The Hammocks Apartment Communities
Providing the full range of professional services as part of a well-respected developer’s design team in one’s hometown to create a highly successful multi-unit residential project is one thing. Essentially replicating that project in a series of other communities, however, is quite another, and it challenged BME’s resourcefulness in relationship building and our ability to quickly establish rapport to achieve similar success in each location.
The first project developed was The Hammocks at Southern Hills in Perinton, NY, the Rochester area home of BME and developer David Riedman. This 24-acre, residential community includes 184 apartments, 36 townhomes and a community clubhouse. It was to serve as an ideal lifestyle-living model for five Riedman Development Corporation “Hammocks” projects within western New York and Pennsylvania.
It All Starts With the Planning
In every Hammocks residential community, bar none, we had to first overcome a misconception by the local community as to what they believed to be a typical tenant profile in terms of household income, demographic factors, or lifestyle preferences, to name a few.
Therefore, step one was to quickly create a credible development proposal based on actual data from other successful Hammocks or similar project types. This meant addressing the full range of development considerations, such as zoning and land use, access, utilities, environmental constraints and opportunities, pedestrian and open space amenities for residents, architecture, and aesthetics.
Last but not least, we had to create a plan consistent with the context of the community. BME utilized many creative problem solving approaches to overcome this challenge, and we combined this with supportive information that addresses “The Need” as well as the coincidental economic benefits to the community.
For example, an innovative approach at “The Hammocks at Canandaigua” was the concept of ‘vertical clustering,’ which allowed the project to extend the ‘as of right’ permitted building height from three to four stories. This provided a greater amount of open space throughout the project, including community gardens, walking trails, active and passive recreation space, and natural wildlife habitat areas—all of which had been identified as community benefits for the use of clustering.
BME has successfully used this landmark case-law concept, and other similar land use and zoning approaches, on several other projects. Often these approaches have proven the economic viability of a project and allowed it to go forward. BME strives to provide these critical considerations at the earliest possible time to aid in the client’s decision-making process.
Attention to Detail
Construction Services Manager
At BME, we are strong advocates for our client. In the case of the Hammocks projects, David Riedman’s initial development in the Town of Perinton quickly became a proven winner and made an excellent ‘pilot project’ for the subsequent success of the Hammocks prototype in other communities.
However, some infrastructure elements that were incorporated in the first project that were important to the owner were not at first received favorably by other municipalities where Hammocks’ projects were to be located.
“We help our clients prioritize the importance of utilizing cost-saving details.”
For example, details for the design of the individual unit and common sidewalks included an important priority to provide a “no-step entry” into the residences wherever possible, given the targeted demographic profile of the prospective tenants. An additional benefit of this design detail also allows the property management staff to efficiently and economically plow snow from the sidewalks with the same vehicle and at the same time as the roadways, which results in a significant savings in maintenance costs on an annual basis.
In a number of other Hammocks projects, however, we experienced initial resistance to the concept and a preference for a narrow and impractical tree lawn between road and sidewalk. As we worked through the site plan approval process, we were able to convince the municipalities that the Perinton feature was both safe and aesthetically pleasing, and it became an important detail of the approved development plan. That’s what being an advocate for your client is all about.
Avoiding Costly Delays
Lincoln Swedrock, P.E.
Engineering Department Manager
Every 30-day delay means significant lost revenue for the developer and community alike. And, it just so happens that the construction phase most often has the largest number of unpredictable variables to deal with from a project timing perspective.
Projects the size and scope of a typical 200-unit Hammocks’ development are complex, and they always involve many issues to be resolved with the municipalities in which they are located. At BME, we are proud of our ability to quickly establish rapport and excellent working relationships with municipal boards and officials, approval agencies, and public works staff, which allows us to obtain the required permits and approvals to avoid costly delays for our clients. This ability is based on our experience, as well as our commitment to responsiveness, and it is underscored by the reputation we’ve built in communities where we have worked.
“We keep the project moving—no costly delays allowed.”
In the case of the Hammocks projects, we were involved with a different municipality for every project. Some were quite familiar with us, and others were not. But each had their own expectations, concerns and priorities.
When we go into a new area, we know we have a short window of opportunity to prove our experience and qualifications and to demonstrate our respect for professional courtesy. Our approach is always to be highly proactive, with the highest regard for responsive communications with the municipalities, and always—always—being readily available for construction issues that arise.
Having a highly respected developer like David Riedman provided immediate credibility for the Hammocks brand. In each location, we were able to convey David’s commitment to quality and our experience in keeping a project on schedule.