and unique feature of this project is the Dinosaur Park. "As a part of the overall development of the project, an area of approximately 7.5 acres was donated to the local park authority, Maryland National Capitol Park and Planning Commission (MNCPPC)," explains Seboda. "This land contained the known extent of a significant fossil deposit that was deposited in this location by natural forces millions of years ago and recovered prior to and during our work. This discovery has provided the basis for establishing the Maryland 'state dinosaur.' A visitor's park has been constructed and underwritten by Jackson-Shaw, the project developer, just outside the fenced compound where the fossil bed is exposed. MNCPPC manages the site and access to the fossils."

Seboda explains that one of the goals for the buildings was to achieve a LEED certification for the design. "The marketplace is clearly getting the message about sustainable design and quality work environments, and the concrete tilt-up construction is one of the most eco-friendly methods of construction," he says.

Some of the eco-friendly features of the project included it being sourced locally with very little waste. In addition, limited fossil fuels were required to produce and finish the product. In the design, thermal performance was implemented to save heating and cooling costs during the life of the building. In addition, the materials of construction are recyclable when, and if, the building is replaced.

"The next phases of building construction will include three to seven new light industrial warehouses as build-to-suit or speculative construction on the remaining building pads," explains Seboda. "The site can accommodate approximately 300,000 square feet of additional space. Storm water management is in place to support this construction, and only minor extensions of other utilities are required. We are actively negotiating with three build-to-suit prospects to occupy the balance of the building park."

The remaining phase of reclamation of the site will prepare the balance of the property for development of a Transit Oriented Community worth over $300 million.

Preparing the site for infrastructure and building construction presented some of the greatest challenges of the project. "Phasing was critical for the earthwork operation as we were concerned about building the right buildings first and having the right material available, as well as being aware of future site work operations that might impact marketing and construction," says Seboda. "Even after the mass grading associated with the mine reclamation, the site presented significant topography to the contractors."

In addition, working with the heavy clay material that is difficult to shape and compact, particularly when it gets wet, presented further challenges.

Some of the greatest challenges were managing the installation of 50 acres of infrastructure while simultaneously constructing seven buildings. "The utility infrastructure's construction, being performed by subcontractors as well as by contractors working for the utility, added to the coordination effort," adds Seboda.

"Building 'green' will become more mainstream, and we will strive to stay ahead of the curve," he says. "Product selection will be critical as we continue to seek out products which enhance and protect our environment. As the business park is populated, we will want to install a traffic signal at the main entrance road, which will require many approvals before we are allowed to install it."