North American Properties – Lumberyard Project

NAP LumberyardNAP continues to create unique urban spaces in the Southeast.

By Chris Kelsch

North American Properties (NAP) is certainly no stranger to the city of Tallahassee, Fla. The company has invested more than $150 million in large-scale, mixed-use developments in that city since 2012; specifically, in the Gaines Street District.  With its latest project, “The Lumberyard,” NAP hopes to build on its legacy of creating provocative urban spaces.

For the city of Tallahassee, the Gaines Street District remains extremely vital. In addition to serving as a conduit to the downtown business district and the state Capitol building, it connects two of Tallahassee’s universities: Florida A&M and Florida State University. Both of those universities have seen similar trends regarding the lifestyle choices of their students.

“The market is showing us that students don’t like spending time in their cars,” says Shawn McIntyre, 19-year partner with NAP.  “Basically, we are seeing a huge demand for urban-friendly spaces with extensive amenities, where students no longer have to commute to go to school.” Not only will students have spacious rooms, but they will also have access to amenities such as a wifi-equipped study rooms, pool and fitness center.

Historical Presence

The Lumberyard will be a five-story student housing development consisting of 413 beds in 115 units. The entire project will be 330,000 square feet, and will include a parking garage for the tenants. Demolition and foundation work began in November 2016, and residential construction is slated to begin in March. The building is set to open June 2018. NAP Lumberyard box

As its name indicates, its décor will incorporate elements of the original J.H. Dowling Lumberyard that was located on the site. The Dowling Lumberyard was founded in 1946 by James Hamilton Dowling, Sr., and remains in his family to this day. His grandson Jim Dowling currently serves as president.

The Dowling Lumberyard’s presence on the site posed a unique challenge for the project. But with some creative thinking, the problem was solved. “We wanted to do this the right way,” McIntyre recalls. “The Dowlings had turned down previous offers from other developers because the company didn’t have the manpower or resources to relocate, and they didn’t want to close their doors. When we realized the significance of their history in the community, we offered to come alongside them and help find the perfect fit in a new location.”

Indeed, not only did NAP find a better location a few miles away in growing industrial area, but it built Dowling a new lumberyard as well, which involved the adaptive reuse of two vacant buildings. The footprint of the new property is more than three times the size of Dowling’s former location. Essentially, the deal was structured as a 1031 Tax Free Exchange, where NAP built the new site and traded it for Dowling’s old location.

Having to relocate a lumberyard was not the only difficulty in developing this project. In mid-November, an unexploded military bomb was unearthed at the site. It is believed the bomb was a remnant of the Dale Mabry Army Air Base, which was used for fighter training during World War II. Officials from Tyndall Air Force Base were called in to examine the artifact and ultimately detonated it on site after evacuating nearby buildings. 

 “Safety is a huge priority for us,” McIntyre says. “Our team followed proper procedure upon recognizing the potential hazard, and thanks to their actions and quick response by the authorities, there were no injuries.”

Immediately following the incident, McIntyre had the area swept with ground penetrating radar to make sure there were no more explosives on the site. “We weren’t going to take any chances,” he says. “As we know, it’s repetitious work; and as the owner we have to do all we can to make it safe for our workers.”

An Atypical Company

Such challenges are not typical of urban renewal projects, but NAP is not a typical firm. Its willingness to work with members of the communities it builds in has led to an impressive portfolio of work in Tallahassee alone. Already it has completed “The Block,” “The Deck,” “The Court,” and “The Axis” developments, collectively known as “Stadium Centre.” Like The Lumberyard, all of those projects are upscale mixed-use student housing centers.  NAP has also assembled property for two more student housing projects on Gaines Street. 

In addition to its recent work in Tallahassee, the company’s Atlanta division has recreated  “Atlantic Station” in Atlanta, a 1.3-million square-foot mixed-use community. The Atlanta partnership has completed phase 1 of Avalon, an 86-acre development with more than 500,000 square feet of retail, a 12-screen all premium theater, a full-service hotel (coming in Phase II), Class A office, single-family residences and luxury rental homes.

For McIntyre, the company’s main focus remains clear. “Our No. 1 ability, and one that we’ve built our reputation on, is our ability to go into a community and create or recreate an entire urban area.”

It’s the company’s structure that allows him to do that. Because NAP performs all of its functions in-house, including debt and equity financing, McIntyre can focus on generating business. “I have an incredible platform to be an entrepreneur,” McIntyre says. “The NAP  platform and corporate culture allow me to keep the front door open, pursue new opportunities and create places where people live and gather.”

As Florida’s construction market continues to take off, the possibilities are endless for NAP. “We have ready capital and flexibility,” McIntyre says. “Because of how we’re set up, we can react to the market quickly and continue to reinvent ourselves.”

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