Dixie Electric displays expertise at mall expansion

Located in the Buckhead district of Atlanta, Lenox Square opened in 1959 as a 60-tenant open-air shopping center with two department stores, a grocery store, a bowling alley and an old-fashioned five-and-dime. Its popularity as a shopping destination grew, and Lenox Square expanded and became an enclosed mall in the early 1970s.

Further expansion in 1980 created a tri-level addition on the back of the mall with a food court. In 1993, construction began on the Phase I “overbuild” with the goal to renovate the existing area and to add a level over the main mall area supported independently of any existing structure. Lenox Square had no additional horizontal space, so there was no choice but to expand vertically. Completed in 1996, the renovation gave Lenox Square 1.5 million square feet of tenant space.

In size alone, Lenox Square is considered the preeminent shopping destination in the Southeast. It contains more than 250 high-end retail stores and restaurants, including Neiman Marcus (Georgia’s only location), Louis Vuitton, Cartier, Kate Spade, Burberry, Coach, BCBG and Hermes.

The overbuild projects at Lenox Square are not only visually impressive, but unprecedented in the retail construction market. Phase I project took top honors at several of the construction industry’s nationally sponsored competitions.

Dixie Electric Co., Alpharetta, Ga., was chosen to work on the Lenox Square overbuild. It counts among its projects some of the most notable retail locations in the area. Dixie has completed the electrical construction on other major retail centers in Atlanta with its joint venture partner United Electric Co. Inc., Marietta, Ga., including the Mall of Georgia (currently the second-largest in the Southeast with more than 2 million square feet), Stonecrest Mall, and Atlantic Station.

Power distribution
Power generation and distribution was tasked to Dixie Electric. The company installed a new substation with new main services, main switchgear and power distribution system to serve the new areas. In addition, it made modifications to existing switchgear and power distribution systems. To achieve this, workers installed two new 4,000-ampere, 480-volt main services that originated from a new Georgia Power Co. substation.

The company also installed two 4,000-ampere switchboards for house distribution power and one 2,000 ampere, one 800-ampere and one 600-ampere switchboards for tenant distribution power. Dixie Electric also installed house and tenant distribution feeders from switchboards to new portions of the project. This systems work consisted of approximately 7.5 miles of distribution conduits and bus duct and 30 miles of conductors through the existing mall to new construction.

Core and shell, the Lenox Square Mall has the systems needed to keep it up and running 24/7. Dixie Electric was also charged with backup power and uninterruptible power supplies, including a new 500 kVA emergency generator linked to the new emergency power distribution system network.

Lighting was also critical to the success of the aesthetics and functionality of the retail environment at Lenox Square.

According to Jeff Lake, executive vice president, Dixie Electric, “We completed the new mall lighting, which included installing custom designed and manufactured lighting fixtures. We installed 3,675 new lighting fixtures and 600 feet of cold cathode cove lighting. The lighting package included custom-designed and manufactured fixtures, many of which were installed at 50 feet above the finished floor level. We also included new 40 foot parking lot lighting standards, decorative hardscape lighting and parking-deck lighting.”

The energy-management system was also specified and installed by Dixie Electric, whose contractors designed, fabricated and installed some 18 new automatic lighting control panels; the heating, ventilating and air conditioning and mechanical equipment control modules; and energy-management system control wiring from the mall’s main central processing unit.

Miles of fire wire
For the fire alarm system, Dixie Electric installed eight control panels, upgraded four existing fire alarm panels and installed 420 devices. Approximately 8.2 miles of fire alarm cable were installed, which interfaced with the existing fire alarm system to create a seamless upgrade. The company also performed the additions to the sound system, which included the installation of four sound amplifiers, 216 speakers and four miles of sound cable for mall background music.

The emergency call notification system was also part of the low-voltage portion of the project. The complete design and installation of a parking area emergency call box system included 94 locations, control panels and a main control unit.

“Phase I totaled approximately 110,000 man-hours,” said Kathy Lake, president of Dixie Electric, referring to the magnitude of the project. “We ran a day and night shift throughout majority of the project with an average of six to eight electricians per shift. Totals for peak times were 10 to 12 per shift, although there were few peak times due to schedule. Phase II has an estimate of approximately 25,000 man-hours.”

She added that a major project challenge was the demolition of existing services and installation of new services with zero power outages during mall operational hours.

“Zero power outages also required that our electricians, many who have been with Dixie 20 to 30 years, be very careful during the renovation of all the existing pieces of service equipment including one main switchboard, which has been operational since the initial 1959 construction. Any outage to cut in a new service or feeder had to be accomplished between the non-mall-open hours of 10 p.m. to 7 a.m. and had to be scheduled sometimes weeks in advance,” Lake said.

Lake refers to the Phase I project as a “design as we build” project. As is common in older buildings, there were few electrical blueprints or drawings for the original portions of the structure. Dixie Electric’s field foreman, Gene Cain, and the electrical engineer, Richard Stern of Stern & Associates, York, Pa., worked closely to mesh old with new.

The renovation of the Lenox Square retail venue was a challenge, and because it was successful, it continues to grow. Dixie Electric is an important part of keeping it up and running. For shoppers, that’s the most important thing.

STONG-MICHAS, a freelance writer, lives in central Pennsylvania. She can be reached via e-mail at JenLeahS@msn.com.

PROJECT PARTNERS

Simon Property Group—Owner and manager
HC Beck Ltd.—General contractor, Phase I & II
Dixie Electric Co.—Electrical contractor, low voltage, lighting, power and controls
RTKL—Architect, Phase I & II
Stern & Associates—Electrical engineer, Phase I
KLG LLC—Electrical engineer, Phase II

KEY SUPPLIERS

LSI Industries, Kramer Lighting, Columbia Lighting, Kim Lighting, Cooper Lighting, Lithonia Lighting, Indy Lighting,
Focal Point, Elliptipar, and Lightolier—Lighting
Creative Light Source & Winona—Custom fixtures
Eaton-Cutler Hammer (formerly Westinghouse) and Square D—Switchgear/distribution/equipment/controls