By JOHN McCALLUM
Managing Editor 

A first of its kind for Cheney and Spokane County

Cheney Park Apartments construction employs new materials and designs

 

September 5, 2019

From the outside it may look like a traditional multifamily complex, but inside, the new apartments arising along West 1st Street near Salnave Park are anything but traditional.

In fact, Cheney Park Apartments — 1026 W. 1st St. — may be the first of its kind in Cheney in several aspects. To start, the four-building, 90-unit complex is being built using a “pod” and “stack” modular design.

Each pod consists of a studio, a one-bedroom and a two-bedroom unit. At 480, 613 and 1,030 square feet respectively, each pod roughly totals 2,600 square feet.

Each building is constructed by building pods on top of each other. For example, the first building is a three-floor, 36-unit structure with three pods on top of each other to form a stack, with four stacks built horizontally.

“This floor plan is identical all the way up, and all the way that way,” project consultant, Veksel Consulting & Contracting principal and owner Erik Bondo said, pointing down the length of the building. “Think of it as a tower, they’re all conjoined, but all separate.”


Bondo said the pod and stack design has a lot of advantages, such as speed and ease of construction as well as installation of utilities. Instead of utility pipes protruding from the ground throughout the building, the contractor — Beacon Building — has been able to run major utilities into a separate building to the north of the 36-unit structure and then down its length to each stack.

Another aspect of Cheney Park Apartment’s modularity is the apartment walls. Equilus Financial real estate managing member Paul Bondo, Erik’s father, said the walls are built off-site, trucked in and installed using cranes.

Then there are the apartment floors, which are poured cement — not only on the ground floor but all the way up the stacks. Paul Bondo said the cement is finished, stained and polished, enabling ease of clean-up and allowing for some variety in floor furnishings.

“If somebody wants to have a carpet, they can bring it down and have it here,” he said.

But what truly is unique about Cheney Park Apartments is the sub-floor material on which the concrete will sit. The multifamily complex is the first of its kind in the city, and likely in Spokane County, to use cross-laminated timber in construction.

According to sources in a Wikipedia citation, cross-laminated timber (CLT) is a type of engineered wood panel product made from gluing layers of solid-sawn lumber together. Strips of lumber especially selected for a type of usage and specifically planned and sanded are glued and then pressed together in layers, using either a vacuum or hydraulic press system.


The layers of boards are “oriented perpendicular to adjacent layers and glued on the wide faces of each board, usually in a symmetric way so that the outer layers have the same orientation.” Gluing the wood layers at right angles helps the panels “achieve better structural rigidity in both directions.”

Developed in Germany and Austria in the early 1990s, CLT began being used in construction after passing U.S. Building Code standards in 2015. It has been employed in the construction of several tall buildings, including the 14-story University of British Columbia’s Brock Commons Residence Hall, completed in September 2017.

Besides strength and ease of modular construction, CLT’s exterior layer provides a wood-grain look to the ceilings of the units at Cheney Park Apartments.

The complex also utilizes the structural integrated panel system — SIPs — for its ceiling construction. According to the Structural Insulation Panel Association, SIPs panels “consist of an insulating foam core sandwiched between two structural facings” that are “manufactured under factory controlled conditions and can be fabricated to fit nearly any building design.”

Because of the strength of SIPs panels, Erik Bondo said they have learned that supporting interior trusses aren’t needed in the upper floor units, something that will be incorporated into the construction of the final three buildings — saving time and money.

Along with the construction techniques, Erik Bondo added units will have stacked washer and dryers, in-wall heating and cooling systems and a full-service kitchen, sans dishwasher.

On the outside, Erik Bondo said the landscaping will be a mix of rock mulch and indigenous vegetation. The complex will use a drip irrigation system with little grass to be maintained.

“If they want grass, they can go to the park,” Paul Bondo said, noting the complex will have an access to nearby Salnave Park.

Erik Bondo said the first units should be renting within about two weeks, depending on the issuing of a temporary occupancy permit by the city. Equilus and property management company Walker Property Management hope to hold an open house for the community later this month.

John McCallum can be reached at jmac@cheneyfreepress.com.

 

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