Ben Apfelbaum is a Project Executive within our Residential group. He’s been working on multiple DAVIS collaborations with the Arlington Partnership for Affordable Housing (APAH), which you can read about here. We talked with Ben about his DAVIS experiences and what makes affordable housing projects so important—read on to learn more!
How long have you worked at DAVIS?
It’s been about thirteen and a half years! That’s a short term by DAVIS standards, though—there’s so many people who have been here for so long, because of the culture. You do feel that this isn’t just a job, it’s a career. The opportunities to work with new clients and market sectors and establish great relationships are what keep us going.
What are your responsibilities at the projects we’re working on with APAH—Oakwood Senior and CUMC Ballston Station?
I’m the Project Executive overseeing both projects. We just broke ground at Oakwood Senior, and in a couple of weeks, we’re breaking ground at CUMC Ballston Station—so, my job to date has mostly been in preconstruction. I’m working with KCM Construction and APAH to manage the budgets, negotiate contracts, plan the site, and get ready to hit the ground running. I’ll be following the construction of these two jobs through completion, and hopefully starting more work with this important client.
What has that process been like?
These projects are both really exciting. Oakwood Senior is a wood frame project, and we’ve had a lot of great experience with those, while CUMC Ballston Station is a unique opportunity for us, as we’re going to build residential units on top of a worshipping space. However, they both fill a great need, because affordable housing is so critical, and APAH’s mission is incredible. This kind of project keeps us focused, because we’re building with the community in mind, and creating housing opportunities for them. The team that’s coming to CUMC just worked on a high-end DC apartment, and they’re extremely proud of that, but these projects are rewarding in a different way.
What are some challenges you’ve faced while building affordable housing projects?
With an affordable housing project, you’re working with very tight margins. So, if you’re a client, you want to work with a general contractor who understands that. That’s where DAVIS comes in—we’re delivering to the same high quality standards as we would on a luxury unit, but we have to find the right materials to fit the budget. The challenge is figuring out how to build it right and our team has the experience to do that. We bring everyone to the table and steer the process to make sure everyone is happy with the final product, especially the end user.
What makes a partnership successful?
Working with collaborative people to find solutions is key. With APAH and KCM, we can pick up the phone and talk through any issue without it being contentious—each partner understands the goal, and from the owner to the architect to the design team, everyone’s mindset has been clear. We’ve got a shared vision and mission.