Lincoln Property Co.



Lincoln Property Co. is completing Aspire Midtown and 909 Flats apartment projects in Nashville to take advantage of the city’s burgeoning economy.

By Russ Gager

Headquartered in Dallas, Lincoln Property Co. says it is the second-largest multifamily manager in the United States. The company also is vertically integrated and develops and builds many of the projects it manages.

“Our management group is the bread and butter of the company – it’s what keeps the lights on,” Vice President of Construction Southeast Ken Buck emphasizes. “Regionally in the Southeast, we manage in excess of 30,000 apartment units. Nationally, I believe the number is 163,000 apartment units, managed mostly for institutional clients.”Lincoln info box

That management portion of the company helps smooth out the cyclical fluctuations experienced in the development and construction economy, thereby allowing the development arm to be discriminating in selecting properties to pursue for development and construction. Nashville – being the capital of Tennessee and a vital healthcare, transportation, business and tourism center for the U.S. – created a development market that Lincoln decided to pursue, and construction is on the upswing.

Lincoln Property Co. is taking advantage of Nashville’s favorable market by developing two luxury apartment projects, Aspire Midtown (partnered with Crow Holdings) and 909 Flats (partnered with MetLife Real Estate Investors). Plans are for the two projects to be managed by Lincoln Property Co. when their construction is complete.

Aspire Midtown was completed in May. “We are actively leasing Aspire Midtown and exceeding our anticipated leasing velocity,” Buck reports. Aspire Midtown is bounded by the well-established West End neighborhood to the south and is close to an abundance of jobs. The property is located within the largest medical district in the Southeast, anchored by Tri-Star Centennial Medical Center, Saint Thomas Midtown Hospital, Nashville General Hospital, Vanderbilt University and Medical Center and HCA’s new global headquarters.

Its location on Charlotte Avenue allows easy connectivity to the central business district’s 9.4 million square feet of office and associated jobs. Additionally, the property is close to the areas best shopping, dining and entertainment, including concerts and games at LP Field or Bridgestone Arena, as well as having Centennial Park just a block away.

Luxury Amenities

Community amenities at Aspire Midtown include a resort-style pool, shuffleboard, table tennis and billiard facilities outside a neighborhood clubhouse with resident grilling stations, a cyber café and business center for Web surfing and an onsite pet spa and pet run. Also included are a bike storage facility, 24-hour emergency maintenance, a fitness center, multi-level parking garage for residents, outdoor dining and a fireplace.

Apartments are cable and Internet-ready and feature stainless steel appliances, USB outlets in select locations, 9-foot ceilings, 42-inch wood cabinetry, brushed nickel hardware, granite countertops in kitchens and bathrooms, washers and dryers, and ceiling fans in the living rooms and bedrooms. Select apartment homes include dual-sink vanities in the bathrooms, private patios or balconies, soaking tubs and stand-up showers.

The Aspire Midtown has a rentable square footage of 236,483 and 279 units over its two buildings with five stories of wood-frame construction. Of those 279 units, 174 have one bedroom and 105 have two. “We have amenities on all five stories,” Buck says. The Aspire Midtown’s exterior is a mixture of several shades of brick, stucco, cementitious siding and metal panels.

The development has a total acreage of 3.61. A long and thin green belt extends along the west side of one of the two buildings that includes one of two parks with dog trots. The swimming pool and residents’ grilling stations are located adjacent to the covered outdoor lounge and gaming area. The two apartment buildings – each of which has courtyards – abut a six-level parking structure of precast concrete that was assembled quickly onsite.

Hip and Eclectic

The land on which Aspire Midtown is built was previously owned and used by the Tennessee Department of Transportation (TDOT) as a parking lot on which the state parked their motor pool. TDOT had a garage directly across 23rd Avenue from this parking lot where it performed service and repairs to its motor pool. This property has since been transformed by Holladay Properties into The Sheds on Charlotte, providing 40,000 square feet of office space and a new free-standing Starbucks. “The entire area is seeing a huge transition,” Buck reports. “It is a hip, eclectic neighborhood. Before, it had an industrial flavor to it.”

Due to the previous uses of the property, Aspire Midtown’s site was required by the Tennessee Department of Environmental Conservation (TDEC) to undergo some environmental remediation during construction, which began in September 2014. “We successfully completed TDEC’s voluntary brownfield program and did the environmental remediation associated with that for the petroleum-based products in the soil,” Buck emphasizes.

No piers or pilings were required for the structure because of the shallow rock on the site. “Everything sits on rock,” Buck stresses. The foundation consists of a combination of spread footings with post-tension concrete slabs. Approximately 15 percent of the project includes units on the basement level. “The topography slopes to the northeast corner, and that’s where we have the basement units to make up the grade difference,” Buck explains.

Access Agreement

A challenge for LPC Contractors of Southeast Inc. – Lincoln Property Co.’s construction subsidiary that acted as construction manager at risk on the project – was gaining access to Aspire Midtown’s property during construction. “We didn’t own the land at the Charlotte Avenue curb cut where you come into the project and still don’t,” Buck points out. “We negotiated a parking and easement agreement with a neighboring property at 2300 Charlotte – which is an office building – thereby allowing us to come in and enter the property through the traffic light and associated curb cut in trade for providing them with parking in the bottom level of the parking deck during office hours. It is a shared parking agreement whereby the office tenants could park there during business hours and apartment residents are allowed to park there at night.”

The presence of the office building was another challenge. “We had to construct Aspire Midtown surrounding an operational office building at 2300 Charlotte and keep their people safe, as well as our people separated from them,” Buck notes. Because Aspire Midtown’s construction activities were occupying some of the office building’s parking lot, LPC Contractors leased offsite parking for the building’s employees.

“We had to create safe and adequate sidewalks and passage through the construction zone for them to access the parking,” Buck recalls. LPC Contractors also shuttled up to four people at a time in a utility vehicle from the parking lot to the office. “It was only a couple hundred yards of a walk, but in the wintertime and in adverse weather, the shuttle helped,” Buck declares. It was run for two hours during the morning and evening rush and at lunchtime.

LPC Contractors did no self-performing but rather used from 70 to 80 subcontractors and vendors on the Aspire Midtown. “Labor has been a challenge for everybody in the industry today because there’s so much construction going on,” Buck asserts. “That’s where our preferred vendors came in, because they allocated the labor to us that is necessary to meet our schedule.” LPC Contractors has been working with some of its subcontractors for more than 30 years, Buck says. “We didn’t have any real shortages on this project,” he adds.

Buck attributes the success of the Aspire Midtown’s construction to “our supportive and long-term relationships with subcontractors and vendors that travel with us nationally and regionally.” While it takes a complete team to make any project successful, each project has subcontractors and vendors whose performance went “above and beyond” their contractual duties. This project was no exception, as Phoenix Framing, GA Star Plumbing, Moen, Triad Mechanical, Lithko Contracting LLC, United Builders, and Elite Flooring all helped “lead the charge” on this project.

Although no building information modeling was necessary on this project, Buck thinks wood structures have their own challenges. “These five-story wood structures are to me more complicated than doing a high-rise, because you’re pushing wood to its structural limits,” Buck remarks. “Because of that, it has a lot of fastening details that are different on every level. How you fasten the structure and your tie-downs are different. Every door and window is different. It requires the superintendent and the framing superintendent to be a lot more detail-oriented.”

909 Flats

Another Lincoln Property Co. project in Nashville – this one partnered with MetLife Real Estate Investors – is 909 Flats, which will offer early occupancy in July and is scheduled for completion in September. Located near Bicentennial Capitol Mall Park where downtown Nashville and the Germantown neighborhood meet, the 232 residences at 909 Flats include 181 one-bedroom apartments and 51 two-bedroom units. Its rentable square footage is 187,419 square feet.

The apartments at 909 Flats are close to downtown Nashville, the new Nashville Sounds baseball park, Music Row, Vanderbilt University and the Nashville Riverfront. The development offers Energy Star-rated appliances, access to public transportation and design elements that feature natural materials. Apartment amenities include 9-foot ceilings, quartz countertops in the kitchens, cable and high-speed Internet connections and USB outlets in the kitchens. Select apartments include private patios or balconies, pantries, walk-in closets, kitchen islands, double-sink vanities in the bathrooms, washers and dryers and walk-in showers.

Community amenities include a guitar-shaped outdoor swimming pool with barbecue grills and lounge seating, a business center with computers and Wi-Fi, green building features, an on-site music studio and practice lounge, an artist’s corner and resident art studio, a dog den and run, a bike storage room, a kayak storage room, a fitness zone, a resident hub with a coffee bar and a six-story, controlled access parking garage.

Pushing the Limits

The general contractor on the five-story 909 Flats is Cambridge Swinerton Builders Inc. Lincoln Property Co. sometimes uses LPC Contractors on its projects that span the United States and sometimes third-party general contractors. “It’s a mix, and it’s dependent on our evaluation of the risk and reward and the resources available,” Buck explains.

Approximately 50 to 60 subcontractors worked on 909 Flats, which began construction in April 2014. The exterior of the wooden structure on a one-story concrete podium and foundation is a combination of brick, stucco, cast stone and fiber cement panels. The community amenities are located on the first two floors of 909 Flats as well as in the top floor where the Sky Lounge offers expansive views of downtown Nashville and the capitol building. Apartments are located on the first levels and above.

A challenge of 909 Flats was overcoming the flood plain on which it is located, where a liquor store and a small retail shop had been. In extremely heavy rainfalls, the combined storm and sanitary sewer in the area would back up. The 909 Flats site was raised with fill approximately 7 feet in order to bring the site above the 100-year flood plain.

Raising the site required the project’s design to create a compensatory cut equal to the amount of fill placed in the flood plain. This was accomplished by designing a water storage vault under the footprint of the parking deck, which required digging a hole 15 feet deep and blasting through any rock that was there. This design incorporated concrete walls 22 feet tall and two feet thick extend from the bottom of the hole around the garage’s perimeter.

It was while excavating the hole under the parking deck that the project encountered its largest challenge. During the excavation process, an underground stream was encountered. The impact of this stream included redesign of the vault as well as de-watering measures that resulted in the pumping of more than 60 million gallons of water in order to place the foundations.

Local Expertise

Headquartered in Dallas, Lincoln Property Co. is always involved in the construction of its projects nationally and has regional offices nationwide. “That way, we get the regional expertise incorporated in our development, construction and management,” says Ken Buck, vice president of construction Southeast. The company’s culture is very supportive of its employees. “They create a super culture to work in,” Buck says.


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