SRQ Magazine | BRANDSTORY: Firmo Construction, September 2019

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MEET THE PLACE MAKERS AND INNOVATIVE IMPRINTS OF FIRMO CONSTRUCTION Since 2003, the full-service construction management firm has spearheaded projects in underutilized areas of Sarasota County to earn those areas a greater community purpose and environmental impact. From commercial, hospitality, medical, retail and office tenant improvement, their buildings symbolize catalysts for change—structures that have opened the doors for activation and revitalization in corridors, often overlooked or neglected. A S P E C I A L B R A N D STO RY M A R K E T I N G F E AT U R E | S R Q M A G A Z I N E | S E P T E M B E R 2 0 1 9

Not your average general contractor, Firmo’s tight-knit team’s keen eye for regional potential and community engagement opportunities has evolved their industry expertise to encompass a unique design-build approach—collaboratively executing both the design process and construction phases under a single contract. From finding a property or space, to helping get permits from the City, get financing through a bank, and finding a compatible architect, Firmo’s versatility provides project management services from inception to completion. This streamlined approach not only helps align the many moving parts of a project for clients, but fosters collaboration and teamwork, mitigates change orders and blame shifting, fosters a timely turnaround, optimizes project quality and ensures cost effectiveness. From discussion of initial concept, to day one breaking ground, all the way to the ribbon-cutting reveal, “It’s not just construction,” says Stefan Baron, Firmo’s director of business development. “It’s a collaboration.” The seven visionaries behind the boutique-operated firm continue to pioneer sustainable building methods—acquiring credibilities such as Environmental Protection Agency (EPA) and Energy Star certifications. Firmo became a leading member and early adopter of US Green Building Council’s Leadership in Energy and Environmental Design (LEED) system. Even when the program was still in its infancy, the Firmo team built the first LEED CS Silver Office building in Sarasota, continually striving to leave the environment in better quality than they found it.

Eric Collin, President of Firmo Construction.

HOMEWOOD SUITES BY HILTON After working closely with the Hilton Hospitality Group, Firmo retrofitted a building that sat abandoned near the corner of Fruitville and Beneva Road for seven years. Instead of tearing down the existing structure, originally designed to be a retirement center, the building was modified and repurposed to become a useable space, great for tourism. The Homewood Suites by Hilton 100room hotel remains an exemplar of sustainable, mindful efforts by Firmo. The team took considerable measures to minimize the renovation’s impact on landfills and the surrounding environment. Additionally, the firm regularly integrates sustainable materials that incorporate environmentally-friendly paradigms, guaranteeing longevity into their projects. As one of the early pioneers of the LEED program in the U.S. Southeast, Firmo maintains a commitment to seek LEED certification whenever possible. Once completed, the Homewood Suites hotel was recognized as an adaptive reuse project with a Hilton Conversion of the Year award, a Sarasota County Beautification Award and GE Capital Hotel Development Award. And beyond the accolades, Firmo’s renovation inspired others, and promoted further revitalization throughout the immediate area. The Sarasota Modern Shopping Center has since been built beside the hotel, in addition to other infrastructure and landscaping improvements made to the surrounding region. “Developers invest if they can be next to a nicer building,” explains Firmo Construction President, Eric Collin. “Once we got the hotel cleaned up, it really incentivized other owners to do something with their property.”

Homewood Suites | After

Homewood Suites | Before

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NORTH TRAIL Firmo Construction sees the North corridor of Tamiami Trail (Route 41 as it extends north from downtown to the border of Manatee County) as the future of regional development. “This is one of the first stretches of Sarasota seen by visitors who land at SRQ International Airport,” says Collin. Largely underdeveloped and virtually disregarded, the sites along this stretch of the Trail are challenging from a development perspective. Current zoning laws make modern infrastructure, adequate parking and stormwater mitigation difficult for those seeking to renovate or rebuild some of the derelict structures on North Trail. Additionally, many commercial lots on North Route 41 abut to residential properties in the Indian Beach and Sapphire Shores neighborhood, which often creates tension. To ease the transition between residential and commercial areas, Firmo actively gathers community input. Involved with the North Trail Partnership Group, the team personally participates in constructive conversations with neighbors about how to best navigate development in this corridor. One solution that has become a successful model for Firmo is the practice of designing and constructing new residential homes that run adjacent to commercial lots themselves—a hands-on and in-house approach to creating that necessary buffer between these two zones. All the while, Firmo maintains the architectural integrity of the surrounding environment, which they believe to be key for positive and effective revitalization. In 2015, Firmo Construction sought to activate the North Trail area by signing on to relaunch an existing hotel, The Regency Inn. Their involvement in the hospitality project went far beyond the normal expectations of a general contractor. “Essentially, we helped the owner form the building’s concept and design, as well as guide the hotel’s branding and marketing—using the model of a classic mid-century modern hotel,” Collin explains. The redesign of The Regency Inn not only celebrates Sarasota’s mid-century heritage, but retains the local identity of an Old Florida destination. “We wanted to preserve Sarasota’s architectural heritage to maintain a sense of place,” says Director of Design, Maegan Ochoa.

Rosemary Square | After

ROSEMARY DISTRICT Further sparking revitalization in dynamic districts, dispatch to the Rosemary Square Courtyard, and it’s hard to imagine the beloved gathering space as anything different or less, as it was just a year ago. Recognizing the opportunity and potential for a neighborhood renaissance, the team jumped onboard for the commercial buildout phase to turn the space into something that locals and visitors benefit from. The multi-use building in the heart of the budding Rosemary District has quickly become a haven for community festivals, pop-up markets, locally-owned businesses, food truck gatherings and the home offices of regional non-profit and arts organizations. As the builders of the outfitted spaces for the commercial and non-profit tenants, Firmo’s collaboration with the Rosemary Square architects and property managers highlighted the firm’s larger vision for spatial success. The firm is currently still working on revitalizing projects in the burgeoning District, including a turn-key approach with New York City-based Halliday Financial, in the process of expanding to Sarasota. What was once a vacant, outdated building, is now being renovated to bring neighborhood improvement, new business and a vibrant economy to this growing region. “Rosemary has become one of the more lively areas of downtown Sarasota in terms of drawing a crowd,” says Collin, “And it can only get better from here.”

Rosemary Square | Before

Below Left (Top row, left to right) Andrew Wilson, Eric Collin and Stefan Baron. (Bottom row, left to right): Heather Gilpatric, Maegan Ochoa and Jovana Fernandez. Below Right: (left to right): Eric Collin and Stefan Baron.

AN INTIMATE APPROACH Choosing to spearhead the development of projects that often activate underutilized or commonly overlooked areas is deeply rooted in Firmo Construction’s core philosophy of modern revitalization. “We approach projects on a neighborhood scale, then we narrow down to the tenants—we always take into consideration the full landscape,” says Baron. “Our involvement is conducive to growth, sustainability and vitality. And it trickles down to the businesses and residences—there’s real integration going on.” This careful consideration on both the micro and macro level helps ensure that buildings are progressive, but developed appropriately in relation to their site, and in context to the greater community. As a design-build firm, Firmo has the ability to manage their clients’ projects through a collective collaboration with all parties involved, all the while consistently maintaining a personalized and family-feel approach. In an industry often perceived as inaccessible, “big business” and as cold as the steel beams of a rising structure, Firmo continues to venture in a more holistic direction. How does a seven-person office manage a growing list of projects that carry the additional weight and responsibility of addressing revitalization? They find success through longstanding relationships with fellow professional experts in the field and the synergy of their small-but-mighty in-house team who hail from all over the globe. Mobile phone numbers are always shared with clients and their downtown Sarasota office is an open, welcoming space for meetings and creative thinking. “When clients arrive to our office, they are really coming to our home,” notes Ochoa. A responsive, personable style that is as much about genuine connection as it is about innovation and expertise—that is Firmo Construction.

CERTIFICATIONS AND AFFILIATIONS • Class A Certified General Contractor • NASCLA Certified Commercial Building Contractor • Member of the US Green Building Council • Member of the Gulf Coast Builders Exchange • Member of the AIA • LEED AP Staff Members • EPA Energy Star Partner & Indoor Air Plus Partner


205 N. ORANGE AVENUE SUITE #301 SARASOTA, FL 34236 (941) 917-0494 @firmo_construction LICENSE #CGC1508283













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