Case Studies

Cornerstone Square: Westford’s Newest Commercial Anchor

  • Written by: Cornerstone Square: Westford's Newest Commercial Anchor
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Republic Building Contractors Inc. (Republic) brings true meaning to practicing a hands-on approach with every construction and renovation project. Relying on a skilled team of experience professionals working closely with clients to identify the most pressing priorities, Republic breathes life into architectural renderings and delivers a first-class result in the most cost-efficient manner.

Jim Ward and Jim Burns founded Republic in 1997 with the goal of putting the client first and using value engineering, comprehensive estimating and clear communication to ensure every party involved is on the same page. When local property development firm RA Ventures moved to introduce a large-scale, multiuse commercial development in Westford, Mass., Republic inevitably rose to the top of all qualified construction management firms to embrace the challenge.

The project has since been dubbed Cornerstone Square, and includes a total of 13 buildings arranged to form something of a commercial village. The site emerged as a strategic location for a town center-style development, as it abuts the heavily traveled intersection of I-495 and Route 110, which can see 100,000 cars travel by daily on average. The development will add a total of 248,000 square feet of space, of which 190,000 square feet will be dedicated for retail tenants with the balance set aside for medical office space. Market Basket came on early in the leasing process to fill the 60,000-square foot anchor tenant space, which only underscored the importance of keeping up the pace of construction for an on-time delivery.

Before crews could even begin marking the site for a concrete foundation, Republic oversaw a hefty dose of site preparation work. “There was an extensive amount of site clearing involved because we’re essentially building the development on 30 acres of virgin land,” explains Ward, president of Republic and lead project manager for Cornerstone Square. RA Ventures tapped Republic to oversee the major site work components of the project, enlisting locally based Chapman Construction/Design as general contractor and Hancock Associates to oversee all engineering on the project.

Eyes on the Prize

Republic wasn’t just clearing the land for construction crews, as the team was also in charge of all paving, curbing and storm sewer installation work. Republic broke ground in August 2011 and tweaked its plans to adhere to the original completion date of October 2012. In fact, work was scheduled to allow Cornerstone Square as many as 200 people working on it at any given time, according to Ward’s estimates. “In that time we will have installed over three miles of granite curbing, roughly 58,000 square yards of asphalt and installed a stormwater system capable of holding approximately 1.5 million gallons,” adds Ward.

An 11-month delivery timeline is ambitious to say the least, especially because crews were responsible for removing more than a few boulders from site and leveling stone ledges to create a level foundation. As always, though, Republic hoped for the best and prepared for the worst and staffed its team of subcontractors with companies whose financial standings are as strong as their reputation to ensure Republic could hold up its end of the bargain. As a general rule, Republic prefers to work with contractors who willingly invest as much in the success of a project as the company’s own employees and the client.

In the case of Cornerstone Square, Republic was lucky enough to catch at least one break. “The winter of 2012 was certainly a blessing for us,” admits Ward. “We only lost one day because of snow.”

Forging Ahead

On an aesthetic level, the Cornerstone Square development – which was designed by J.D. LaGrasse & Associates Inc. – adheres to something like a postmodern take on the Federalist style, blending decorative elements like arched doorways with a clean silhouette. To contextualize the range of spaces available, the design relies on a stone base, brick exterior and portico to unite the buildings, creating gradual distinctions with a mix of gabled, mansard, flat and square-hipped roofs.

The development was built using approximately 98-percent American-made and -manufactured materials, as per the developer’s request. Roughly halfway through construction, RA Ventures reported 80 percent of the development had been leased, aided in part by the announcement Market Basket would occupy its largest space. Other tenants include Petco, Family Eye Care Center, perennial favorites such as Panera Bread and Five Guys Burgers and Fries, as well as the more upscale Burton’s Grill.

Even as Republic and Cornerstone Square enter the home stretch, opportunity looms large for Republic. The company has specialized primarily in commercial sector work of all kinds and assisted-living facilities and medical office buildings have emerged as sectors with great growth potential. As Republic Building Contractors Inc. surveys the market and searches out the best opportunities, the company’s long-tenured employees will continue building commercial anchors across Massachusetts, where Cornerstone Square is just one of many successful projects.

Published on: March 9, 2013

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