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Zahn Development focuses on building contemporary homes in Florida. 

By Kat Zeman

Designing homes is his passion. Andrew Zahn believes in the power of good design and the value of sustainability. As owner and head project manager of Ft. Lauderdale, Fla.-based Zahn Development, he oversees all construction operations from start to finish. That includes working closely with his architect.

"I'm not a typical contractor," Zahn says. "Im really focused on design and I get involved with materials and finishes."

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 Premier Fine Homes’ latest Florida project, Canopy, is highly anticipated and will provide a place for residents to not only live, but also enjoy a lifestyle full of activity and engagement.

By Bianca Herron

Premier Fine Homes is celebrating their 25th year in the homebuilding business; they started with developing townhomes and duplexes. Since then, the Tallahassee, Fla.-based company has seen much growth and is now known as a production builder.

“We also have a sister company, Sandco, which allows us to work in land development and keep our company growing,” Vice President Jason Ghazvini says. “We also added a real estate company so that we could have our own agents helping sell and market our properties. In the last decade, we have transitioned from building single-family homes ranging from 1,200 to 1,600 square feet to building neighborhood developments with larger homes ranging from 1,400 to 2,500 square feet.”

Currently, the family-owned company is developing its “biggest project yet,” Ghazvini says. “It’s called Canopy and we’re very excited about it,” he explains. “It’ll be the start of something big for us. Canopy will be the first mixed-use development with not only residential, but also retail, office, a school and medical sites.”

A Gathering Place

Canopy is a 508-acre Master-Planned community on the northeast side of Tallahassee, located just 10 minutes from downtown. The property is also minutes from I-10, the city’s main interstate highway.

“Canopy will have 500 apartment complexes and 900 home sites in the neighborhood,” Ghazvini explains. “It will also have 165,000 square feet of commercial and office space. We’ve also worked out with the city to donate a piece of property for a senior center. Currently, there is only one in Tallahassee – located on the other side of the city – so this would provide seniors with a convenient place to be together. The senior center will feature a workout facility, pool and serve as a gathering place for seniors. Ultimately, we hope to create a pocket in Canopy that is exclusive to active adults.”

The project is highly anticipated by not only the public, but also by city officials, Ghazvini adds, noting that the project is one of a few large undeveloped tracts of land within the city limits. “A family has owned the land for a long time and we were creative and aggressive enough to make the property work with the city of Tallahassee,” he says. “There were a lot of restraints on the development, but we were able to work through those to make it viable where other builders and companies have been unsuccessful.

“There is another piece of the land that’s owned by the city that butts up to I-10,” Ghazvini continues. “The intent is that once that piece of the city is built, it will cross over I-10 almost 2,000 acres that is part of the family’s property for future development. So our hope is that we take the right step with Canopy initially and really make a good footprint that we’ll be able to progress through the property as a whole.”

Premier is in the development phase of the project, most of which involves land moving. “We are putting in the pipes and roadways, and hope to start our first model home here in the middle of February,” Ghazvini says. “We would like to have that completed sometime in May and estimate a six- to seven-year timeline for the entire project to be completed.”

Delivering Quality

One of the best things about the Canopy Community project, according to Ghazvini, is that it is located near the 100-acre Dove Pond. “The goal is to make that a feature of the property,” he says. “We will have five miles of 10-foot paved pathways, as well as an additional five miles of unpaved multi-use trails, that run through the neighborhood. We are building a community center, which will feature a pool, playground and multiple sports courts; such as volleyball, basketball and tennis.”

“That piece will tie into Dove Pond via our ? mile linear park, which is in excess of 100 feet wide, as we’re building right through the community,” Ghazvini continues. “So it really gives the neighborhood a place to gather, hold community events and gives kids a safe place to play. Ultimately, everyone will have a place to go in the community.”

Premier builds almost entirely green-certified homes and its new community will be no different, Ghazvini notes. “We build to both the Energy Star standards as well as the Florida Green Building Coalition, which we are a part of,” he explains. “This property has a lot of green space. Part of the 9-mile walk/bike path actually transverses through a lot of these green spaces and low line wetland areas allowing people to enjoy this beautiful property. So being green is something that’s very important to Premier and we plan to incorporate [many] features into Canopy as we progress.”

Valuing Relationships

Satisfying customers’ needs is the first priority at Premier, which is why the company goes above and beyond to maintain communication. “I tell everyone that 99 out of 100 problems in construction are because of a lack of communication,” Ghazvini says. “It also helps us to have our own real estate staff, which allows them to be the initial relationship for the customer at the first point of contact. It also allows us to have our jobsite managers there to answer questions and solve problems. So communication throughout the process is vital for us.”

Ghazvini notes that strong communication with customers also extends to the company’s relationship with its employees. “We are very fortunate to have a great staff, many of who have been with the company for a very long time,” he says. “So because of their tenure, they are very well versed in the system. In addition, we are also going through a process I call the ‘changing of the guard.’

“My father, Pepper Ghazvini, and his partner, Tom Asbury, started the company years ago,” he continues. “Today, Mr. Asbury’s son, Thomas, and myself have really stepped in and are now running the company. We have a lot of new young blood coming on to learn our system as well. So our staff that has been with us for a long time benefits us, along with the enthusiasm of new peers that will bring fresh ideas.”

Ghazvini extends the same zeal and appreciation to the subcontractors that Premier works with. “Like most of our employees, many of our subcontractors have been with us for a very long time,” he explains. “Many of them have been with us since before the economy dipped in 2007. They rode the wave with us and the benefit of that is that we tried to give them as much of our business, if not all of it, during the downturn. Now that the economy has picked back up, they have returned that favor by trying to keep exclusively to us as much as possible. So if something happens, we are able to call upon them and make that closing or fix whatever problem may be at hand.”

Ultimately, cultivating and maintaining these relationships has contributed to the company’s success, Ghazvini concludes. “We are lucky to have a group of people to treat the company like it is their own. That shows itself to our customers, who get a type of service I feel couldn’t be compared to our competitors,” he says. “At Premier, customers are able to have a relationship and support staff system in place that really makes the process a lot less cumbersome and a lot more efficient for their benefit.”

 

IMG 6354 copyJON Properties believes that premium locations deserve premium housing developments.

By Tim O’Connor

Watching as a plot of dirt turns into a lasting part of a community is Mike Adams’ favorite part of being a developer. “There’s something that will be here long after I’m gone and lived in and worked in for generations,” the president and founder of Virginia’s JON Properties says. “In this line of work, you really do get to see things come to a conclusion.”

 

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Land Innovations raises the bar when it comes to developing one-of-a-kind communities that embrace the land.

By Janice Hoppe-Spiers

Land Innovations sees each new development as a blank canvas, drawing inspiration from the land and positioning its communities within the natural beauty and habitat. “We see our goal as much like an assignment to go create something special,” Chief Manager Dudley Smith says. “We are very sensitive to the environment and work creatively to craft a community that is not only unique, but that inspires creativity from the architecture of the homes to the preservation of the trees and natural topography. Our communities have a soul with the purpose of connecting people to each other and to their natural surroundings.”

Land Innovations is a Brentwood, Tenn.-based company and is an affiliate of CPS Land LLC, which was founded more than 20 years ago by Smith and Allen Patton. This past year, both Frank Horton and Rob Pease joined the CPS Land team as partners and will be joining Land Innovations as partners later this year.

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