April 14th, 2009. That is the date on the grant deed that officially marks the day we took ownership of the property located at the corner of 30th and Grape. I was enrolled in the Mred graduate program (offered by Woodbury University) at the time, still trying to figure out how to take the leap from being a traditional architect to becoming a developer. It was very near the bottom of the real estate market at that time, so it was a great time to acquire real estate. But it was also an incredibly difficult time to get construction financing... especially if you've never developed a project before.
I remember feeling a tremendous rush of excitement over the opportunity that had just landed on my lap... but there was also great anxiety over the risks involved with pursing a development on the site. We were several months into the "great recession", but I don't think anybody realized just how prolonged the economic downturn would be. The firm that I had spent the previous 9 years working for, had let me go a few months prior and my wife was newly pregnant with our second daughter.
Having set the scene, you might imagine my state of mind at the time. On the one hand, I knew that I wanted to turn the page with my career and pursue development... but I also had to think about how I'm going to feed my family. My options were limited so I did the only thing I knew, I started taking small jobs (consulting, remodels, tenant improvements, etc.) to pay the bills.
Fast forward to today. I've been pretty lucky to have weathered the storm and my practice is finally starting to get some good commissions. With the added stability over the past couple of years, I was finally able to focus on the development effort wholeheartedly again. After studying countless design options, and finding comfort in what felt like the right approach, we pulled the trigger and made the commitment to get the project built. So here we are... 5 years, 4 months, and 27 days after acquiring the property at 30th and Grape, we broke ground on construction today!
Today we reset the clock... today was Day #1 of Construction on the Atlas Lofts project.