Hard Hat Chat

Observations and Conversations about Commercial Construction, Development and Management

Englewood Construction: Ten Years of Providing Leading Commercial Construction Services

Bill Di Santo - Englewood ConstructionWe don’t like to get hung up on milestones too much at Englewood Construction, but I think we would be remiss if we did not take a little time to reflect on the firm’s 10-year anniversary and the current state of our national commercial construction company, as well as acknowledge all of the people and hard work that got us to where we are today.

Even though Englewood opened its doors in 2004, the talent nucleus of the company has been together since 1993. When we set out to found our own commercial general contracting firm, we pooled together decades of knowledge across all commercial construction sectors to build a leading national general construction firm.

Like all businesses, we were faced with the economic downturn of the mid-to-late 2000s. But it was real estate and commercial construction that bore the brunt of this recession. It may not have been the most auspicious time to start a business, but looking back, I wouldn’t change it. It forced Englewood to develop into a nimble and innovative commercial general construction company, which will undoubtedly make us stronger in our second decade. I can also proudly say that despite the difficulty of the economic environment, we never laid off one employee. We knew we would need this top commercial construction talent when the days turned brighter…and boy, were we right.

When we began the company, our core competency was in national retail and restaurant construction. As the firm grew and new opportunities presented themselves, we were able to parlay our commercial construction experience and incorporate different concepts and services into our offerings. From big box retail construction and high-end national retail construction to fast-casual dining and white table cloth, award-winning restaurants, we do them all now.

Our projects escalated in size as well, as we frequently work on shopping center construction now, having completed several mall renovation projects and ground-up projects, such as a 420,000-square-foot shopping center in Canton, Conn. In the coming months, we will have new shopping center construction projects to talk about, so stay tuned.

Completely new markets have opened up to Englewood as well. In 2009, we expanded into the hotel construction market and this year, I’m happy to say Englewood will be working in the multifamily construction market and medical real estate construction sector.

Our geographic reach has extended too. In the past five years, Englewood has worked on commercial general construction projects in 35 different states. With a growing subcontractor base of 20,000, we are able to go anywhere in North America a client demands. In recent years, we have done work in Canada and completed our first of many projects in pioneering places such as North Dakota, where the shale oil industry is building boom towns overnight.

As our markets and geographic scope have expanded, our commercial construction capabilities have also evolved. Englewood has taken on more design-build construction work in recent years, offering better, more comprehensive services to our clients. Now, our clients can choose to have one point of contact for their commercial construction projects and Englewood takes on more responsibility. This formula has often resulted in commercial construction savings for our clients as we have more control over keeping the project on time and on budget.

All the while, we have remained a forward-thinking company. This award-winning Hard Hat Chat blog, which focuses on value-based content such as commercial construction lessons and tips, is a testament to our commitment to connecting with clients and industry enthusiasts in new and evolving mediums. We are constantly looking for new ways to be innovative. That’s why we are adopting a new email domain for Englewood. To better reflect our industry, we are changing our emails to @ECI.build. You can reach me at bdisanto@ECI.build starting in October. I hope to hear from many of you.

Lastly, I would be remiss if I did not acknowledge our clients as we mark this 10-year anniversary. Maintaining client relationships is the single most important reason we have flourished over the last decade. We have client relationships that go back 30 years, which have helped accelerate the growth of Englewood. While we are always seeking out clients that are a proper fit for our commercial construction services and expertise, we are so grateful for the clients we have developed quality relationships with throughout our careers and we plan to continue to go new places with them in the future.

Chicago architect Daniel Burnham famously said “Make no little plans; they have no magic to stir men’s blood and probably themselves will not be realized. Make big plans; aim high in hope and work.” This is something I remind my colleagues of frequently. The future is very bright as the commercial construction industry is revving up and we continue to grow into new commercial construction markets. As we expand our commercial construction services and capabilities into the next decade of the company, I see big things on the horizon. I wouldn’t want it any other way.

Bill Di Santo
President
Tel: 847-233-9200 x710

Questions? Comments?
You can reach me at bill.disanto@englewoodconstruction.com
www.englewoodconstruction.com

3 Tips to a Successful High-End Restaurant Construction Project

There’s no question about it, commercial construction is back in a big way in the Chicago area, as Crain’s Chicago Business recently reported in a story featuring Englewood Construction, activity of is up 16 percent when compared to the same time period last year for all commercial construction.   Commercial general contractors are finding plenty of opportunities in the office, apartment and hotel construction markets right now. At Englewood Construction, we have had the good fortune of being attached to several high-profile, upscale downtown Chicago restaurant construction projects.  As the economy has improved steadily, the restaurant construction market has received a big boost. During the recent downturn, families gave up fine dining expenditures in favor of fast casual restaurants, or, simply eating at home to keep expenditures down. Now that confidence is back, high-end restaurants are seeing more traffic and smart restaurateurs are taking advantage of this upswing to initiate new restaurant construction projects.   Recently, Englewood completed the 23,000-square-foot Harry Caray’s 7th Inning Stretch and Chicago Sports Museum at Chicago’s famed Water Tower Place, remodeled the 30-year-old, five-star Spiaggia on Michigan Avenue and helped rebrand and reimagine Fultons on The River into River Roast in Chicago’s popular River North neighborhood.  Savvy restaurant owners know they have to keep things fresh and exciting for potential customers in such a highly competitive market. As these restaurateurs have demonstrated, one way to keep from going stale is to initiate a substantial restaurant construction project, either through expansions, as in Harry Caray’s or remodeling and rebranding as in Spiaggia and River Roast.  Of course, working with the best local restaurant general commercial contractor will help increase the chances of your restaurant construction project being a success. For these following reasons, restaurateurs should consider working with an experienced restaurant general contractor.  1.Design savings. Working directly with a restaurateur generally implies a negotiated bid scenario. This could ultimately save the owner money on a restaurant construction project as the best general contractors will be able to recognize cost savings on materials and get the best current market costs for design elements. When a general commercial contractor is viewed as a partner and not just a paid service provider, commercial construction projects generally run much smoother and realize cost savings for clients. 2.Scheduling. Going dark can hurt any business, but if a restaurant owner only has one or two locations, as is the case with many high-end restaurants, it can be a risky scenario. The best general contractors will help restaurant owners find the best time in a calendar year to go dark for a restaurant construction project. This typically would be a time in the year when sales are at their lowest. The commercial general contractor should then try and schedule the majority of the work to be done in this timeframe, regardless of the season, and complete the restaurant construction project with as little disruption to the core business as possible. Time is money.  3.Working in a multi-use building. In an urban setting like Chicago, stand-alone restaurants are rare. Most restaurants are located in buildings with many other tenants.  In the case of the aforementioned Harry Caray’s, Water Tower Place is home to retail, restaurants, apartments and a hotel. This means other tenants must be taken into consideration during a restaurant renovation project and their operations cannot be disrupted in the process. - In the Harry Caray’s project, special attention and consideration had to be taken to avoid any noise pollution that might be detrimental to neighboring retailers during peak daytime hours while being mindful of the residential and hotel tenants overnight. Loading dock scheduling can get tricky too, as many businesses often vie for the same delivery times.   Working with an experienced commercial general contractor will make sure that a high-end restaurant construction project avoids pitfalls and is completed in a timely and cost-efficient manner.

Recently, Englewood completed the 23,000-square-foot Harry Caray’s 7th Inning Stretch and Chicago Sports Museum at Chicago’s famed Water Tower Place.

There’s no question about it, commercial construction is back in a big way in the Chicago area, as Crain’s Chicago Business recently reported in a story featuring Englewood Construction, activity of is up 16 percent when compared to the same time period last year for all commercial construction.

Commercial general contractors are finding plenty of opportunities in the office, apartment and hotel construction markets right now. At Englewood Construction, we have had the good fortune of being attached to several high-profile, upscale downtown Chicago restaurant construction projects.

As the economy has improved steadily, the restaurant construction market has received a big boost. During the recent downturn, families gave up fine dining expenditures in favor of fast casual restaurants, or, simply eating at home to keep expenditures down. Now that confidence is back, high-end restaurants are seeing more traffic and smart restaurateurs are taking advantage of this upswing to initiate new restaurant construction projects.

Recently, Englewood completed the 23,000-square-foot Harry Caray’s 7th Inning Stretch and Chicago Sports Museum at Chicago’s famed Water Tower Place, remodeled the 30-year-old, five-star Spiaggia on Michigan Avenue and helped rebrand and reimagine Fultons on The River into River Roast in Chicago’s popular River North neighborhood.

Savvy restaurant owners know they have to keep things fresh and exciting for potential customers in such a highly competitive market. As these restaurateurs have demonstrated, one way to keep from going stale is to initiate a substantial restaurant construction project, either through expansions, as in Harry Caray’s or remodeling and rebranding as in Spiaggia and River Roast.

Of course, working with the best local restaurant general commercial contractor will help increase the chances of your restaurant construction project being a success. For these following reasons, restaurateurs should consider working with an experienced restaurant general contractor.

  1. Design savings. Working directly with a restaurateur generally implies a negotiated bid scenario. This could ultimately save the owner money on a restaurant construction project as the best general contractors will be able to recognize cost savings on materials and get the best current market costs for design elements. When a general commercial contractor is viewed as a partner and not just a paid service provider, commercial construction projects generally run much smoother and realize cost savings for clients.
  2. Scheduling. Going dark can hurt any business, but if a restaurant owner only has one or two locations, as is the case with many high-end restaurants, it can be a risky scenario. The best general contractors will help restaurant owners find the best time in a calendar year to go dark for a restaurant construction project. This typically would be a time in the year when sales are at their lowest. The commercial general contractor should then try and schedule the majority of the work to be done in this timeframe, regardless of the season, and complete the restaurant construction project with as little disruption to the core business as possible. Time is money.
  3. Working in a multi-use building. In an urban setting like Chicago, stand-alone restaurants are rare. Most restaurants are located in buildings with many other tenants.  In the case of the aforementioned Harry Caray’s, Water Tower Place is home to retail, restaurants, apartments and a hotel. This means other tenants must be taken into consideration during a restaurant renovation project and their operations cannot be disrupted in the process. In the Harry Caray’s project, special attention and consideration had to be taken to avoid any noise pollution that might be detrimental to neighboring retailers during peak daytime hours while being mindful of the residential and hotel tenants overnight. Loading dock scheduling can get tricky too, as many businesses often vie for the same delivery times.

Working with an experienced commercial general contractor will make sure that a high-end restaurant construction project avoids pitfalls and is completed in a timely and cost-efficient manner.

Chuck Taylor
Director of Operations
Tel: 847-233-9200 x712

Questions? Comments?
You can reach me at chuck.taylor@englewoodconstruction.com
www.EnglewoodConstruction.com

How Commercial General Contractors Can Help Improve Shopping Center Space for Lease

Help-Shopping-Center-Owners-Lease-Space

Englewood moved escalators to the corners of Westfield’s Fox Valley Mall in Aurora, Ill. to create better foot-traffic flow and help struggling retailers.

Even in the best shopping center developments, not all spaces are created equal. Many shopping centers owners have difficulty leasing or keeping consistent retail tenants in certain portions of their shopping mall. In our shopping center construction experience at Englewood Construction, we have found that anchor tenants and smaller tenants in the center of the shopping center typically thrive, yet some pockets do not generate the traffic or the buzz necessary to create a successful retail development.

Surprisingly, the spaces that typically do the worst business are stores right next to shopping mall anchors. Commonly shoppers either visit anchors at the shopping center development, or, they enter at an anchor store and then make a bee-line for the center of the shopping mall, passing most retailers in between. This creates a problem for shopping mall owners.

Never fear. While admittedly there is no silver bullet for leasing woes, a good commercial general contractor can help make some minor changes to a shopping center development that may provide a boost to struggling tenants and help shopping mall owners capture higher, more consistent rents.

Here are four ways shopping mall owners can improve their property with minor shopping center construction projects.

  1. Move the escalators. Changing the flow of a shopping center development is one of the best ways to bring traction to less-visited portions of the mall. Most shopping malls have escalators in the center of the development. By moving escalators to the corners of the shopping center development and adjacent to anchor tenants, shoppers can now spend idle time on escalators and perhaps see stores they would otherwise simply pass. It also gives them a chance to check out both floors of the mall’s hard-to-sell areas. Englewood successfully completed this for Westfield at the Fox Valley Mall in Aurora, Ill. and the Hawthorn Mall in Vernon Hills, Ill. Once we were able to adjust traffic flow for mall owners, tenants around the newly located escalators began to fair much better.
  2. Install more kiosks around new escalators. Kiosk owners often pay the highest rent per-square-foot in shopping center developments to be in areas with the highest foot traffic. While they are typically drawn to the center of the mall, the new locations of the escalators will create more opportunities as the majority of the mall’s shoppers will pass the kiosks at some point during their shopping trip. The center of the mall will still attract kiosks, but these new high-traffic retail areas will create more opportunities to secure quality rents.
  3. Increase gross leasable area (GLA) by removing decorative pieces. Fountains are nice, but, let’s be honest, they don’t generate revenue. Most shoppers just fly right by such decorative pieces and never give them a second thought. It’s probably best to initiate an easy shopping center construction job and take these decorations out to increase the mall’s GLA. Shopping mall owners could add a coffee shop or a food station. Both would generate more revenue and probably be more of an attraction to shoppers.
  4. Create an entertainment area for children. While it may not be a direct revenue generator, it can help drive traffic to a specific portion of the shopping center development and also attract certain tenants. By developing a play area for kids in a slow corridor of the mall, mall owners could see foot traffic increase. More importantly, this demographic concentration would appeal to retailers such as toy stores or a children’s clothing store. By bringing targeted shoppers and tenants together, a formerly slow portion of a shopping center development could be revitalized and tenants could have an easier time achieving solid sales.

These are all relatively easy shopping center construction projects that can really benefit tenants, which in turn will help strengthen the balance sheets of shopping mall owners. No shopping center development is perfect, but a good retail general contractor can be an owner’s best tool for turning a mediocre shopping mall into a highly-profitable retail development.

Read related post by Englewood Construction on Shopping Center Construction and Development:

Commercial Construction Real Estate Trends from ICSC 2014

Commercial Construction Checklist for Retrofitting a Shopping Center in Today’s Climate

Retail Construction Trends: Shopping Center Construction Enters Renaissance with Renovation Work

Chuck Taylor
Director of Operations
Tel: 847-233-9200 x712

Questions? Comments?
You can reach me at chuck.taylor@englewoodconstruction.com
www.EnglewoodConstruction.com