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When Graham Construction’s High Street Mall project is completed in 2013, the Abbotsford, British Columbia, community will not only enjoy a new high-end shopping center, but it also will gain an entertainment district designed to become a destination for locals and tourists alike. The 600,000-square-foot lifestyle center will feature a 150,000-square-foot Walmart Superstore, a 1,400-stall below podium parking lot, 80 retail shops and restaurants in a 12-building development.

The 20-acre site is located in a high-traffic area adjacent to Trans-Canada Highway 1, with major on- and off-ramps located nearby. This major intersection already sees more than 69,000 cars each day. “This highly visible location is a great destination spot,” Senior Project Manager Steve Rose says. “The high-end features of the mall should be able to pull in high-end clients from all over, which is the owner’s primary goal.”

A combination of metal panels, stucco, stone and wood veneers will be used on the exterior, designed to create a cohesive look to each of the buildings on site.

“The overall idea is to make each building unique in its own design and color scheme, but also use similar materials,” Rose says. “Shape Properties and the design team didn’t want a cookie-cutter look to the development.”

Graham is currently building the shell of the structure, slated to be completed in early 2013 with soft openings expected for sometime later that spring.  The main podium structure consisting of more than 80,000 cubic yards of concrete will be done this spring. The company was involved in the project’s preconstruction phase, reviewing all budgets and developing a complete package in advance. “We did quite a bit of value-engineering for the owners up front to help balance the high-end finishes with the overall budget,” Rose says. “Being involved in preconstruction gave us a huge benefit on the project because we started construction with a detailed history of the project which helped us expedite delivery.”

The mall will also include a high-end Cineplex VIP cinema, and negotiations are underway on key tenants such as London Drugs, Marshalls and Old Navy.

Graham is expected to complete the Walmart tenant improvement in December 2012. By the time the superstore opens its doors to the public, the remaining 12 structures included in the project will be close to completion but not yet open to the public.

Safety concerns have been taken into consideration in advance, and the company is already preparing to allow public access near its active construction zones. “Our plan is to gradually allow the public to enter the site with a phased occupancy turnover, while consolidating ourselves into one particular area and limiting access to the main podium level,” he says. “A high regard for workplace safety is part of our culture.  Safety is a business value because people are our most important asset.”

Clear Communication

Graham’s use of Aconex, an innovative online collaboration platform, has allowed the team to maintain greater control over communication throughout the course of the project. Graham has used the system on other large-scale projects, and says the program’s impact on the success of such a contractually complex project is significant.

“This web-based program basically provides a central location for all correspondence and design documents to be stored, tracked and monitored between subs, general contractors, owners and consultants,” he says.  “Currently, with two design teams, 60 subcontractors, 25 design subconsultants and the possibility of doubling or tripling these teams with the addition of tenant work, it was important for Graham to ensure collaborative communication for the project as a whole.”

Thanks to clear communication and a commitment to operating a safe and secure job site, Rose anticipates the project will be completed on time and within budget. As the fifth-largest general contractor in Canada, Graham is well equipped to take on large-scale projects such as the High Street Mall project. “Graham has the resources, capacity and expertise to manage complex projects in excess of $100 million without missing a step,” Rose says.

 The market in British Columbia continues to grow, and Graham is ready to tackle whatever projects comes its way. “The British Columbia market is strong because they’re really kicking it into gear for projects related to natural resources and they where not as affected by the downturn in the U.S. economy,” he says.

History of Success

The employee-owned firm enjoys revenues in excess of $1.8 billion annually. Graham Constructions’s eight decades of experience have earned it a reputation for success in completing projects in a variety of sectors. These include commercial, industrial and infrastructure, and in a variety of methods such as general contracting, design/build, construction management and public/private partnerships.

Headquartered in Calgary, Alberta, the company has 14 offices located throughout North America and employs more than 1,200 management staff and up to 5,000 hourly workers. The company enjoys the resources, capacity and expertise to undertake projects of every scope, scale and level of complexity.

As a result, the company was recognized as one of Canada’s 50 Best Employers by Aon Hewitt, as well as one of Canada’s 50 Best Managed Companies by canada50best.com.

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