​BP Construction: Why, What, Where, and When

by Leslie Lytle, Messenger Staff Writer

The announcement that the University tapped BP Construction to serve as the lead development partner for the University’s Sewanee Village project raised many questions. Seven developers and builders had recently been invited to submit housing proposals.
“The Sewanee Village Project was not necessarily assigned to one developer, but one developer will be working with us on the entire project,” explained Frank Gladu, who oversees implementation of the Sewanee Village Plan. “Rather than getting a developer for every single piece of the project, it was clear having a coordinator, someone who could see all aspects of the Village Plan would be beneficial.”
The five priority initiatives are the new bookstore, narrowing Highway 41A to calm traffic, a mixed-use food market and apartment building, a village green, and affordable housing, especially multi-family units.
“Other developers might be involved,” Gladu insisted. “BP is our master developer who will be our partner through every aspect of the project whether it’s the village green, narrowing Highway 41, or housing. The proposals submitted by other developers are still being evaluated. This is in no way an attempt to not utilize the other developers under consideration.”
BP Construction Company, Inc. is a Chattanooga-based company providing high-end residential and commercial construction and development services owned by Ooltewah, Tenn., native Barry Payne.
At a recent Village Planning update meetings, Gladu mentioned discussion being underway with a developer about constructing a mixed-use grocery and apartment building on the lot currently occupied by the Hair Depot. That developer was BP.
“We’ve been talking with them two and a half years,” Gladu said. “One of BP’s roles will be finding an operator for the specialty food market. They have good experience in finding operators to provide services.”
If things proceed as planned, BP would be the leaseholder of the lot, own the mixed-use building, and lease the retail space on the ground floor as well as the apartments on the upper floor or floors. This model with the leaseholder renting out retail space in buildings they own is not uncommon in Sewanee, Gladu pointed out, citing the lot and building housing Sewanee Dry Cleaners, Big A Marketing, and the Frame Gallery.
Gladu noted that to make the “economics work,” BP was exploring a variation of the original idea for the mixed-use market-apartment building, with possibly a smaller footprint than the 10,000 square feet initially proposed and two stories instead of three.
Gladu conceded breaking ground this spring “might be optimistic,” but he commended BP’s eagerness to move forward.
Jim Cheney, BP Vice President of Marketing and Business Development, will be on hand to answer questions at the morning session of the next Village Planning update meeting, at 10 a.m., Tuesday, March 5, at the Blue Chair.
“BP has experience in actual doing. So far, it’s only been planners and consultants guiding the Village Plan,” Gladu stressed. “They’ve hung in there with us over a long period of time. They understand what we want to do. They’re not interested in just one project. BP wants to be involved in all aspects of having a viable downtown. They see the big picture, that having visitors and events on the green are all the parts of the process of trying to create activity that will support business.”