In 2011, Wyomissing, Pennsylvania-based Metropolitan Management Group acquired a 19-acre tract of land just off of Route 12 close to the nearby Muhlenberg Township. The site had been approved for age-restricted rental apartments, but Metropolitan wanted to make a change to those plans, hoping to focus on market-rate rentals instead with a project called the Reserve at Spring Pointe.
The firm immediately knew to turn to the local experts at Forino Co., LP, whose many years of construction knowledge and internal engineering and survey services have allowed them to participate in projects all across the Reading, Pennsylvania, region. The problem solvers’ work for the Reserve at Spring Pointe earned the project its approval for market-rate units and corrected its layout after the original engineer’s plans had to be modified, paving the way for an attractive finished complex that will draw residents and keep Metropolitan coming back to Forino Co. for future projects.
Forino Co. dates back to 1975, when Tony Forino decided he could build a quality residential home for less by controlling external factors that inherently drive up real estate costs, including land, labor, materials, scheduling, and middlemen. After 38 years, the company has developed more than 85 communities through both internal site development and the acquisition of existing development rights.
“Clients use our firm because we’re not just engineers and we’re not just construction professionals; we’re a construction firm that takes the issues of our clients and creates sound solutions for all parties involved,” vice president John Smith says. “Our firm is a turnkey operation with a team of surveyors, engineers, designers, and construction professionals that operate in solidarity for our clients. We take pride in reviewing the whole process, and there’s a lot of hidden value in that. For example, our engineers may plan on moving topsoil or excess material to a location that may not be conducive to the construction sequence; however, the site supervisor will catch those incidentals in our planning room, where we’re meticulously looking at potential issues before they become problems. It is easy to make a change on paper, however it’s not as easy to move tons of dirt that quickly and efficiently.”
The fact that Forino Co. normally takes such ownership of its projects is largely what made the Reserve at Spring Pointe project a particular challenge. “Our firm typically handles engineering on our projects, but in this case, the engineering had already been completed prior to our firm getting involved, and we had to go back to the municipality to ask for some modifications to the existing plan,” Smith says. “The site is very terraced, and there were a lot of grading issues, which required us to add $500,000 worth of retaining walls to accommodate the necessary parking areas.”
The modifications helped move the project along, and when complete, it will consist of an estimated 160 one- and two-bedroom units in eight buildings: 100 units will come in Phase I, which is currently under construction
and scheduled for completion in the fall of 2014, and the remaining 60 or so will wrap during Phase II, for which Forino Co. is currently seeking building approvals. The site will have ample parking, and the units will feature private entrances, spacious floor plans, and separate mechanicals.
On the outside of each building, tiered rooflines and subtle variances in the shading of the siding will add character, and the entrances and the exterior stairways to the second and third floors will be constructed from composite decking material that has been color-coordinated with the siding. Inside, the units have touches typically found in higher-end buildings, including drywall with rounded corners, granite countertops, and upgraded trim features. Even the patios have custom railings. “The chosen features give the units a lot of character,” Smith says.
Smith thinks all this will add appeal for the complex’s target demographic: singles across the age spectrum. “We see [the apartments] being occupied by younger people just starting out and people making midlife changes,” he says, noting the project’s proximity to a major highway that directly feeds into Allentown, Hershey, and Harrisburg—and New York City just across the state line. “We also see empty nesters as potential clients.”
The Reserve at Spring Pointe is Forino Co.’s third project for Metropolitan, and the firm has already been awarded two more contracts, which Smith says isn’t unusual. “Our firm prides itself on building long-term relationships, and at end of the day, it results in repeat clients or word-of-mouth referrals,” he says. “We perform most of the work for major businesses in the area, including five of the major financial institutions.”
The firm is a mainstay of construction-related activity in its region. In July 2013, it completed the Featherton Apartment Complex in Elizabethtown, which consists of a clubhouse plus 120 rental apartments spread across six buildings. In August 2013, it completed major renovation work on Willoughby’s Bar and Grill in Wyomissing. And, in December 2013, also in Wyomissing, it served as project manager for a three-story, 48,000-square-foot corporate office building built for National Penn Bancshares, Inc.
The repeat work, Smith says, is a result of the deep loyalty of the firm’s 80 employees. “All of our team members understand the long-term views of the firm, and they take personal ownership of each project as if they were building it for themselves,” he says. “We’re not just looking to get a project completed and move to the next; we analyze the best way our firm can impact each project and each new client or owner to ensure we are meeting our strategic long-term goals—because you cannot put a value on how those actions are indirectly affecting your brand awareness.”