The winners in the ninth annual Multifamily Executive magazine awards excel in many areas and are truly best in class. How do they do it? By sticking to their founding principals. They all believe in providing the best products and services to their residents; but they all do it in slightly different ways.

This year's winners not only build great product, but they market creatively, contribute to their communities, meet their residents' expectations, and operate their companies with smarts and savvy. In addition to naming the 2003 Executive of the Year (see "It Takes a Village") and the 2004 Builder of the Year (for full coverage, see January 2004), awards were given for Best Reuse of Land, Project of the Year – Resort/Luxury, Market-Rate, Niche Market, and Affordable – Best Marketing and Advertising Campaign, Community Service, and Best Use of Technology.

The winners understand their markets and their residents, setting new standards for the industry.


Project: 11 E. Forsyth, Jacksonville, Fla.
Project: 11 E. Forsyth, Jacksonville, Fla.

Project Snapshot-
Project: 11 E. Forsyth
Location: Jacksonville, Fla.
Developer: Vestcor Construction Services Inc.
Opening Date: February 2003
Number of Units: 127
Unit Mix: One- to three-bedroom lofts
Average Monthly Rent: $690 to $1,255
Amenities: Club room, business center, fitness center, DSL or high-speed Internet, controlled access, washers and dryers, pet friendly, satellite ready, attached parking garage, and 3,500 square feet of commercial space

One of the biggest problems developers have is finding land to build a feasible project. As a result, companies look at vacant buildings to find solutions.

Vestcor Construction Services Inc., the developer of 11 E. Forsyth, realized they had a golden opportunity when it purchased the historical downtown office building with the intention of bringing New York-style loft living to Florida.

It takes a lot of expertise to rehab a historic property. After evaluating the site, Vestcor realized that keeping the 17-story tower and knocking down the two-story annex building was the best way to reuse the land. A six-story parking garage replaced the annex.

There are always hurdles when reusing land, and this project was no different. The company needed to add a second staircase to the tower and restore the lobby's original plaster ceiling and marble elevators.

In addition, horizontal and vertical structural supports were added to the existing concrete encased steel frame of the structure. And existing window openings could not be enlarged due to the historical preservation of the project.

After 16 months of interior renovations and 12 months of exterior restoration, the building has new life.