Ron Stang, Stevens & Wilkinson, Atlanta GAPrincipal and Chairman Ron Stang, AIA, LEED AP of Stevens & Wilkinson was featured on an episode of America’s Commercial Real Estate Show, a podcast and video series showcase, broadcast weekly with host Michael Bull, CCIM. Since the series’ start in 2010, it has centered around topics related to the real estate industry.

The episode focused on the evolution of the multifamily market, operations, investment, and development sector. Stang, with more than 30 years of experience in the architectural industry, discussed his experience, mixed-use development projects, and how Stevens & Wilkinson plays a part in it all.

“Density is one of the big things that’s new. Density, [suddenly], is not a bad thing […] it hopefully equals affordability,” stated Stang when asked what was new and surprising in the market. “Lands costing more, traveling and commuting is [also becoming] a big issue.” According to Stang this is one of the challenges the multifamily market needs to address, especially as this market sector continues to grow.

Stevens & Wilkinson, FLATS at PCM, Ponce City Market, Atlanta GADuring the interview, Ron also made mention of a new trend within the multifamily market sector, smaller units with more amenities. One project that came to mind was the work Stevens & Wilkinson completed at The FLATS at Ponce City Market, a renovation, adaptive reuse and mixed-use project completed in January of 2015. Prior to the renovation, the site featured numerous amenities that were built into the large commercial bottom floor – amenities that included several retail shops and restaurants. On the residential floors, however, there were not that many amenities.

“There were some fitness rooms and some other things, but no swimming pool; no really public or club room spaces,” said Stang. The project ended up providing for most of these additions for the two million square-foot building.

Providing A Unique Understanding

Stang went on to offer advice to those interested in developing or invest in apartment complexes that are in mix-use development environments. Ron recommends purchasing the building as inexpensively as possible. “Doing renovations and adaptive reuses, it’s not much less expensive and in some cases, can be just as expensive as new construction.” This comes into play while focusing on the redevelopment of older buildings, as many people tend to look for character when purchasing these buildings. To Stang, this often creates a “sense of place” that doesn’t necessarily need to be replaced or replicated.

“[As a firm, we at Stevens & Wilkinson] love adaptive reuse projects,” continued Stang. “They’re all a little different and I think they all create something special.”

According to Stang, the ‘urban core’ is an adaptive reuse trend among clients and architects, within both student and market-rate housing. Still, people should keep an eye out for work-force housing in consideration of the high costs of living in apartment buildings. When creating work-force housing, it does not necessarily need to be supported by government-input. From Stang’s perspective, the project just needs to be approached “smartly and efficiently;” efficient construction, smaller units, and located on smaller sites.

Rising Costs of Construction

This led to the question of construction costs. Reviewing the volume of work that is currently driving up material costs, Stang urges those in the industry to work with the contractor early on.

Charleston SC Cigar Factory

“People need to realize what a realistic construction budget is sooner in the project, instead of being surprised after the project gets designed,” he said.

Stevens & Wilkinson is no stranger to mixed- use and adaptive reuse buildings. Some of the firm’s projects include the Cigar Factory in Charleston, SC, Castleberry Point in Atlanta, and Market City Center (728 Market Street) in Chattanooga, Tenn. Both the Cigar Factory and Castleberry Point feature mixed-use spaces (e.g. residential floors, office spaces, and retail), while Market City Center serves as a urban downtown residence.

 

As previously stated, Stang has more than 30 years of experience in the architectural industry. He founded Stang & Newdow Architects during the early 1980s, before combining the practice with Stevens & Wilkinson in 2003. He is a proud Georgia Institute of Technology (Georgia Tech) alum where he earned his Master’s in Architecture.

To listen to Ron’s complete interview and to learn more about the Atlanta region’s multifamily market, visit The Commercial Real Estate Show online. [Ron’s interview begins at minute 28.] 

About Stevens & Wilkinson:

Founded in 1919, Stevens & Wilkinson is a full-service architecture, engineering and interior design firm committed to providing clients with “Smart Design Solutions.” The firm’s combined design capabilities lead to projects executed with creative, innovative and holistic design solutions. Learn more: www.stevens-wilkinson.com.