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Great Solutions: Business Management

August 01, 2009 |

The Capitol Cove complex in Providence, R.I. was repositioned, changing

from 96 private condos to Johnson & Wales University student housing.

22. Commercial Properties Repositioned for University USE

Tocci Building Companies is finding success in repositioning commercial properties for university use, and it expects the trend to continue. The firm's Capital Cove project in Providence, R.I., for instance, was originally designed by Elkus Manfredi (with design continued by HDS Architects) to be a mixed-use complex with private, market-rate condominiums. The economy stalled those plans. The economy is also stalling university projects, preventing much-needed student housing from going up. The nation's colleges and universities have the capacity to house only about 25% of students, and since enrollment has a history of rising during a recession, the highered housing crunch could get much worse. Johnson & Wales University saw a solution to its housing shortage by leasing the 96-unit Capital Cove complex, locating students in Providence's historic Capitol District and in close proximity to public transportation, shopping, and cultural attractions. The university also sees the upscale property and its urban setting providing a s

ignificant competitive advantage in attracting new students.

Six previously stalled Value Place hotels are being completed by Englewood Construction’s new distressed property division.

23. Distressed Property Division Targets Stalled Projects

As a result of the slumping economy, there's a glut of distressed, semi-completed properties that started deteriorating soon after construction halted. Seeing an opportunity in helping banks or new investor owners salvage, complete, and reposition these languishing properties, Englewood Construction of Schiller Park, Ill., launched a distressed property division. The GC is licensed in 48 states, which gives clients a single firm and single point of contact to navigate the complexities of many different jurisdictional authorities, damage analysis, and cost estimates endemic to distressed properties. The new division's first contract involves completing six Value Place hotels in four states (Iowa, Louisiana, North Carolina, and Ohio), each one in a different stage of construction. The work involved in completing the Value Place hotels, which are all four-story properties averaging 121 rooms and 42,000 sf, adds approximately 100 construction jobs per building and, once open for business, the hotels will start cont

ributing to their local economies.

24. Bundle Communications and Data Services for Major Savings

We've all seen the TV commercials for AT&T and Comcast selling the cost advantages of bundling phone, cable, and Internet services. Shane Ketterman, network engineer and administrator with ZGF Architects, applied similar logic when searching for ways to cut costs and streamline communications at the 473-employee Portland, Ore., firm.

Ketterman found a partner in PATEC Holding Corp. to develop a customized solution to bundle and transmit all voice, video, Internet, and data services using a dedicated radio frequency line instead of traditional wire distribution. Radio antennas mounted on the roof of each of the firm's five offices transmit and receive voice/data three times faster than before, and at a fraction of the cost. Ketterman's solution will save ZGF $320,000 this year alone.

"Transmitting data via radio waves is much more cost effective and allows greater flexibility for increased bandwidth and additional services as the needs of the business change," says Ketterman. His solution is also much more reliable than traditional delivery methods—the dedicated FCC radio frequency cannot be interrupted or jammed—and it requires le

ss energy to operate.

25. Revit Boot Camp

Patrick Callahan, AIA, LEED AP, a principal with StudioGC, Chicago, leads a group of interns from the University of Illinois at Urbana-Champaign in the firm's "Revit Boot Camp." The month-long workshop provided eight UIUC architecture students with four hours of unpaid BIM training in the morning, followed by four hours of paid studio work in the afternoon. "I thought I knew Revit, but they really showed us how much it could do, how robust it was," said Caroline VanAcker, a junior from Palatine, Ill. Front row, left to right: Kimberly Wiskup, VanAcker, Christiana Symeonides, Fadi Salem, Daniel Martin. Back row: Maria Nikoloski (obscured), Jacob Oostema. Not pictur

ed: Kristina Collet.

26. Keep Your Subcontractors Happy and Save Big Bucks

As part of a companywide commitment to improve relationships with subcontractors, Farmington, Conn.-based KBE Building Corp. (formerly Konover Construction) developed a custom online resource center that provides 24-hour, real-time access to payment status, insurance information, compliance forms, and project details for subcontractors and KBE staff.

"Subs were frustrated with the length of time to get paid, and would frequently call for payment status and other information," says John Patterson, information architect with KBE and developer of the online resource center. He says KBE staff spent hours on the phone daily answering calls, returning calls, and fulfilling requests from subs, costing the company thousands of dollars a month in personnel costs.

After launching the resource center in late 2006, the company saw an immediate 75% reduction in phone calls, in addition to fewer faxes and mailings. Patterson estimates a productivity gain of 25%, saving the company $100,000 annually.

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