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Vacant lot to vibrant destination

image Plaza Saltillo during construction

AUSTIN - Rogers-O’Brien Construction (RO) is helping to transform five city blocks in east downtown Austin, called Saltillo. The heart and soul of Austin, Saltillo is an exciting new development which brings dining, shopping, music and entertainment together to create a unique and vibrant destination bustling with activity. This is an important milestone in the more than 20-year effort by the community and Capital Metro to revitalize a vacant piece of real estate and increase rail and bus ridership.

    Rogers-O’Brien’s scope encompasses over one million square feet and includes 115,000sf of retail and restaurant space, 150,000sf of office space, four below and above ground parking garages, and 1.4 acres of open space and public art. The Plaza Saltillo District will feature one of the region’s most diverse mobility infrastructure programs, including the established MetroRail station, plus pedestrian paseos, extension of San Marcos Street, electric vehicle stations, reserved Car2Go spaces, a B-Cycle station and an extension of the Lance Armstrong Bikeway.
    The structural construction of Saltillo encompassed concrete with post-tensioned cable reinforcement. The Saltillo exterior was a combination of glass, metal panel, clay tile, terra-cotta tile, ceramic tile, limestone and aspect block CMU. It’s interior construction featured wood, ceramic tile, concrete tile, plaster and metal panel.
    The presence of the Capitol Metro railway, which runs along the south side of the entire jobsite, presented a major challenge for accessibility to the site. The railway restricted much of the RO team’s access to the south side of the buildings, making it difficult to deliver materials and equipment. There were also strict guidelines put in place by Capitol Metro that had to be adhered to, including a mandatory Capitol Metro supervisor on-site during any activities within close proximity to the railway.
    Big name retail tenants like Whole Foods, Target, and Google were signed on late during the project and each came with a large laundry list of changes to accommodate their spaces. This threw a wrench in the team’s original schedule and created a ripple effect that impacted many scopes of work.
    Despite these obstacles, Rogers-O’Brien found that creating a place that brings a new energy to the East Side of Austin made this project quite unique to the RO team. “An empty dirt lot next to the railroad tracks that has long been overlooked is finally being transformed into a new focal point on the east side. We have the unique opportunity to not only fill in this missing piece, but to also create a central hub for living, working, dining, shopping, and entertainment that will be utilized by Austin residents for years to come,” says Superintendent Denny Dinsmore.
    Project Manager Paul Muenchinger added, “Collaborative relationships with both Endeavor and JHP Architects was a positive and rewarding aspect of the project.  We have a long-standing relationship with Endeavor, having previously worked together on several projects, including Domain 8, East Chandler Retail Center Site Package, and the ongoing Red River Residential Tower.”
    Rogers-O’Brien Construction Company Ltd., established in 1969 by Steve Rogers and Pat O’Brien, is a family-owned general contracting firm with a third generation leading the company’s operations. The family attitude extends throughout their strong management team, many of whom rose up through the ranks to management. Today Rogers-O’Brien, which is headquartered in Dallas, has locations in Austin, Houston, and San Antonio with 411 employees.
    The majority of RO’s customers are private, though they provide construction services for a substantial amount of public work as well. -cmw

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Carol Wiatrek meditor@constructionnews.net