396 Alhambra tops off final phase, December completion slated

By Mark Sell….

396 Alhambra reaches its highest point.

396 Alhambra celebrated its topping-off of the final phase of the $130 million, mixed-use luxury office project on Friday, Jan. 28.

Attendees included more than 350 workers, contractors, builders, subcontractors, managers, consultants and investors, who together are transforming the property on the east side of LeJeune Road between Alhambra Circle and Giralda Avenue into a signature destination for multinational corporations as well as local businesses.

Just eight months after breaking ground on the final phase in late May 2010, Balfour Beatty Construction crews have worked their way to the top of the 15-story tower at 396 Alhambra Circle. In late May, 396 Alhambra will welcome into the first phase the global architecture and design firm RTKL, which cited structural integrity and design among the project’s many assets.

“This construction crew has worked exceptionally hard to make sure this project is done safely and on schedule,” said 396 Alhambra principal Eddie Avila. “I know the community will be proud of their work for many years to come.”

Key players present at the topping off included Balfour Beatty project superintendent Sterling Fordham and project manager Pete Ryan; 396 Alhambra CEO Hector Fernandez and principals Avila and Jack Kaplan; 396 project manager Jorge Pinto and director Jose Antonio Perez; Brian Gitlin of the Spinnaker Group, the Green Building consultant, and Tere Blanca of Blanca Real Estate, with Blanca’s David Valdez and Danet Linares as exclusive brokers for the project.

“Coral Gables is the corporate capital of the Americas, and 396 Alhambra, just five minutes from the airport, will be a gateway project both to the neighborhood and to the world,” said Mark Trowbridge Jr., Coral Gables Chamber of Commerce executive director, in welcoming the group.

Eighteen months ago, Balfour Beatty broke ground on the three-phase, $130 million project. The nearly complete first phase includes a complete remodeling of a seven-story office building, originally constructed in 1964, into Class A office space. The second phase consists of demolishing and replacing an existing three-story garage with an eight-story, 306,000-square-foot garage, which will open in May.

In the third and final phase, Balfour Beatty demolished an existing one-story building and is managing construction of the new 15-story 189,000-square-foot office tower.

The United States Green Building Council has pre-certified Phase II with the gold LEED and Phase I with the silver LEED designation.

“This celebration is truly about honoring the workers on this project,” said Rob Gillette, vice president with Balfour Beatty Construction, construction manager for the project. “It’s our way of thanking them for how they’ve addressed project challenges, produced quality work, and made the jobsite safe for each other and for the public.”

Gillette explained, “For example, there’s an alley along one side of the jobsite, as well as a drive-through bank. The team has demonstrated extra vigilance by posting spotters and stopping work while pedestrians or vehicles are passing through these areas.”

At the event, Balfour Beatty’s project team received the Sunshine State Safety Recognition Award from USF SafetyFlorida, recognizing the team’s efforts to maintain a safe jobsite for workers and the public.

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