The 17-story CAPTRUST Tower project in Raleigh, NC, is the first mixed-use office tower in the North Hills section of the city. North Hills is a mixed-use, multiblock district known as Raleigh’s Midtown, located at the corner of one of Raleigh’s main thoroughfares and the I-440 beltline, and will be the tallest building on the Beltline when it opens in fall 2009. CAPTRUST alone will add 300,000 square feet of Class A office space, and the first floor will feature 28,000 square feet of restaurants and retail, including an upscale restaurant.
The project is seeking LEED Silver certification and is part of the city’s $1-billion North Hills expansion, which will add 1 million square feet of office space, 250,000 square feet of retail space, 1,800 residential units, 800 hotel rooms, and more green space.
“After breaking ground in March 2008, construction on the CAPTRUST Tower is well under way,” says Drew Fredrick, vice president of Duke Construction in Raleigh. “The foundation concrete has been poured, and crews are working on the building superstructure. As of mid-October 2008, the fifth and sixth levels of the parking structure are under way. The building is scheduled to open in fall 2009 and will be the tallest building on the I-440 beltline.”
According to Frederick, foundations and caissons were the first phase of construction and presented challenges. “Some of the caissons were more difficult than others with the differing levels of sub-grade rock and the discovery of some ground water in certain caissons,” he says. “In these cases, additional rock drilling was required to obtain theappropriate bearing and embedment into the rock. In cases where we encountered ground water, a slurry method of concrete placement had to be used.”
The project anticipates that steel will be delivered in December 2008 when steel erection will begin. Once it reaches three stories in height, concrete slabs for flooring will be positioned. This will segue for work to begin on the precast skin of the tower and its interior mechanical systems.
Construction of the tower represents Raleigh’s ongoing effort to redevelop brownfields into viable real estate, and doing this with sustainability. “Ten years ago, North Hills was a deteriorating mall – a struggling piece of an otherwise healthy area of Raleigh,” says Fredrick. “The environmental cleanup and redevelopment of this brownfield land, utilizing smart growth, new urbanism and green building principles, transformed North Hills into a thriving, pedestrian-friendly, mixed-used destination that defines the burgeoning Midtown district.”
LEED Silver certification of the CAPTRUST Tower by the USGBC will offer third-party validation of the building’s environmentally sustainable features. The USGBC will review the CAPTRUST Tower’s certification application and rate it based on the inclusion of building characteristics that have less of an impact on the environment, are healthier for those who work or live in the building, and are more efficient than their conventional counterparts.
Though this development may produce higher initial costs due to its sustainable design, its construction and redevelopment will be offset by future gains for the community. “This approach makes the community inherently more sustainable, adds to the overall quality of the development and attracts tenants, employees and customers who are increasingly socially conscious,” adds Frederick.
Construction on the tower is a joint venture between Kane Realty Corporation and Duke Realty Corporation. Currently there are 125 workers on the construction site, with an expectation of 530 workers at full production capacity.
Frederick explains that the project utilizes a unique concrete placement system. “Another system that is different from a normal suburban office building is the concrete placement system,” he says. “Once we get to an elevation where a concrete pump can no longer reach, a concrete riser system will be attached to a concrete pump and the concrete will be pumped through a pipe system located in one of the buildings shafts.”
The sustainable approach to the tower’s construction has created a good labor environment as well as positive indications from potential employers. “Employers express interest in sustainable office spaces because employees increasingly say they’d rather work for employers who are conscious of their company’s impact on the environment,” says Frederick. “According to a 2007 Cone Cause Evolution survey, 77 percent of Americans makes decisions on where they would like to work based on a company’s social commitments, including environmentalism. We also feel that many companies view environmentally responsible development as something that customers increasingly want.”
Frederick says that while they are still learning, they know that it is important to commit LEED accredited professionals and employees with experience in green building technologies to projects aiming to be environmentally friendly. “Building sustainable mixed-use developments are a complex process that requires extreme attention to detail and a commitment to results that may not be immediately apparent,” he adds. “We take this initial risk and put forth the additional investment simply because we feel strongly that it’s the right thing to do for our tenants, visitors and future generations.”
The CAPTRUST Tower and entire North Hills development are being built on a suburban infill site. Great care has been taken to recycle and reuse demolition materials. In addition, three single-family houses were donated to Builders of Hope, a local nonprofit, and were actually moved to southeast Raleigh as part of an affordable redevelopment.
“Crews from Habitat for Humanity scoured through the apartments several times before demolition to remove and save anything that was reusable,” says Frederick. “Demolition crews recycled asphalt, copper and other building materials. A significant portion of the roads in the North Hills expansion area across Six Forks Road from the current development are made of the recycled asphalt that was ground up on site and re-poured. Trees on the construction sites were also salvaged and replanted at Ramblewood, a neighborhood of single-family homes, town homes and stacked flats at North Hills.”
To prepare for increased density, Kane Realty is also updating existing public storm water and wastewater infrastructure for these projects, which tie into the existing city systems. This is more sustainable than running a totally new infrastructure out to a Greenfield development. In addition, a large underground storm water retention system is being installed in addition to two wetland detention ponds. Together, these systems take care to protect our waterways from the many negative effects of runoff and allow the area above to be used as park space by the public.
“At North Hills, there is a strong belief that it’s not enough to just focus on a building’s architectural style,” said John Kane, Kane chairman and CEO. “We want the first office tower at North Hills to be environmentally responsible and energy efficient. We also feel that many employers find that LEED certified buildings increasingly represent what their employees want.” n