When Overton Electric, Memphis, Tenn., won the $6.7 million electrical contract for Peabody Place in early 2000, they knew they had to tread lightly. That's because the new shopping complex, which fills an entire city block, adjoins one of the country's best-known hotels — Memphis' historic Peabody Hotel.

Built and managed by Belz Enterprises, New York, N.Y., Peabody Place is said to be the country's largest mixed-use development. Primarily new construction, the four-story shopping mall boasts more than 300,000 sq ft of floor space and more than 22 shops. Also connected to Peabody Place, as part of revitalized Memphis downtown, are apartments, an art museum, restaurants, a grocery store, a 3,000-space parking garage and a mammoth 21-screen theatre.

Working cautiously and efficiently, so as not to disrupt the Peabody Hotel's guests, Overton electricians spent nearly two years wiring Peabody Place from the ground up.

“It was difficult working in the heart of a downtown location. Peabody Hotel people were sensitive about us traipsing around their hotel, so we had to be careful,” said Bill Williams, estimator/project manager for Overton Electric. “We needed to routinely block hotel entrances and sidewalks; and we had to draw up traffic plans with the City of Memphis.”

Needless to say, scheduling became very important. Here's where Overton Project Superintendent, Chris Jones, paved the way. Jones coordinated his electrical crews with all the other trades and worked through bottlenecks with developer Belz Enterprises. Jones also managed to keep 35 electricians on the job full time — quite a feat, considering Memphis' skilled-labor shortage. Electrifying the new shopping center took more than 87,000 ft of 500MCM cable. Jones' crews installed 83 4-in. conduits, with four 500MCM wires per conduit, for two separate locations. Overton installed all of the power and lighting; they subcontracted data installation to Tri-Star Cable, Memphis.

Construction went smoothly as planned, except for one troublesome detail. Overton found limited space available for the three retail-mall metering rooms, each with 3,000A wireways. The company finally recommended installing Ilsco's Type PB aluminum panelboard lugs. The stacked design, chamfered wire entry and consistent dimensional tolerances over the hundreds of PB4-600 connectors used, allowed them to be installed quickly and accurately. All of the 3,000A connections were made using these lugs.

Meanwhile, next door, the jewel has been polished to gleam from its new setting. “The centerpiece, the famous Peabody Hotel, has been beautifully restored to its former 1890 grandeur,” said Jeff Gardino of Belz Enterprises. Thousands of hours were spent restoring the classic architectural detailing on the Memphis landmark.”