When working with our retail clients, we are constantly reminded how the retail landscape is ever changing.  As the sizes of a retail stores change, the buildings they occupy must change with them and this can present some unique challenges for older buildings.   Our Vice President of Environmental, Dave Dukat, explains these challenges and how Watterson is helping landlords and developers in this article: 

As the retail landscape continues to evolve, retailers and their landlords continue to look for innovative ways to use space in older buildings.  Often these older buildings are larger than their current needs as retailers are looking to reduce their selling footprints.  This can create surplus un-used space that can be a financial burden on either the retailer, who could be stuck in a long term lease, and/or landlord, if the space is given back.  Often this excess space is larger than most traditional mall retailers need (30,000 s.f. to 100,000 s.f.), and how to optimize the use of this space has presented challenges.  However, this challenge has also opened up opportunities for non-traditional mall retailers that require these larger footprints to have access to the premium square footage in retail locations that had not been previously available.  One of the more difficult aspects of taking advantage of this opportunity is that often, these older buildings have asbestos-containing materials (ACMs) that are impacted during the construction activities.  The ACMs require special management and removal protocols, and Watterson has extensive experience working with retailers, landlords, and developers to assist in their ACM management during projects.

Watterson has partnered with our clients who have been actively consolidating space (retailers) and/or redeveloping properties (retailers and landlords) to accomplish these types of projects.  Our environmental team works hand in hand with our client to manage their environmental risk associated with ACMs.  This process includes:

  • Identification of the scope for store consolidation and building materials that may be impacted.  For the excess space, often, these areas are gutted, and the scope includes removing all materials back to the unfinished floors, walls, and decking.  Once the scope is outlined, Watterson completes the identification, quantification, and sampling of the suspect ACMs.
  • Development of the Asbestos Abatement Design/Bid Document for the solicitation of pricing from qualified asbestos abatement contractors.  Watterson manages the entire bidding process from the development of the scope of work for removal, conducting a bid walk with the contractors, and reviewing the bids received to identify the appropriate cost-effective contractor for the project.  For many projects, Watterson turn-keys the abatement contractor.
  • Management throughout the abatement process, Watterson provides overall project management and on-site oversight/air sampling to document materials removed and procedures used, and to have air sampling data demonstrating that risk to other trades that may be working in the area is properly managed.
  • Preparation of an abatement closeout report for the client’s files that has all the information in one document that describes what was removed, how it was done, who did the work, and where the waste was disposed.  This is essential for the proper management of asbestos risk.

In one such case, our client required an extensive abatement plan for asbestos that would impact a new tenant, the existing tenant, and impacted licensed businesses that occupied the space.  The project included:

  • Working with the retailer that was consolidating their space and vacating a portion of a larger building, GC for the landlord that was working to demo the space for a new tenant, the GC for the new tenant that was looking to redevelop the space, and the licensed businesses that occupied portions of the space that was being redeveloped for the new tenant.
  • Coordinating the abatement with the active retail operations of the existing tenant/businesses.  This included the abatement of two areas in the existing tenant’s space for relocation of the licensed business out of the space designated for a new tenant.  This work was followed by selective abatement in the areas identified by the new tenant’s team as their priority areas so they could start their new construction activities.  And, finally, the abatement of the remaining areas of ACMs within the new tenant space.  All of this work was completed while the retailer remained active in their consolidated space, and for portions of the project, remained active in the tenant space they were in the process of vacating.
  • Concurrent with the above, Watterson was also working with the existing tenant to abate the ACMs that were going to be impacted by their store consolidation activities.  Watterson managed a separate abatement team (contractor and oversight/air sampling personnel) for this work so that work could move forward for all involved in this process in an appropriate and timely manner.

Our team, in conjunction with our client(s) and their construction teams, completed this project in a timely manner.  The success of this project started with a thorough inspection so that appropriate plans and budget could be established for removing the ACMs, continued with extensive communication on scheduling and requirements, and finished with the effective management of the abatement team at the site that completed the project in a timely manner following the applicable regulations.

Environmental concerns when working on older buildings can cause many problems for developers.  Watterson is committed to keeping the project on time and on budget by identifying the environmental concerns before the project starts.  With Watterson, there are no surprises.  We stand by our work and do whatever it takes to get it done right, the first time.

Dave Dukat, Vice President – Environmental