BRISTOL, Tenn. — Despite blowing winds, the pilot of a Sikorsky helicopter needed just about an hour Friday to lift and place 27 rooftop heating and air conditioning units onto the roof of the Bass Pro Shops under construction in The Pinnacle center.
AirCrane, an Atlanta-based firm, was brought in to help install the rooftop units on the 100,000-square-foot retail store — the first anchor in the sprawling commercial center taking shape near Interstate 81’s Exit 74. Workers from HVAC Solutions of Bristol, Tenn., helped guide the units — the heaviest of which weighed about 2,500 pounds — into place.
“We’re using the helicopter because it’s more economical,” said John Roberts of HVAC. “For this many lifts in a large area, this is much quicker than a crane. If the footprint of the building was smaller we would use a crane, but this would take more than a day to move the crane.”
About a dozen motorists on U.S. Highway 11W stopped and took photos with cell phones as the units were lifted into place. The installation was delayed twice in recent weeks by inclement weather.
Bass Pro is expected to open in late summer, developer Steve Johnson said.
“[Bass Pro owner] Johnny Morris hasn’t said but I believe he wants to be open by the August night race at Bristol [Motor Speedway],” Johnson said. “That’s in about six months.”
Dirt work continues on the remainder of the site and is on schedule despite problems with weather.
“The project is right on schedule,” Johnson said. “We’re at about a million square feet of tenants either under contract, letters of intent or draft letters of intent, so the Tennessee portion of this project is essentially full.”
While declining to name additional retail tenants at this time, Johnson said the project will include a Roadrunner convenience store with Dunkin’ Donuts, McDonald’s, Zaxby’s and Chik-fil-A. Additional restaurants are under contract and will be named later.
He previously announced that retailers Marshalls, Michael’s, Pier 1 Imports, Ulta, Kirkland’s and Shoe Carnival will join anchor tenant Belk in the “power center” portion of the development on the north side of the property. A 12-screen Regal cinema has also been announced.
Construction of Belk and the power center stores is expected to begin in mid-May and those stores are scheduled to open March 15, 2015.
“This is a 500-acre development with half in Tennessee and half in Washington County, Va., so now we’re already starting to focus on the Virginia acreage,” Johnson said. “It will eventually include the amphitheater to host world-class entertainment, additional retail, professional offices, medical and possibly a residential component.”
The next significant step passersby are likely to notice is when an adjoining Travelodge motel is dismantled.
“We’re very excited about the motel acquisition, its demolition and we already have tenants committed to what we call the south pad, between the boulevard and the interstate,” Johnson said. “To get that motel gone and finish leveling the south pad is very exciting.”
Johnson said he expects to complete his purchase of the motel property next week with work expected to begin almost immediately.
“The asbestos abatement will take about 35 days,” said Bill Prince of contractor BurWil Construction. “Demo will start when that’s done and that will take about 60 days so the motel should be gone in about 90 days, unless we have some unforeseen problems.”
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