The Opus Group is based in Minnetonka, Minn. And while the company has been busy in its home state — it’s set to begin building the nine-story Excel Energy office building in downtown Minneapolis in 2014 and has been building The Nic on Fifth 26-story luxury apartment complex in downtown sine 2012, among other projects — it’s also tackling projects throughout the Midwest.
The Kansas City market has become a particularly busy one for Opus. The company is now serving as design-builder for a headquarters building in Leawood, Kansas, for the AMC movie-theater chain, a 136,000-square-foot building. Construction on this project started in March of 2012 and is scheduled to wrap up in May of this year.
The company’s Freightquote.com project, in Kansas City, Mo., is a big one, too. Opus is serving as the design-builder for a 208,000-square-foot office headquarters for Freightquote, a company that ranks as the largest online shipping broker in the country.
If that’s not enough, Opus Design Build is also serving as the design-build contractor building the luxury apartment complex 51 Main in Kansas City. This six-story project will offer 176 apartment units featuring high-end amenities and 10,000 square feet of retail space on the ground level. Responding to low vacancy rates in the Kansas City market, this apartment building will be located near the trendy South Plaza Neighborhood.
The building will feature covered onsite parking, a club house and an outdoor amenity courtyard complete with a pool, grilling area and cabana.
Construction began in January of 2013 and the first residents are slated to take occupancy in the early fall of 2014.
Oscar Healy, vice president of construction at Opus Design Build, said that the Kansas City market has long been a key one for Opus. The company has taken on projects here since the 1970s, he said.
“Kansas City is a good, steady market,” Healy said. “It doesn’t have the same highs and lows as other markets. It’s not a Denver or a Dallas where you have a boom/bust market. Kansas City’s history has been as a steady market. There are some large corporations that are headquartered here, but we’re not like a Chicago. You can work in real estate in a suburb of Chicago and never venture into the downtown. That’s not how it is Kansas City.”
Though Kansas City isn’t considered a boom town, there is more than enough business to keep Opus busy.
The AMC theater project, for instance, is a complicated one. AMC asked for a building that would be an iconic one, one that would stand out from its neighbors.
“This makes it a more challenging project,” Healy said.
For instance, the project calls for wood that is only available from Brazil for a portion of the building’s exterior.
The Freightquote project, too, comes with its own challenges. The company requested a short construction period to allow it to move from the multiple buildings its employees are working from now into one consolidated headquarters building.
This short schedule — just one year — has required Opus to scramble to qualify quickly for permits and get materials on site in as short a period as possible. Opus also had to work through the initial design process quickly.
“The company can’t hire as many people as they want because it is out of space,” Healy said. “We had to use our resources to do what we could to expedite the process. Fortunately, we were able to work with the city to get the permits quickly. This is a high-profile project for the city.”
And with the 51 Main project, space constraints have brought their own challenges. This apartment building is bounded by three busy streets and an existing business. As Healy says, this doesn’t leave a lot of elbow room during the construction process.
“It creates a different work environment than you’d get in the suburbs,” he said.
For Healy, this year and last have been enjoyable ones. His roots are in Kansas City, and in 2001 he moved back to the area from Opus’ Minnetonka office.
“It’s been a lot of fun to be in the industry now during the rebound of this market,” Healy said. “I’m glad to be working here.”