Dickson Co. Demolishes Surrey Downs Courthouse to Make Way for Park
With the Bellevue District Court in Washington moved into a newly remodeled building, the city decided it was time for the Surrey Downs Courthouse to come down.
"For us, this is an easy job," said David Dickson, Project Manager and Estimator at Dickson Co. in Tacoma, Washington.
The Courthouse Project
The Surrey Downs Courthouse had been listed as endangered on the Washington Trust for Historic Preservation in 2009, and the trust considered it saved in 2013. But the following year the Surrey Downs Master Plan called for it to come down.
It was built in 1962 and was home to the Surrey Downs Elementary School until 1981. But, according to the city, the building had deteriorated. It would have cost more than $2 million to bring it up to code and address life-safety issues.
Bellevue plans to redevelop Surrey Downs Park and make way for a light rail line. Park construction is expected to start this year and include a meadow, sport court, playgrounds and other amenities.
Dickson began the approximately $500,000 demolition project in October 2015. Dickson tore down and removed the 21,773-square-foot wood and concrete building, metal from the HVAC system, and about 48,000 square feet of asphalt and concrete paving. The scope of work included removing hazardous material, excavation, drainage, utility work, tree removal, carpentry, metal fabrication, steel work, waterproofing and other tasks.
After abatement of asbestos in the roofing, floor tile, vinyl and mercury light tubes and PCB light ballasts, which took about one week, Dickson began demolition. It wrapped up in 2015.
Dickson used a Volvo 340 Excavator and a Komatsu 228 Excavator, a mini excavator, LaBounty processers and Kent hydraulic hammers on the courthouse project.
Dickson recycled about 90 percent of the debris, concrete at a recycling facility or its own landfill in Tacoma, where it is crushed and sold again. That location also serves as a gravel pit.
The IKEA Project
Dickson recently demolished a 379,000-square-foot, two-building parking structure for the IKEA Store building project in Renton, Washington. The company finished the work in about 15 work days, 10 days ahead of schedule. It averaged 50,000 to 90,000 square feet of demolition per day. That gave Deacon Corp. of Washington in Tacoma, the general contractor, some additional time for its work.
Five operators and six pieces of equipment brought the buildings down. Dickson used Volvo 480, 380 and 340 Excavators, and a Komatsu 450 and a Komatsu 300 High-Reach Excavator. The high-reach machine created a more controlled descent for portions of the work.
Dickson hauled the debris to a nearby landfill and recycled about 95 percent of it, including the clean wood and all of the concrete.
There were no accidents on the IKEA project. On all of its jobs, Dickson makes safety its top priority, with daily job hazard analysis, daily pre-task planning and comprehensive employee training.
Razing the building makes room for construction of a store, slated to open in spring 2017, on the same parcel as an existing store. Once the new store opens, Dickson will tear down the existing store.
Rich in Experience
David Dickson's great grandfather, Lige, established the business, formerly Lige Dickson, in 1937. He had diesel mechanical and welding experience, bought a bulldozer and began clearing land around Tacoma. The company grew and expanded into paving and road building. David's grandfather bought some Army surplus cranes and added wrecking balls to them and began getting into the demolition business.
"We've done civil construction work, too, but since the 1950s, we've been doing demolition," Dickson says. "That's been our primary focus the last five years."
Dickson started with the company at age 12, sweeping and doing odd jobs.
"We have a tradition of hard work and doing business and maintaining the family feel," Dickson reports. "We have a lot of guys who have been with us for a long time."
Between 15 and 100 employees work at the company, which focuses on the Seattle and Tacoma markets but is willing to travel for the right job. It has completed a few jobs in Idaho, Montana, Oregon, and also Hawaii.
"It's mainly Seattle and Tacoma, because there is enough work here to keep us busy," Dickson says.
With that much work, Dickson keeps a well-maintained fleet of heavy equipment. In the past five years, the company has purchased four Volvo loaders and five excavators from Clyde/West in Seattle. Steve Lessard, at the equipment company, has been selling Dickson equipment for 20 years.
"We purchase from Clyde/West because its equipment has better fuel economy, horsepower, features and reliability for less money," Dickson says. "They have offered us a better machine for less money, and it has worked out very well."
The company also has torn down many buildings at Fort Lewis, and completed other government work. Dickson's largest job was the $38 million demolition of the first dual-purpose reactor, initially designed to produced plutonium and later was used as a power plant, for the Department of Energy. Scope included hazardous materials abatement and demolition of all but the core portions of the reactor facility. Dickson then built a safe storage facility for the core portion. The work took place from 2008 until 2011 and helped the company come through the recession successfully, Dickson says.
"We were really fortunate," Dickson recalls.
Dickson reports having demolished more structures in Washington than any other contractor. The company has learned from its mistakes and hires people who love what they do.
"I attribute our success to integrity and hard work," Dickson says. "We have a trust among employees that everyone will do their job, and if they are not, we are quick to get them off the bus."