The Valdosta Daily Times
Look at any economic report from the last decade and you'll find one constant: as construction goes, so goes the nation.
If construction is up, then consumer confidence and economic optimism is up. If construction is down, then consumer confidence and optimism plummets along with it
But, there's cause for optimism. A report released last week by the U.S. Department of Commerce finds construction spending for the first eight months of 2013 at a seasonally adjusted $581.9 billion, a 5.9 percent increase (with a margin of error of 1.5 percent) above the $549.4 billion spent for the same period in 2012.
“Housing is starting to come back, but it's tough,” said Matt King.
It's something Matt has seen first hand. Part of K2 Ventures, along with his father, Ray, King has spent the last 10 months working on The Timbers condominiums on West Cranford Avenue.
“I wanted to try and build something,” said King.
It started in 2012, with King batting around the idea with long-time friend John Courson, who works with First Commercial Real Estate. The two had worked together before on rehabilitation projects, but hadn't tackled a bottom to top development project.
They settled on three vacant lots off the corner of North Oak Street and West Cranford Avenue, a spot equidistant from both Valdosta State University and South Georgia Medical Center, with an eye towards developing higher-end condominiums for rent.
“Valdosta is flooded with apartment complexes. We wanted to do something more high-end.”
They got Jimmy Cohn with CMA Architects to design the layout and Doug Carter of Carter Design to design the interiors.
In January, they went before the Valdosta Historic Preservation Commission with a building plan that called for three-story tall units, but were asked to nix the third story and come back with a two-story plan.
“We considered the three-story building plan, but we wanted to be good neighbors. We were going to build, but we were going to build it right.”
A second submission to the Commission resulted in a few details they wanted changed, but the third submission got the proverbial stamp of approval.
“We settled with the Historical Society. I understand where they're coming from. They've had problems with developers in the past...they brought another level of 'step your game up.'”
They decided to call it The Timbers after the exposed wood work and stone work featured throughout the complex breaking ground at the beginning of February with Jeff Lovell Engineering and Cauthan Construction. Though they found themselves deluged with rain for 30 days this summer, they managed to stay on target, transforming those three vacant lots into 18 two-story units, with each unit having three upstairs bedrooms, each with its own separate bathroom.
Both King and Courson acknowledge that the development had a sharp learning curve, but it's taught them a couple of things.
“The biggest thing is being patient,” said King. “Everything has its own schedule. It's all a process.”
It's also taught him to trust the people he brings on for projects.
“You hire people for a reason. Then you have to get out of their way.”
With construction completed save for a few odds and ends—adding on a small dog park, for example—The Timbers condominiums is accepting tenants, with the next open houses schedule for Sunday and Friday afternoon, from 1 p.m. through 5 p.m.
King and Courson would like to expand in the future, but they're also thinking about their next project.
“I don't think I can call myself a developer yet. I think I'm going to have to get a couple more under my belt before I can say I'm a developer.”