Hopes Run High for $20M Phenix City Development

Construction Begins on $35M Apartment Project in Hoover

Wed July 25, 2012 - Southeast Edition
Cindy Riley


Crews are busy constructing a 250-unit complex in a heavily wooded area in the upscale Ross Bridge community of Hoover, Ala.
Crews are busy constructing a 250-unit complex in a heavily wooded area in the upscale Ross Bridge community of Hoover, Ala.
Crews are busy constructing a 250-unit complex in a heavily wooded area in the upscale Ross Bridge community of Hoover, Ala. The Atlanta-based architecture firm designing Ashby at Ross Bridge envisioned a complex with curb appeal and plenty of outdoor areas for families to enjoy.

Construction is underway in Hoover, Ala., on a multi-million dollar project located in a nationally-recognized community. Work began in January on the 250-unit “Ashby at Ross Bridge” apartment complex just outside Birmingham, with the first units expected to be ready for occupancy this fall.

“Ashby will provide an excellent environment for a wide variety of resident profiles,” explained Pat Henry, chief development officer for Daniel Corporation. “The tremendous amenity base within Ross Bridge, the city of Hoover schools, easy access to major employment centers and offerings of the community itself will certainly prove attractive to residents seeking a safe, comfortable, first-class home. There is very strong demand in the Hoover marketplace and in particular within Ross Bridge. This community has continued to outpace metro Birmingham with respect to resident demand and has proven to be a very highly regarded mixed-use community.”

Doster Construction Company Inc., Birmingham. Ala., serves as general contractor for the $35 million project, which is the second in Ross Bridge, following the 240-unit “Birchall at Ross Bridge,” built in 2008.

According to Senior Project Manager Seth Clayton, “On a multi-family project, Doster subcontracts with subcontractors who specialize in each phase of construction. They furnish material, labor and equipment to construct the project as it’s designed by the engineers and architect. The first stage of work is site work which involves clearing, grubbing, grading and utilities. The swimming pool construction will begin while the clubhouse is under construction. The foundation work for the clubhouse is in progress and both should be completed in July 2012. The completion stage for the site is irrigation and landscaping.”

Based on the success of the first project, Daniel Corporation says it is filling a niche the market will support. In 2011, the National Association of Home Builders named Ross Bridge the “Best Community in America” in recognition of its sense of place, community events and hometown fairs and through the execution of its master-planned vision.

Ashby will feature one- to three-bedroom apartments, ranging from 640 sq. ft. (59.5 sq m) to 1,350 sq. ft. (125 sq m). It will offer a resort-like clubhouse, fitness center, club room, business center and professionally landscaped pool and gardens. It also will include ponds, pocket parks and access to several miles of activity trails.

Initial work began on the Ross Bridge property in December of 2011.

As for the chief concern, Clayton said, “The winter time start makes for the wettest time of year with lower temperatures that inhibit drying of the soil. It takes more time for the soil to sufficiently dry to be suitable for fill placement. The number of days of inclement weather was about on average with the last 10 years for this area, however, the drying days that were needed to progress the work were about equal to the actual number of days of inclement weather for January and February. Due to the wet soil conditions, more time was needed for natural drying and the site subcontractor implemented some disking measures to speed the drying of the wet soil during periods of dry weather.”

The project has been in the planning stages for a while and was designed by Atlanta-based Pucciano & English architects. According to John English, who specializes in multi-family structures, the location presented a fairly big challenge.

“It was a heavily wooded site with a lot of topographic relief. It sloped a lot,” English said. “The challenge was to put in 250 units plus parking, in a way that would create a neighborhood feel and residential environment. We split buildings from front to back. We used them to work with the existing topography, rather than grade with a machine. In steeper areas, these are buildings that terrace down with the slope. It’s not a flat slab.

“We also have quite a few green elements,” English continued. “The exterior skin is cement-based siding and synthetic stone, which are both recycled items. We were very environmentally aware when it came to insulation – the way buildings were sealed and using equipment with energy-efficient ratings. We incorporated low-flush toilet fixtures and chose plants that are more drought resistant.”

Designing a plan that had curb appeal and plenty of amenities and activities was key to English and his team.

“While staying on budget, it was so important to offer some architectural character, probably best described as today’s play on traditional styling with some craftsman detailing elements. We also tried to create an environment with pocket parks, a large clubhouse with space for tenants with generous pool and pool deck and grilling and picnic areas. We also created walking/jogging trails to give people an opportunity to exercise outdoors and enjoy the environment. We didn’t chop all the trees down, so the outdoor surroundings create a nice feel.”

Ponds for the complex were designed by the civil engineer to manage storm water runoff and consist of earthen dams with a relief system to allow the excess water to flow into the natural waterways. One of the parks will include a tree save area where the existing trees were spared. The entire north and east boundaries of the project overlook undisturbed natural wooded areas.

The site contractor used dozers, loaders, track hoes, dump trucks and compactors to clear, grub and perform grading work. The site contractor will furnish and install reinforced concrete pipe and concrete structures for the storm water system. The sanitary system will include precast concrete manholes with ductile iron piping. The water system includes ductile iron piping. There is substantial acreage set aside within Ross Bridge in order to accommodate commercial and retail development.

Daniel Corporation is currently looking for opportunities to match community needs with potential retailers. Right now, however, the focus is completing the entire apartment project by March 2013.

While work is progressing on schedule, the Ashby complex has not been without controversy. Some residents living near the Ashby site are upset that a road for the apartments has been placed in front of their houses. Homeowners along Melton Road in unincorporated Jefferson County claim zoning approval requires a 75-ft. greenbelt buffer between existing residents and the Ross Bridge property. These residents feel that the buffer offered does not meet proper standards; however, the Hoover City Council reportedly researched the matter and found no laws have been broken. Henry said the development will actually improve Melton Road, by offering turn lanes.

Said Henry, “We strive every day to make it a place that will bring tremendous value, comfort and safety to our residents. That is our goal from the first visioning session through construction, move–in and, in particular, after move-in where we want our neighbors to enjoy their home at Ashby.”

Clayton added, “Doster Construction Company and our subcontractors diligently work to be good neighbors during the construction period. We hope that the neighbors feel when we are complete that the area was enhanced by our work.”