Oaktree Development: As Solid As It's Name

May 2010

Oaktree Development LLC, based in Cambridge, Massachusetts, was originally founded in 1969 as Unihab, Inc. as a design/build company specializing in factory-produced, urban, multifamily housing, with a vision of maximizing quality and value by emphasizing good design. “Through the years, all our projects have embodied a sense of community not often found in residential development,” notes Dr. Ling Yi Liu, one of four partners in the firm.

Through a half-century of operation, Oaktree has been able to move fluidly with the times. “In the 1970s, my partners did condo conversions,” says Liu. “In the ’80s and ’90s, they worked on larger condos, along with assisted living projects. Since I joined Oaktree in ’99, we’ve continued to focus on community-focused condo projects.”

Liu proudly points to the fact that Oaktree has always been ahead of the development curve, building sustainable structures and using technology to enhance its efforts all along the way. For example, the firm adopted the Leadership in Energy and Environmental Design (LEED) Green Building Rating System, standards for environmentally sustainable construction developed by the U.S. Green Building Council (USGBC), since its inception in 1998. “We were green before green was fashionable,” he asserts.

In its latest project, on New Street in Cambridge, Oaktree is incorporating Building Information Modeling (BIM) technology for design efficiency and modular building systems to improve construction quality and speed. The project also uses Oaktree’s newly introduced AbodeZ system, which, says Liu, “transitions design power from the architect/developer to the homeowner.

The units are “pre-engineered,” featuring interior walls that are neither structural nor plumbed. the walls are essentially flexible panels that can be moved as desired, which means that a homeowner can easily change his or her layout from a loft to a one bedroom, add another bedroom when children arrive or even enlarge a bedroom as they become empty-nesters.

This kind of flexibility requires strong support, and, for the past eight years, Oaktree has found it in Salem Five and Ken Foster, Oaktree’s Commercial Loan Representative. “Our working relationship is an excellent one,” Liu states. “We’ve had construction loans, we use Web Cash Manager and we’ve gotten insurance through Salem Five. In these difficult financial times, we’ve been fortunate to have strong projects with low construction and land costs. With a solid bank like Salem Five as our partner, we can continue to provide sustainable housing and create new jobs, even in this current economy.”

Salem Five Resource

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