By Aaron Parkman
For the past eight weeks, teams of construction workers have been giving a face-lift to the North Avenue apartments. Taking a walk inside the North Avenue East building, one will find a temporary office for Gilbane Building Company, a large Atlanta-based construction firm and face of the project. Jim Brown is one of the many Gilbane employees who has committed to providing quality workmanship on the building.
Gilbane was founded in 1873 as a family business and has since grown into a $3.5 billion corporation now specializing in the oversight of large-scale construction projects. Gilbane was hired primarily to manage the North Avenue project and has brought in labor from several other companies, including Western Construction Company and Masonry Construction Group.
Brown, who has been employed by Masonry for the past year, describes it as “a good job” and says he feels like Gilbane is running an “A+” operation. As many students already know, Gilbane was hired to correct the masonry mistakes of the original builder, who Brown says was guilty of “poor workmanship.”
According to Brown, Gilbane’s leadership is strong, saying that “the teamwork up there is all together.”
When asked how he feels about the $6.5 million budget, Brown stated that “the quality that they are putting into the building is worth it.”
Brown, along with the rest of the crew, knows that he has an important responsibility. According to him, Gilbane takes quality seriously. “They come behind you with a tape measure,” he said.
Brown says he has hopes of starting an outreach program called “The Jim Brown Self Discipline Youth Organization,” which would give youth from disadvantaged areas an opportunity to live in a structured community and learn how to be successful entrepreneurs. Now awaiting reply from the state of Georgia, Brown has submitted a request for a $5 million grant to purchase the necessary 279 acres off of Highway 278.
A long-term member of the National Guard, Brown joined at age 17 and is still active.
He says two of his stepchildren, ages 18 and 19, are currently working construction with him and are considering the military as an option.
As far as the project goes, Brown says he’s satisfied with most aspects, but he wishes the workers had designated parking.
“After getting several tickets, they finally gave us somewhere to park,” Brown said.