Development Team Spotlight
August 29, 2022
Our Communications team sat down with our ‘EPIC’ developers to learn more about each of their project management styles. We are grateful for this team who helps make the day-to-day with our projects go around.
Learn more about each of them below!
LANCE JOHNSON, VP of Events, Plazas, and Parking – 5 years
BLAKE NYBAKKEN, EPIC’s Chief Operating Officer for 7 years
BRIAN KOUNOVSKY, EPIC’s Vice President since the beginning
BRIAN REINARTS, EPIC’s Development Project Manager since July 2022
Projects of focus within EPIC
Lance – Events and Development
Blake – My current projects include: The M Building and The Tracks in Minot; the 2nd phase of our Area 57 development in Bismarck; and some of our local projects like the 3rd phase of our Gateway redevelopment on Main Avenue called Unite and our EOLA development on 45th Street.
Brian K – I focus on all our projects at a high level, and our projects with residential condos: Envy, The Arch, Beacon IP, and M by EPIC.
Brian R – The Tracks, Minot, ND; EOLA, Fargo, ND; Unite, Downtown Fargo, ND; The Beacon, Grand Forks, ND; Lake Park Development, Lake Park, MN.
Share what being a developer entails, as well as some of your project goals.
Lance – As a developer, it is my job, in some cases, to work with the public officials of the community where the project is taking place to ensure we are following the proper guidelines in construction and final use of the project. We often work as partners with communities as we commonly include public amenities in our developments – keeping an open line of communication throughout the project is one of the main focuses of the developer. The developer also works with the design team to ensure the overall project is in line with the budgeting model and the end goal.
Brian R – My position is a hybrid between the Design Team and the Development Team. With my design background, one of my goals as a developer is to be really thoughtful during the schematic design phase of a project so that we are developing the site in an efficient and creative way. Once a strong design concept has been finalized, digging into the details becomes a very important aspect to the developer’s role so that the project can become a reality. None of this is done by a single individual, but only by a team of talented individuals.
Brian K– To acquire real estate that is vacant or in need of improvement and transform them into usable spaces for business to thrive. I also like that we facilitate residential tenants and owners becoming a community among themselves and the additional benefit of enabling the public to enjoy the transformed space.
Blake – On the development side – while each project is unique – there are certain elements that stay consistent, and those are usually on the front-end, or during our due-diligence phase. Ensuring the site is compatible with what we want to develop; reviewing zoning or entitlement items; market analysis…some of these items are always on the list.
What do you enjoy most about your job?
Brian K – Watching the building come up and take shape, seeing the project move from start to finish.
Brian R– There are several aspects to my job that I enjoy, but I really like the creative process with the EPIC Team because this creates unique and innovative community developments.
Blake – The people! We have an incredible team of individuals at EPIC, and our success is a direct result of the employees who make it all happen.
Lance – I enjoy the variety of buildings and communities that we build in. Every project and community are different – variety is the spice of life!
How do you hold yourself accountable as the developer?
Blake – Managing time and tracking deliverables.
Lance – By making sure that the team has an open line of communication with myself and others on the team. By making decisions based on what is best for the project and for those businesses and people that will be occupying it.
Brian R – Strong communications and understanding of project programming.
Brian K – Attending meetings and working with other consultants to communicate on action items.
What are you most looking forward to within EPIC’s upcoming developments?
Brian R – If there is one development that I’m excited about, it would have to be EOLA. The decommissioning of the Anderson Softball/Baseball Complex left a ‘hole’ in this area of town. EPIC’s vision of this development will re-activate this site and provide multiple public spaces that will enrich the community’s quality of life.
Blake – If I had to narrow it down to just one, it would be bringing the M Building back online in downtown Minot. I was born and raised in Minot, and I remember looking at the big orange ‘M’ on top that building from across town, so that will be really special when that iconic building comes back to life.
Brian K – Designing and building The Wave by EPIC – seeing that come to life and how it will impact the community.
Lance – To see what we tackle next – it started with apartments and now we are building waterparks, plazas, etc.
Coolest project you’ve ever worked on!
Blake – Another hard one to narrow down with options like the historic Mill Square property in downtown Grand Forks, or our first student housing, mixed-use property on the campus of University of Jamestown, but I would have to say The Lights in West Fargo…. that is the definition of cool! Great commercial tenants, upscale apartment units, our first residential condos coming online…It all comes together with the plaza to create a truly special place. I’ve experienced big events there like concerts and public speakers, and I’ve also been skating there in the winter with just my kids. So many uses and so well received – The Lights is a really special place.
Lance – The Beacon in Grand Forks – it is still under construction, but not only is it in a community that I love, but the timing of the project is also allowing us to take actual information from similar completed projects like “The Lights” and use what we have learned to make the development even better.
Brian R – Throughout my professional career, I’ve worked on a lot of amazing projects. But in my previous employment, I was on the consultant side working closely with EPIC on their public plazas, and the one that really sticks out is The Lights.
Brian K – For developments, The Lights, hands down. My favorite building would be the White Banner building!