Women lead downtown Chandler garage project SanTan Sun News

Women lead downtown Chandler garage project

Women lead downtown Chandler garage project
Business
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SANTAN SUN NEWS STAFF

Construction is not a man’s world anymore.

Just ask McCarthy Building Companies Inc., which recently topped out construction on the new $20 million, five-level, 293,000-square-foot Oregon Street parking garage for Chandler that includes a road realignment along Oregon Street as well as intersection improvements at Arizona Avenue and Chicago Street.

Four women are leading the project that will give downtown Chandler its largest parking structure to date.

The four leaders — Brittany Calbert with McCarthy Building Companies, Kim Moyers with the City of Chandler, Ashlee Pounds with Kitchell CEM and Jackeline Kafie with PK Associates — rose through the ranks and lead significant parts of the project. 

Moyers, who was the city’s downtown redevelopment manager when the project started, is excited by the prospects that this project brings to downtown.

“This will be Downtown Chandler’s largest parking garage. To provide the much needed parking on the west side of Arizona Avenue will be such a benefit to the downtown businesses,” Moyers said. “But the ability to convert the first floor into retail uses in the future as well as to aid in the redevelopment efforts to the south is also very exciting.”

The parking garage is being built as part of a design-build process that allowed the project team to design, price and permit the project in less than five months, which is an accelerated timeframe compared with traditional project delivery methods.

Project Manager Brittany Calbert is on site managing the design and construction, including the self-perform concrete scope of the new parking garage, which will bring 932 new parking spots.

“Calbert plays a critical role in ensuring employees and trade partners execute the plan needed to build out the garage on schedule and within budget, while also managing communications between the City and the project partners,” a McCarthy spokeswoman said.

Calbert grew up around construction. Her spent 35 years with McCarthy and, although in college she initially pursued architecture, she decided to follow in his footsteps.

“I highly recommend construction management as a career path for women,” Calbert said. “My best advice is to focus on building relationships in the industry just as much as you focus on gaining technical knowledge early on. It’s very important to build a tribe of mentors and advocates within the field.”

Pounds, senior project engineer at Kitchell CEM, feels not being stuck at a computer desk all day was a major factor in her career decision.

“Seeing females in hard hats is less an anomaly today than it has been, but we are still definitely in the minority,” Pounds said. “There are more and more women coming into our industry and finding that sun and dirt isn’t only for the boys.”

With a parking garage project, structural engineering is key and Kafie, who holds a Ph.D. in structural engineering, served as the structural technical designer.

“My father is an electrical engineer and I have visited construction sites since I was very young. I enjoy challenges and being able to overcome them,” Kafie said. “The construction of this parking garage means the city is developing and growing, and that translates to a city in progress and a healthy economy. I will be thrilled to see the project come to life when it completes in the fall.”

Long thought of as a male-dominated field with few promotional opportunities for women, the four project leaders said mentorship and growth opportunities have existed at every point of their careers.

Last year, the Associated General Contractors of America noted 80 percent of construction firms reported difficulties in recruiting construction craft workers for job sites. And, despite diversity pushes throughout the industry, only 939,000 women — roughly 9 percent — were in the construction industry, according to the National Association of Women in Construction.

The project is slated for completion in November.

“The downtown is the heart and urban core of our city,” said Chandler Mayor Kevin Hartke. “With New Square opening later this year, along with the new additions to our Historic Square, free parking will always be a welcomed and important amenity for our residents, businesses and visitors. Congratulations to McCarthy on this milestone and we’re looking forward to celebrating the garage’s opening this fall.”

Now that topping out is completed, the team will focus on interior rough-in, exterior skin, site work and off-site improvements with the most critical being the completion of the Arizona Avenue intersection improvements that will take place over the summer.

“The topping out represents a critical milestone in the project meaning we’ve reached structural completion for all five floors of the garage,” said Calbert.

“Additionally, McCarthy has been able to utilize our self-perform team for cast-in-place concrete as well as electrical and mechanical work, which has provided added value in the form of cost savings, quality control and schedule acceleration to the city,” she said.

The garage has more architectural and art elements than any other garage McCarthy has built in the southwest.

Features include a concrete form liner along the perimeter walls, as well as three different types of metal panels including mesh fabric along the stairs where color changing LED lighting will be displayed.

Chandler requires art in every downtown project, and the team allocated funds toward functional aspects that include pedestrian benches and louvered canopies designed by coLab Studio and Jeff Zischke.

Construction of the garage and adjacent New Square development took away surface parking that had been available on these parcels.

A free shuttle service that takes people from the garages to downtown establishments also is available from 5-9 p.m. Thursday and 5-10 p.m. Friday and Saturday.

McCarthy Building Companies, Inc. is the oldest privately held national construction company in the country — with more than 150 years in the industry.

spent collaborating with partners to solve complex building challenges on behalf of its clients.  It is ranked the 20th largest domestic general contractor with 1,700 salaried employees.

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