By Stephanie Trotter
Drizzle slices the air, pooling in puddles across the corner of South Main and East Broad streets. Kimberly Bailey stands in her hard hat and well-worn cowboy boots, surveying the 4-acre construction site with its concrete pads and blue fencing. As Camperdown’s senior project manager, she’s charged with keeping the build on time and budget.
“I can’t say this is the hardest I’ve managed, as every job has its own measure of difficulty,” she says. “But this is one of the largest and most complex, with the most moving parts and entities involved.”
While the public has eagerly awaited development at this high-profile intersection for more than a decade, Bailey’s been working the $200 million project for Brasfield & Gorrie General Contractors since October 2016. She remembers her first visit, saying, “You look at a set of plans and you see the footprint, and you know it’s big, but until you walk out here and stand in the middle of it, you don’t really understand the scale.”
Roughly 30% of the lot features an office building already in use and the beginnings of a 196-room AC Hotel. Centennial American Properties, which hired B&G, owns the remaining 70% of the footprint, where crews are erecting the 17-story Falls Tower with 229,323 square feet of office, living, and retail space; a 217-unit apartment building; a 629-space parking garage; and the largest plaza in Greenville’s history. As lead of the project, and a female, Bailey is adding her own asterisk to the history of this iconic downtown corner.
The Bureau of Labor Statistics shows that women comprise less than 10% of the construction industry, yet the National Association of Women in Construction reports that involvement has been steadily increasing since 2012. Bailey was one of only three women in her building science group at Auburn University, yet when she first entered Dudley Hall to study brick composition, she knew she’d found her passion. “There was a mood about that room, and I felt like these are my people, this is where I’m meant to be,” the 35-year-old recalls.
After graduation, the high-energy go-getter went to work for Brasfield & Gorrie, where she’s moved up the team across sites in Birmingham, Alabama; Atlanta; and Jackson, Mississippi.
“I would encourage any woman to go into this business. I don’t ever walk into a room and feel I’m in the minority. I never really let it hold me back,” she says. “I’m of this mindset you just have to work and earn it. People are going to have their judgments when they meet you, and you just have to prove yourself to them and earn respect, no matter who you are.”
Bailey has certainly earned the respect of the president of Centennial American Properties, Brody Glenn. “We are fortunate to have a team member in Kimberly who is the entire package. She brings the resolve, focus, and effectiveness to our project with poise. She also possesses the humor and work ethic that a leader needs to gain the most from the team,” he says.
As a CREW Upstate Dealmaker Award winner, Bailey networks frequently, especially with women. This month, she’s meeting with 90 other B&G co-workers, all female, at an annual gathering. “We’re all in operational roles,” says the married mother of two. “I’m going to talk to them about their professional networking and personal networking. Who is there to help and encourage you, coach you, advocate for you, in all areas of your life and work?”
She also finds herself communicating across company lines at Camperdown, coordinating barricades and crane swings with groups building the hotel, for other owners. Her self-admitted obsessive tendencies serve her, and the build, well.
“I’m very anal, to a fault,” she jokes. “I do like to get into the details. Safety is one of my responsibilities while I’m managing finances, hiring subcontractors, creating and managing schedules.”
The ground has proved the most challenging issue on-site. “We’re having to go down over 30 feet through rock, and the granite is as solid as solid can be,” she explains. In addition, trucks are having to make 90-minute runs to and from Twin Chimneys Landfill to dispose of every tablespoon of excavated dirt.
“It’s a brownfield site,” Bailey says. “Basically, it means the ground has been deemed contaminated. Apparently, there was a laundromat in the area, which is bad for the soils underneath.”
Even with ground issues and a rainy spring, Bailey sees Camperdown completion coming in mid-2020, but she plans to stay in town afterward to oversee build-outs and other ventures.
“Greenville’s now home,” she says. “It’s going to be a lot of fun when this is over and I get to actually come and spend time and hang out on the plaza and do the Saturday morning thing here, and it’s not work anymore. I carry a big sense of pride. There’s a lot of blood, sweat, and tears in this project, and it’s going to be nice to complete it and have it open for everybody’s enjoyment.”