BROWNFIELDS - Fabcon Precast

blighted sites—
turning brownfields to green

As municipalities build out available real estate, virgin ground is eventually exhausted. Abandoned or blighted “brownfield” locations like former sites of munitions factories, steel mills and chemical plants become viable options to build. But that doesn’t come without its challenges.

While existing structures may be visible to the eye, the real trouble lies in the unseen: namely the hazardous substances, pollutants or contaminants that remain in the soil.

“Brownfields are locations with soil that has been really damaged or abused over time by industry,” said Aaron Gordon, a sales engineer at Fabcon. “A location that’s not suitable for building, and a lot of times has to be capped.”

So while redevelopment may include the razing or repurposing of existing structures, the most important step in the process is decontamination and remediation of the soil on site.

Brownfield projects typically involve moving massive amounts of soil. Geotechnical and environmental site conditions are considered as contaminated soil is removed and new fill is brought in.

FABCON’S PRECAST PANELS ARE LIGHT ON A BUDGET, BUT THEY’RE ALSO LIGHTER PER SQUARE FOOT THAN THOSE OF COMPETITORS.

 

Cardinal Health building at dusk

The 275,000 sq. ft. Cardinal Health facility opened in May 2015. It was recognized with both the prestigious Grand Prize Award and the People’s Choice Award at Brownfields 2015 in Chicago, competing with projects across the nation.

While Fabcon’s precast concrete panels are light on a budget, the sections are also lighter per square foot than those of competitors, too. This creates efficiencies in the engineering requirements for preparing the site.

“The engineer of record works to ensure the soil pressure is there to handle the large footprint of these industrial buildings,” said Gordon. “Our panels are lighter per square foot, and that helps in designing that footing.”

But there are also code requirements, energy efficiencies and environmental benefits to consider. That’s why many builders look to our 12″ VersaCore+Green™ sandwich panels, with their impressive R-value of 28.2.

“WE WERE ABLE TO CONTRIBUTE A FRESH NEW LOOK AND increased functionality. PEOPLE AND BUSINESSES CAN START MOVING BACK INTO THESE COMMUNITIES AND SPACES THAT WERE LOST ALONG THE WAY.”

Fabcon has played a role in many interesting brownfield projects—a number of them on the East Coast, and three in our home state of Minnesota.

Premier Design Build and Bridge Development is based in Chicago, but many of its most recent projects can be found in New Jersey. In a competitive market where pristine properties garner top dollar, Premier has developed a unique method of soil compaction that allows them to pick up challenging properties for pennies on the dollar—and build multiple state-of-the-art warehouse facilities using Fabcon precast panels.

“It’s a tilt/pour market in New Jersey, but they like precast because of the year-round thermal performance and the consistency,” said Fabcon Sales Engineer Joe Dammann. “And if they design with precast and the schedule slides, we can come in and set in the winter with panels made at our production facility in Mahanoy, Pennsylvania.”

Cardinal Health, old brownfield site, dilapidated buildings with graffiti

The Cardinal Health project was built on a site made up of 23 blighted structures requiring hazardous material surveys, abatement and demolition before redevelopment.

In the Midwest, Northern Stacks is a 122-acre business park in Fridley, Minnesota. The property is home to state-of-the-art office and warehousing spaces just steps from the Mississippi River where factories once turned out guns for U.S. Naval vessels during World War II.

Featuring a mix of rehabbed structures and new construction, the city of Duluth redeveloped a former iron foundry and heavy machinery shop at Clyde Park into a multi-use destination. The development is now home to the Duluth Heritage Sports Center, the Duluth Children’s Museum and Clyde Iron Works, a restaurant and events center.

Northern Stacks has received some of the most prestigious awards in the industry, including the 2016 NAIOP Award of Excellence for the Re-position and Renovation of BAE Technology Center, the 2015 MNCAR Industrial Deal of the Year, 2014 Minneapolis Business Journal Best In Real Estate Award,  2015 NAIOP Award of Excellence, and the 2015 Minnesota Brownfields ReScape Award for Small City Impact.

And finally, the St. Paul Port Authority helped turn a decrepit bowling alley built atop an abandoned city dump along the Mississippi Riverfront into a new company headquarters for River of Goods/Terrybear Urns & Memorials. They also collaborated to install community gardens in the adjacent green space.

“In each of these projects, we were able to contribute a fresh new look and increased functionality,” said Gordon. “People and businesses can start moving back into these communities and spaces that were lost along the way.”

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