Woburn, Massachusetts, is located about 10 miles northwest of Boston, first settled in 1640 making it one of the oldest of many historic communities in New England. It is conveniently accessible to public transportation and Concord Hospitality selected Woburn for its first property in the Greater Boston area, the dual-branded Homewood Suites and Hampton Inn.
The Homewood Suites & Hampton Inn will anchor Woburn Landing, the new mixed-use development of businesses and restaurants. The hotel will be a 6 story, 235-room structure -the Hampton Inn side will include 132 guest rooms, while the Homewood Suites side will include 103 fully equipped suites, with kitchens and separate living and sleeping areas. The hotel will share some amenities including an indoor pool, exercise room and 602 square feet of meeting space.
“In New England a lot of hotels utilize block and plank construction because of the fire proofing and the sound dampening characteristics,” says Martin Hickey, Project Manager with Callahan Construction.
Callahan Construction awarded Strescon Limited the contract to supply and install precast hollowcore plank, stairs, and landings for the hotel. Strescon’s Saint John plant supplied 8” hollowcore for levels 2-6, as well as the roof. Approximately 142,000 square feet (1,730 pieces) of hollowcore plank was required.
With the ability to free span 30 feet the (8-inch) precast concrete hollowcore plank reduced the building’s floor-to-floor height. For the Homewood/Hampton hotel acoustic separation between units provides greater comfort for hotel guests. The hollowcore plank in combination with the Concrete Masonry Units (CMU) also assures superior fire resistance and containment.
In addition to precast plank for the floor/roof system, the precast scope of work included 22 precast stairs and landings for the two stair towers within the hotel. Stairs and landings were produced by Borcherdt Concrete of Nova Scotia.
Hickey explains that Callahan Construction was awarded the contract and that the building construction and schedule was very straightforward –“once we got out of the ground.”
Coordinating loads from multiple plants created added complexities to the project, however all team members worked towards the common goal of minimizing down time and maximizing efficiencies. On-site storage was provided by Callahan, allowing Strescon to ship full loads from Yarmouth which included pieces for subsequent erection phases, without obstructing other trades.
Strescon teamed up with American Steel & Precast Erectors (ASPE) for the installation and grouting. ASPE was on-site on May 14th, 2018, and completed the installation scope by mid-August, 2018. The supporting structure was primarily CMU block with select areas of structural steel. Strescon and ASPE worked closely with Callahan and the other trades to coordinate the precast sequencing to finish ahead of schedule. The hotel is expected to open to the public in late 2019.
A Civil Action
According to Hickey, the site of the hotel has an infamous past. He explains, “the property was once home to chemical manufacturer W.R. Grace and was the basis for the movie A Civil Action.” Grace was part of a lawsuit filed by families who lived adjacent to the toxic waste dump. They alleged chemical runoff from the property polluted two East Woburn water wells, causing leukemia-related deaths in the early 1980s.
At the time, the result was the most expensive chemical cleanup in history. Fast forward to today and city officials believe the development will finally transform the site into a more positive legacy.
Vacant since 2006, when the long-abandoned W.R. Grace building was razed, the 12-acre site is now home to a newly opened Red Robin restaurant. The burger chain is the first completed portion of the $55 million Woburn Landing project. A Chick-fil-A and a third restaurant as well as the new hotel are all expected to be completed in the Fall of 2019.
Before construction could begin on the parcel, the federal Superfund site had undergone more than two decades of government-mandated cleanup and remediation. All of the contaminated soil was removed, but some cleanup work will continue for at least the next 20 years, according to the US Environmental Protection Agency (EPA). A filtration system still treats ground water 30 feet below the surface to remove contaminants. The ongoing process is the responsibility of W.R. Grace.
“The former superfund site was thoroughly cleaned and capped, and the hotel design includes active monitoring as well as a below grade venting system,” said Hickey.
According to Hickey, additional training was part of the excavation and foundation phases. Callahan’s crews had to complete safety training and take necessary precautions for work around contaminated soil. “That probably contributed to the slowdown in the development process”, recalls Hickey.
Located just off the I-93/I-95 cloverleaf ramps, the site had attracted the attention of various developers over the years, but until now no project had moved forward.
Woburn stands to benefit from more than $1 million in projected annual tax revenue from the development as well as the creation of jobs, and road improvements. But the biggest impact is to take this site and put it into productive use and not have it be a constant reminder of Woburn’s history.
Homewood/Hampton now enjoys excellent fire resistance and sound attenuation in their new hotel. Despite the decades of work below grade, the hollowcore plank was quickly installed and eliminated the need for additional fireproofing, termite treatments, and requires little maintenance.