Finishing First: Bomel Construction Completes Parking Structure for Westfield’s $350-Million Mall

WOODLAND HILLS, Calif.––Costco’s coming. And a new REI, Tender Greens and Burke Williams Day Spa are right around the corner.

But before those establishments and another 100 retailers hoist a grand opening banner, Bomel Construction had to complete a five-level parking structure to accommodate the swarm of shoppers expected to visit the Village at Westfield Topanga, a 550,000-square-foot open-air mall to debut this fall in the Woodland Hills neighborhood of the city of Los Angeles.

Westfield officials said the intention of the Village is to create a pedestrian- friendly, town center environment where visitors stroll past boutique shops and outdoor cafes, as well as water features, 100-year-old California sycamores, olive trees and Mexican fan palms. Patios, a bocce ball court and courtyards for concerts and performances should enhance the shopping and dining experience.

The $350-million mall is expected to create about 1,500 permanent jobs for local residents and have a huge financial impact on the local economy.

“The Village at Westfield Topanga project will jump start a major economic engine in the West San Fernando Valley and provide substantial benefits to the entire city,” said Los Angeles City Councilmember Bob Blumenfield. “My communities are excited that we are redeveloping this land to house a first class hub for entertainment and shopping, with a sustainable green and modern design.”

Bomel Finishes ‘Ahead of Schedule’
Adding to its impressive roster of parking structures built at many of the busiest malls in Southern California, Bomel Construction completed the 1,600-stall Village garage in May. That’s no small feat considering that Bomel got off to a later-than-expected start due to issues beyond its control.

“They performed well for us,” George Winter, project manager for Westfield’s construction unit, said about Bomel Construction in early March. “Toward the end of last year, they were showing two weeks behind schedule, but they quickly made that up. They actually finished the pouring of all major concrete––the decks and the columns––on schedule and they are due to be completely finished ahead of schedule.”

Unlike most of its projects, in which Bomel serves as the design-build general contractor with design input and complete management responsibilities of all subcontractors, Bomel took on this parking structure as a co-general contractor, working jointly with Westfield’s construction crew. In this instance, Westfield is managing the mechanical, electrical, plumbing, fire protection elevator and signage trades. In addition to designing the garage, Bomel was responsible for the garage’s concrete decks and columns, rebar, masonry, painting and waterproofing.

Tunnel Takeover
Bomel began working on the project last April. Its first major task was completing a tunnel, a 450-foot-long concrete tube that will serve vehicles entering the Village from Topanga Canyon Boulevard.

“The tunnel takes drivers below grade, under the mall and up into a helix ramp system within the garage,” explained Matt Prince, Bomel’s project manager. “Westfield hired and managed the tunnel’s excavation process. Bomel built the tunnel walls and lid, working with Westfield’s design team.”

With one level at grade and four elevated decks, the garage sits at the property’s southeast corner. The 30-acre site is located between Topanga Canyon Boulevard on the west and Owensmouth Avenue on the east. Victory Boulevard on the north and Erwin Street to the south form the other borders. Two existing Westfield shopping centers, the Topanga Mall and the Promenade are situated to the north and south, respectively.

When the Village at Westfield Topanga is completed, Westfield will have about 350 stores in its three properties and operate a shuttle service to ferry shoppers between the retail centers. The Village site once was the home of a golf driving range. Westfield kicked off the Village’s construction phase by demolishing several shuttered restaurants.

No Hitches With Helix Ramps
Working in close proximity to buildings under construction and the double helix ramp system were two of the more formidable challenges facing Bomel during construction of the $19.5-million parking structure.

“The helix ramp introduced a wrinkle since we utilized a different formwork system to construct it,” Prince said. “Although the ramping system introduced its own set of challenges, incorporating it into this project’s design was critical to being able to load and unload a high volume of cars.

“The different formwork system results in a different cycle and sequencing process for the ramps. “It doesn’t elongate the schedule but coordinating the helix ramps into the normal deck sequence is a challenge.”

Prince said that Westfield had already collaborated on the schematic design with the project’s architect of record, Choate Parking Consultants, before Bomel joined the project.

The garage’s first two levels, about 400 spaces, are reserved for Costco shoppers, with non-reserved parking on the upper three levels. The mezzanine level is stepped back to allow for a loading lane for delivery trucks.

The new mall building is being built within 10 inches of the garage, a snug situation that Bomel has experienced while building parking structures at other malls. The second level of the garage actually meets at the same elevation as the second level of the mall, allowing shoppers to walk from the second level of the garage into the mall.

Terrific Team
Despite the challenges, Bomel’s relationship with the architect and owner has been a positive experience.

“Everything went beautifully,” said Emerson Flint, Choate’s director of design, who has worked with Bomel for about 20 years, most recently on a project for the city of Alhambra.

“There were some challenges on this project regarding the change in elevations but nothing that caused any issues or problems. Bomel handled everything well,” Flint added.

Westfield’s Winter, who has been in the construction industry for more than 25 years, said this job had its share of issues, but they were always resolved in a timely manner.

“The change orders have all been fair,” Winter recalled. “The Bomel field team was open and honest; they didn’t hold back about anything. They let you know if we needed to do something to keep them on schedule. I appreciate that frank directness; it gets things done.”

About Bomel Construction Co.: Established in 1970, Anaheim Hills, Calif.-based Bomel Construction is widely regarded as the dean of parking structure construction in the West. The family-owned business generated $135 million in total revenue in 2014. Its other current high-profile projects include Del Amo Fashion Center (1,950 stalls), Cal Poly Pomona (1,800) and Plaza San Clemente (1,167), with several additional parking structures set to begin construction this year. Bomel Construction, a design-build concrete contractor, has completed major parking structures for developers and owners of many of the largest shopping malls, casinos, stadiums, high-rise office buildings, colleges and universities throughout the West. Bomel has regional offices in Carlsbad, Calif., and Las Vegas.

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