- Sep 04, 2012
Many developers bid out their projects to general contractors once the developments are designed. That practice, however, need not be the customary procedure, says Brian Chartrand, executive vice president of Driver Urban. As a general contractor, Chartrand’s advice for developers is to involve their general contractors at the pre-construction stage of the project, such that the service provider can supply valuable input.
Driver Urban may have the opportunity to engage in more of such consulting assignments in the years ahead. The company has been created as an independent company by the 93-year-old general contractor, C.W. Driver, to specialize in the construction of multifamily apartments, mixed-use developments, affordable housing, student and senior housing and hospitality projects. Before it formed Driver Urban, C.W. Driver had created another company, Driver SPG, which focuses on renovation, adaptive re-use and smaller-scale new construction projects. “We had a lot of success with that,” says Chartrand. “It is no secret multifamily is in a bit of a boom here. [So we asked,] ‘Why not create a group that focuses on the multifamily sector?’”
Driver Urban will continue to be managed out of C.W. Driver’s Irvine, Calif. office. The firm has about 28 employees currently. It has hired multifamily specialists who are experts in such sectors as mixed-use, seniors and student housing, says Chartrand. C.W. Driver’s president, Dana Roberts, says, “With a team of industry experts and an emphasis on innovative building practices, Driver Urban is able to share C.W. Driver’s resources as it pursues projects in the multifamily-, mixed-use, and other target markets.”
Driver Urban has already broken ground on two projects in Los Angeles. The AVANT project, located at 1340 S. Figueroa in the South Park neighborhood of Downtown Los Angeles, is a $34 million development near L.A. Live and the Staples Center. The 247-unit, mixed-use development will include 11,000 square-feet of ground-level retail space. The second project, located in the dynamic Koreatown District of Los Angeles, is a $17 million, 130-unit multifamily development.
“Demand for higher density, urban living environments is rapidly increasing as people are seeking a more luxurious lifestyle conveniently located in metropolitan destinations,” says Chartrand. “Driver URBAN is our response to that increased demand.“ With the support of C.W. Driver, Driver URBAN will offer preconstruction and construction services, says Chartrand. He says the services will focus on “collaboration and creative problem-solving” as well as “innovation, quality, and value.”