Schimenti Completes New FreshDirect HQ, Largest Project To Date

Ridgefield, Connecticut—The recently completed FreshDirect Campus at Harlem River Yards in South Bronx is a landmark for Schimenti Construction, marking both the company’s largest project and its first heavy industrial job. Here, Schimenti Construction transformed a barren and unused area into the new home of a dynamic, technology-focused company that supports the local community and is poised for even more growth. The new Campus relocates and consolidates FreshDirect’s facilities from Long Island City to one structure that houses all their food processing, warehousing, distribution and corporate headquarters.

This two-phase project incorporated unique features, such as thirteen miles of piping in the refrigeration system and the nine-mile-long conveyor belt system. Beginning in December 2014 and concluding September 1, 2017, the 650,000-SF ground-up project at 2 St. Ann’s Ave. yielded a final price tag of $225 million, of which Schimenti performed $150 million directly and subcontracted for $75 million. Other numbers are impressive, as well: 473,000 SF of interior space; 328,000 SF of roofing; 22,000 SF of exterior site work; and 38 loading dock bays.

Not only was the scale of the job enormous, so was its complexity, beginning with the twelve-acre site, which is both densely urban and directly adjacent to a busy highway bridge and CSX freight tracks. More than 4,000 workers from 100 different companies worked on the vast project, necessitating rigorous training, security and safety protocols. The 575,000-SF manufacturing facility and 75,000-SF office headquarters each posed unique functional challenges, such as strict refrigeration requirements that included freezers as low as -20° and training space that needed to be climate- and sound-controlled.

The challenges encountered on the FreshDirect Campus stemmed primarily from the site and from the changes made during construction. To accommodate the site’s proximity to the RFK Bridge and the active train tracks, Schimenti positioned a flagman to alert workers to train arrivals. The site’s soil needed to be screened and leveled, and 1,000 piles were driven to support the structure. Through the course of construction, more than 600 scope changes were made to design and specs; Schimenti staff responded with countless adjustments to remain on schedule and within budget, including opening the site on weekends and from 7:00 a.m. to midnight five days a week.

Using a value engineering approach on this cost-plus contract, Schimenti Construction found opportunities to save FreshDirect $15 million. To master the complexity of the job, the company used innovative project management tools to facilitate coordination, scheduling and communication. Foremost at every Schimenti site, safety measures at the sprawling Campus were enforced by hiring a third-party site safety manager.

Schimenti Construction’s Brian Kreidberg was project manager and Jeffrey Hogan was project executive. They were supported by a dedicated ten-member team of Schimenti employees. Architecture was by Cybul, Cybul & Wilhelm Architects of Edgewater, NJ.

“Coordination and transparency were paramount on a job of this scope,” said project executive Hogan. “Our team was laser-focused on getting and keeping all parties—Schimenti Construction, FreshDirect, the subcontractors and local and state authorities—working together safely and efficiently. Building this groundbreaking campus in this particular location was a challenge from beginning to end, but one that was well worth it. Not only did we create an amazing building, but we as a company stretched ourselves to successfully complete the largest, most complicated job in our twenty-five-year history.”  

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