Clark Construction Group – Hine School

Clark HIne

Clark Construction Group is engaging neighbors as it builds the Hine School redevelopment.

By Tim O’Connor

Every redevelopment project changes a community, but successful ones often blend in with the existing neighborhood while creating opportunities for residents new and old alike. That’s the goal with the Hine School redevelopment project in Washington, D.C.

The neighborhood surrounding the site of 700 Pennsylvania Avenue SE has never seen a project like this before. The area is filled with row homes and townhouses, but the Hine School redevelopment will introduce a 160,000-square-foot office building and three apartment buildings with a combined 162 residential units – 46 of which will be designated as affordable housing. The project will also bring 60,000 square feet of shops and restaurants to the area, including a Trader Joe’s grocery store.Clark Hine Fact Box

Although the residential surroundings create an opportunity for the redevelopment, they also pose a challenge as the co-developers, Stanton Development Corp. and EastBanc Inc., and general contractor, Clark Construction, must coordinate with people living nearby to minimize the impact on their daily lives. Harry Stevenson, vice president for Clark Construction, has noticed the local residents are more involved than what he has experienced on past projects. “This job is set right in the middle of a residential neighborhood,” Stevenson says. “A large part of this job is working with the neighbors and the community to make sure everyone stays safe.”

To keep those residents informed, Stanton-EastBanc and Clark hold monthly meetings with neighborhood commissioners. If the project team needs to close a sidewalk to take a delivery or complete site work, these neighborhood representatives spread the message through the community.

“Stanton-EastBanc LLC is excited to deliver this vibrant mixed-use development in 2017,” said Kenneth Golding, Stanton-EastBanc partner. “Six years in the making, 700 Penn was a collaborative development effort which relied on community support, public-private cooperation and an experienced development team. Once stabilized, we anticipate the project will cement the Eastern Market neighborhood as the preeminent commercial district in Southeast (Washington) D.C. While other projects may settle for cookie-cutter glass curtain walls, 700 Penn demonstrates a commitment to quality and complimentary masonry architecture and sound construction."

The developer’s and contractor's commitment to the community goes beyond construction updates. The team is always looking for friendlier ways to engage the community. When work began on the project in July 2015, the development hosted an ice cream social, and last Halloween, Clark brought an excavator and other construction vehicles out to the community where children could explore and touch the trucks.

Clark found an additional way to give back to the community, not far from the construction site. While walking the neighborhood one day, Stevenson happened upon a daycare run by Little Lights, a nonprofit ministry that serves southeast Washington, D.C. Stevenson noticed the daycare facility was in need of renovations, walked in and offered to help in any way he could. Now, Clark is helping by installing new plumbing, mechanical, and electrical systems into the daycare, and plans to help with their new playground. “We’re not just there to build a building,” says Stevenson, himself a longtime Washington D.C., resident. “We want to be part of the community.”

Building a New Focal Point

The project site has long been a focal point for the surrounding neighborhood. Several schools have called the area home since at least the 1880s and the Flea Market at Eastern Market has brought hundreds of visitors to the community every Sunday for 22 years. Hine Junior High School was closed in 2007 and the students consolidated into nearby Eliot-Hine Middle School and the 132,208-square-foot vacant school building was demolished in 2015. The flea market moved to 7th Street in 2015 to make way for the redevelopment project.

Once completed in the second quarter of 2017, the Hine School redevelopment will again become a center for the community. Of the 60,000 square feet for shopping, retail and restaurants, 20 percent will be reserved for local businesses and the office building will create more opportunities for companies to locate in the area.

Stevenson’s favorite element of the project is how the façade of the apartment buildings will mimic the townhomes across the street, allowing the development to better fit its surroundings. “It’s a very unique building; you don’t see a lot like it in Washington, D.C.,” Stevenson adds.

The project is now about 40 percent complete and is on track to open on schedule. In late July, Clark’s crews and subcontractors were preparing to top out the concrete on all three buildings, which are being worked on simultaneously. By August, Stevenson expects to start the exterior precast and brick work on the buildings. At peak construction, Stevenson says as many as 300 people will work on the project.

Experienced and Capable

Clark is one of the most experienced and respected general contractors in the Mid-Atlantic Region and one of the largest multi-family residential builders in the area. The firm's portfolio and market experience make it the ideal construction partner for this redevelopment. Stevenson himself has 15 years of experience on mixed-used residential projects. Clark is currently working on two additional projects for EastBanc.

Close collaboration with the developers and careful subcontractor selection have been the keys to keeping the project within budget. Stevenson and the construction team held weekly meetings during the design phase to review material selection for cost and constructability.

The project's unique elements require careful subcontractor selection. “We chose the subcontractors we thought could build the project at the best price,” Stevenson explains. The unique precast concrete and brickwork patterns called for in the design meant that subcontractors must be comfortable letting Clark know what they are and are not capable of so that Clark can put those subcontractors in a position to succeed.

A construction veteran with more than 30 years of experience, Stevenson knows that even the smoothest projects will face an unexpected challenge at some point. “There’s always something surprising on a project that you learn from,” he says. Stevenson hasn’t discovered that surprising thing yet, but there’s still nearly a year of construction left. But whatever that surprise might end up being, Stevenson is confident that Clark’s experience and capabilities will allow the company to handle the challenge.


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