Alvera Apartments is as bold a project as its name suggests. A dramatic, hand-painted five-story Aaron de la Cruz mural wraps the apartment building’s façade with the upper floors patterned in an array of lively colors. A seven-story market-rate apartment building, Alvera is one of the largest, most complex modular buildings constructed in the state and the first to be built with a two-story concrete podium and five stories of RISE-manufactured modules.
The project’s uniqueness stems from the narrow tract of land on which the building sits. The site is tight, oddly shaped, and located on one of the most heavily trafficked corridors in the state. RISE and DJR collaborated to design custom-shaped modules that pushed the building to the property line and, with a semi-automated parking system, achieved the units needed to make the project viable. The tightness of the site also meant that if traditionally constructed, the storage, staging and mobilizing of materials would have to be done elsewhere, leading to significant complications and expense. RISE’s logistics plan staged a minimal number of mods in a nearby vacant lot before setting, and the materials needed for the project’s completion could be stored onsite.
Alvera is an expressive building that displays a sense of arrival and identity for St. Paul’s Capitol district. The tightness of the site may have created some challenges, but it also provided great opportunities. Because of the 193-unit count achieved, the developer can offer economic rents to the neighborhood. Alvera offers nano studios, one- and two-bedroom units, amenities such as a penthouse clubroom and rooftop deck with grills, firepits and skyline/river-valley views, and state-of-the-art fitness center, work-from-home space, an arcade and 102 semi-automated parking stalls.
One of the reasons owners/developers Ackerberg Group and Northland Real Estate Group chose modular construction was because of its faster delivery. With 193 apartments on such a uniquely shaped and tight urban site, Alvera would have taken anywhere from 18 to 24 months to complete if traditionally built. With volumetric modular, the building was ready for occupancy in 13 months.
The major issue with Alvera Apartments was making the proforma work. The site was tight, oddly shaped and located in one of the most heavily trafficked corridors in the state. RISE and DJR collaborated to design custom-shaped modules that pushed the building to the property line and, with the parking system, achieved the units needed for financial viability.
When you visit Alvera Apartments, the quality of its construction is evident, though there is no way you could tell that it was built utilizing volumetric modular. The residents of Alvera especially appreciate the extra soundproofing and sound quality within their apartments due to the structural soundness of each module.
Alvera experienced the full sustainability benefits of modular with a more energy-efficient building due partly to a tighter building envelope. The carbon footprint of the build process was considerably less, with less waste produced in our controlled factory setting. It took only 13 months versus 18 to 24 months to complete construction, so less energy was required and there was a lower level of onsite pollution. There is considerably lower noise pollution, less daily traffic and machinery with less overall onsite activity.
The tightness of Alvera Apartments meant construction would always be a challenge whether built offsite or traditionally. But by the numbers, traditional construction means more people, more materials, more moving parts within a constrained site, leading to a significantly higher risk of a jobsite incident with traditional onsite construction. Because 75% of the scope was built in a controlled factory environment, the safety risk was dramatically reduced.
Alvera Apartments is located on one of Minnesota’s most heavily trafficked corridors in an active residential and commercial neighborhood that serves as the gateway to downtown St. Paul and the Capitol district. Due to offsite construction, the disruption and impact on the community were dramatically reduced. The building went from foundation to entire building in only three weeks!
Material deliveries were substantially less than site-built projects. There were fewer people onsite, meaning less traffic and pollution, less parking in the neighborhood, and less noise, and one lane was closed on the main road for just three weeks.
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