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The Ultimate Brew


In the revitalized Beerline B neighborhood of Milwaukee, Northtrack Construction has turned an aging trade district into a burgeoning new city center.


Fall 2011 $24.95 USD $26.30 CAN


THIS SPREAD: The Beerline B Apartments in the Beerline neighborhood of Milwaukee, Wis. This area earned its name in the late 1800s and on through to the middle of the 20th century due to the sheer number of active breweries in the area. Northtrack’s apartment project is part of the revitalization of the neighborhood. Rendering courtesy of Northtrack.

The Ultimate Brew 2 Construction Leaders Today


In one of Milwaukee’s most historic and renowned former brewery districts, the Beerline B, Northtrack Construction Company has given new life to the rapidly changing and emerging neighborhood. by Joel Cornell Fall 2011 3


THIS PAGE: The modern design of the exterior Beerline B Apartments goes with the fresh new look of the Brewers Hill neighborhood ­­— a place that has seen a large amount of residential development following the departure of many of the local breweries since the late 1990s. OPPOSITE: Various renderings of the interior and exterior of the Beerline B Apartments is the most ambitious new mixed-use projects in the neighborhood with extensive landscaping and recreational facilities projected. Renderings courtesy of Northtrack.


eyond the bustling urban landscape, the renowned manufacturing neighborhoods and the unique cultural centers, Milwaukee, Wis. is known around the world for their expertise in one of humanity’s oldest and greatest forms of culinary art: brewing beer. The historic Beerline B neighborhood in Milwaukee earned its name in the late 1800s and on through to the middle of the 20th century due to the sheer number of active breweries in the area. Located around Commerce Street at the Southern end of Brewers Hill, the Beerline B neighborhood has since become something of an emerging and rapidly changing neighborhood. The neighborhood has, since the late 1990s, seen an increase in residential development following the departure of many of the local breweries. Most recently, one of the most ambitious new mixed-use projects in the neighborhood has helped to redefine this historic district: the Beerline B Apartments. Serving as the driving force behind the project, Northtrack Construction Company has used their unique expertise in wood frame construction to bring the project to a prompt and successful completion. “The Beerline B Apartments project has been incredibly exciting for us,” said Northtrack Construction founder and president, David Hoff. “The three buildings included in the project stand on a prominent site on the main road of a highly significant Milwaukee neighborhood, right next to the Milwaukee River. There was a fair amount of unique challenges we had to overcome throughout the project; but fortunately, we’re a similarly unique firm that can easily handle all aspects of the project under one roof, from the earliest pre-construction stages until the day we hand the keys over the owner.” After serving the Alterra Health Care Corporation on an international scale as their Vice President in charge of design, development and construction, Hoff departed the company in 1998 in order to cater to the rapidly changing professional services and consultation market. As a carefully considered response to the burgeoning local markets, Hoff founded The Hoff Group, a firm that would assist real estate developers who needed expert development advice. The firm served to retain consultants, general contractors and engineers, all of whom would design, develop and build the projects that Hoff’s clients had requested. As the firm’s projects were completed one after another, Hoff realized that while his contractors were doing their jobs quite well, they were charging a pretty penny for their contracted services. Hoff felt that, with proper management alongside 4 Construction Leaders Today

The Hoff Group, his team could serve as a much more efficient general contractor. Thus, in 2004, Northtrack Construction was born. “We began by building the projects that we were already developing,” Hoff said. “We found ourselves a real niche in southeastern Wis., being one of just a few non-union wood frame builders. Additionally, we’ve been uniquely able to work closely with both union and non-union trades, public and private clients alike. My background is pretty diverse, which gave us a real upper hand. I graduated from the University of Wisconsin Milwaukee with a degree in Architecture and Urban Planning, and I’ve been licensed since 1990; we are able to encompass all of the design, development and construction elements of each and every project. That gives us more efficient control over quality, budget and scheduling, as everything is done in-house.” Due to Hoff’s many decades of experience across every conceivable element of the building process, Northtrack Construction and The Hoff Group have carved out a unique niche in their region. Northtrack Construction has become renowned for their expertise in wood frame construction, specifically for medium rise buildings under five stories, encompassing residential work, retail and institutional projects, and corporate offices and headquarters.


This expertise allows Hoff ’s firms to build with a system that costs less than traditional steel buildings while reducing their construction schedules as well; all while retaining reliable quality and durability. The firms have long retained a reputation for designing, developing and constructing beautifully ornate buildings on a grand scale that typically come in around $15 to $25 less per sq. ft. when compared to traditional structural systems. Hoff was able to bring all of Northtrack’s expertise to the table for the Beerline B Apartments with the support of Renaissance Development, a company which specializes in condominium development. The three buildings are almost exclusively residential, with mixed-use retail space available on the first floor of the largest of the three. However, apart from the design, development and construction of the actual buildings, the firm faced its biggest challenge in the building’s foundations. Simply getting out of the ground was the largest time sink in the project. First off, being adjacent to the Milwaukee River, Northtrack Construction had to repair and replace the rather dilapidated seawall. The poor condition of the soil itself stood as the next challenge for the foundation, which

required a deeper foundation system than what would normally be necessary. Further, there were several contamination issues on the site, so some serious environmental remediation had to take place before the foundation could be constructed. If that were not enough, the project sat on top of a rather sizable municipal sewer which bisected the site. Essentially, Northtrack Construction was forced to build carefully on either side of the sewer while making sure that it could easily be maintained. Despite all of these challenges just in the initial building stages, Hoff was able to deliver a fantastic product which reflected the unique culture of the neighborhood that is simultaneously historic and emerging, on budget and on schedule. “In addition to our specialty in wood frame construction, having multiple disciplines all under one roof have really allowed us to stand out in the industry,” Hoff said. “In this marketplace, one typically doesn’t find a development firm run by licensed architects, combined with decades of construction experience. Our clients understand that and have since hired us for projects in Wisconsin, Illinois, Pennsylvania and Florida. Our competition is sharp, but our small firm has a larger platform of professional and construction management services, which gives us a leg up on those competitors.” CLT Fall 2011 5



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Heitman, Inc. concentrates mainly on excavating and grading commercial developments within a 60 mile radius of Milwaukee, Wisconsin. Our success lies with our skilled employees and the knowledge they bring to the business. Heitman Inc. has worked closely with Northtrack Construction for over five years and wishes them continued success in the future.

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6 Construction Leaders Today

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Fall 2011 7



IN . 2 ED ol UR 1, V AT 01 FE ng 2 ri p S


A self-described modernist in theory and style, founder and owner Seth Howe draws inspiration from everything around him and is sensitive to how his clients will experi and move throug ence h their spaces.


T H E M AG A Z INE www.a rchitectureleaderstod



by Joel Cornell

With high annual growth and a backlog of work standing at a worth of about $22 million, one would think VendRick Construction, Inc. would be a massive corporate construction firm with countless bustling employees. On the contrary, the relatively small staff that VendRick Construction, Inc. began with in 1993 has remained the stable foundation of their success to this day. “Our real specialty lies in our ability to properly manage and utilize our short list of highly trained and experienced employees and subcontractors who we rely on like family to make sure that our clients budget, scheduling and aesthetic needs are met every step of the way,” said company president Frank Vendemia. Vendemia began in the industry after receiving his degree in civil engineering. In his senior year in college, he worked with Derrick “Rick” Dickson, who managed his own construction company. Right out of high school, Dickson entered into a local carpentry apprenticeship program. He worked with a local commercial contracting company for nearly two decades before starting his own business. It was this company that Vendemia worked for before he wanted to


start his own business as well. Vendemia and Dickson decided to partner up instead, and see how that suited them and their goals. Should any problems arise, they would go their separate ways. To this day, Vendemia and Dickson have been doing what they love and have kept their business and their passion going strong. “For the most part,” Vendemia said, “we tend to handle public works projects such as large multifamily complexes, school renovations and medical facilities. We don’t always take on the most attractive or visible projects; that’s not our aim. We want to work on projects that fit our forte. Whether we’re working on a public bid project for a school renovation or a design/ build project for an apartment complex, we’re able to provide the ultimate service to our clients by keeping our management teams small and project-oriented, while relying on a family of experienced employees and specialized subcontractors and specialists who are the absolute best at what they do.” Located in Brookfield, Ohio close to the Pennsylvania border, VendRick Construction, Inc. operates locally in a 60 mile radius. Despite

the fact that VendRick’s annual revenues have grown by millions of dollars every year, they focus on building projects locally. They can utilize their knowledge of the area, its nuances and its residents to give their clients the highest quality building program. “We do as much of the work ourselves as we can manage,” Vendemia said, “but once we’re outside our internal capacity to perform efficiently, we reach out to our roster of quality subcontractors to work with people we know and trust to get the job done right and on time.” VendRick Construction, Inc.’s philosophy promises the continued involvement of at least one company principal on each and every project, as well as the commitment to quality construction by the entire building group working as a single team. Both Rick and Frank attribute the company’s success to their faith, family, and friends. By focusing on building proper relationships and teams as much as they concentrate on the buildings themselves, VendRick Construction, Inc. is able to maintain a history of quality projects done on time, every time. ALT

Vendrick.indd 1 4/28/2011 7:43:37 PM

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Northtrack Construction featured in CLT!  

Northtrack Construction's Beerline B development was recently featured in Construction Leaders Today, Fall 2011 edition. Special thanks to a...