Comley Excavating Prepares 90-Acre Site for The Point in Littleton
The second and final phase of site work at The Point, a $100 million mixed-use development located in Littleton, Massachusetts, was recently launched as owners look to a 2016 completion for the ambitious project.
Site contractor Comley Excavating Company of Leominster, Massachusetts, has been moving earth and installing underground utilities at the 90-acre project since 2012, according to Mike Comley, President. Comley pointed out they are moving about 700,000 cubic yards of material, much of which is challenging for equipment operators due to the nature of the soil.
"There are an unusual number of boulders in the soil, and many of them are so big we've had to break them up with demolition hammers to get them down to size for the crusher - one even measured 25 cubic yards," he said. Comley estimated they have crushed some 30,000 tons of boulders since the job began.
Geologic history suggests the boulders were most likely left at the site during the last Ice Age about 15,000 years ago when glaciers up to 6,000 feet tall covered this part of New England. As the ice advanced southward pieces of bedrock were broken off and carried many miles while being ground smooth by the tremendous weight of the ice, resulting in boulders which mixed with other soils. This material was deposited as glacial till when the ice melted and receded.
Boulders composed of granite, or similar minerals such as pegmatite found in the Littleton area, weigh more than two tons per cubic yard. Unearthing and positioning multi-ton monoliths for demolition requires powerful equipment. To handle the work, Comley is employing a fleet of late-model Caterpillar equipment, including: 345, 330 and 320 excavators, 966K, 950 and 938 wheel loaders, D-6 and D-5 bulldozers, and a 735 articulated dump truck. These pieces have been kept busy for the past three years performing cuts and fills, excavating and installing drainage, water and sewer lines, grading base aggregate and gravels and constructing retention ponds and slopes. In addition, the equipment has been employed in excavating and backfilling trenches for electric and natural gas lines, and excavating and backfilling building foundations.
Phase 1 Completed
Site work at the site has been divided into two phases. Comley completed a substantial amount of work during Phase 1, including the installation of the following utilities: 6,000 linear feet of 2-inch to 12-inch water mains, plus necessary hydrants; 6,500 linear feet of 6-inch to 36-inch high density polyethylene pipe (HDPE) for drainage/stormwater; 6,000 linear feet of 6-inch and 8-inch polyvinyl chloride (PVC) Schedule 40 gravity sewer and 4-inch force main sewer. Comley crews also excavated and backfilled about 10,250 linear feet of trenches for primary electric and site lighting, and approximately 4,300 linear feet of gas lines. There will be even a greater amount of utility installations during Phase 2.
In connection with all this utility work, all material in fill areas has to be in place and compacted first before the utility trenches can be excavated. Utility crews have to maintain cover over the pipe of between 5 feet and 8 feet, and ensure that there is at least 18 inches clearance between water and sewer pipe if they cross. If they can't maintain this clearance, they have to encase both the water and sewer pipe in concrete for at least 10 feet from the crossing point.
For the entire project, Comley is constructing about 4,300 feet of access and perimeter roadways averaging 30-feet in width, and more than 180,000 square feet of parking lots.
Since the project calls for a balanced earthwork site, the contractor is allowed to take all fill materials to achieve proposed grades from Phase 2 areas so long as the cuts don't go below any subgrade elevations in Phase 2.
While all this construction takes place, the contractor has to provide long-term temporary drainage as needed to prevent stormwater runoff from Phase 2 from entering Phase 1 areas. This is significant since there is a drop of approximately 150 feet from the top of a hill in Phase 2 to the lowest elevation in Phase 1 (a wetlands area). To provide this protection, Comley built two large temporary stormwater retention ponds. For permanent retention, site plans call for the construction of three surface ponds stocked with native wetland plant species. Furthermore, crews are constructing four underground stormwater retention systems comprised of either parallel rows of HDPE piping or Stormtech chamber units.
Earthmoving and utility construction in Phase 2 is progressing rapidly, with building pads scheduled to be ready this fall, according to Kevin Crowley, project manager /estimator.
Young Company, Seasoned Founder
Comley Excavating Company LLC was established in 2011 by Mike Comley, a 20-year construction veteran. He had been employed for more than 15 years as a project superintendent for the McManus Excavating Company of Northborough, Massachusetts, which went out of business in 2010.
The company has about 25 full-time employees and owns and operates a fleet of 15 CAT equipment pieces plus various trucks and smaller equipment. Twenty-three of the employees, including Mike Comley, are field personnel, with Kevin Crowley and Joseph Maynard, CPA, the only office personnel. (Crowley said Owner/President Mike Comley prefers to be in the field as a working Project Superintendent.) This year, the company is expected to perform between $5 and $6 million in earthmoving.
The Point: A First for the Region
The Point is said to be the first mixed-use retail destination of its kind in Boston's MetroWest. Located at the intersection of I-495 (Exit 31) and Route 119 (Great Road) in Littleton, The Point is reportedly the region's only project that combines shops, restaurants, grocery, hotel, and entertainment. The 540,000-square-foot complex encompasses 400,000 square feet of retail, a state-of-the-art O'neil Cinema, office space, a health club, and a hotel.
Sam Park & Co., a commercial real estate investment company that specializes in developing mixed-use projects, is developing the Point. Based in Boston, Sam Park & Co. has been involved in more than 10 million square feet of major commercial projects including 1265 Main Street, Waltham, Massachusetts (formerly Polaroid); Gloucester Crossing, Gloucester, Massachusetts; and The Point.
The latest major building construction to get underway at The Point is the Courtyard by Marriott. On June 8th, Sam Park & Co. announced ground was broken for the 115-room hotel, which will offer contemporary rooms and flexible workspaces, a casual meeting space, business center, a 24-7 market, and a restaurant. The hotel will also include a breakfast area, gym, pool, and outdoor courtyard seating.
"Courtyard by Marriott is the perfect addition to our family of restaurants, retailers, office, and entertainment tenants," said Sam Park, President. Park said that with the hotel, restaurants, grocery, and cinema tenants in place, they are moving forward into their final phaseretail leasing.