BBL Builders

BBL Builders leads the way in the redevelopment of a former housing project. The first phase of the transformation of a former 1940s public housing project in New Orleans into a community of affordable town homes and apartment units is now complete. General Contractor BBL Builders of Dallas recently finished work on the Columbia Parc at the Bayou District development on the site of the former St. Bernard’s housing project, razed following damage sustained during Hurricane Katrina.

The new development has attracted some high profile visitors including HUD Secretary Shaun Donovan, investor Warren Buffet and President Barack Obama.The first phase features 466 for rent town home and apartment units in 73 buildings with a distinctly New Orleans style over 10 city blocks. The project is the largest in BBL’s 20-year history, Senior Project Manager Stan Fulks says. “This is a huge feather in my cap personally, but we’re excited about it companywide,” he adds. “We always knew we could do a project like this; now we’re looking for the next big one.”

Columbia Residential of Atlanta developed and manages the community. The architect of record is Broadmoor Design Group of Metairie, La.; the design architect is JHP Architecture/Urban Design of Dallas, and the landscape architect Wood + Partners of Hilton Head, S.C. The site is on a 99-year lease from the Housing Authority of New Orleans.The housing units are the first of a multiphase redevelopment. Additional housing and a senior living facility already have financing commitments. Other phases include the construction of a new playground, a sports park, a charter school, and retail. Three of the original apartment buildings have been preserved and will become a pre-school. Future phases have not yet been bid or awarded, Fulks says.

Community Features

The 466 units in the project include 157 public housing units, 160 tax credit units that can be rented using rental assistance vouchers, and 149 market-rate rental units.In addition to housing, the development includes two community centers featuring an Internet café, a workout facility, playground, pool and a movie theater. The site also features an interactive, musically themed “splash pad” for children with fixtures that squirt water. All of the units are wood frame on concrete foundations with brick and siding and composition roofs. Interiors feature granite countertops, marble vanities, and vinyl plank flooring and porcelain tile.

The development is LEED Silver certified and includes sustainable features, the use of natural lighting and energy efficient windows, environmentally friendly landscaping and irrigation, and recycling of construction debris, Fulks says.BBL worked closely with a number of subcontractors on the project, including several New Orleans-area companies. “We brought in some subcontractors we were familiar with and developed a good rapport with the locals,” he adds. “We didn’t show favoritism toward any subcontractor; our bigger subs were not favored – when we had to call them out, we called them out just like everyone else.”

The company has an established relationship with Columbia Residential because the companies had worked together previously on residential projects in Houston. “Columbia knew that we closely scrutinize the work that we do and had a comfort level with us,” Fulks says. “We have a reputation for doing a quality product; if we have to go back and fix something, we don’t complain about it, we just go in and fix it.”

An Expanding Reach

BBL Builders was known as Texas BBL Builders until 2010, when management changed the name to reflect an emphasis on a wider geographic area from New Mexico and Colorado to Georgia, Fulks says. The company specializes in multifamily, mixed-use, hotel, senior living and light commercial projects. Services include:

  • Preconstruction
  • Concept planning
  • Owner/consultant coordination
  • Value enhancement
  • Detailed cost estimate
  • Municipal coordination
  • Project management
  • Project supervision
  • Project scheduling
  • Project accounting
  • LEED initiatives
  • Warranty service

“Our strength lies in our knowledge, skills and expertise within the construction industry,” the company says. “As a result, owners, developers and architects alike turn to BBL Builders for answers and request our involvement throughout an entire project, from concept design right through to completion and occupancy.”

BBL Builders, founded in 1991, is part of the Bette Companies, a group of diversified general contractors and construction services pro­viders. In addition to BBL Builders, the group also includes First Columbia Comm­ercial Real Estate of Albany, N.Y.; Bette & Cring, a New York-based construction management and general contracting firm; and Cogen Power Technologies, an energy cogeneration company based in Latham, N.Y.

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