Case Studies

Eighteen25 – Allied Orion

A new midrise in the heart of downtown Houston

Centrally located in downtown Houston, Eighteen25 is a new, 242-unit, multifamily development slated to open in 2017. Developed by Houston-based Allied Orion Group, the eight-story apartment building will feature a three-story parking garage, a large courtyard in the center of the building and a rooftop pool, among other amenities.

Eighteen25 Allied Orion

Located at 1825 San Jacinto Street and adjacent to two major roads, Block 384 is sited in the heart of Houston’s vibrant restaurant and entertainment district and provides easy access to St. Joseph’s Medical Center, Discovery Green Park, the Houston Museum District, the University of Houston and Minute Maid Park, home of Major League Baseball’s Houston Astros.

Eighteen25 features both one- and two-bedroom units as well as a number of two-story townhouse-style units on the ground level. The building’s stone, brick and plaster facade features fiber-cement panels and ample windows for natural lighting.

The development includes a slate of leading features including polished concrete floors, granite countertops, stainless steel appliances, nine-foot ceilings and balconies with views of downtown Houston. Other amenities include a rooftop deck, fitness center, secure dog park as well as a bicycle workshop and storage area.

“We broke ground in August 2015 and plan on having the leasing office done early in 2017,” says Paul Riley, president of the construction division at Allied Orion Group. “We’ll start turning floors over from the top down at the beginning of 2017.”

The $60-million development is built almost completely out of concrete and developers are working to achieve National Green Building Standard (NGBS) Bronze certification for the project.

New on the block

Working in downtown Houston presented a number of challenges for the Allied Orion Group team. While construction is currently ahead of schedule, the developers faced some early setbacks related to the relocation of several electrical servicing structures on the site. “The biggest thing that delayed us from being able to get started was just normal downtown construction issues,” says Riley.

The building’s cement composition meant that Allied Orion Group had to arrange for 800-cubic-yard cement pours once a week. This was especially challenging given the traffic and adjacent businesses surrounding Block 384. “Traffic control was probably the biggest thing. It’s always a logistical issue when you’re dealing with traffic and being able to get materials to the site,” says Riley.

Site logistics were further complicated by the arrival of the NCAA’s Final Four tournament in April, with more than 150,000 college basketball fans making their way to the city for the final two games. Riley credits Houston’s Downtown District with helping to head off the problem, hosting a meeting well in advance of the tournament where contractors working in the area were able to address their concerns.

“They’re on top of it. There are also some 10K road races and other events going on, so we mainly just have to clean up, straighten up and make sure we’re not working when they have a race or an event,” he says. “Looking ahead to issues like that is really the best thing you can do. You’ve got to put that on your radar, not overlook them and be ready for some delays.”

Riley counts the development’s concrete structure, electrical and mechanical infrastructure as the most vital scopes of work on the Eigtheen25 development. In a bid to attract the desired clientele, Allied Orion Group made a concerted effort to integrate the latest technology into the multifamily development, including electronic security locks and a fiber-optic cable system for the fastest possible internet speeds. “You won’t get the folks we’re trying to attract if you don’t have these systems,” he says.

Keeping trades competitive

While Allied Orion Group has completed a number of lower- to high-density development projects in the past, Eighteen25 represents the company’s first foray into the midrise concrete market. Allied Orion Group currently has nine projects in the works throughout the city of Houston, and will work across Texas and as far afield as Colorado and Georgia.

“This is our first venture into concrete midrise, and we’ve got another one in the works as well, but we really put together a team with lots of experience in this type of construction,” he says.

With an expansive slate of projects underway, Allied Orion Group is careful to maintain a deep roster of subcontractors to ensure that it is never lacking in qualified manpower. “We have a database of subcontractors we invite to bid, but you don’t get competitive pricing if you use the same subs over and over and we can also spread them too thin; then it starts to be a challenge in terms of manpower and supervision,” says Riley.

Founded in 1985, Allied Orion Group currently employs nearly 580 employees between its construction division and property management division. While the bulk of these employees work throughout Texas, the company also manages properties in Atlanta, Denver, New Orleans and several other cities.

While vacancy rates and advanced leases are an easy way to track success on a multifamily development project such as Eighteen25, Riley opts to rely on less tangible metrics. “I look at things like budget and schedule, but some of the most important things are our relationships with the trade contractors,” he says. “I’m more comfortable with a project when we have a smooth working relationship. If we have to spend more time than we would like to manage them, then we start having problems.”

Safety also plays a major role in the way Riley plans and executes new development efforts. That emphasis on safety was solidified in 2014 when Riley, managing a project one mile west of downtown Houston, watched a nearby building burn to the ground in 30 minutes. “You really understand what’s important when something like that happens, so we conduct lots of safety monitoring and help our subcontractors understand how to be safe,” he says.

With a central location in the heart of downtown Houston, leading amenities and a unique sustainable design, Eighteen25, a project of Allied Orion, will provide a one-of-a-kind residential housing option in Texas’ largest city.

Published on: October 14, 2016

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