Wind whistled through empty halls, and raccoons nested in huge metal chutes.
Construction began on January 2, and now there are about 175 workers onsite every day. They are making a big racket, wielding skill saws and grinders and jackhammers. And the man in charge of every one of them is Matt Futrell, senior project manager at Grinder Taber Grinder (GTG).
“It sounds fancy,” he explains, poring over a diagram, “but basically, all it means is I better get the job done on time and under budget.”
Futrell and GTG signed on to the project in 2012. But like so many Memphians, his relationship with the building goes back even further, to the days of the old Sears.
“The first time I came here was with my Dad,” he recalls. “He took me down to the basement to pick up some lawnmower blades. I bet I was five years old. I thought it was just about the coolest thing.”
Today, Futrell is wrapping up the demolition phase of construction. That means clearing out old machines, sandblasting stairwells, and punching huge holes through 10 stories of concrete to make room for planned atria.
It’s an enormous project. To give you some idea, it involves replacing 3200 window sections and restoring 350 miles of brick joints, enough to stretch from Memphis to New Orleans. So far, Futrell and his team have removed over 40 million pounds of concrete from the building—and they’re not finished yet.
“Now that the building has been cleared out, you see what it can be,” says Futrell. “It kind of makes your heart thump. Now we just gotta roll up our sleeves and get it done.”