Landscapes of the Month: Maintaining and Updating the Imperial Center - The Edge from the National Association of Landscape Professionals

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Landscapes of the Month: Maintaining and Updating the Imperial Center

Photo: Tyner Tew

One of Southeast’s largest commercial office parks, the Imperial Center in Durham, North Carolina, features 4.4 million square feet of office, warehouse, flex and retail space spread across 456 acres.

The client was seeking improved customer service, communication and landscape quality and hired GreenView Partners, based in Raleigh, North Carolina.

“With the communication and all that we have to offer as far as the vast variety of everything that we do, GreenView put together a package that ultimately Tri Properties and Imperial Center decided was their best option to go with,” says Jen Broughton, senior account manager for GreenView Partners.

Photo: Tyner Tew

When they assumed the property on Jan. 1, 2019, they had to invest a lot of hours early on to get the site to a baseline as the previous landscape provider had left all the fallen leaves on the site due to a December snow storm.

GreenView Partners invested hundreds of hours in improving the existing landscape to help build a level of trust with the client. It is one of the largest properties the company has taken on. Broughton says there was a learning curve for their team during the first six months.

“The first year is always a learning process, making sure the seasonal color, the pruning, and everything goes according to plan,” Broughton says. “So, I would probably say because it’s so big, just making sure that the team is organized enough to complete all the tasks at hand.”

GreenView Partners’ work on the Imperial Center earned them a Silver Award in the 2020 Awards of Excellence. Broughton says earning an Award of Excellence for this project means a lot to them.

“It articulates all the work we put into the site,” Broughton says. “It’s a very large site and the guys in the field, they’re the ones doing the work, but for everybody involved it means a lot to be able to be recognized for something that we put so much time and energy into.”

A maintenance crew of five stays on-site caring for the property during the week. The Imperial Center experiences a lot of pedestrian and vehicular traffic, so there are always areas that need daily correction due to human interference.

Annual color is used to set apart individual buildings while tying in the overall landscape of the park.
Photo: Tyner Tew

Supplemental crews also care for the site, handling the flowers, pine straw and irrigation systems. Around 12,000 annuals are used for the seasonal color that is swapped out twice a year and 7,200 bales of pine straw are installed a year. Irrigation is a major aspect of the property as there are 475 irrigation zones

“We try to be innovative when it comes to this stuff because this property as a whole is older,” Broughton says. “Some of this material, irrigation material and plant material, has been in there for over 20-30 years. So, as we see fit, we try to change out the controllers, change everything to two-wire if possible. Each time we see an issue out there we try to update it and bring it up so it’s easier to manage and saves the property water as well.”

There are lots of microclimates on the site and over 60 plant containers that need watering.

Photo: Tyner Tew

Tree care has been one of the biggest challenges on the site. The company has had to get creative since they can’t get grass to grow under the mature trees. In one instance, they ended up installing a dry riverbed to accommodate some of the drainage issues and used a lot of colorful shade plants without having to take out the mature trees.

“When we first started this project we brought a company in to do a full tree evaluation so that we had the best start as possible,” Broughton says. “A lot of the buildings were able to do a lot of this work, but some of them weren’t. That included thinning some of the trees out, limbing them up, a lot of dead wood, root collar excavation and pests as well. That’s probably been the biggest project that we’ve done out there is to utilize that tree work.”

Because they are working with five property managers for the site, GreenView Partners communicates with them often.

“I think communication is key with a site this big with 18 buildings and the POA, so I think that we have to communicate more here because there are so many moving parts on a vast variety of different issues,” Broughton says. “I would probably say I communicate with this site more than any other client that I have.”

Overall, the property managers are on the same page as to what they want. They trust GreenView to get the job done. Each year GreenView presents their enhancement proposals to help bring the property from the 1990s into 2021.

There are over 55 acres of parking areas and roadways that have to be cleared of snow. Hand shoveling is necessary for clearing the parking deck.
Photo: Tyner Tew

“Most are very receptive to whatever we have suggested,” Broughton says. “We give them visuals on it so they can take it to the owners and most of the time when they see the visual the owners have no problems with the budgets normally.”

Broughton says they’ve made a good dent so far updating the property, but in another four or five years, they would have the park updated to where they want it.

“If you drive through now, you will see a vast improvement but there are so many things that I can tell you I want to do and get done,” Broughton says.

Interested in participating in the Awards of Excellence? Submit your entries by July 15, 2021.  


Jill Odom

Jill Odom is the content manager for NALP.