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Southside Construction Update - February 2013

A brief look at the status of various projects under construction in and around Jacksonville's Edge City, the Southside.

Published February 25, 2013 in Development      31 Comments    Open printer friendly version of this article Print Article


feature

What Is An Edge City?


Tinseltown, near the JTB/Southside Boulevard interchange

The term, Edge City, was popularized in the 1991 book Edge City: Life on the New Frontier by Joel Garreau, who established its current meaning while working as a reporter for the Washington Post. Garreau argues that the edge city has become the standard form of urban growth worldwide, representing a 20th-century urban form unlike that of the 19th-century central downtown.

According to Garreau, Edge Cities typically consist of mid-rise office towers surrounded by massive surface parking lots and manicured lawns.  Instead of a traditional street grid, their infrastructure networks consist of winding parkways (often lacking sidewalks) that feed into arterial roads and freeway ramps.  They develop at or near freeway intersections and airports and they rarely include heavy industry.  They are large geographically because they are built at automobile scale.

Edge Cities are impossible without the automobile.  This is fitting because the first Edge City was Detroit's New Center, which was developed in the 1920's, three miles north of that city's downtown.  As streetcar systems were shut down, expressways expanded and automobile ownership surged, these secondary downtowns exploded with growth during the mid to late 20th century.  Today, Washington, D.C's Tysons Corner is the classic example of an Edge City containing more office space than downtown Atlanta, GA.

In Jacksonville, the Southside, specially the JTB corridor, has developed into our first true Edge City.  According to Garreau, there are five rules for a place to be considered an Edge City:

1. It must have more than five million square feet of office space.  This is enough to house between 20,000 and 50,000 office workers, as many as some traditional downtowns.  As of 2006, over 7 million square feet of office space was located within a three mile radius of Deerwood Park North.

2. It must have more than 600,000 square feet of retail space, the size of a medium shopping mall.  This ensures that the edge city is a center of recreation and commerce as well as office work.  St. Johns Town Center alone contains over 1 million square feet of retail space.

3. It must be characterized by more jobs than bedrooms. Despite the resident boom in condominium development along Gate Parkway, the JTB corridor is still known for its proliferation of office complexes.

4. It must be perceived by the population as one place.  When it comes to the urban core, many consider Riverside and San Marco to be different neighborhoods from downtown.  Despite, engulfing a land area larger than many major cities like San Francisco and Miami, most of the JTB corridor is identified as being in the Southside.

5. It must have been nothing like a city 30 years earlier.  In 1983, most of the JTB corridor was primarily rural and undeveloped.


Over the Southside's Blue Cross Blue Shield campus.

Because the Southside is our only emerging Edge City and in the midst of a development boom, we have decided to expand our monthly construction updates to include this area of Jacksonville.

source: http://en.wikipedia.org/wiki/Edge_city


Next Page: January 2013 Construction Update


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31 Comments

Jason

February 25, 2013, 08:48:18 AM
Its actually nice to see so much multi-family residential popping up. 

thelakelander

February 25, 2013, 08:53:37 AM
The funny thing is most of the multifamily residential construction is taking place in an area where developers have to pay a "transportation fee" to the Skinners so they can recoup their costs for building area roads like Gate Parkway.  I wonder if they are interested in placing a moratorium on their fee to stimulate additional growth around St. Johns Town Center?

Doctor_K

February 25, 2013, 09:29:55 AM
LoL.  touche.

I wonder why builders continue to build multi-family residential with wood (5000 Town obviously being the exception here).  Presumably it's cheaper.  But man.  Nothing beats concrete.  Especially in FL with hurricanes, termites, moisture, mildew, etc.

Wish they'd step their game up.

duvaldude08

February 25, 2013, 11:17:21 AM
I dont know why, but I dont care about anything that is happening on the southside. LOL

JFman00

February 25, 2013, 11:36:33 AM
Its actually nice to see so much multi-family residential popping up.

It's density without any of the usual benefits (on-the-street interactions, fewer car trips, fewer road fatalities, etc.), so not anything I'm too excited about.

Overstreet

February 25, 2013, 11:52:37 AM
Wood framing is cheaper and most times faster to build (read cheaper). Typically it is envelope protected from huricanes by the skin and roof (read cheaper).  Concrete takes longer and often is heaver because it is structure rated from hurricanes.

Wood framing fits the skill set of most apartment subcontractors.

Many apartment developers and retail developers plan to sell the development within five years after opening.

peestandingup

February 25, 2013, 12:24:01 PM
Its actually nice to see so much multi-family residential popping up.

It's density without any of the usual benefits (on-the-street interactions, fewer car trips, fewer road fatalities, etc.), so not anything I'm too excited about.

Exactly. Density built around cars & not people = nightmarish.

You can say the same things about Blanding or SJTC. Oh, they're "dense" alright. Dense with cars & road rage. And makes me want to put a gun to my head every time I go there.

simms3

February 25, 2013, 01:53:01 PM
Wood framing is cheaper and most times faster to build (read cheaper). Typically it is envelope protected from huricanes by the skin and roof (read cheaper).  Concrete takes longer and often is heaver because it is structure rated from hurricanes.

Wood framing fits the skill set of most apartment subcontractors.

Many apartment developers and retail developers plan to sell the development within five years after opening.

Second all of this.  You want concrete construction?  You need a different city that can support concrete construction.  Most of what you'll get in Jax is garden style stick...which is reflective of the low density, the low land costs and large land parcels, the lower risk and the rental rate matchup that is achievable in the market (concrete and higher quality is sooo much more expensive and there's simply not a market for that in Jax), etc etc.

Even in cities such as Charlotte and Dallas, there have been real challenges with concrete construction by way of materials pricing fluctuations (usually in the wrong direction), labor shortages, etc.  Charlotte has quite a job market that pays 23-30 year olds considerably more than in Jax, so they can also better afford the much more expensive infill characteristic of Uptown, the wards and the South End.  Even still, I have my doubts as to how successful all of these infill projects are going to be in all of these booming sunbelt cities, Atlanta in particular.  The jury is still out...only by sheer size and low interest rates are these projects really able to be justified, it's not as if the job markets are so spectacular where all of a sudden young professionals who were in $1,000 studios can now afford $1,500 studios!  And that's the pricing you get with concrete construction (add land costs and union contracts in urban gateways and that $1,500 studio becomes a $2,500 studio).

Overstreet

February 25, 2013, 03:06:27 PM
Building a concrete tower apartment building is not  a problem.  We are doing several apartment towers across the southeast.  Getting people to move in is the problem.  Note too that none of the 23 story towers we are doing are Berkmans or the ones on the south bank. Ours are the middle market.

simms3

February 25, 2013, 03:27:16 PM
Also, the kind of capital chasing deals in Jax is highly doubtfully looking for expensive product [read core deals] in such a risky and inexpensive market [read opportunistic market].  These developers are damn lucky if they can stabilize a commodity stick garden style community within 12 months of delivery, and while the fundamentals of the market [read jobs jobs jobs] are still considered a "buy"!  I don't think anyone really views the market as a long term hold with guaranteed stable cash flows, so with the risk already in the market, why add to the risk with the product?

220 Riverside might be a develop and hold strategy, given the partnership and the all-equity capital stack.  Cost of equity is more expensive than cost of debt...I'm sure the developers are weighing the length of time it might take to stabilize against the length of hold they might have to endure against the timing of when they may be able to sell such product at certain pricing so as to meet the preferred returns in that equity waterfall (and I'm sure the different partners have different time tables as to when they think they can exit).

All the other deals (less 5000 Town) are competing with each other for that SS young prof making $40-$60+K in one of the campuses over there.  We aren't talking about a market that is being driven by a bunch of 25 year old bankers making $80K downtown (as in Charlotte) or engineers under the age of 30 making hefty 6 figures working in high tech manufacturing and living in downtown Austin.

I'd say the SS construction update is a good indicator of the local job market moreso than local land use policies.  Until we start attracting really high paying jobs for 23-28 year olds, downtown, we aren't going to see much demand for higher rent infill close to downtown.  And the city does seem to be attracting high paying jobs for 30+ year olds (to the SS), but they are in the market for a cheap NE FL home for their family rather than an overpriced apartment.

There are so many things that go into this!  Something also unique to the sunbelt in particular given the history we've all had down there with having so much for so little, is that every renter now pretty much requires luxury finishes.  A 21 year old senior at UNF now basically requires granite counters and stainless stell appliances and high ceilings and space, amenities to the max, pool terrace, valet waste, etc...and they're not going to pay more than $900 for all of that.  In central Boston you'd be lucky to have a microwave, more than 400 SF, and a window that opens for less than $2500!  There is this disconnect in the South, so you can't have both worlds - superior construction AND all of that which you require.  Developers have to play in this market, to the jobs available and offered, to their renter base, etc.  It's not a renter base that is quite ready for the infill seen in Atlanta and Charlotte, and those cities certainly don't have a renter base profile as seen in Boston, DC, SF, etc.

simms3

February 25, 2013, 03:33:45 PM
Building a concrete tower apartment building is not  a problem.  We are doing several apartment towers across the southeast.  Getting people to move in is the problem.  Note too that none of the 23 story towers we are doing are Berkmans or the ones on the south bank. Ours are the middle market.

Are you doing them in Jax?  Tons of concrete going up in Atlanta...I am weary that there will be quite a few failed projects there for that very reason.  The job market there, after being completely built on a foundation of "housing boom" for 2 decades, has shifted to one that is more sustainable, but I don't think it's necessarily robust.  Many of the new projects built in the past 5 years are renting studios at ~$1,000, but most of the underwriting done with all of these new deals UC or delivering (~5,000 units in the core) pegs studios at $1,300, and these deals are no different than prior.  I don't think salaries of the renter base in the city have jumped 30% overnight (actually indicators are that salaries basically keep up with inflation at best and don't keep up with COL increases occuring in the city, so there is a squeeze which may be good for the rental market though housing is still so depressed and considered a better buy).

Also, the big story across the country and notably in the SE is the rapid rise in construction costs of said projects (stick construction seems to be left out of that "problem" story).  I have read articles about the rapid and significant rise in Charlotte, Atlanta, Houston, Dallas, Denver, and Seattle.  It's on both the materials and labor side.  Delays are happening as a result.

Bruin Brain

February 25, 2013, 04:14:06 PM
Hello! I'm de-lurking here because I'm doing some research on multifamily housing and know of a relevant study from the Spring 2010 issue of the Journal of Architectural and Planning Research written by Nico Larco, titled "Suburbia Shifted: Overlooking Trends and Opportunities in Suburban Multifamily Housing". It challenges some general assumptions about suburban multifamily housing, examining primarily American Housing Survey data on suburbs from 1997-2005. I'm not an expert (yet), but I can serve as messenger.

Here are some excerpts, with the main conclusion in bold:

"The single most reported criteria given by suburban multifamily residents for moving to their current neighborhood was convenience to jobs, with almost one-third of all recent movers citing this reason." (This was compared to 13% of suburban detached single-family residents.)

"The transportation behavior of suburban multifamily housing residents is markedly different than those of single-family housing residents. The modal split of multifamily residents points to a much higher rate of non-private automobile use: 6.6% of multifamily versus 1.5% of single-family home residents used public transportation as their primary means of travel to work. This percentage of public-transit use by suburban multifamily residents approaches the percentage of public transit use typically seen in urban areas (9.4%). In addition. 3.5% of multifamily versus 1.1% of single-family residents either biked or walked to work. Of those driving to work, 15.2% of multifamily residents drove with others while only 7.3% of single-family residents did so. Also, the median distance traveled to work was 17% lower for multifamily households (10 miles) than single-family households (12 miles)."

"A majority (55.1%) of multifamily households have only one car, and 24.5% of the households have no car at all. In addition, 48% of multifamily units reported having businesses or institutions within half a block, and 69.1% reported having a neighborhood store within one mile. This is in contrast to single-family housing, where 14.7% have businesses or institutions within half a block, and 54.7% have a neighborhood store within one mile. This reinforces the observation that many suburban multifamily developments are zoned around commercial areas."

"While multifamily suburban development is rarely created under the banner of smart growth or promoted by environmentally and socially progressive planners or designers, it contains many of the qualities and benefits of'smart-growth development. Suburban multifamily housing is dense, has mixed-use adjacencies, and houses a population showing an inclination to use non-auto-oriented transportation. These qualities need to be acknowledged so that planners, policymakers, and designers can shape policy and development to build upon the existing benefits of this housing type."


Also, more about the source:

"Nico Larco is an assistant professor in the Department of Architecture at the University of Oregon, where he is a co-director of the Sustainable Cities Initiative. His research is focused on various aspects of the design and development of sustainable suburbs."

I would say that although it's not the same as urban multifamily housing, neither is it merely a more headache-inducing concentration of other suburban housing types. The demographics, activities, behaviors, and proximity to non-residential spaces are different and more intermediary between what we think of as suburban and urban. Still, wouldn't it be nice to see this level of growth downtown!

JFman00

February 25, 2013, 08:34:36 PM
^thanks for that information. It makes sense when I think about it. I'm not upset that the density is occurring outside the core, it's that much of the density is just not created in a particularly sustainable, walkable context. I have friends that live around Deerwood and by SJTC who will cross parking lots, jaywalk and work their way through hedges to walk to destinations. It would be minimal cost and take just small design changes to make those dense, semi-suburban areas an order of magnitude more pedestrian friendly. It's interesting to see how far a half mile walk will really get you if you stick to roads, sidewalks and paths in these areas versus a half mile radius on paper.

TD*

February 25, 2013, 10:44:03 PM
I feel like Jax has some runaway growth going on lately. Tallahassee needs some!

ProjectMaximus

February 26, 2013, 01:26:44 AM
^thanks for that information. It makes sense when I think about it. I'm not upset that the density is occurring outside the core, it's that much of the density is just not created in a particularly sustainable, walkable context. I have friends that live around Deerwood and by SJTC who will cross parking lots, jaywalk and work their way through hedges to walk to destinations. It would be minimal cost and take just small design changes to make those dense, semi-suburban areas an order of magnitude more pedestrian friendly. It's interesting to see how far a half mile walk will really get you if you stick to roads, sidewalks and paths in these areas versus a half mile radius on paper.

Bingo!

thelakelander

February 26, 2013, 06:38:35 AM
These St. Johns Town Center property images suggest that suburban density can infill differently, if allowed, encouraged and guided. 


Some may not like that this project is stick built but at least it's up on the street.  This project has a site design that is actually more urban and pedestrian scale that the Riverside Place project proposed in Brooklyn.


5000 Town Center would be an idea project for the urban core. Even in the middle of suburbia, it's residents will be able to walk to retail, dining, and entertainment venues located at St. Johns Town Center and Markets at Town Center.  It will also be a much easier walk for it's residents than it is for residential communities adjacent to the Avenues, Regency Square, and River City Marketplace.


For what it is, how this recently built Brio is situated on it's outparcel isn't a bad thing. It's right up against the road and features outdoor dining between the building and the front property line.  The design of the road in front of it looks to be more a problem for the encouragement of multimodal usage. Big wide auto lanes, sidewalks with no amenities such as shade trees, crosswalks at major intersections with no pedestrian refuges, etc.


Anyway, if we want suburban walkability in certain nodes it's going to require us to modify our land use and transportation policies.  The mobility plan is only a start but we'll need some type of context sensitive streets policy to change the design guidelines of our streets and a land use modification to at least get buildings up on the sidewalks.

cityimrov

February 26, 2013, 07:29:10 AM
I have this question about all these wooden buildings.  Let's say my neighbor who lives in the first floor in one corner of my condo building is one of those tough guys who doesn't believe in calling for help.  After setting his kitchen on fire, he then completely ignores all the signs he needs help and somehow manages to engulf his entire unit in flames.  I happen to live in the other side of the building on the third floor. 

What kind of protection do I have from his folly? 

Dapperdan

February 26, 2013, 07:44:06 AM
I have this question about all these wooden buildings.  Let's say my neighbor who lives in the first floor in one corner of my condo building is one of those tough guys who doesn't believe in calling for help.  After setting his kitchen on fire, he then completely ignores all the signs he needs help and somehow manages to engulf his entire unit in flames.  I happen to live in the other side of the building on the third floor. 

What kind of protection do I have from his folly? 

Renters or homeowners insurance.

mbwright

February 26, 2013, 10:14:13 AM
TD*  Take a look at Mahan Rd, just past I-10 for the Welaunee development (clearing being done now, along I-10), and then the Fallschase property is for sale.  Devoe's property at the Car Museum is also slated for a big development.  It is just a matter of time.  Lots more traffic on the horizon on the far edge of town.  There are also lots of projects going up near campus.

thelakelander

February 26, 2013, 10:58:13 AM
Fringe development in Tallahassee?  Sprawling Killearn stands head and center.

simms3

February 26, 2013, 12:49:39 PM
I have this question about all these wooden buildings.  Let's say my neighbor who lives in the first floor in one corner of my condo building is one of those tough guys who doesn't believe in calling for help.  After setting his kitchen on fire, he then completely ignores all the signs he needs help and somehow manages to engulf his entire unit in flames.  I happen to live in the other side of the building on the third floor. 

What kind of protection do I have from his folly? 

Renters or homeowners insurance.

If you pay $900 for a 1 BR in a stick building, you can upgrade to a similar building constructed with stone and pay $1200, but then you still run basically the same risk that some idiot will start a fire that could burn through the building...so second above.  Renters or homeowners is your only monetary protection and living on the 1st floor is your best life protection. :)

FYI, the roof of 5000 Town already caught fire...bad omen for the only stone construction in town?

simms3

February 26, 2013, 01:16:15 PM
This just came through my email:

Quote
The exceptional year that Charlotte experienced in 2012 was not fully anticipated at year’s end 2011. However, MPF Research’s second quarter report (July 2012) showed Charlotte’s year-over-year rent growth at 6.8 percent, placing it third in the top 10 markets for rent growth nationally (of the top 50 national markets). This trend was reinforced by MPF’s third quarter publication which reported year-over-year rent growth of 6.3 percent. This marked the fourth straight quarter of year-over-year rent growth in excess of 6 percent. In addition, the report showed overall market occupancy levels of 95.9 percent, the second highest achieved in 14 years. Such favorable news serves as confirmation that the Charlotte economy has remained strong through the financial crisis, as banking sector jobs have remained largely intact and the overall economy of Charlotte is more diverse than many once thought.
 
As a result of the favorable market dynamics, Charlotte’s visibility amidst the national investment landscape has increased, causing investors, developers and lenders alike to take note. Charlotte has quickly become a strong alternative to the Raleigh/Durham market, which had been the most desirable market for multifamily investment in North Carolina in 2011 — and one of the leading markets in the nation.
 
According to Real Capital Analytics, Charlotte’s transaction volume was just shy of $900 million in 2012. Capital sources continue to flock to the highest grade assets, particularly in infill locations. There is steady sale activity in all tranches of the market, including some lingering foreclosure sales in the C and D asset space (where the foreclosure process serves to right-size deals that were overleveraged at the peak of the market). Historically low interest rates are fueling the multifamily investment sales market, with rates remaining at or below four percent for long-term, fixed-rate financing. This low interest rate environment has resulted in historically low cap rates, ranging from just below five percent for high-quality assets, to just below eight percent for assets of lower quality.
 
Predictably, the strong market fundamentals have, and continue to attract significant development activity. Real Data reported in September 2012 that 3,200 new units had been absorbed in the preceding 12 months, while an additional 4,000 units are currently under construction and  another 10,000 units are in various stages of planning. Development financing has become more readily available over the last 12 months and providers of both debt and equity are more tolerant of higher-risk investments (thereby enabling development).
 
Current development activity is segregated to a few distinct geographic clusters. The majority of new development projects are located in infill locations, predominately close to Uptown. Such areas include South End, NoDa (North Davidson), and Elizabeth. In addition, the affluent suburban submarkets of Southpark and Northlake have several projects currently under construction. 
 
Of these active submarkets, the South End submarket has been most active. Development in South End has been driven by its proximity to Uptown Charlotte; as well as the award-winning light-rail public transportation infrastructure, which has sparked an abundance of retail, restaurant, and entertainment venues in the immediate vicinity. The result is a highly desirable urban-lifestyle that appeals to the Gen-Y renter pool (the population that is driving current demand for apartments). JLB Partners, Colonial Properties Trust, Proffitt Dixon Partners, and Mid-America are currently building more than 850 units at various points along the rail line. Long term, South End is well on its way to becoming one of Charlotte’s most dynamic areas; however in the short term, oversupply poses a legitimate threat.
 
Despite documented high barriers to entry, the Southpark submarket will deliver two new rental communities beginning in the summer of 2013, including a $52 million, 321-unit high-profile project by Crescent Resources called Circle at Southpark. The Northlake submarket has also been a hotbed for development. Charlotte-based Charter Properties recently completed a 264-unit community called Longview. Ashton Reserve at Northlake, a 330-unit property developed by Tynes Development, and Madison Square at Northlake, a 285-unit property developed by Spectrum Properties, are both nearing completion. Wood Partners just began work on the 246-unit Perimeter Lofts that will begin leasing in the summer of 2013.
 
The Charlotte apartment market will remain strong in 2013 and should perform in the top tier of apartment markets in the Southeast. We expect investment activity to remain brisk, driven by the continued low interest rate environment and strong appetite for hard assets (real estate). Due to the city’s strong leadership, pro-business attitude, and the high quality of life available, Charlotte’s population growth should continue to build upon the growth seen during the previous decade (2000 to 2010). The Charlotte/Douglas International Airport remains a key economic driver for the city while ongoing investment and expansion of the airport will continue to attract business. Charlotte remains one of the most vibrant cities in the Sunbelt by maintaining a low cost of living, quality transportation options and a diverse economic base.

I think it underscores what I've been saying.  It's all about jobs, quality of those jobs, who those jobs are going to, where those jobs are located...and low interest rates.  In Jacksonville, there are still a ton of relocation jobs being offered to 35+ year olds and only a small amount of high paying jobs being offered to the under 30 set...and most of these jobs are going to the SS.  So stick construction garden apartments, cheaper tract housing, and expensive executive housing in San Marco and Ponte Vedra are the beneficiaries.  In Charlotte there is a thriving job market for the under 30 set in the city's downtown, and these jobs pay well enough where these young folks can rent in more expensive infill around downtown to be convenient to work, and there just so happens to be a light rail line that increases transportation options for Uptown workers, contributing to the emphasis on multifamily infill in the area and the emergence of a cool, vibrant area.

stephendare

February 26, 2013, 01:19:29 PM
Thanks Simms.  Nothing like having facts on your side.

fsquid

February 26, 2013, 02:55:37 PM
Quote
I think it underscores what I've been saying.  It's all about jobs, quality of those jobs, who those jobs are going to, where those jobs are located...and low interest rates.  In Jacksonville, there are still a ton of relocation jobs being offered to 35+ year olds and only a small amount of high paying jobs being offered to the under 30 set...and most of these jobs are going to the SS.  So stick construction garden apartments, cheaper tract housing, and expensive executive housing in San Marco and Ponte Vedra are the beneficiaries.  In Charlotte there is a thriving job market for the under 30 set in the city's downtown, and these jobs pay well enough where these young folks can rent in more expensive infill around downtown to be convenient to work, and there just so happens to be a light rail line that increases transportation options for Uptown workers, contributing to the emphasis on multifamily infill in the area and the emergence of a cool, vibrant area.

Sounds like me.  Started working as a young professional in Charlotte, got relocated to JAX at age 29 with a family.  Agree with your thesis.

Tacachale

February 26, 2013, 05:11:21 PM
Yes, even simms can be correct when he listens to the evidence ;)

I think that perception is pretty spot on. I've heard it said that Jacksonville is a mecca for folks in their 30s and 40s, likely due to exactly that. The other thing is that many of them have families, so they go for single-family houses and good school districts, so northern St. Johns is the beneficiary there.

cityimrov

February 26, 2013, 05:25:11 PM
I have this question about all these wooden buildings.  Let's say my neighbor who lives in the first floor in one corner of my condo building is one of those tough guys who doesn't believe in calling for help.  After setting his kitchen on fire, he then completely ignores all the signs he needs help and somehow manages to engulf his entire unit in flames.  I happen to live in the other side of the building on the third floor. 

What kind of protection do I have from his folly? 

Renters or homeowners insurance.

If you pay $900 for a 1 BR in a stick building, you can upgrade to a similar building constructed with stone and pay $1200, but then you still run basically the same risk that some idiot will start a fire that could burn through the building...so second above.  Renters or homeowners is your only monetary protection and living on the 1st floor is your best life protection. :)

FYI, the roof of 5000 Town already caught fire...bad omen for the only stone construction in town?

How quickly does fire spread in a wood building vs stone?  What kind of building would I want to live in for the best fire protection? 

simms3

February 26, 2013, 11:15:31 PM
Yes, even simms can be correct when he listens to the evidence ;)

But I thought I was always correct! ;)

I have this question about all these wooden buildings.  Let's say my neighbor who lives in the first floor in one corner of my condo building is one of those tough guys who doesn't believe in calling for help.  After setting his kitchen on fire, he then completely ignores all the signs he needs help and somehow manages to engulf his entire unit in flames.  I happen to live in the other side of the building on the third floor. 

What kind of protection do I have from his folly? 

Renters or homeowners insurance.

If you pay $900 for a 1 BR in a stick building, you can upgrade to a similar building constructed with stone and pay $1200, but then you still run basically the same risk that some idiot will start a fire that could burn through the building...so second above.  Renters or homeowners is your only monetary protection and living on the 1st floor is your best life protection. :)

FYI, the roof of 5000 Town already caught fire...bad omen for the only stone construction in town?

How quickly does fire spread in a wood building vs stone?  What kind of building would I want to live in for the best fire protection? 



I think you're maybe confusing water with combustible material :D.  Plenty of steel frame skyscrapers with top of the line fire retardants have still burned out, so any building is at risk.  I don't know the statistics, but I do have visibility into the industry :) I haven't yet heard of modern wood-framed apartments burning at a materially higher rate than concrete construction buildings.

You have to keep in mind that most apartments are built in at least semi-developed areas where fire stations are close and in areas with at least some degree of code that enforces a certain level of quality control, which could translate to stricter fire codes (this is especially true in fire prone states such as FL, TX and CA).

Also, the point of concrete construction usually isn't one of quality or safety.  Construction codes vary by municpality and jurisdiction, but typically anything under 5 floors only needs a wood frame.  Something that is 5 floors may blend the two materials, and then concrete is used, per code, for anything over 5 floors.  That has more to do with the engineering and load factors and less to do with fire proofing.

Why you see more concrete in larger cities also has to do with height...land is so scarce and expensive that developers must build up, which usually means the 5-10 floor range for most developments and higher for a few, virtually all of which require the use of concrete and steel.  The lower buildings using stone are often in historic districts which require certain materials (stone) and architecture (read stone...it's ok because these are often high rent areas where it doesn't take as many units to justify a development).

Frankly, I'd be more worried about fire in a dense city filled with concrete (such as SF where I live) than in the middle of the Southside where swampland, asphalt parking and retention ponds dominate.  I'm probably sleeping above many levels of gas and steam pipes, all of which are just ready to explode at a moment's notice.  I'm more worried about them than my neighbor or myself starting a kitchen fire.  On the SS you don't have a network of dangerous utilities underground, you don't have gas ranges in apartment building kitches, you don't have steam or gas heat (likely not), and you have lines running to the building through wet FL soil, not dozens of lines passing through underneath in city utility tunnels.

I'd be more worried about hurricanes...but despite how shitty FL construction appears to be statewide, these types of buildings have all held up pretty well in South FL.

cityimrov

February 26, 2013, 11:35:21 PM
Yes, even simms can be correct when he listens to the evidence ;)

But I thought I was always correct! ;)

I have this question about all these wooden buildings.  Let's say my neighbor who lives in the first floor in one corner of my condo building is one of those tough guys who doesn't believe in calling for help.  After setting his kitchen on fire, he then completely ignores all the signs he needs help and somehow manages to engulf his entire unit in flames.  I happen to live in the other side of the building on the third floor. 

What kind of protection do I have from his folly? 

Renters or homeowners insurance.

If you pay $900 for a 1 BR in a stick building, you can upgrade to a similar building constructed with stone and pay $1200, but then you still run basically the same risk that some idiot will start a fire that could burn through the building...so second above.  Renters or homeowners is your only monetary protection and living on the 1st floor is your best life protection. :)

FYI, the roof of 5000 Town already caught fire...bad omen for the only stone construction in town?

How quickly does fire spread in a wood building vs stone?  What kind of building would I want to live in for the best fire protection? 



I think you're maybe confusing water with combustible material :D.  Plenty of steel frame skyscrapers with top of the line fire retardants have still burned out, so any building is at risk.  I don't know the statistics, but I do have visibility into the industry :) I haven't yet heard of modern wood-framed apartments burning at a materially higher rate than concrete construction buildings.

You have to keep in mind that most apartments are built in at least semi-developed areas where fire stations are close and in areas with at least some degree of code that enforces a certain level of quality control, which could translate to stricter fire codes (this is especially true in fire prone states such as FL, TX and CA).

Also, the point of concrete construction usually isn't one of quality or safety.  Construction codes vary by municpality and jurisdiction, but typically anything under 5 floors only needs a wood frame.  Something that is 5 floors may blend the two materials, and then concrete is used, per code, for anything over 5 floors.  That has more to do with the engineering and load factors and less to do with fire proofing.

Why you see more concrete in larger cities also has to do with height...land is so scarce and expensive that developers must build up, which usually means the 5-10 floor range for most developments and higher for a few, virtually all of which require the use of concrete and steel.  The lower buildings using stone are often in historic districts which require certain materials (stone) and architecture (read stone...it's ok because these are often high rent areas where it doesn't take as many units to justify a development).

Frankly, I'd be more worried about fire in a dense city filled with concrete (such as SF where I live) than in the middle of the Southside where swampland, asphalt parking and retention ponds dominate.  I'm probably sleeping above many levels of gas and steam pipes, all of which are just ready to explode at a moment's notice.  I'm more worried about them than my neighbor or myself starting a kitchen fire.  On the SS you don't have a network of dangerous utilities underground, you don't have gas ranges in apartment building kitches, you don't have steam or gas heat (likely not), and you have lines running to the building through wet FL soil, not dozens of lines passing through underneath in city utility tunnels.

I'd be more worried about hurricanes...but despite how shitty FL construction appears to be statewide, these types of buildings have all held up pretty well in South FL.

It's not just Southside.  I remember the construction of those new condos in Riverside.  They were built using wood.  That new apartment across from the Y is being built with wood.  If that area booms, there's a good chance that all the nearby buildings will be built with wood.  That's a lot of wood in a small area.   Are you sure the safety level is the same as concrete? 

If so, do you have any idea why a lot of small hospitals and corporate office buildings are built using steel and concrete instead of wood? 

simms3

February 27, 2013, 03:25:20 AM
Can't compare hospitals and corporate office buildings to rentals.  Commercial space has extensive building systems that run horizontally with each floor (12' slab to slab and 9' ceiling heights leaving 3' to fit these crazy building systems/wiring in each floor).  All rentals need are an efficient layout that allows vertical piping to run up and down through unit walls (aka floorplan "stacks" where bathrooms/kitchens are located in the same spot up and down the building).  Construction is totally different.  Residential is about 10' slab to slab with 9-9.5' ceiling heights, so just one of the many differences.

Building systems such as mechanical rooms, elevator lifts, air handlers, chillers, pumps, etc are required for even small commercial buildings, and they go up top.  Heavy stuff that can't be supported on wood framing.  Most of these garden apartments on the SS simply need flooring that will support a bed and the HVACs are the same kinds of units you'll find at houses, and they are located on the ground (on the roofs or even individual balconies in value-engineered mid/highrises...but they are light).  Usually garden apartments don't have elevators...but the ones that do are interesting to see UC as you'll first see a bunch of 4-5 floor stone shafts, and then you'll see the wooden structures built around them.

Here's what I can tell you...we've had shitty stick construction in FL for decades now and very few fires to show for it...and surprisingly the construction has held up in hurricanes, too.  Doesn't mean there haven't been mold issues, however!

Also, besides code, land prices, job centers, demographic trends, etc. in most Sunbelt cities people (even 20 year olds) are used to having so much for so little (in terms of material goods).  This means renter preferences are for interior finishes, space, and amenities.  Cities in the south are desirable because they can give a person these things for less, but the cities themselves usually don't have much more to offer.  Developers must build units that can be rented out at prices not too high for the area, and with the many features desired in these lower income lower COL areas.

In SF all people want is to be able to afford to live in the city...so you get some dumpy shoebox studio for $2 or $3000, but you're never there and you're in the city enjoying what it has to offer.  In Jax, you get paid less so there's no way you can afford too much more than $1000, and the city doesn't offer you much so the apartment damn well better (plus whereas in the big cities young people meet each other out and about more, in less developed cities like Jax, young people either know each other from growing up or they meet in the free gym in the building).

Developers can't build some high quality thing and include granite counters and abundant amenities and free parking, etc and rent them for what the market can afford...so you get shitty construction and bad architecture/design in low density suburban areas, but you get your top priority "must-haves" apartment features.

Overstreet

February 27, 2013, 11:03:49 AM

How quickly does fire spread in a wood building vs stone?  What kind of building would I want to live in for the best fire protection?

Most residential buildings that look like they are stone are only stone clad on wood frame. Hence same thing both of your buildings.

It depends upon the design of the building. The stuff they cover up and you don't see. For example a wood building can and does have fire walls and smoke walls dividing the building dividing units. But you'll never know it unless you know what to look for. Then too if they are not properly marked and serviced by a competent trained force the follow on maintenance guy, telephone installer, air conditioning guy, etc has likely compromised the wall system.

Better indicator would be  fire sprinklers in the units.

cityimrov

February 27, 2013, 05:40:22 PM
Can't compare hospitals and corporate office buildings to rentals.  Commercial space has extensive building systems that run horizontally with each floor (12' slab to slab and 9' ceiling heights leaving 3' to fit these crazy building systems/wiring in each floor).  All rentals need are an efficient layout that allows vertical piping to run up and down through unit walls (aka floorplan "stacks" where bathrooms/kitchens are located in the same spot up and down the building).  Construction is totally different.  Residential is about 10' slab to slab with 9-9.5' ceiling heights, so just one of the many differences.

Building systems such as mechanical rooms, elevator lifts, air handlers, chillers, pumps, etc are required for even small commercial buildings, and they go up top.  Heavy stuff that can't be supported on wood framing.  Most of these garden apartments on the SS simply need flooring that will support a bed and the HVACs are the same kinds of units you'll find at houses, and they are located on the ground (on the roofs or even individual balconies in value-engineered mid/highrises...but they are light).  Usually garden apartments don't have elevators...but the ones that do are interesting to see UC as you'll first see a bunch of 4-5 floor stone shafts, and then you'll see the wooden structures built around them.

Here's what I can tell you...we've had shitty stick construction in FL for decades now and very few fires to show for it...and surprisingly the construction has held up in hurricanes, too.  Doesn't mean there haven't been mold issues, however!

Also, besides code, land prices, job centers, demographic trends, etc. in most Sunbelt cities people (even 20 year olds) are used to having so much for so little (in terms of material goods).  This means renter preferences are for interior finishes, space, and amenities.  Cities in the south are desirable because they can give a person these things for less, but the cities themselves usually don't have much more to offer.  Developers must build units that can be rented out at prices not too high for the area, and with the many features desired in these lower income lower COL areas.

In SF all people want is to be able to afford to live in the city...so you get some dumpy shoebox studio for $2 or $3000, but you're never there and you're in the city enjoying what it has to offer.  In Jax, you get paid less so there's no way you can afford too much more than $1000, and the city doesn't offer you much so the apartment damn well better (plus whereas in the big cities young people meet each other out and about more, in less developed cities like Jax, young people either know each other from growing up or they meet in the free gym in the building).

Developers can't build some high quality thing and include granite counters and abundant amenities and free parking, etc and rent them for what the market can afford...so you get shitty construction and bad architecture/design in low density suburban areas, but you get your top priority "must-haves" apartment features.

These units aren't just apartments, they are going to be sold as condominiums.  MJ has a dream of creating a high density living environment.  From what your saying, if this dream comes to fruition, it will be built using some of the cheapest construction methods out there.  Is this a good thing?  Sure, there will be complete streets with streetcars and walk in eateries but if these places are built with cheap construction, what will be the end result of this metro experiment?

I understand the reasoning though.  If Floridians won't pay $250/sq ft, then they won't pay.  In a way, that means things aren't equivalent.  In the case of housing, doesn't lower cost of living just means lower building quality?  Doesn't this mean the argument that local politicians and companies make to justify a lower salary by lower cost of living could be disingenuous? 

Yes, I'm going to compare corporate office buildings to residential.  Why are corporate office buildings built to a higher specification then residential?  What do offices do differently that residential construction cannot provide? 
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