The first $41.5-million phase of the Settlers Ridge shopping center near Pittsburgh converted a 79-acre former coal strip-mine site into a retail project and boosted the local economy.

Photo Courtesy EMJ Corp.

EMJ Corp. of Dallas began the project in September 2007 and provided sitework, offsite improvements, building shells and fit-outs for smaller shops. The economic downturn altered the initial plans of Chattanooga, Tenn.-based developer CBL & Associates Properties for a lifestyle center.

Instead, the company brought the design and construction team together, while sitework was under way, to create a 400,000-sq-ft outdoor destination shopping center, featuring a grocery, other needs-based retailers, movie theater, restaurants and fitness center.

The architectural firm ka of Cleveland designed an eclectic mix of building styles evocative of Pittsburgh’s neighborhoods and surrounding towns. The building scale, material selection and varied roof forms, silhouetted against hilly terrain, reinforces the center’s design.

Colored stamped asphalt and concrete pavers, decorative lighting, a DMX music system, planters and benches add to the curb appeal.

Replacing the originally planned parking deck with a 150,000-sq-ft grocery story, positioned directly above the mine voids, required increased grouting and additional undercutting of pyritic rock to allow for the grocery store’s underground pipe runs.

Bio-retention cells treat and filter rainwater before returning it to the water table, thereby reducing the project’s impact on the environment. A mine-treatment facility catches mine void runoff and treats the water prior to allowing it back into the surface stormwater supply. Vegetated swales were used in a variety of areas instead of traditional stormwater pipe systems. Additionally, incorporation of low-water-need plant material and field turf minimize the carbon footprint along with low-maintenance plant material on the slopes. As a result, the project requires no irrigation system.

EMJ completed the project in October 2009, with no recordable safety incidents.

Key Players

Developer/Owner: CBL & Associates Properties
Contractor: EMJ Corp.
Architect: ka
Civil Engineer: GAI Consultants
Structural Engineer: THORSEN BAKER & Associates
MEP Engineer: TES Engineering