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Many industries are built on the prospect of repeat business, but in the construction and development sector, a trusted partner is far more valuable than any one contract. The ability to create lasting relationships that lead to future work can help company’s on both sides of the relationship to thrive. It all starts with that critical first project, and this is the journey that KBR Building Group and Erkiletian have embarked upon with The Asher mixed-used development project. 

KBR Building Group came into being when its former parent, BE&K, Inc., was acquired by KBR Inc. in 2008. It is a diversified construction services company that works with mixed-use, commercial, healthcare, institutional and industrial clients. Thanks to the acquisition, it now has greater financial and personnel resources at its fingertips and has expanded its geographic service area as KBR’s commercial construction specialists.

Erkiletian has developed, constructed and owned properties in the Washington, D.C., area for more than 40 years. The company has an extensive portfolio of residential, commercial and mixed communities.

The Asher project represented a significant opportunity for KBR Building Group. Located in Alexandria, Va., it is a $33 million, 328,000-square-foot mixed-use project. A LEED Silver pursuit, The Asher consists of two buildings — one with six stories and one with three stories — connected by a two-level, below-grade parking garage. 

It will include 206 apartment units, a business center, fitness center, residents’ club and an entertainment room. Exterior amenities include Spanish-style roofing and a multi-brick façade, and its location will provide impressive views of Washington, D.C., from roof terraces. The Asher will also feature energy-efficient appliances, a water-saving system and an innovative waste-management system. It is due for completion in summer 2012.

Another development partner on the project is Jefferson Apartment Group, and the architect is Lessard Group. Erkiletian partnered with Jefferson Apartment Group partnered together on The Asher, as well as on another project in Arlington and other future projects, to maximize the potential of both development groups.

Located near the Braddock Road Metro stop, it has excellent access to Old Town Alexandria and Washington, D.C., and is only a few blocks from the Potomac River and King Street. The project will serve as a catalyst for the redevelopment of the area around The Asher. The neighborhood should benefit greatly from the transformation of the formerly empty warehouse into a mixed-use development. 

Sustainable Steps

When the bidding process began in May 2010, KBR Building Group thought the project was a natural fit for its multifamily residential portfolio, which is one of its core markets. The company knew Erkiletian’s reputation and was intrigued that Erkiletian had moved away from being a developer/builder and was focusing on being a developer. 

“This was their first project as just a developer, and they’re a great client with a solid reputation in a core market of ours,” says Mike Sloan, KBR Building Group’s executive vice president. “We knew they would be looking to do more projects past The Asher and we saw this as a great opportunity to get involved.” 

From Erkiletian’s perspective, KBR Building Group looked like an ideal partner for The Asher. “We felt their expertise in frame construction and with large-scale projects would be beneficial,” says Bill Denton, Erkiletian’s vice president of development. “The team they had assembled seemed to know the project, and we felt comfortable moving ahead with them.”

Sloan believes the project will contribute positively to the residents of the building and the surrounding area. He says it will have a beautiful courtyard with an open landscape designed to support the neighborhood.  It will also benefit from the LEED Silver attributes that are key parts of the project such as water-efficient landscaping. This will ensure that 100 percent of irrigation will be captured stormwater runoff, reducing water usage by 50 percent. 

“The buildings will have good energy performance, too,” according to Sloan. “We have photovoltaic solar panels that will supplement some of the buildings’ energy needs. We’re in the 20 percent category for utilizing local/regional materials, and we are using high recycle content for materials such as dry wall, concrete and carpet. We also have a waste management company that is on-site sorting and diverting waste from landfills to recycle centers.” 

Keeping Promises

Weather will certainly play a critical role in keeping the project on schedule, as will subcontractor manpower. KBR Building Group knows some of those factors are out of its control, but it plans to get the best out of its people to make sure it hits the project’s schedule commitment, getting everything done as quickly and safely as possible. The company is also actively involved in the neighborhood to prevent disruptions and disturbances to residents.

“Scheduled the way it is right now, the first units should be delivered sometime in mid-May, and the project is scheduled to be complete by the first week in August,” Denton says. 

As for the market, Washington, D.C., been a little slow, but development is still occurring and multi-family residential, especially rentals, are still very strong. More projects are on the horizon in and around the region, and both Erkiletian and KBR Building Group figure to be active players, looking to work on sites that will improve the community and contribute positively to the economy.  

“We believe this project will be of first-class quality, and something that Erkiletian, KBR Building Group and the city of Alexandria  will be very proud of.” Sloan proclaims. “We want to continue our relationship with Erkiletian and be a repeat customer of theirs. We believe we have a great reputation for delivering on our promises. There are tremendous opportunities, and the company is backlogged and healthier than it’s ever been in the eight years we’ve been in this office. We have many repeat clients, and we hope Erkiletian will be another.”

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