Downtown abuzz about Maurices headquarters
The current Maurices headquarters that dates back to the company's first retail store in 1931 is a maze of stairways and hallways. Quarters are tight for a growing company that added 250 stores nationwide in the past five years.
The current Maurices headquarters that dates back to the company’s first retail store in 1931 is a maze of stairways and hallways. Quarters are tight for a growing company that added 250 stores nationwide in the past five years.
“I brought someone through who said it reminded her of her grandmother’s house,” said Laura Sieger, the company’s director of communications.
Brian Thun has worked with the Duluth-based women’s fashion retailer for 21 years. The company’s chief financial officer, he’s based in a tastefully decorated but boxy office that’s lit by fluorescents.
The introduction of natural light to the workplace is one of the reasons he and everyone else in the company are so excited to see the new headquarters going up just a few blocks away on the 400 block of West Superior Street.
“To see the reality of it coming out of the ground has our associates talking about it a lot,” Thun said of the employees who give the present headquarters its current of elbow-to-elbow activity.
Indeed, it’s not just the construction workers who are building, it’s the buzz.
Thun has one business associate who called from a prominent downtown penthouse office to say he’s got the best view in all downtown of the construction project.
“This happens all the time in big cities,” Thun said, “but it’s not every day a headquarters building like this is built in Duluth.”
To help people interested in tracking the project, the company just launched a Maurices headquarters website that is separate from its retail Web presence.
The latest developments at the job site include the pouring of cement floors for the 11-story structure’s four levels of parking.
So far, 5,400 yards of concrete from Arrowhead Concrete Works has been poured at the site. At 3,300 pounds per yard, that’s roughly 18 million pounds of concrete.
“We’ve used 400 tons of rebar to date,” Sieger said.
There’s an independent consultant on site to count all the rebar used in the project to ensure best practices are being kept.
Thun said he is awed by the details involved, and he speaks in glowing terms of the Minneapolis-based contractor, McGough. Putting up a downtown landmark is a far cry from putting up a retail store.
“All of the engineering and science involved,” Thun said, “it’s amazing.”
Maurices has a nationwide footprint but as a company likes to think locally. Much of its clothing is designed right in Duluth, Sieger said. Thun said he appreciates that McGough has gone out of its way to plug into the local community. It’s been on top of alerting neighbors of any work that might affect those outside the construction site. It has placed representatives in local organizations such as the Duluth Chamber of Commerce and opened a storefront presence in downtown Duluth.
“It feels like they’re part of Maurices,” Thun said. “They’re a great cultural fit with us.”
The work soon will reach First Street, when the demolition of a garage at 408 W. First St. that had been used by the Duluth News Tribune begins later this month. In its place will be a two-story façade on First Street that will serve as an entrance to the new parking ramp. The main traffic entrance will feature three lanes that reach from the 400 block of West First Street across the alley to the new building. Two lanes will be used to enter the ramp in the mornings, and two of the three lanes will be used to exit in the afternoons and evenings. The company did diligent work with traffic experts to get the ramp design correct.
“We did a study to determine how it will flow best,” Thun said. “The fear when you’re building these is people aren’t driving and they’re sitting in the ramp forever.”
Thun said concrete will continue to be poured through the winter. Snow won’t be a problem, because there are ways to clear it. Extreme cold and strong winds are the worst threats to shutting down or slowing progress, he said.
Once the third- through sixth-floor ramps are up, the construction will move to the upper office floors. That will be structural steel construction instead of concrete pours. The structural steel work probably will begin in February. By September, the exterior of the building should be completed.
“That will be an exciting day,” Thun said. “People will look at it and think it’s done.”
Interior build-outs and finishing work will lead up to the move-in date of April 2016.
“They’re making some good progress,” Thun said.
Maurices headquarters website: mauricesheadquarters.com