Building it Big in Boise
In the convenience store market in the Boise metropolitan area, Fast Eddy’s is a symbol of success. Through hard work, determination, and perseverance, owners Steve Eddy and his wife Tracie steadily built a chain of 15 very successful stores based upon customer service, high standards of quality, and a large selection of products. Never able to settle for just good enough, they set the standard for quality and service in Boise by raising the bar higher and higher, as well as expanding their product line, much to the delight of an ever-growing base of loyal customers. As their chain grew, stores were increased in size. In 2003, they made a decision to sell all 15 stores and their Chevron fuel-supplier franchise, but kept the Fast Eddy’s name.
Unable to remain on the sidelines for long, Steve and Tracie returned to the market in 2007 purchasing an unfinished convenience store and extensively remodeling and modernizing it. Old customers were very happy to see Fast Eddy’s back, and it proved once again to be very successful. Building upon this, Steve and Tracie, along with their son Zach who had now joined the management team, decided to develop a new chain, this time taking it up to an even higher level of quality, service, and selection than before. Their idea was to build the largest and most extravagant convenience stores ever constructed in the state of Idaho. Hiring local architect Roger Foster to design a distinctive new convenience store (c-store) building, the new chain would include multi-island Chevron gas pumps, drive-thru service, and car washes. Quick lubes would also be featured at some locations.
At the smaller sites, they opted to install dual rollover car washes accompanied by two self-serve wash bays located in a separate small building in the rear of the c-stores. However, at larger sites, Steve and Tracie decided to expand their concept to include developing large high-quality car washes. Existing washes in the Boise metro area were either old full-service types or large express models. After conducting a great deal of research, they elected to build large up-scale “flex” car washes. The flex-type car wash concept was new to the Boise area and seemed ideal to meet the needs of this rapidly growing and economically diverse community. Their plans were to combine the car wash with a specialty quick lube configured to handle the largest RVs on the road.
After meeting us at the 2010 ICA Show in Vegas, Steve decided to contract our company to create the design for this large new prototype flex-wash and specialty quick lube. We had successfully designed a very large number of car washes throughout the southern part of the country, but this was the first one we designed for a primarily cold-weather climate. It was also our largest and most complex car wash and lube design project to date.
Steve and Tracie’s interesting concept allowed our office to create an exciting new cold weather wash design that we had been contemplating for years, and on a larger scale than we ever anticipated. The end result was something our office came to term a “Super Flex-Plus,” a truly colossal project that required over 100 sheets of blueprints to detail exactly how to construct it. Our philosophy has always been to create designs that are highly functional car washes with great traffic flow, but still possess outstanding street appeal to get the customers in the door, and do it all without breaking the bank. To illustrate exactly how we accomplished it, a complete synopsis of the design process of the project is explained in the sections that follow.
The area selected for the new project was in the city of Meridian, located just to the west of the city limits of Boise. As Idaho’s third-largest city and the state’s fastest growing, it has seen an impressive 115 percent increase in population since the year 2000. Currently it has just over 75,000 residents and a surrounding metropolitan population of some 624,000. The climate is semi-arid with hot and dry summers with temperatures often exceeding 100°F, annual precipitation of less than 10 inches, and long cold winters with occasional light snowfall and strong winds. These long cold winters were a major determining factor that influenced final design.
The site selected by the owners was part of an undeveloped business park at the intersection of two busy roads directly adjacent to a major high school; thousands of homes and businesses; and one block off of I-84, the major interstate through the Boise area. Since the owners were the first to purchase property in this business park, size was only limited to the requirements of the design. The end result was a roughly ‘L’ shaped site with 550 feet of frontage along the main road, and 350 feet along the secondary street, with a total of 3.85 acres. Adequate power, water, and sewer were already installed along the main street. A total of three curb cuts accessing the site already existed, along with two planned service roads connecting to the rest of the business park at the rear. We eliminated one of the curb cuts and adjusted the location of another to better accommodate the main access road through the site. The owners got approval to build a new right turn lane at the street intersection along with a deceleration lane into the main entrance of the property, allowing easier access. The site was subdivided into two parcels, allowing each to be a separate business entity, as well as allowing two large pole signs to be installed.
SITE AND INTERNAL LAYOUTS
Our first attempt at the site layout for the overall project was originally reversed with the c-store on the corner and the car wash and lube to its left. However, the owners wanted the car wash and lube to be the site’s main feature, as well as lessen the impact on the existing neighborhood residences across the street, since the c-store’s operating hours are much later than the car wash and lube’s. It was decided early in the design process to combine the car wash and lube into one large building. After several layouts, the best solution for the site was to place the car wash stacking in the front, the building as close as possible to the street, the car wash tunnel next to the corner, the quick lube to the left with stacking behind the building, and the free vacuums spaces at the rear of the property (but still highly visible from the secondary street). This was done to maximize traffic flow and functionality of the design and to minimize the required square footage of the property.
It was also decided early on that the internal layout of the building would be divided up into five distinct sections with rooms grouped together to maximize the functionality and flow of the design, as well as to minimize the building envelop required. Starting at the far right, the first section is the wash tunnel. It was placed at the corner of the property to allow the maximum stacking possible and for the wash process to be easily seen from both streets. To the left of that is the wash customer lobby with the equipment room behind it along with numerous smaller associated rooms. Adjoining that to the left are four drive-thru lanes forming a huge interior full-service and detailing area. On the other side to the left is the car wash/lube support area section. The final section at the far left comprises three quick lube bays.
BUILDING FACADE DESIGN
Our consulting architect, Roger Foster, was the designer of the prototype for the owner’s new convenience store chain, one of which was also constructed at this site. The owners instructed us to utilize the basic look and materials of this prototype so the two adjacent buildings would reinforce and complement each other. The challenge here was that the C-store was much smaller in scale than the new car wash/lube building, so it was a little difficult to get the proportions correct and maintain the appeal and interest Roger was able to achieve with his original design. However, after a little trial and error it finally all came together, resulting in a large attractive building stretching some 175 feet in width and up to 146 feet in depth, and featuring four tall towers of three different interesting designs.
An effort was made to limit the number of long, straight, plain walls, so all of the walls pop in-and-out, and parapet heights go up-and-down in order to break up the large rectangular building and provide more interest and road appeal. Manufactured stone was utilized at the base of all of the exterior walls, and an oversized cornice molding was placed at the top of the parapet. The owners dictated that all of the overhead doors were to be of insulated glass so potential customers could see in day or night. Large custom-built metal sunshades were installed at all of the towers, and many doors and windows feature large striped canvas awnings. Colors inside and out are bright and contrasting with rich dark brown, sand yellow, and deep pumpkin orange. The standing seam metal roofs on the towers were painted
The end result was an outstanding architectural design that has proven to be extremely appealing to customers without sacrificing any functionality. Unquestionably eye-catching, the over-the-top design delivers a unique fresh appearance and strong corporate branding to readily identify the chain and its message of quality and service.
That concludes the general overview of the project. In next month’s issue of Auto Laundry News we will discuss in greater detail the individual areas of the project, including the pay-gate shelter, car wash, vacuums, and quick lube.
Christopher Crawford and John Diehl are with Car-Wash-Architect.com. They will be writing additional articles in upcoming issues concerning designing and constructing new car washes, as well as renovating existing ones. You can visit their website for more information about the services they offer, or call them at (561) 212-3364.