If you build it, they will come. That’s what the developers of the new 850,000-square-foot Metropolis shopping center in Plainfield, IN, are banking on. As one of a growing number of trendy lifestyle shopping centers, the open-air mall outside Indianapolis was built in a little more than 10 months and officially opened October 29, 2005.
At a price tag of $127 million, Metropolis was designed to boast an atmosphere with enough excitement to lure the likes of Clark Kent and Lois Lane, from their comparatively dull city of the same name to a stimulating locale for shopping, dining and entertainment. And if that didn’t occur, at least they would entice shoppers from Plainfield and parts of Western Indiana who previously had to travel into Indianapolis to shop at a large center.
The birth of Metropolis required the involvement of multiple construction contractors, including Milestone Contractors, L.P. The Indiana-based company, which employs more than 1,200 seasonal construction personnel, specializes in asphalt paving, highway and bridge construction, utility work and site development. Milestone was hired to build Metropolis’ parking lots and interior paths and roadways, as well as repair an existing road nearby. Milestone began work at the site in June 2005.
A blanket assessment of Milestone’s job would show that they laid 48,000 tons of stone and 37,585 tons of asphalt on the site, in addition to curb construction. On nearby Perry Road, in front of the mall, another 8,478 tons of asphalt was laid. But numbers alone don’t tell the tale. The outdoor mall concept created some fairly unique paving layouts.
“The whole project was rather odd-shaped,” says Chad Warren, Milestone’s asphalt job superintendent at Metropolis. The center’s set-up required not only the standard parking lots and roads surrounding the mall, but several interior roadways weaving through the various clusters of retail stores.
An east-west crossroad intersects with a north-south crossroad at the heart of Metropolis. After trench drains were installed in the binder coarse along the crossroads, Milestone went back in to complete the surface. “A lot of hand work was involved,” says Warren. “It wasn’t exactly a basic paving job.”
Milestone began work on Perry Road in September 2005, while still in the process of completing work around the mall. While the road construction proved to be far less logistically challenging than the asphalt work around the mall itself, there was still the concern of the project’s timeline, with just a few weeks left to complete the road.
The project involved milling the existing road before having a 1 1/2-inch asphalt overlay placed. Milestone operates a dozen hot mix asphalt plants throughout the state of Indiana. The city of Plainfield’s specifications for the road dictated that Milestone’s overlay use asphalt mix that included percentages of blast furnace slag and steel slag. These slag aggregates have a cubical shape and rough texture that makes them ideal for making roads skid-resistant.
“As we have various compaction situations arise, we’ll look at different rollers that will meet the needs of the material we’re laying,” says Lynn Shireman, Milestone’s general superintendent. A 20-year veteran at Milestone, Shireman routinely relies on asphalt industry experts to find the best industry practices.
One of Shireman’s contacts is Chuck Deahl, national account manager for Bomag Americas. “Chuck happened to be in the area and told us about Bomag’s new roller,” says Shireman. The new roller was the BW278 tandem vibratory roller, which Deahl promptly offered to Milestone on a demonstration. The timing for Milestone to come across a new piece of equipment to help the cause couldn’t have been better.
With site developer Premier Properties targeting October 29, 2005, for the grand opening of Metropolis, there were tight deadlines involved. Multiple crews from Milestone, including one crew from outside the Indianapolis area, were on site to see the project through to completion.