By Stanley Hurwitz
THE CROSSING AT WALKERS BROOK
A Dream Turned Into Reality through Vision, Creativity, Commitment and Teamwork
Over the years, several developers proposed various projects to local officials, with countless community meetings and extensive environmental studies. Those proposals were abandoned after the initial phase when it seemed that a viable project might be many years from reality. With such a large and visible parcel, the town strove to find a developer who could meet their DEP obligations and provide a source of tax revenue to the town for many years to come
In 2000, armed with a vision, Mark Dickinson, President of Dickinson Development Corp., of Quincy, Mass., formally proposed a mixed-use development with retail, office and hotel components. He brought The Home Depot as the first anchor tenant, which was soon joined by Jordan’s Furniture. These retailers were truly committed to the site and were willing to work with Dickinson through the complex design and permitting process. Dickinson assembled a sophisticated design and engineering team that came together to develop a workable plan. He created a unique public-private working partnership to make the project ‘transparent’ with ongoing communication among local and state officials and agencies, the development team, owners and tenants.
Although the plan went through several incarnations, the first shovels hit the ground in early spring 2003, and Phases I and II were completed by Labor Day, 2005. The result is a $90 million, 475,000 square-foot project, a beautiful destination lifestyle retail plaza – brought to fruition by Dickinson on time and on budget.
Several of New England’s leading firms made up the development team assembled by Dickinson. Dickinson and project partner Pinnacle Partners’ project team included for both Phases I and II: engineering firms Haley & Aldrich, Dufresne-Henry and Vanesse Hangen Brustlin, Inc.; and architect Carter-Burgess. Morris & Morse Co, Inc., of Boston served as financial advisor. (For more on the engineering details, see the Engineering Summary below).
In Phase I, Suffolk Construction was general contractor and Pinncon LLC was construction consultant. In Phase II, general contractors were Pinncon LLC and D. W. White Construction. Leasing of Phase II was handled by The Wilder Companies of Boston who brought complementary retailers to the project including: Bank of America, Bear Rock Café, Chili’s Restaurant, Linens ‘N Things, The Paper Store, Romano’s Macaroni Grill, Staples, Starbucks and Verizon.
In August 2001, the engineering team submitted a ‘Corrective Action Alternatives Analysis’ (CAAA) to the Mass. DEP. In September, with approval in hand, the team continued design of the landfill closure and redevelopment program which included unique design features to create the planned space while controlling costs.
Contributing to the project’s complexity and cost were the need for mechanically stabilized earth (MSE) retaining walls up to 35’ high with geotextile wrapping, foundation and gas protection systems for buildings constructed above solid waste; surcharging and recompaction of relocated waste; unique landfill cap design with an enclosed flare system to destroy collected landfill gas as part of the landfill closure; and 1,500 foundation piles to support the building. The design team’s Landfill Closure and Post-Closure Use Plan was approved by Mass. DEP in November 2002. The team began to monitor landfill closure and site construction in March 2003 and continued for the duration of the project.
SITE / PROJECT TIMELINE
Of special note, the developer was able to bring back some of the rustic beauty that had been lost to the landfill. Walkers Brook, which runs on three sides of the site, was also cleaned up and improved. Dickinson also created a popular community park for neighborhood residents as part of its arrangement with the town.
The success of the project is due in large part to Dickinson’s team-building relationships and trust among the stakeholders, including Town officials, local residents, MassHighway, the DEP, and tenants.