August 23, 2017
July 5, 2017
Sundt Project Director Joe Riccillo, HACEP Chairman of the Board of Commissioners Burt Blacksher, HACEP CEO Gerald Cichon and HUD Regional Administrator Beth Van Duyne tour our affordable housing work site in El Paso.
In an arrangement that could be the future of the industry, the Housing Authority of the City of El Paso (HACEP) is making renovations to units it owns and manages. Typically, HUD owns affordable housing units and local authorities run them.
Using the United States Department of Housing and Urban Development (HUD) Rental Assistance Demonstration (RAD) program, HACEP is moving forward on its own schedule in making renovations and reconstruction on all 6,400 residential units throughout its portfolio. HACEP is able to leverage the property and its guaranteed occupancy rates with private money, financing and tax credits to run an enterprise that stays out of debt.
Some of the work is being performed by Sundt Construction. We are renovating or constructing 1,200 combined high-rise and low-rise apartments.
“There’s a lot of interest nationally about what’s going on in El Paso because HACEP made a full conversion and they’re in the black (financially),” said Project Director Joe Riccillo.
HACEP officials are meeting with their counterparts in Baltimore and Chicago to help improve affordable housing there. Our development in El Paso also received a visit from HUD Regional Administrator Beth Van Duyne last month.
“She wanted to see first-hand what was going on … what the issues were with regulations and what could be done to help affordable housing programs across the country,” Joe said.
HACEP’s use of tax credits requires that work must be complete in two years, from design to completion. If deadlines are not met, the organization faces HUD penalties for every resident who is late moving back into his or her home.
“We’ve made a commitment to HACEP that we will complete this development according to schedule,” said Project Manager Fred Briscoe. “We’ll do everything we have to do to keep that promise.”
June 28, 2017
The Sundt-Yates joint-venture team presents Matthew Sabetta with a miniature concrete truck at the Ak-Chin Casino site.
Many people just want construction projects to end. Whether the work is transportation, industrial, building or concrete, some part of the nearby community is ready to see heavy equipment pull away for the last time.
That’s not true at the Harrah’s Ak-Chin Resort and Casino Expansion near Maricopa, Arizona. Matthew Sabetta, 14, and his grandmother, Melanie Warthman, will be a little disappointed when our joint venture project with Yates Construction is complete.
Melanie, who takes care of Matthew during the week, lives 10 minutes from the resort. The two come to the site most days and have formed a bond with the on-site team. Matthew is one of the friendliest people around, waving to crew members and striking up conversations.
“Matthew has a social piece to his personality,” Melanie said. “He wants to greet everybody. From the first day we hit the job site, he was waving to people. It was the concrete guys who connected with him first.”
Matthew has a rare genetic condition called Williams Syndrome, which is characterized by medical problems including cardiovascular disease, developmental delays, and learning challenges. These often occur in concert with striking verbal abilities and highly social personalities.
Team members treat Matthew like an honorary crew member. They gave him the gear necessary for being around the site: a hard hat, safety glasses, a vest, gloves, and a security badge. They sometimes take Matthew and Melanie inside the fence for tours and conversation about concrete work.
“It shows a whole different side of construction,” Melanie said. “It speaks volumes about the kind of employees you have.”
To show their appreciation for the crew’s welcoming attitude, Matthew and Melanie brought sandwiches and chips to the crew one day in June.
“He was so excited to meet these people who are so kind to him,” Melanie said. “He said, ‘Grandma, I need to go celebrate my friends.’ ”
In acknowledgment, the crew wanted to give Matthew a surprise. Transportation Superintendent Chris Shea’s idea was to present Matthew with something to remember the project and team. Chris and Project Superintendent Todd Gantter knew Project Controls Manager Jesse McDonald kept a few trophies – miniature concrete trucks – from the annual Associated Schools of Construction Student Competition in Nevada. Jesse told them he had one left.
Concrete Area Manager Danny Gumm enthusiastically played the role of go-between, picking up the trophy from Jesse and driving it to the Ak-Chin site. When lunch was delivered, the crew created a diversion so the mini-truck and a long-sleeved concrete team T-shirt would be a surprise.
“It was totally unexpected,” Melanie said. “When someone told him there was a concrete truck coming, he was looking out the window. They put it at his place at the table. He was thrilled and talked about it for hours. It made Matthew’s day.”
Chris said: “We had the ultimate gift to present to our project’s biggest fan. Just getting to see the smile on his face when presented with the Sundt concrete truck made this project one of the best I have been on.”
June 21, 2017
Concrete arches and beams were build offsite and transported to the bridge.
A documentary about Sundt’s work on an award-winning bridge in Texas is getting national air time.
“Arc of Innovation,” a short film that provides an inside look at construction on the West 7th Street Bridge in Fort Worth, is showing in select PBS markets from Alaska to Michigan to Texas. The documentary showcases the transition between the demolition of the old bridge and opening of the new bridge. Built on the same spot, the transportation project had to be finished in a short timeframe to minimize impact to traffic. We completed the 980-foot-long bridge for the Texas Department of Transportation a month ahead of schedule and it opened to traffic October 2013, in time for the holidays.
The bridge is the first of its kind, built with precast, post-tensioned arches and floor beams. Each arch measures 24 feet tall by approximately 160 feet long and weighs more than 640,000 pounds. The 12 concrete arches were built off site by our crews and installed in pairs along either side of the bridge.
Interested in seeing the documentary on your local station? Please contact your PBS affiliate and ask for it to be added to the program schedule.
The official opening of the bridge was a real cattle call.
May 31, 2017
Photo by Randy Metcalf, Pima County
There was no time for holes in Sundt’s grading plan for the Pima Animal Care Center in Tucson. With the region’s rainy season sitting smack in the middle of the construction timeline, all gaps needed to be filled.
Photo by Randy Metcalf, Pima County
Tucson’s monsoon begins in late June or early July. On average, the region receives half its 12 inches of annual rainfall during the summer, with the peak occurring between mid-July and mid-August.
Much of the rain comes in short, intense bursts, causing localized flooding. That’s a bad scenario for a building project since any holes that exist on the site become filled with water, forcing crews to pump it out. Standing water can also saturate the site, resulting in potential problems with a building’s foundation or stability.
To avoid the issue, all grading work around the building on the animal care site was completed in June, a few weeks before the typical start of the monsoon. The grading was completed with the rainy season in mind to avoid lost time resulting from stormy weather. Having as few holes as possible on site reduces standing water and wasted time spent getting rid of it.
The center has been around since 1968. When it opened, the region’s population was around 300,000. The center was built to accommodate 300 dogs and 100 cats at a time. Staff now takes in about 400 animals a week and has around 800 on site at any time.
The county has since climbed to more than a million residents. Accompanying that growth has been a critical need for a larger center for stray and abandoned pets.
We are constructing two new buildings on the site and renovating the existing facility. A tent that was put on the property to house animals because the current building lacks room will be removed. The new buildings are scheduled to open in late December. Renovations on the present facility will start soon afterward.
A rendering of the future Comal County Jail in New Braunfels, Texas.
Sundt Preconstruction Manager Jon McKelvain isn’t afraid to go behind bars in the name of research and providing client value.
As we start preconstruction on the $62.3 million Comal County Jail in New Braunfels, Texas, Jon and his counterpart from our joint-venture partner recently toured the Smith County Jail in Tyler, Texas. Unlike most people there, he only stuck around for a few hours.
Sundt Preconstruction Manager Jon McKelvain.
The purpose was to explore the possibilities of replacing the current cell design with a prefabricated all-steel modular cell. Modular cells improve quality and schedule because they are a “plug-and-play” setup. All plumbing and fixtures are in the cell from the manufacturer and are stacked on top of each other to build the housing area for each pod. The only concrete masonry work that has to be done is the wall for the day room.
The Smith County visit included a walk-through of cell configuration, day room and recreation yard layouts and mechanical, electrical and plumbing requirements for the prefab cells.
“The tour assisted us in furthering our understanding of the requirements of the prefab cells, and we are conducting a cost and schedule impact analysis for the owner based on lessons learned,” Jon said.
The team is planning to tour the Lubbock County Jail in West Texas in July. Yates Construction, our JV partner on the Comal project, built the Lubbock facility. We’ve also met with a San Antonio manufacturer of locks and equipment.
“Being an expert in the detention market means being knowledgeable about all the latest design trends, detention equipment and security electronics hardware. This ensures we bring added value to our owner’s detention needs,” said Sundt Senior Vice President and Texas District Manager Eric Hedlund.
We have a long and successful history of criminal justice projects, including jails, prisons and courthouses. Our work on the San Bernardino Juvenile Detention and Assessment Facility in California earned the 2011 Design-Build Institute of America’s Western Pacific Region Design Build Award for Best Correctional Facility. Our John M. Roll Courthouse project in Yuma, Arizona won a Design-Build Institute National Merit Award.