The Journeyman by Kimpton Hotels – CD Smith Construction Services
A former parking lot in Milwaukee’s Historic Third Ward is shaping up into a distinct boutique hotel. The future Journeyman by the Kimpton Hotel & Restaurant Group Inc. features nine stories, 158 rooms and enviable amenities. This is Kimpton Hotels’ first foray into the Milwaukee market. The project is owned by Chicago Street Holdings LLC, being developed by HKS Holdings LLC, designed by architect Kahler Slater and when complete, will be managed by the Kimpton hospitality group. Jason Bos, project manager for CD Smith Construction Services Inc., is leading the charge for construction.
The project, originally slated to break ground October 2014, kicked off Jan. 20, 2015. Bos and his team are working a tight schedule in order to meet the hotel’s June 2016 completion date. “That’s not typical for a project of this size,” Bos notes. “Our timeline was condensed pretty heavily, but so far we’ve done the best we could with this schedule. Everything may not go smoothly, but we will complete the project on time.”
Up against time – and space
In addition to lodging, the future 116,000-square-foot hotel will offer four meeting spaces, underground valet parking and two dining/bar venues. “The first level has restaurant and bar and the ninth floor also has a bar and outdoor seating space that looks over the city,” Bos elaborates. “There is also a flex space kind that can be rented out for meetings and events. The underground level has 29 spaces for valet parking as well as housekeeping, a breakroom and other operational spaces.”
The Journeyman packs a lot of amenities into a small space — made smaller during the construction process by a lack of exterior area for staging and deliveries. On an already tight schedule, logistics became crucial to successful completion. “Our biggest challenge was scheduling, so every time we need materials or a contractor on-site, we are ready for them,” Bos explains. “The site is extremely small and the building is big as it can be, with the footprint stretching property line to property line. We even have sidewalks closed down. So the site logistics were tough too. Getting materials delivered on time and equipment and waste out has been one of the biggest challenges.”
Coordination between contractors and trades has been critical, which meant Bos took special care in selecting strategic partners for the project. “This is a boutique hotel; it’s unique, not a cookie cutter project,” he explains. “One thing I looked for specifically, anytime we had subs or vendors for finishes, I spent extra time scoping out and checking references. The owner and future operator, Kimpton, has high expectations for quality and finishes, so I had to assemble a team that wouldn’t let me fail.”
Milestones and the home stretch
By autumn, Bos and his team had completed the concrete super structure, consisting of nine floors of post-tension concrete. “The schedule was met,” he recounts with relief. “Our team worked quite a bit of overtime. The labor shortage in Milwaukee had us nervous, but we got enough guys there, did enough overtime and the weather cooperated. We were able to top the structure out by the beginning of September, on schedule.”
Now the finishes are the primary concern up until completion in June. “We’re working on finishes, starting on the eighth floor and working our way down,” notes Bos. “CD Smith is doing the trim work in the guest rooms in-house; subs are doing the flooring and other finishes.”
Finishes in the guest rooms are fairly repetitive, though public spaces on the first, second and ninth floor will shake things up. “The first and second floors are more involved, with public spaces we have to complete,” Bos elaborates. “We also have to get the ninth floor outdoor area lounge and restaurant completed. We’re currently putting a pedestal and paver system on the roof to make it disappear and create the outdoor space there.”
Despite the accelerated schedule, The Journeyman project is on track for its scheduled completion date. “Right now the focus is just to get all of the spaces completed in time for the owner and their supplier to furnish the space. We want them to be able to get to a point where a manager can start training employees in there before they open.”
Bos is confident in the schedule — with 15 years’ experience, the last 10 with CD Smith, his project management expertise has been fine-honed. The firm has recently taken on more hotel projects, though The Journeyman was one of its first in the hospitality market. Bos and his colleagues at CD Smith Construction Services Inc. are looking forward to more involvement with hotel projects in the coming years.
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