By Lisa Balschunat
When Atrium Properties of Clifton Park was awarded two town contracts, the company began working on the projects by incorporating new design techniques and technology that creates an efficient transfer of information,said Jacqueline Phillips Murray, a member of the Plank Road Centre LLC.
Rob Holbrook, president of V&H Construction, of Fort Edward, which built the new Common Roots Brewing Co. in South Glens Falls, agrees that new digital design techniques provide a field crew at the site with real-time changes they can pull up on a tablet, instead of waiting for a hard copy blueprint change as in earlier years.
“The change can be emailed to the project manager and the information can be given quickly to the guys at the site,” he said. “They can blow up a drawing or sketch and see the details on a tablet or smart phone easily … that was not possible Fyears ago with just a print.”
Tom Albrecht, president of Hilltop Construction, of Hudson Falls, said, “codes are always evolving in this industry—looking for energy efficiency and better building practices,” he said. “We’re not building the cracker boxes of the 50s anymore. Projects are becoming more engineered and more specialized.”
“Demands are more specialized,” he noted, “Forty-four years ago it was so simple.”
According to Phillips Murray, “the Plank Road Centre has 34 units, with 12 two-bedroom and 22 one-bedroom—all with balconies, central air and state-of-the art kitchens,” he said. “One retail space, for a food service tenant, is also proposed on the first floor, which will have four apartments.”
The complex abuts existing “green” area and will include streetscaping and connectivity to Market 32 in Clifton Park Shoppers World.
She said Clifton Park created a Town Center plan several years ago to encourage “corresponding walkable environments” for residents to access existing retail and commercial development. “We happy to be part of the that vision.”
Additionally, Atrium Properties is constructing Town Square, a 39-unit luxury apartment complex at 451 Clifton Park Center Road. It will provide a walkable environment to the Clifton Park Center, YMCA, and Hannaford Supermarket in Village Plaza. “These two particular projects are state-of-the-art for Clifton Park,” she said.
“Both are ‘smart buildings’ that cater to individuals working remotely with high speed internet and data services needs, temperature control and car charging stations.”
Smart buildings typically manage and control operations including lighting, security, heating, ventilation and air conditioning (HVAC) and other systems. “We are also meeting design demands of the town code by building closer to the road and not behind a parking lot. We are conscious of connectivity and have the good design features the town required for tenants,” she said.
For two months, the pandemic shutdown the Plank Road Centre, but “on the flip side, the construction industry opened in Phase One. We put all of our protective measures in place and were pleased that the project was outside work,” she said. “Our crew is doing a great job with the project. It was important for them, and for our economy, to get back to work.”
Holbrook, said efficiency was at a premium after the 2019 fire that destroyed Common Roots. Then COVID-19 halted construction of the redesign, and all eyes were on V&H Construction workers as they attempted to resurrect a beloved establishment in 11 months.
Designed by Phinney Design Group, of Saratoga Springs, the build was fluid.
“We work on-line often to communicate with the architects and engineers on the design build,” Holbrook said. “Then, we found ourselves discussing the project even more on-line” due to the pandemic.
With technological advances, Holbrook said “there is more integration between the mechanical, electrical and build teams now” that creates a more streamline process.
V&H needed a three-week extension with the brewery project due to the pandemic shutdown, but was able to finish by July 4. Twelve employees worked on the job, as well as several subcontractors.
V&H was recently awarded a $390,000 project to build a Glens Falls National Bank & Trust Co. branch in Greenwich and is working on an addition for the Cambridge Pacific on Route 22, where a $1 million printing press is being installed. The company has several other projects on tap.
Albrecht said Hilltop crews have been working to “beat the heat” by starting early wherever possible.
The masks are hot in the heat, but the workers are working through it. In this industry you have to be adaptable,” he said. “Change happens. You either go with it or get left behind.”
Hilltop is presently framing a Stewart’s Shop in Indian Lake and just completed one is Port Henry. The structures are the company’s new prototype buildings, with more room and expanded grocery sections. There will be a ground breaking in Keene soon.
Albrecht said the footprint for the convenience shops is consistent.
“The guys know what to expect. We’ve had a 10-year relationship with Stewart’s — building 74 new shops” he said. “Life is good. Business is good.”
“I commend Gov. Cuomo for making hard decisions early on in this pandemic. He made tough choices. I fully advocate all to wear masks. We all need to get healthy again,” said Albrecht.
By Lisa Balschunat