Sunday, August 9, 2009

One more month and the learning begins...(newly edited to include link to a picture blog)

So...a lot has been accomplished since the last time I blogged about my summer internship at Pacific Charter School Development(PCSD). School officially opens on September 2, 2009. Thinking back to my first couple of days at PCSD, I can't believe the progress that has been made in 9 weeks. When I first visited the school site, our contractors were just putting up the framing, the outside of the building had barely been started, and you certainly were advised to wear a hard hat as you walked the building. Today, we're expecting furniture move in less than a week from now, the classrooms look like well...classrooms, and the exterior of the building highlights the promise of a new school.

Of course, the last month and a half has not been without its challenges. As anyone that has worked in project management for a real state developer knows, much of your job is tackling new issues that seemingly pop up all the time. Many of these issues deal with getting city approvals, permits, and inspections in time for the school opening. With the help of countless numbers of people these issues have been navigated and at this moment things look promising leading up until the opening. The amount of moving parts on a project can be overwhelming at times. I've learned how vitally important it is to remain organized, cool-headed, and diligent as you work through the various issues that invariably come up. What makes development of a school so difficult is the tight development timelines that exist because school starts on a particular day. Unlike residential real estate development, which I had experience with in the past, delays in construction are not as easily dealt with. If the school is not ready to be opened, 100s of kids will be left in the cold. It's this unique pressure that is both exciting and a little stressful as issues come up and then are resolved. It's a delicate balancing act that project managers for these developments must do. I've been fortunate to work at an organization that handles this as well as any.

The job of a project manager is not done once the building is finished and the students move in either. An additional project I've been working on this summer is helping to compile the documents needed to obtain certificate of occupancy(CO) for two schools that are already open. There are a countless number of conditions that are put on developments that must be satisfied before CO can be obtained. Again, the number of moving parts can become overwhelming if you don't stay organized. With the help of officials from the city, contractors that have worked on the project, architects that have drawn up the plans, and everybody else involved with the project, I'm confident we'll be able to obtain CO in the near future.

As my internship winds down, I've not only gained a new appreciation for project managers but I've also reignited my interest in real estate development. After working on the project management side of development this summer, I'll have seen a substantial part of the development process. From land acquisition, my prior experience at KB Home, to project management at PCSD, I now have a fuller understanding of what it takes to be successful at development.

My last blog post will recap my whole summer and hopefully tell the story of how a finished school is ready to become a place where the possibilities are endless.

Edit: For those of you that would like to see the pictures from the months long construction process...go to to this link. New Green Dot School

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