DAYTONA BEACH SHORES — Dangling in the blue sky above the 29-story Peck Plaza, a dumpster that had occupied two spaces in the condominium’s parking lot below now looks like a mere matchbox.
That’s what happens when a massive crawler crane rented from All Erection and Crane Rental lifts building materials more than 100 feet above the roof of the area’s tallest building, a distance of roughly 1-1/2 football fields — straight up.
“It’s always fun to do something you don’t do every day,” said Edwin Peck, president of Peck & Associates Construction, the Daytona Beach Shores company that is the general contractor for repairs to storm damage that has closed Peck Plaza — and its popular Top of Daytona restaurant — since Hurricane Matthew hit on Oct. 7.
“Working with that crane is like being a kid with a big erector set, it’s a lot of fun to watch them put it all together and operate it,” said Peck, who has worked four decades in the construction business. His father, Edwin Sr., built the distinctive octagon-shaped Peck Plaza during his years as one of the Daytona Beach area’s busiest developers.
The enormous crane that fills most of Peck Plaza’s outdoor parking lot is a Manitowoc Model 2250, Series 2 crawler crane. It weighs 220 tons and utilizes 200 feet of main boom and an additional 200 feet of luffing — or adjustable — jib to extend to a height of 420 feet.
It took a week to assemble the 2250, which arrived in pieces from Tampa on 21 tractor-trailers. An additional semi was required to deliver a dozen 8-by-10-foot, 1-inch-thick steel panels to use as foundation so the crane’s weight wouldn’t destroy the asphalt parking lot, Peck said.
Because of the limited space along the beachfront, the crane’s boom and jib had to be assembled vertically, with pieces lifted into place by a second crane, rather than the typical method of stretching it along the ground, Peck said. If dangerously high winds should occur, the crane will be lowered to the ground, likely stretching out across the beach toward the ocean, Peck said.
That’s just the work on the ground.
On the roof of Peck Plaza, 343 feet above the ground, more than a dozen workers toil to repair more than 60 holes created by flying storm debris. Workers from locally owned R&R Industries pull up the old surface to allow steelworkers to put in steel bar joists and a new steel deck, Peck said.
“It’s dangerous work and you can’t overlook the fact that this is dangerous,” Peck said. “There’s no parapet wall. It’s just a flat roof, down to the steel bar joist. There are a lot of small pieces that come apart and you need to make sure that they don’t fall over the edge. There’s the safety of your workers. A big gust can easily blow you off if you don’t have proper safety connections and attachments. We’re spending a considerable amount of money just on safety itself.”
The cost for Peck Plaza’s four-month roof repair alone will be more than $1 million, said Greg Foster, the condominium’s community association manager. In addition, substantial repairs are underway to repair water damage to interior walls and replace 32 sliders and windows broken by the storm, Foster said.
The goal is to reopen the building for occupancy by the roughly 80 owners of the building’s 100 units by January 2018, Foster said.
“Many of my owners do rent and it will be a significant financial burden to them to not be able to rent their units for the neighborhood of 14 months,” Foster said. “But they have been very understanding about the goal of putting the building back better than it had been. This is an iconic building on the Eastern Seaboard.”
David Everest, president of the board of directors of the Plaza’s owners’ association, had to move everything out of the two units that he and his wife own, he said. They typically visit from their home in Kansas City, Kansas, at least once monthly year-round, he said.
“It has been a hardship on people who own there,” Everest said. “People are trying to find other places to live, not really knowing at this point exactly how long it will take to get the building back up.”
The crane at Peck Plaza isn’t the only heavy equipment at work in the area. An additional crane loomed next to the Towers Ten Condo at 3425 S. Atlantic Avenue, just south of Peck Plaza, and others dot the landscape all along State Road A1A from Ormond to Ponce Inlet.
Some of those beachside properties are rebounding from Matthew, a hurricane that caused nearly $600 million in damage in Volusia and Flagler counties, including $67.7 million in damages to Volusia hotels and motels, according to the county property appraiser’s office.
At Embry-Riddle Aeronautical University, meanwhile, a massive crane signifies expansion, not repair.
The big crane on campus is part of construction on the university’s new four-story, 177,000 square foot student union, a project by Barton Malow Construction Services, according to James Roddey, university communications director. It’s a Manitowoc 999 Series 3 that was transported on 13 flatbed trucks to Embry-Riddle, where it was assembled in three days.
It weighs 219,000 pounds and is equipped with a 190-foot main boom and a 170-foot luffing jib, Roddey said. That makes it slightly shorter than the crane at Peck Plaza, in a role where size definitely matters.
By Jim Abbott