A New Normal For Rehab

March 2, 2007
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Housing developments in rural areas often go unheralded, but Gene DeRossett, U.S. Department of Agriculture state director, couldn’t let two projects recently completed by Medallion Management go unnoticed.

DeRossett was on hand to attend the grand re-opening ceremonies held last fall for two Medallion Management properties. He praised company officials for finishing the work in record time and for putting their concern for the buildings’ tenants at the top of their list.

“Our No. 1 job is looking out for the best interests of our residents. We hold very high standards for the living conditions in our communities and the level of personal service we provide,” said Mark Wester, president of Medallion Management.

Medallion Management cut the time it usually takes to rehabilitate both apartment houses by more than half when the firm renovated The Meadowlands Apartments in Reading and Prairie Glen Apartments in Quincy, two small rural communities. Reading is located in western Hillsdale County on M-49. Quincy is situated in eastern Branch County on M-12.

The interior work involved painting and installing new carpeting and appliances. Improvements were also made to the common areas of both. New vinyl siding, window treatments and roofs were added to the buildings’ exteriors. The Meadowlands has three buildings and Prairie Glen has four.

Typically, it would take six to eight weeks to complete all those tasks to each of the seven buildings, but Medallion Management pared that time down to three weeks tops.

“By shaving so much time off of a construction phase, we can get our residents back to normal lives in a much shorter timeframe. And, it gets our apartment communities back to normal operations sooner and with much greater economies because of energy efficient material and products being introduced into these buildings,” said Medallion Executive Vice President Eric Antisdale.

Both The Meadowlands and Prairie Glen offer affordable housing for families and seniors. The Meadowlands has 36 units, while Prairie Glen has 48. But these complexes weren’t the first ones that Medallion Management refurbished so quickly.

Wester told CQ that his company has the process down to a science, after having worked on two dozen similar rehabs prior to the work at The Meadowlands and Prairie Glen.

“The biggest factor is we have the experience in doing that. But No. 2 is that we use a lot of the same contractors, so they know what the expectations are and the timeliness of getting these things done,” he said.

Wester said Bud Dunn Construction of Battle Creek manages most of the projects, so on-the-job training wasn’t necessary when the firm decided to renovate the two properties.

“These two projects are the new normal for how we manage rehabilitation projects now,” said Wester.

Medallion developed the process three years ago when it realigned its corporate structure to streamline operations. It split areas of responsibility into divisions of interest and that resulted in the formation of Medallion Construction.

The construction division manages relationships with general contractors and developed the “on-time” building process that led to weeks of time being erased from a project. Both moves contain costs.

Once a project is set, building managers explain to residents what work will be done and how long it will take. They also obtain storage containers for tenants and offer to help relocate them if they don’t have a place to live while the work is going on. Most, though, stay with family or friends during that period. So a shorter project makes for less inconvenience for residents.

“We have a quality group of professionals working for us. Each of them has years of experience in the field of affordable housing. They worked hard to develop these new procedures and even harder to make them work as designed,” said Marvin Veltkamp, Medallion CEO.

Medallion owns and operates 85 residential complexes in Michigan, Wisconsin and Indiana from its home base in Kalamazoo.

The firm spent $2.6 million to refurbish The Meadowlands and Prairie Glen. The Great Lakes Capital Fund and Fifth Third Bank financed the projects. Veltkamp said Great Lakes has been a lender to Medallion Management since “day one.”

The Rural Community division of the USDA backed the financing for both projects through a guaranteed loan program.

“All of the planning in the world is worthless unless you can make the plans come true,” said Veltkamp. “That can’t be done without the full faith of our lenders.” CQX

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