MP J.J. Duffy/Pathway Senior Living

The latest chapter in a longstanding professional relationship between a Chicago-based general contracting firm and a provider of affordable housing for senior citizens is close to being fully written.

Pathway Senior Living LLC expects to assume partial occupancy of its Victory Centre development in Vernon Hills, Ill., before the end of the year. The $32 million, 231-unit community consists of two five-story residential buildings totalling more than 186,000 square feet of building area and will be fully complete early next year. The project broke ground in November 2010.

General contractor J.J. Duffy Co. of Chicago, who is building Victory Centre in a joint venture with MP  Contractors LLC of Deerfield, Ill., is no stranger to completing buildings for Pathway. The contractor has built six other projects for the developer in the last eight years in addition to these two new buildings.

“We’ve done several buildings with Pathway and they know what to expect of us, and vice versa,” Project Manager Diego Labycz says. “They know that we stand behind our work and our quality both during and after construction, and that we’re not the type to walk away from a warranty issue, even if it’s five years down the road.”

J.J. Duffy specializes in building multi-unit residential projects, particularly projects funded by the U.S. Department of Housing and Urban Development and Illinois Housing and Development Authority in addition to market rate units financed by private investment.

The company’s emphasis on quality complements Pathway’s mission to provide exceptional affordable housing to its residents. “We pride ourselves in creating buildings that look like market rate and don’t skimp on appearances and finishes,” says Laura Weyrauch, vice president of design and construction for Pathway Senior Living. “We want to get the best features for our money.”

Site Amenities 

Victory Centre’s buildings are constructed of precast concrete and masonry with a brick and cast stone face. One of the buildings is designated as a senior apartment building with 111 one and two-bedroom units, with the second designed as a supportive living facility with a total of 120 units, Weyrauch says.

Site amenities include a garden courtyard featuring walking paths, dining patios and a gazebo. Garden plants will be watered through a rainwater collection system that filters water collected in rain barrels. The rainwater system is one of a number of environmentally minded features on the site. While LEED certification is not being pursued, the Victory Centre is complying with the Illinois Housing Development Authority’s Green Homes checklist.

This includes incorporating features such as energy-efficient roofing and insulation materials, high efficiency boilers and mechanical systems, lighting controls and the use of recycled materials, Weyrauch adds.

Going Underground

One of the major challenges the contractor and owner faced during the project was related to a detention pond on the south end of the site.

The pond, designated by the village of Vernon Hills as a detention area for Victory Centre as well as an adjacent public library and park, is located in a part of the site designated for parking.

The contractor created a water detention vault located partially underground and beneath a single-story parking structure to meet both needs, Labycz says.

During excavation, crews needed to drive steel sheet piles into the ground to stabilize an area where an unexpected utility line was found, resulting in additional pressure on Duffy to meet the client’s critical dates, he adds.

Familiar Faces

The general contractor is dividing electrical, plumbing, HVAC and fire protection trade work by building, as each building’s systems will differ because of the different functions they will serve.

Having two different teams working on these systems also allows subcontractors to focus their efforts and expedite construction, Labycz says.

Most of the subcontractors are familiar with J.J. Duffy, having worked on previous projects for them. “We have good relationships with a lot of contractors who know our product, what we’re looking for and what’s expected of them,” he adds.

Pathway has maintained close ties to the project team in part through weekly site visits. “I think everyone on the project is motivated and knows their deadlines, and there’s a sort of a competition going on between the teams on the two buildings to stay ahead of each other, as well as a lot of positive cooperation between the subcontractors,” Weyrauch says.

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