Swinerton's Special Projects team performed the adaptive reuse of a former warehouse building in Charlotte, N.C., into office spaces for three tenants. The project included bringing the outdoors into the workspaces. Image: Courtesy of Swinerton

Swinerton’s special projects units allow the national GC to operate like a local boutique firm

Swinerton’s Carolinas Division has been particularly successful in attracting jobs that require a nimble touch.

winerton, the national general contractor, expanded into the Southeast U.S. in 2018. Since then, the firm’s Carolinas Division has generated at least $359 million in revenue from commercial construction projects that have run the gamut from corporate interiors and multifamily to healthcare and mass timber builds.

Of that total, Swinerton’s Carolinas Division is on pace to generate $120 million in revenue in 2023 alone. Among its projects nearing completion is the adaptive reuse within a former warehouse building in West Charlotte, N.C.’s Lower Tuck mixed-use development for office space: a $2.8 million renovation to create a 28,000-sf, two-story space that houses an international nonprofit disaster relief organization; and a nearly $1 million 9,000-sf expansion for an existing tenant, the tool manufacturer Positec, that adds offices, a conference room, and a break room.

These two upgrades were performed by the division’s Special Projects team. Each of Swinerton’s 20 offices nationwide has its own Special Projects crews, which allow the firm to position itself as a “community based GC” that is run like a boutique business, says Jason Hlewicki, Director of Special Projects for the Carolinas Division.

What constitutes a “special project,” however, is a little amorphous. Hlewicki says his special projects team is not separate from the division’s other employees. Nor is a project deemed “special” because of its size or cost: Hlewicki says his team has completed a renovation for a local restaurant group in 56 days, and has also worked on 100,000-sf $40 million jobs.

While special projects run across Swinerton’s practices, their designation “depends on the project’s characteristics and makeup,” he explains. Examples include commercial interiors, off-hours work, medical office building interiors, classroom renovations, and sports complexes.

Division serves a growing region

Hlewicki says that having a special projects team within a division allows Swinerton to be nimble and to pivot when needed, partly by pairing “the best possible staff with the project.” Another competitive advantage, he says, includes Swinerton being a self-performing GC whose crews are made up of its employees. (Swinerton is employee-owned.)

The Carolinas Division completes between 20 and 30 special projects annually, and therefore it deals with a lot of different AEC firms and developers. (Third & Urban is the developer of the Lower Tuck project.) it’s been Hlewicki’s experience that special projects allow Swinerton more room for creativity, especially when the firm is brought on early as part of the project’s design-build team.

The Carolinas have enjoyed a steady influx of people and businesses in recent years, a trend that’s expected to continue going forward. Hlewicki says demand for his firm’s services, both for new builds and renos, “is moving in an exciting direction.” Those services include Swinerton’s Facilities Solution program, a national platform that provides maintenance to existing clients using dedicated crews. “This keeps Swinerton top of mind with our customers,” says Hlewicki.