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Crews Complete Covington, Georgia Community Project

Thu May 09, 2024 - Southeast Edition #10
Irwin Rapoport – CEG Correspondent


On this project, the firm used Cat 336 and Volvo 460 excavators, Volvo articulated dump trucks, Cat D4 dozers, Cat 815 compactors and Cat IT28 wheel loaders.
Photo courtesy of Fortune-Johnson General Contractors
On this project, the firm used Cat 336 and Volvo 460 excavators, Volvo articulated dump trucks, Cat D4 dozers, Cat 815 compactors and Cat IT28 wheel loaders.
On this project, the firm used Cat 336 and Volvo 460 excavators, Volvo articulated dump trucks, Cat D4 dozers, Cat 815 compactors and Cat IT28 wheel loaders.   (Photo courtesy of Fortune-Johnson General Contractors) Fortune-Johnson General Contractors completed construction of the RENDER Covington apartment complex in the city of Covington for Crescent Communities.   (Photo courtesy of Fortune-Johnson General Contractors) The complex also includes a 7,000-sq.-ft. standalone clubhouse/amenity building in the center.   (Photo courtesy of Fortune-Johnson General Contractors) Between the unsuitable soils and rock removal, there were approximately 3,124 loads removed from the site   (Photo courtesy of Fortune-Johnson General Contractors) In addition to the construction of NOVEL Midtown and NOVEL West Midtown, RENDER Covington will be Crescent’s eighth multifamily family investment in the Atlanta market.   (Photo courtesy of Fortune-Johnson General Contractors)

Fortune-Johnson General Contractors began construction of the $53 million RENDER Covington apartment complex in 2022 in the city of Covington for Crescent Communities, which converted a 20-acre green field into a community consisting of seven three-story garden-style apartment buildings with 315 units in total.

The project, located on the east side of metro Atlanta and designed by Dwell Design Studio, was delivered on March 1. The complex also includes a 7,000-sq.-ft. standalone clubhouse/amenity building in the center, with 10 free standing garage buildings. The surface parking lot (502 spots) is asphalt over soil cement base.

Contractors at Work

Despite some challenges, the construction process pushed forward and made solid progress.

"We faced the typical issues the whole industry experienced in 2022 and 2023 related to the supply and cost uncertainty," said Jeffrey J. Carroll, Fortune-Johnson's vice president of construction. "Additionally, the city was still figuring out its processes governing building permits in relation to site work completion. These procedures caused a bit of confusion right before the project started but worked out well for all parties in the end. The project was on or ahead of schedule."

Rock in the soil was an issue.

"There were some slope design issues related to the site interacting with GDOT, but they were worked through per the normal process of contracting," said Carroll, who noted that the work was based on day shifts.

Photo courtesy of Fortune-Johnson General Contractors

Fortune-Johnson, a construction management firm, does not self-perform any of the work. The subcontractors and vendors ensured that their heavy equipment was transported to the site where it was rapidly put to work.

Civil Site Services (CSSI), the grading subcontractor, hired a firm to cut down the trees on the site, which were primarily pine trees. The work was completed seven months prior to the construction of the buildings.

"The trunks were taken out with a root rake before topsoil was removed," said Carroll. "The wood was immediately removed from the site."

With trees removed, the earthwork and site prep could begin. CSSI, a grading and utility pipeline company, participates in many projects across Georgia.

"The equipment we use focuses on moving, excavating, hauling and installing storm, water and sewer pipelines," said Philip Pond, CSSI's vice president/COO. "At any given time on the project, we had 20 to 25 pieces of equipment on-site during our phase of the operation. We are always the first subcontractor on the site, due to the need to clear the land of trees, etc, and grade the site to obtain the proper elevations for the various building pads."

On this project, the firm used Cat 336 and Volvo 460 excavators, Volvo articulated dump trucks, Cat D4 dozers, Cat 815 compactors and Cat IT28 wheel loaders.

"All of our machinery is equipped with GPS systems," said Pond. "It is imperative for meeting the required finish grade elevations for building pads and roadways, and parking lots. It saves time, eliminates human error, and confirms the actual results."

The removal of rock was far from easy.

"Once the rock was identified," said Pond, "confirmed depths that needed to be removed by blasting, then excavated and removed by dump trucks, multiple loads were an everyday process, Some days as many as 50 loads per-day. Between the unsuitable soils and rock removal, there were approximately 3,124 loads removed from the site. We stripped approximately 9,250 cubic yards of topsoil and moved approximately 84,500 cubic yards of dirt within the site in order to provide a balanced site to meet the required elevations. The majority of the dirt moving process and rock excavation/removal took approximately 3.5 months."

"A significant amount of blast rock was known and included as an allowance with the owner," said Carroll. "This job was a net export site and CSSI found a nearby site to accept the material."

CSSI installed approximately 3,724 ft. of storm piping, 2,902 ft. of sanitary sewer piping and 6,320 ft. of domestic and fire line water. Most of the installation was completed by using the Cat 336 excavator.

"No underground plumbing or slab work could be started prior to all utilities, curbs and base/binder [or in this case, soil cement] being completed," said Carroll, who pointed out that shallow turn-down footings were critical for the foundations of the structures.

Once the earthwork and site prep was completed, crews poured the foundations for the buildings. The concrete (3000 psi) was poured via cranes linked to pumps. The SOG buildings had shallow foundations.

Photo courtesy of Fortune-Johnson General Contractors

"Slab prep by plumber and electricians took about five days and prep and pouring the slabs took about another week for each building," said Carroll. "This was repeated for all buildings. Each building was divided into two pours. The club house and garages were single pours."

The apartment buildings and other structures are wood framed.

"It took about five weeks per-building to frame on average," said Carroll.

Once framed, electrical, plumbing, HVAC and other systems were installed.

"We were never framing more than two buildings at a time," said Carroll. "Everything progressed in one-week pods, so that all trades just chased each other week after week through the buildings."

The roads and surface parking areas are based on asphalt paving: soil cement, 2-in. binder and 1-in. topping. The roads and surface parking were installed prior to the construction of the buildings. The roads could be driven on one day after they were paved.

Fortune-Johnson's management team had an excellent team dynamic.

"The efforts of the crews exceeded expectations in almost all cases," said Carroll.

Project Information

Crescent has embraced the RENDER brand and product to deliver thoughtfully designed suburban communities that provide residents with convenient access to area amenities and employment with more approachable rents compared to those in high-density urban markets.

"Our expansion into new suburban markets with RENDER was fueled by the continued growing demand for quality multifamily housing in areas outside of the urban core," said Jay Curran, president of Multifamily at Crescent Communities. "We knew we could bring our resident-oriented approach and design expertise into these markets and offer renters thoughtfully crafted communities rich in character, but at a more approachable price point. The RENDER product will allow us to scale the offering and bring more homes to the market faster, while keeping the renters' desire for beautiful homes with amenities they desire at the forefront."

Photo courtesy of Fortune-Johnson General Contractors

The Covington project, 40 mi. east of downtown Atlanta, is Crescent's first RENDER community. It provides access to the popular Eastside Trail, a 2.5-mi. multi-use greenway trail that runs from Chimney Park to Eastside High School. The main street within RENDER Covington, Delk Drive, honors Cheryl Delk, one of the largest proponents and driving forces behind the Eastside Trail and a beloved resident of Covington.

Crescent Communities has plans to expand its footprint in the greater Atlanta area. In addition to the construction of NOVEL Midtown and NOVEL West Midtown, RENDER Covington will be Crescent's eighth multifamily family investment in the Atlanta market.

"More broadly, Crescent Communities continues to experience significant growth with $6 billion of multifamily and commercial investments and developments currently under construction, operations and planning including 13,000 units of multifamily, 260,000 square feet of complementary retail and 8.0 million square feet of office, industrial and life-sciences," stated a company press release. "With a focus on sustainable development practices, the organization pursues USGBC LEED certification or commercial spaces and NGBS certification for multifamily residences. Crescent Communities has also recently launched its single-family build-to-rent product with plans to seek opportunities to serve suburban markets in the Atlanta metropolitan area." CEG




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