Brooks & Freund LLC – Grand Central Apartments

Brooks and Freund picBrooks and Freund’s subcontractors and vendors play a critical role in its success on projects including Grand Central Apartments in Fort Myers, Fla. By Jim Harris, Senior Editor at Knighthouse Media 

Brooks & Freund LLC believes in being fully accountable for the quality of its projects. “It’s not just how we complete a building that sets us apart, it’s how we handle issues afterward,” says Rose McCurry, director of operations for the Fort Myers, Fla.-based company. “We stand by our products and the job we’ve done – if something comes up on a project and it’s not what we promised, we will take care of it.”

The company works closely with its clients and subcontractors to address any concerns that may arise during its work. “Our network of reliable subcontractors makes all of our projects successful – we help them, and they secure labor and materials to keep our projects going,” she adds.

All of the company’s field employees are equipped with state-of-the-art technology, which assists them in their work. Brooks and Freund recently implemented the Procore project management software, which its field staff can access on smart phones or tablet devices. “[Procore] has really been a gamechanger from what we were able to do before,” McCurry says. “We now have everything at our fingertips, and our field and office teams are connected with real-time data as it relates to changes.”

Founded in 2000, Brooks and Freund performs general contracting and construction management services for projects of multiple teams including multifamily residential, commercial, senior living and recreational facilities. “We’ve built warehouses, roads and airports – it’s all a matter of what the market needs,” McCurry says. “We can do pretty much anything from new construction to rebuilds.”

Brooks and Freund primarily works in southwest Florida, though it has performed projects outside of that area for specific clients. “We try to establish subcontractor relationships in new markets that we enter, but we have a core group of subcontractors and suppliers that we work with,” she adds. “We are expanding that group and bringing in new subcontractors so we can continue to grow and meet the demands of our clients.”

Teaming Up

The company is drawing on its strong subcontractor relationships to complete one of its largest ongoing projects. Work began in April 2018 on Grand Central Apartments, a $37 million complex in Fort Myers, Fla. 

“We have strong relationships with subcontractors in the southwest Florida area,” Project Manager Sara Grimes notes. “Performing the same types of projects with [subcontractors] creates efficiencies and consistency in terms of knowing which products to use.”

Grand Central Apartments will include one 120-unit apartment building, two 28-unit buildings and one 104-unit buildings, and will be 415,265 gross square feet in total area. Of that total, 290,092 square feet will be air-conditioned, Grimes notes. 

The 120-unit buildings and 104-unit building will be four stories in height, and the smaller, 28-unit buildings will be three stories tall. All of the buildings are built on a structure of hollow precast concrete planks and wood trusses, with concrete masonry unit exterior walls. 

The complex will include a clubhouse, a barbecue area, a dog park and a pet washing area. All four buildings are arranged around a central courtyard. In addition, Grand Central Apartments will be near restaurants that are under development. The restaurants and apartments are developed and owned by Aileron Capital Management, for whom Brooks & Freund has completed several past projects including apartment buildings and assisted living facilities. 

The project is anticipated to conclude in April 2020. Concrete foundation work began in summer 2018 following an extensive earthwork and excavation phase. The complex sits on land that was formerly occupied by a mobile home park.

“We discovered more concrete and boulders that needed to be processed than we anticipated,” Grimes says, noting that the foundations for the mobile homes were buried underground. “That was an extra challenge for us.”

The company is working closely with Florida Power and Light (FPL) and data fiber provider Hotwire Communications to phase in the placement of utilities. “We are making sure locations are planned out and utilities are in place in preparation for turning buildings over,” she adds. “We are getting buy-in from the city during phase turnover.”

Keeping it Safe

Brooks and Freund’s safety procedures related to the project include reviewing site issues during weekly meetings with site superintendents. All subcontractors submit a site-specific safety plan which is reviewed by the company’s safety manager and third-party safety director. “Right now, we are focused on crane safety and keeping the FAA and Page-Field Airport up to speed on crane usage. This daily communication is critical to sequencing our concrete pours,” Grimes says. “As we roll into different phases of construction, we will address task specific safety topics with all subcontractors.”

Weekly safety meetings cover industry hot topics including silica, which the company regularly trains its staff to handle. 

A safety inspector also observes all ongoing work at the site. “If they see a worker doing something unsafe, they will stop them right away, provide a warning and have them take corrective action,” Grimes says. “If those actions are not taken, subcontractors would be removed from the project.”

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