Richmond’s building boom has caught the eye of a Maryland-based general contractor.
Harkins Builders recently opened an office in the region, making Richmond the fourth market where it has a physical presence. The company is headquartered in Columbia, Maryland, and has outposts in Charlotte and Philadelphia.
Earlier this year Harkins hired Damion Pizarro to lead the Richmond office. Pizarro came to Richmond from Virginia Beach, where he’d been working as a director for The Lawson Cos., a firm that’s built a few apartment projects in Richmond.
Pizarro said Harkins had been looking to fill in the gap in its geographic footprint and wanted to win more business in the Central Virginia market.
“We did a project in Jackson Ward, but outside of that, we weren’t really dabbling in the market,” Pizarro said, referencing The Rosa and Van de Vyver apartments, a mixed-use, income-based housing development Harkins built for Richmond Redevelopment and Housing Authority and Enterprise Community Development.
“We didn’t have a grasp of the (Central Virginia) market or subcontractors. We couldn’t really get pricing where it should be for this region,” Pizarro said. “Strategically we said, ‘Hey, if we’re going to do this, we need to put our feet in the ground, we need to open up an office, and Richmond’s probably our best bet.’”
Pizarro said Harkins works on projects in the government, small commercial, senior living and historic renovation sectors, but that multifamily construction is the firm’s bread-and-butter.
“We do a lot of market-rate and a tremendous amount of affordable housing,” Pizarro said.
Harkins builds a lot of wood-frame apartment buildings, usually capping their height at around five or six stories. Pizarro said the types of projects they pursue are in the $20 million to $70 million range.
In addition to the Richmond region, Harkins’ new office will also service eastward to Virginia Beach, northward to Fredericksburg and westward to Lynchburg. Harkins has about 275 people on staff company-wide, and Pizarro said they have four people in Richmond, including himself.
“Over the next year, we’ll easily double if not triple that number (locally). I’m actively looking for superintendents, project managers, engineers and an in-house estimator,” he said.
Pizarro said they’re in a temporary office in the Boulders Office Park in Chesterfield and are currently looking for their next home.
“There has been talks of Scott’s Addition, and I like Old Town Manchester – somewhere a little more fun and vibrant,” he said.
Firms in other parts of the development industry have also landed in Richmond this year, including Norfolk-based architecture firm Hanbury, which opened an office in Monroe Ward, and national commercial real estate brokerage Lee & Associates, which launched in Richmond over the summer.