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Tax reform a principal catalyst behind $100M precast plant venture

Fortified Precast Technologies, LLC has outlined an ambitious Florida residential real estate development plan, leveraging a partnership with German precast concrete production specialist Vollert Group and Opportunity Zone provisions in the Tax Cuts & Jobs Act of 2017 (TCJA). The company’s Fortified Precast Opportunity Fund is authorized to raise $100 million in $20 million increments to build five plants incorporating Vollert mix delivery, form pallet and companion robotics or casting components. At 32,720 sq. ft. of daily wall panel output, each operation would be capable of supplying more than 4,200 home projects annually. The capacity would be initially targeted to the Sunshine State market, which has seen residential building permits climb from 116,200 in 2016, to 122,700 in 2017 and 142,300 last year.

“The residential construction industry is mired in the stultified, ‘This is how we do it’ methodology for building exterior walls,” says Barry Stem, chief executive officer of Ocala, Fla.-based Fortified Precast Technologies, whose prior precast ventures have included the Duratek and Intrepid brands. “Florida building codes continue to strengthen to meet the life-threatening necessities presented by catastrophic natural events, wind load criteria, and impact resistance. The current concrete masonry [wall] solution is hampered in increasing costs to conform to the new requirements and a severe skilled labor shortage. When coupled with additional required inspections and often weather-interrupted schedules, higher costs and extending the length of time on the project site are inevitable.”

Virginia-based consultant EazyDoit Inc. has assisted in structuring the Fortified Precast Opportunity Fund offerings per TCJA guidelines. Investors can defer certain capital gains by participating in qualified funds underwriting projects in Act-defined Opportunity Zones—specially created geographic districts, primarily in urban areas where investment is wanting.