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Walmart, Nashville South

A River Runs Through It

A south Nashville site abounding with challenges provided a unique opportunity for GS&P to meet client needs, clean up the environment, and improve the community.

The aging Walmart store on Nolensville Road in Nashville, Tennessee, was the third highest performing store based on sales per square foot in the country. But time had taken its toll, and the store was in need of expansion and renovation in order to continue to meet the needs of the rapidly growing community. Insufficient property made expansion at the current site impossible, so the owner’s real estate group located an underdeveloped piece of property in an ideal location with a footprint large enough to accommodate a new store.

GS&P was retained to evaluate and develop the proposed site. Developing environmentally sensitive concepts and obtaining permits was a daunting task that took five years and involved working through Metro Nashville Zoning Regulations, TDEC Water Quality Regulations, USCOE 404 permitting and Walmart development criteria.

The challenge to developing the site was to create a building pad large enough to support both the retail store and ample parking space while protecting a TDEC 303 (d)-listed stream that crossed the site. Although the available property was of adequate size to support the development, it was split diagonally by the Whittemore Branch creek. Civil engineers and landscape architects worked together to explore opportunities to develop the site in a way that would enhance the environment and the community as well as accommodate the owner’s needs for development. One unusual aspect of a development of this type was the overwhelming community support this project received. Many local homeowners, businesses and churches rallied around the prospect of a new development that could replace the existing eyesore.

A full range of GS&P engineers was utilized in this development project. Landscape architects designed a creekside greenway including a pedestrian bridge over the creek and a revegetation plan for repairing the creek buffer where a trailer park previously stood. Traffic engineers conducted on- and off-site traffic studies and recommendations for traffic flow and signal improvements. Hydraulic and hydrology specialists incorporated floodplain and storm water routing, pervious pavement, LOMR permitting and storm water detention.

GS&P bridge specialists designed six structures including two that provided parking and two that routed storm water across the creek to the detention basin. Civil engineers were tasked with the overall site grading and layout, parking layout and storm sewer design. Environmental engineers managed phase 1 & 2 site assessment, infiltration/inflow elimination and sanitary sewer design. Regulatory and zoning approvals for the site were managed and obtained by civil engineers.

This combination of engineering professionals formed a plan to develop the site that allowed the creek to remain in place and undisturbed by construction. The focal points of this unprecedented Walmart design are the six bridges that cross the creek and connect the parking lot to the front of the store. The position of the bridges allows natural lighting to flood the creek, providing an enhanced natural habitat for the endangered Nashville crayfish.

Not only was the creek left intact, but GS&P went a step further by relocating and upsizing a sewer line that had serious infiltration/inflow problems, stabilizing a seriously eroded portion of the creek and reestablishing one of the creek’s tributaries to return it to its natural course. These actions notably improved the water quality of the creek to the point that this section should be removed from the impaired list in the near future. One additional highlight of the design is the fact that the bridges and landscaping were integrated into the site in such a manner that the bridges seem to disappear into the overall site design.

Saya Qualls, Chief Engineer for the Tennessee Department of Environment and Conservation, Division of Water Pollution Control said, “The development of the Walmart site represented a successful collaboration between the engineer, the developer and the state and local regulatory agencies to employ green infrastructure practices to improve and protect the water quality of the creek that runs through the site.”

To continue with the site’s green design, GS&P planted 250 trees in the area, installed green rather than concrete islands in the parking area and utilized porous pavement in the parking lot, which allow heavy rains to be absorbed back into the ground and the creek.

The concept of allowing a creek to flow between the building and the majority of the parking was so novel to Walmart that they dubbed the site “A River Runs Through It.”


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Project Info

  • Client: Wal-Mart Stores, Inc.
  • Location: Nashville, tn, USA
  • Market: Land Planning and Design
  • Services: Engineering, Civil Engineering, Structural Engineering
  • Team:
    • Michael A. Cochrane, P.E. Principal-in-Charge
    • Stephen W. Cummings, P.E., CFM Project Engineer
    • Michael D. White, P.E. Project Engineer
    • Michael Jenkinson, P.E., CPESC Project Professional
    • Roger Dale Bybee, P.E. Structural Engineer
    • Ted A. Kniazewycz, P.E. Structural Engineer
    • Bryan A. Tharpe, P.E. Structural Engineer
    • Troy Buttrey, P.E. Civil Engineer
    • Trey Rudolph, RLA Landscape Architect
    • Steven J. Snoddy, ASLA, LEED AP Landscape Architect
    • Matt Ingham, P.E. Project Manager
    • R. Keith Barnhill, P.G. Geologist
    • Kenneth Church, RLS Surveyor
  • Awards:

    American Society of Civil Engineers 2008 Project of the Year, Tennessee Section

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