Jon Behrends established Precision Contractor in 2009 with the goal of providing comprehensive rehabilitation, renovation and construction services in the Hudson River Valley region of New York. Based in Poughkeepsie, the business serves the needs of a range of commercial customers. Behrends employs seven people who lead unique and challenging construction projects dedicated to the preservation of Poughkeepsie, also known as America’s Main Street.
Behrends has been in the construction industry since 1978. After serving in the army, the military paid for much of his training. Over the years, he has taken on a number of projects, always with a focus on improving communities through supporting construction and renovation efforts.
“We specialize in rehabilitating buildings that are in disastrous shape,” explains Behrends. “We work to rebuild and renovate these buildings, some of which are historic. There are very few other builders that do this in the Hudson River Valley. The majority of the buildings we own are comprised of commercial spaces on the first floor, and residential tenants on the floors above. We take a very unique approach to preservation, turning around buildings for both commercial and residential use, mixed-use and mixed income, often with retail space on the first floor and apartments above.”
A growing portfolio
One of Behrends’ favorite projects so far has been work on the Kirkland Hotel in Kingston, New York. The business worked alongside architect, AJ Coppola and Kingston mayor, James Sottile on the rehabilitation of the historic building. When the hotel sat in decay in 2001, it was nearly destroyed to make way for a parking garage. Through creative funding and collaborative partnerships, Behrends and his team we able to completely restore the old building. In 2015, the Kirkland Hotel serves as a mixed use building, with a restaurant and other small businesses on the first floor and upscale residential space above.
Another of Behrends’ pet projects has been Behrends Court, a new construction rental complex designed to fit in neatly with surrounding historic buildings. Behrends had purchased a row of buildings on Main Street in downtown Poughkeepsie to revitalize. His crews completely gutted and replaced the interiors. The result is a block of high quality commercial and residential space that blends in with its 19th century surroundings. Behrends Court offers 40 apartments and nine commercial spaces, now occupied by local residents and small businesses.
While boosting the local economy and giving Poughkeepsie a facelift is Behrends’ personal mission, he also strives to improve living in the town through technology. For example, his Behrends Court project integrated two large photovoltaic systems. Mounted on the roof, these systems help offset energy costs and reduce impact of the project. The block also draws from geothermal wells below to provide temperature control and reduce reliance on conventionally fuelled HVAC systems.
In all of Behrends’ projects, he strives to follow green principles. Many of his buildings integrate recycled materials, including the bricks and wood from stripped interiors and facades. When he cannot recycle a material, he aims to utilize low impact materials, such as cork and bamboo for flooring. Many of his projects also incorporate storm water management systems, such as rain gardens.
Continued growth and development
With cutting edge technology and old-world charm, Behrends’ buildings have had no trouble finding tenants. He filled up spaces at Behrends Court before the project was completed and will likely do the same with upcoming projects. The business is able to provide value through turnkey development and construction. While Behrends is a capable contractor, developer and property manager, he cannot do it all on his own.
Precision Contractor relies on partnerships with a number of tradespeople in the area to pull together efficient, safe and successful projects. “We work with a lot of subcontractors,” he explains. “We have a network of partners who help us out with electrical work, HVAC, plumbing and other trades.” These partnerships offer the labor Behrends needs for his mission as well as the value he expects and hopes to pass along to tenants.
Over the coming years, he plans to stay the course, purchasing more property to rehabilitate in Poughkeepsie. “Building is my passion,” he explains. “I take a lot of pride in what I do. My goal is to make a difference for Poughkeepsie by changing the face of a town that needs some help. I like coming to work every day knowing I am making a difference and helping my community.” In the coming years, Precision Contractor will continue to bring important upgrades to Poughkeepsie.
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