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FEB. 13

University of Oregon Q&A

Posted on February 13th, 2013 - 12:00 am

University of Oregon Alumni Association

Andrew Colas ’04

Q&A with UOAA Board Member, 2004 graduate of the Lundquist College of Business, and president of Colas Construction, Andrew Colas

Where did you grow up and how did you choose the UO?

I was born and raised in Portland. I visited the University of Oregon when I was in middle school to watch my cousin run for the Oregon Ducks track team at Hayward Field. At that time I was really into track and I was confident that I would be a star for the Oregon track team someday. While my passion for business and construction replaced my track dreams, my love for the University of Oregon has remained strong.

Please tell us a bit about what you studied at the University of Oregon and what did you do for fun (clubs, student unions, intramurals or otherwise).

I was a business major at the Lundquist College of Business and spent many hours at the Knight Library studying. I was also a member of the Black Student Union and competed in intramural flag football and basketball. I took a couple of salsa classes, but my wife thinks I could use a refresher course.

What was your future career goal at that point and does it align with where you’re at now?

My career goal was to be the President of my father’s construction company and help the company grow to be one of the largest General Contractors in the Portland area. After a lot of work and my sister’s vote of confidence (she joined the company prior to my graduation), I’m President of Colas Construction and feel good about the direction we are headed. Construction is a competitive industry and experience is the key to growth. After sixteen years in business, we pride ourselves on the quality of our work, our solid collaborative relationships and our constant focus on the three pillars of sustainability: environmental, social and economic. We might not be the largest firm yet, but we’re committed to having a meaningful and lasting impact in the construction industry. Check back with me in another fifteen years!

Can you describe your role as President of Colas Construction? What does a “typical” day look like for you?

Every day is different in the life of a busy construction company, but my wife makes sure I have some form of green juice in the morning to get my day started off “healthy.” My phone starts ringing early. After a quick scan of emails, I typically set aside time to review contract documents. I read my share of industry periodicals for the day with my morning coffee. At least once a week, I analyze the profitability of ongoing projects and address any positive or negative outcomes that might be occurring with our project managers. I typically have two or three meetings throughout the day with either current clients or potential clients. Responding to emails is a constant task that starts early and ends late. We’re a growing company so making sure that every job we complete leaves a positive impact on our clients is one of the largest and most important responsibilities that I have on a daily basis. Every job is an opportunity for us to make a lasting impression.

As a member of the UO Alumni Association board of directors and Duck living in Portland, how do you stay connected to the UO? And why is staying connected to the UO important to you?

joined the UO Alumni Association to forge a formal connection between life in Portland and the University of Oregon. The Alumni Association does a great job helping to foster relationships between Ducks across the business community. These relationships have been beneficial to me professionally and personally. I’ve made some great new friends and have enjoyed the experience.

When the opportunity to join the UO Alumni Board presented itself I was extremely honored. Now I get to help further the great work that the UO Alumni Association has already done with a group of incredible board members. It’s a privilege to attend events and talk to current University of Oregon students to help educate them about the advantages of staying connected. My experience at the University positioned me for success, and I’m always eager to celebrate that and advocate for others.

And finally, what is your favorite UO memory?

I have a lot of great memories from my time at UO. Watching the Duck football team nearly go to the 2001 national championship game and the basketball team make it to the Elite 8 in the same year was pretty exciting. Oregon sports were great during my entire run, and I’d like to think it’s because I was such a great fan! Because we’re so dominant today, it’s pretty obvious I can’t take all the credit.

That being said, my fondest school memory was the sheer joy I experienced after completing one of my accounting finals. The class was the stuff of legends at Lundquist. I remember preparing for the final for three weeks straight and still feeling like I didn’t know a thing. When I sat down to take the final, I remember the anxiety, but the studying paid off. I knew when I finished the test I had aced it! Of course, I celebrated in true University of Oregon form at Taylor’s!

JAN. 28

DJC Oregon

Posted on January 28th, 2013 - 12:00 am

Glisan Commons Rising

BY: Sam Tenney

Eric Chavez, left, and Troy Erkenbeck, both laborers with Whitaker/Ellis, pour footings for Glisan Commons in Northeast Portland.

The mixed-use building is being built by general contractor R&H COLAS Construction.

Holst Architecture designed the five-story building, which will hold workforce housing as well as office space for Ride Connection, a nonprofit transportation group.

DJC Article Link

DEC. 05

DJC Oregon

Posted on December 5th, 2012 - 12:00 am

Glisan Commons project moves through design review

POSTED: Monday, December 5, 2011 at 07:56 AM PT

The Glisan Commons mixed-used project planned for Northeast 99th Avenue has moved through Portland’s design review process. (Rendering courtesy of Holst Architects)

At the city Design Commission this week, Holst Architects architect Dave Otte presented an update on the Glisan Commons project, a mixed-use project that is going into the Gateway neighborhood at Northeast 99th Avenue and Glisan Street. The project is a partnership between four organizations: Human Solutions, Ride Connection,REACH Community Development and Housing Development Center. The project will include office space, apartments and parking in two buildings, and it will be built in two phases.

In phase one, the project will have 67 units of workforce housing developed by Human Solutions and offices for Ride Connection, which provides van transportation and transit education for seniors and people with disabilities. Phase two will include 60 units of housing for seniors, developed by REACH. In between the two buildings will be a large courtyard/plaza which will hold vans and busses for Ride Connection, but which can also be cleared for weekend events.

Holst Architecture is currently performing the master plan for the entire project and design for phase one.

At the Design Commission on Thursday, the project was presented for a “design advice request” hearing. Otte presented renderings of the phase one building and showed a building with two types of material on the siding: a Hardie plank siding material and metal panels that combine in a puzzle-piece fashion. Bedroom windows for the apartment units, which come out onto the metal panel material, are smaller than living room windows, which come through onto the plank. Design commissioners recommended that Holst make the bedroom windows larger.

DJC Article Link

OCT. 12

DJC Oregon

Posted on October 12th, 2012 - 12:00 am

$52M Home Forward project under way in Southwest Portland

POSTED: Friday, October 12, 2012 at 02:40 PM PT
BY: Lee Fehrenbacher
Tags: ,Colas Construction
Carpenter Brian Ochsner, left, and laborer Eduardo Saines, both employees of Whitaker Ellis, build form walls at Stephens Creek Crossing, a $52 million public housing complex being built by R&H Colas in Southwest Portland. (Photo by Sam Tenney/DJC)

The Hillsdale Terrace public housing complex, built in 1968 in Southwest Portland, was plagued with problems from the start.

Its 60 affordable apartments sat on a depressed, bowl-shaped piece of land that collected substantial water. The buildings were constructed on top of pilings rather than concrete foundations, and the concrete masonry units sucked up pools of moisture into the walls.

Mold became a huge problem and helped make the facility the most expensive maintenance burden for the Housing Authority of Portland (now Home Forward).

But general contractor R&H Colas last week poured the first foundation for Stephens Creek Crossing – a $52.8 million project featuring better construction and connections for the community.

Hillsdale Terrace’s layout – from a bird’s-eye view, the buildings formed an “X” and an “O” – did little to foster connectivity between residents and the greater community. In addition, three properties separated Hillsdale Terrace from activity on Southwest Capitol Highway.

“A lot of times what can happen is larger affordable housing projects can have an invisible boundary drawn around them,” said Bill Lanning of MWA Architects, which designed Stephens Creek Crossing. “There’s isolation that can occur there – people living in the apartments don’t feel like they have a lot of connection to the neighborhood around them.”

Ultimately, Hillsdale Terrace was demolished. Mike Andrews, director of development and community revitalization for Home Forward, said the agency helped find new residences for the 48 families that were living there.

To prepare for Stephens Creek Crossing – named for Thomas Fulton Stephens, an early Portland settler – and address the site’s water issue, a significant amount of cut, fill and grading was required. Some of the previous CMU buildings were recycled as fill material. Eventually, a network of pedestrian pathways, bio-swales and play areas will weave through the 20 housing buildings and two community buildings that R&H/Colas is constructing.

One of the latter ones, the Opportunity Center, will be 11,110 square feet. It will house career services as well as community kitchens where residents can learn about cooking and nutrition. Home Forward hopes the center will become a resource for residents who participate in a community garden planned at the southwest corner of the Stephens Creek Crossing site.

“We’ve done community gardens in the past,” Andrews said. “They provide a lot of benefits to residents in the way of fresh, healthy food, but they also provide a rallying point for people to come together. But we also learned that people (want to know what they can) do with this fresh food. We grow all this great stuff and look at it and think, ‘What do I do with it?’ ”

The bigger question for awhile was whether Home Forward would be able to secure money for Stephens Creek Crossing – especially after its first application for federal funding was denied because of the site’s isolation.

But Home Forward worked out a couple of strategic partnerships that tipped the scales in its favor and in May 2011 landed $18.5 million in HOPE VI money.

The first partnership was with Habitat for Humanity, which will build seven homes for low-income homebuyers on nearby land. Steve Messinetti, president and CEO of Habitat’s Portland/Metro East chapter, said his organization for years has looked to build in the Southwest neighborhood; however, properties were not affordable.

“Anytime we’re able to purchase large properties for 10 to 30 homes, they are further into the east side – even further out than 82nd Avenue,” Messinetti said. “Historically, we have done a lot in inner Northeast Portland, but that’s becoming even harder now. So, to have a project in a really thriving community that is continuing to get better, to give opportunities for low-income families to buy a home … it’s a great benefit to those families.”

Stephens Creek Crossing will serve families making up to 60 percent of the average income – $43,800 for a family of four.

Home Forward also partnered with Neighborhood House, a community service organization that will provide Head Start and early childhood programs at an approximately 7,000-square-foot building along Southwest Capitol Highway. The site, purchased by Home Forward, is the one that previously isolated Hillsdale Terrace.

In addition, the project benefited from its qualification for a state 9 percent low-income tax credit that Home Forward sold to equity investors for approximately $17.26 million.

The project is scheduled for completion in fall 2013. Andrews acknowledged that it has been a long process, but added that the land was too valuable to abandon.

“We thought really hard about whether we would redevelop the site due to its challenges,” he said. “But we also knew that it was important to fill affordable rental housing in that wonderful neighborhood. It would have been very difficult for us to find a place to replace that many affordable rental homes in that strong of a neighborhood (anywhere else).”

Link to DJC Article

DEC. 28

DJC Oregon

Posted on December 28th, 2011 - 12:00 am

Colas, Oden-Orr appointed to Oregon Construction Contractors Board

POSTED: Wednesday, December 28, 2011 at 10:47 AM PT
BY: Stephanie Basalyga,Colas Construction

Colas, Oden-Orr

Andrew Colas and Melvin Oden-Orr were appointed to the Oregon Construction Contractors Board by Gov. John Kitzhaber. The CCB includes six licensed contractors, two public citizens and one elected official. Colas is president of Colas Construction Inc., a commercial general contracting firm. Oden-Orr is principal attorney at Portland-based Oden-Orr Law and also serves as general counsel for the National Association of Minority Contractors-Oregon. Colas’ and Oden-Orr’s terms began Dec. 1 and will run through June 30, 2015.

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