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Shopping Center Owner Gains Parking Spaces and Impresses City Officials by Selecting Stone Strong Systems for a New Retaining Wall
As a busy entrepreneur, retail business owner, and soon-to-be hotel owner, Chris Shah needs solutions that work for their particular applications and that meet his budgeting and deadline requirements. Recently, this shopping center owner faced an important decision regarding the 20-foot-high dirt barrier situated at the rear of his property. Not only was the structure itself in need of replacement, but it was also taking up valuable parking spots for the liquor store, jewelry store, and restaurant that populated the Jefferson Plaza shopping center.
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“We really were at a point where we needed more parking spaces, namely for the restaurant that’s in our center,” says Shah, who initially considered “digging out” the existing structure and “pushing it back” in order to free up space on his property for more vehicles. Once that plan started to formulate, however, he learned that the city required some type of barrier wall to be erected on the property. To meet that requirement, he decided to put in a retaining wall.

“We went searching around for our options and during that process we learned about the Stone Strong System,” says Shah.
Our architect reached out to C.R. Barger & Sons, Inc., and found out just how clean and neat this product was and how easy it would be to install.
Chris Shah, owner
The precast concrete manufacturer reviewed the site and worked with Chad Smock, the geotechnical engineer, to recommend a Stone Strong gravity wall.

“We prepared information for the architect and city to review,” says Kelly Barger. “After approval of the Stone Strong product, we talked to the installer who directed us to design the wall in a way to optimize cost, install efficiency, and aesthetics.”

Precast = Significant Time Savings
Working with J.A. Sergio and Sons, Inc. (the installer), Stamps Design Group (landscape architect), and Engineering & Testing Solutions, LLC (engineer), C.R. Barger & Sons developed an engineered precast concrete retaining wall that would meet the city’s requirements and free up parking space for the shopping center, which is located in Cookeville, Tennessee. The project kicked off in April 2016 and incorporated over 3,700SF of total wall and over 300 Stone Strong standard blocks including the 24SF, 6SF, 3SF and end/corner blocks.

Chad Smock, project manager at Engineering & Testing Solutions, LLC, says the large size of the Stone Strong blocks helped to facilitate both the installation process and the project as a whole. “This was a situation where they had to excavate along a wall alignment, and the Stone Strong block significantly reduced the time that the cut slope had to be open and exposed,” Smock explains. The fact that the precast blocks came in different sizes was also beneficial.

“We were able to incorporate some smaller blocks with the larger ones to accommodate a tight radius,” he adds. “In fact, we totally overcame the assumption that you can’t create such a tight radius on these larger walls.”
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Tom Sergio, president at J.A. Sergio and Sons, Inc., says that from the installer’s perspective, the large size of the Stone Strong blocks made for a fairly seamless installation process. “These are big, heavy blocks, but they install quickly,” says Sergio. “When you can put in 24 square feet of block at a time, the total time it takes to do a wall is reduced pretty significantly.”

As a first-time user of Stone Strong Systems, Sergio says he’s since recommended their use on several other projects. “It wouldn’t even have to be the same application as the shopping center wall,” says Sergio. For project owners, Sergio says a product like Stone Strong presents a much more economical option than poured-in-place concrete walls, which require many labor/man-hours to install.
Pretty much anywhere you need to place a wall, Stone Strong would work out really well. Overall, these precast blocks [Stone Strong] are less expensive than any poured-in-place option. It is the labor that can kill you on the poured walls.
Tom Sergio, installer, J.A. Sergio and Sons, Inc.
“It Looks So Good”
Shah, who recently purchased a 16-acre plot of land from the State of Tennessee, plans to use Stone Strong on that property in the near future. “I’m going to have to do some digging on that property,” says Shah, “so I’ll need a number of retaining walls over there too. After this last successful project, I’m sure I’ll be using the same materials on these upcoming projects as well.”

The new retaining wall has attracted the attention of Cookeville’s own city planners and engineers, many of whom are impressed by the outcome of the project and its aesthetic appeal. “They’re very happy with how everything turned out, and that someone was able to put in such a nice, neat, clean structure,” says Shah, who loves the fact that the wall will withstand the elements for decades. “I really don’t think I’m ever going to have a problem with it during my lifetime.”
The city is so happy with the result that it is sending a lot of different people out here to see it, and to look at the end result.
Chris Shah, owner
Shah can now market his property to even more tenants and expand it as needed (while also working on a new, international hotel venture). “They’re also telling other project foreman and managers to come and look at it because it looks so good.”

Another happy property owner with a Stone Strong wall, Chris Shah says, “I’m very proud of this project and happy with the outcome.”
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