Kasco Construction – Starkweather Lofts

Kasco ConstructionDevMar Development, Burton-Katzman, LLC and F5 are building a 93-unit apartment development that complements the revitalization of Old Village in Plymouth, Mich. Kasco Construction is the general contractor.

By Tim O’Connor

The Starkweather Lofts apartment development in Plymouth, Mich., is more than a luxury living option – it’s a signal of the ongoing rejuvenation of the trendy town. The project is the first joint venture between DevMar Development and Burton-Katzman LLC, a third-generation family owned business with more than a century of experience in real estate.

The project consists of two four-story structures on 5.76 acres of land. The 93 luxury apartment units will have 10-foot ceilings and range in size from 800 square feet up to 1,400 square feet. Starkweather Lofts is being built with luxury in mind. Units will feature large windows, high-end stainless steel appliances, custom cabinetry, granite surfaces, outdoor balconies, living and kitchen luxury wood plank style and  luxury polished concrete style bathroom flooring.

That level of luxury will match Starkweather Loft’s location. The project falls within Plymouth’s Old Village area, the city’s original downtown. Old Village is gentrifying as new development makes the neighborhood more appealing to younger, affluent citizens. “This project will be a catalyst for new development and advancement in Old Village,” says Mark DeMaria, principal with DevMar and 18-year veteran of the development and construction market. “You’re going to infuse 200 or so new residents into the area.” Kasco Construction box

Although it’s located in Old Village, Starkweather Lofts is also only  0.07 miles from Plymouth’s newer downtown, the Kellogg Park neighborhood. “The project is definitely going to complement a vibrant downtown that already exists in Plymouth as well as build upon the excitement that has been growing in that area,” says Larry Goss, executive vice president of Burton-Katzman LLC.

Additionally, the loft residences will be located adjacent to Hines Park, a major recreation area with several miles of biking and walking trails. DeMaria calls it the best of both worlds for young professionals and empty nesters who enjoy an active lifestyle. “This location serves them well because it’s not too urban, like a Detroit location where you can’t get to a park or walking trail,” he says.

Experienced Builders

The developers selected Kasco Construction as the general contractor for the apartments. The Royal Oak, Mich., based contractor has extensive commercial and hospital project experience in the area and is highly regarded in the metropolitan Detroit market. Kasco was a good fit for the project because of “Our ability to do a budget off a schematic design and our ability to do preconstruction services and budgeting throughout the other phases,” Senior Project Manager Michael Mancik says. “We determine what the owner has to use and we budget different materials and designs accordingly.”

DeMaria praised Kasco’s value engineering solutions and design development process. The contractor previously completed a project in Royal Oak for DeMaria. “They do a tremendous job,” DeMaria says. “They’re very organized. They understand the luxury loft style commercial multifamily product.”

“We were very impressed with their resume and background, and given the positive experience Mark has had they were an easy choice,” Goss added. A Burton-Katzman affiliated company, CORE Construction, is acting as the owner’s representative on behalf of the joint venture and is responsible for coordinating with Kasco.

Work began on the site in February with the demolition of an existing office building on the site. As of mid-September, crews were about 40 percent complete with the project and preparing to enclose the building. The building is on pace to be completed by July 2017. Leasing is expected to begin this fall.

The use of  panelized building components  is helping to speed along the construction process. The structure uses a panelized wood frame system which a carpenter assembles off site in a controlled environment. The panels are then delivered just in time for installation to avoid clutter in the work area.

The beginning stage of construction posed a few challenges for Kasco and its subcontractors. The February start date led into the spring thaw and the site was soaked with melting snow. Those water issues were further complicated by the underground water table as crews dug out the foundations. Kasco established onsite drainage to move the water as it prepared the area for vertical construction. “We planned accordingly,” Mancik says. “We knew we were going to encounter problems but we thought outside the box with the drainage system.”

The clay may have turned into a sloppy mess during the spring, but water became less of an issue as construction went on. “Just got to keep pushing through and now it’s summer and it’s rock hard,” Superintendent Ryan Friske says.

Setting the Stage

DevMar Development is in the  pre-construction phase of a similar loft apartment  project in downtown Milford, Mich. DeMaria says many of the lessons learned on Starkweather Lofts will help that next development go smoother once it breaks ground in spring 2017. Starkweather Lofts used financing through the HUD 221(d)(4) program, which provides fixed-rate loans for multifamily developments. It was the first time DevMar used that financing structure but DeMaria says he received support in navigating the process from lenders Eastern Mortgage Capital  and Lutz  Financial.

Further, DeMaria says Kasco’s construction team is gaining experience in constructing this product design , expediting  the schedule and seamless integration of interfacing construction details  that will help when it takes on the Milford project.

Even after more than 100 years in the real estate business, Burton-Katzman is absorbing new information about the market thanks to the Starkweather Lofts development. “We’ve taken a deep dive into understanding the new modern loft product and the demographic that is interested in that product,” Goss says. “We’re looking at several other projects on the horizon using what we’ve learned about this particular luxury loft product – hopefully bringing it to other markets as well.”

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