Written by Kecia Bal
HDC Development Cos.
Building to Help Seniors Feel at Home
With more than 8,000 housing units developed under its
direction so far, HDC Development Cos. has been part of
the senior healthcare and housing arenas since 1970.
With a boom in senior housing projects nationally, plenty of new contractors are trying to figure out how to serve that population – and tap into a lucrative market. Builders and developers are scrambling to find the best ways to make senior housing feel less institutional and more like home.
But HDC Development Cos., based in St. Joseph, Minnesota, has been catering to the industry for decades, learning what works and what doesn’t and how to best satisfy the client and the end-users: seniors who want to enjoy a sense of community.
“You need to build a community within the building with the residents to have successful projects,” HDC owner Jim Lemke says. “When you have a waiting list of clients to move in, you know you are doing things right.”
And, because HDC also has managed senior living facilities – and seen how they function on a daily basis – company leaders know well how to create a setup most friendly for seniors.
“We not only build these buildings, we have also managed them so we know what the resident is looking for,” Lemke says.
The company has been involved in the senior healthcare and housing industries since 1970 and also has expanded into the multifamily housing industry, being part of the development of more than 8,000 housing units.
Current owners Roger Holtberg and Lemke took the reins in 2001. Holtberg has 30 years of experience in senior housing and market-rate apartments and is a licensed nursing home administrator. The company has experienced rapid growth over the past 15 years, thanks to knowledgeable leadership and a focus on diversifying, Lemke says.
HDC works among a broad range of fields, including healthcare, market-rate apartments, office complexes, tip-up buildings and the commercial sector. That flexibility has proven to be a competitive advantage.
“It shows we are versatile in multiple facets of construction, capable of building in different climates and locales, and different markets and with wood, steel or masonry,” Lemke says. “We are always ready. We have good superintendents in the field that work directly with the subs in setting schedules, relating plan changes, or confirming details with the subs and producing daily reports and logs.”
Under the direction of Holtberg and Lemke, more than a quarter of a billion dollars in projects have been packaged and completed since 2011.
Lemke has been with HDC for 27 years and is recognized as an expert in the construction of senior housing and multifamily dwellings. Holtberg and Lemke also continue to work closely with the owners in all facets of project development including architectural services, design, estimating and overall project management.
HDC is registered to do business in Colorado, Iowa, Kansas, Minnesota, Mississippi, Missouri, Montana, Nebraska, North Dakota, Oklahoma, South Dakota, Wisconsin and Wyoming.
“You need to have the right team of subcontracts and suppliers,” Lemke says. “This assures that a schedule can be set and met. We have a network throughout the Midwest of contractors that we can draw from, and some contractors follow HDC as we move from project to project. We have good project managers that stay on top of their project to be sure we stay on track.”
Along with the know-how to complete projects on schedule and within budgetary constraints, HDC also maintains a sharp focus on what the experience is like for owners.
“We are considerate to the owner-developer of a project and give them the best project for their dollar spent,” Lemke says. “We help them develop and expand their company.”
Creating the Setting
As leaders in healthcare and retirement housing projects, Lemke says the company has learned how to make those settings feel more home-like.
“We use softer designs, no wild wall coverings or flooring and no very bright paints,” he says.
Gathering areas, such as a common space with a fireplace, beverage center, an exercise room and sometimes a pool table, help create a sense of community, he adds.
Architectural features, such as using wider corridors with retirement-assisted living centers, offer a more accommodating product, as does having sitting areas in the corridors for the residents to sit and visit without walking a long distance to get to a center commons area.
“We have cabinetry and appliances in the units for a home-like setting,” Lemke says. “Whether they use them or not, it gives the security of having a home. When a person moves out of their home, this is the last security they have. That needs to be replaced as they move into a unit.”
HDC and its trusted subcontractors have healthcare projects currently underway in a number of regions, including Bixby, Oklahoma; Gladstone, Missouri; and Ames, Iowa.
That specialty won’t change, Lemke says.
“HDC will continue to work in the retirement and health market as we have in the past, and expand as needed for continued growth,” he says.
In addition to work for seniors and the healthcare industry, HDC has been busy in recent years accommodating the rush to serve the rapidgrowth in the Bakken Shale region of North Dakota. The company built a $22 million market-rate apartment project in Williston and just completed a second phase of a 107-unit market-rate project in Watford City.
Though the drop in commodity prices has slowed work there, the company is ready for when the market shifts.
The company has $44 million of projects on hold, waiting for oil prices to return to $60 to $70 a barrel, Lemke says.
Though Lemke has been working for the company for nearly three decades, he finds the process too rewarding to pass up.
“Although I could retire, I still enjoy building and coming to work in the morning,” he says. “The oil market has slowed development in the North Dakota area with low per-barrel oil prices.
“We will continue working there but also will be looking at more design/build projects and more commercial work to fill any voids that the oil market may contribute to,” Lemke adds.