A storied island developer adds nine acres to its corporate park, with a 330,000-square-foot office building, a vineyard, and a rooftop farm
By Jessica Jones-Gorman
With a total of 11 buildings, 200 tenants, and more than 10,000 daily visitors to its corporate park, The Nicotra Group has firmly established itself as Staten Island’s largest private real estate developer, adding art, architecture, and nature preserves to a mile-long stretch along South Avenue, in the borough’s Bloomfield section. In 2019, Lois and Richard Nicotra will add yet another couple of acres to their portfolio bringing a new, well-appointed office building, a rooftop garden, and even a vineyard to the West Shore.
“This is one of the biggest projects we’ve ever undertaken,” noted Richard Nicotra, who owns and manages The Corporate Park of Staten Island with his wife. “This property will feature another socially responsible restaurant, a vineyard, and a 40,000-square-foot organic rooftop farm. It is going to be a great addition to the property, and we are truly excited about all of the wonderful details we are going to include.”
This newest project, called Corporate Commons Three, is being developed on a nine-acre site and will feature an eight-story, 330,000-square-foot LEED-certified office building complete with features and amenities you might expect to find in Manhattan. CetraRuddy, an award-winning international architecture, planning, and interior design firm, which recently published an extensive white paper on the future of Staten Island, is working on this project.
“Lois and I travel all over the country and the world, and are inspired by wonderful projects in which art and landscaping are the stars,” Nicotra said. “And that is exactly what we’ve tried to bring here to South Avenue. This is one street that doesn’t have strip mall shops and neon signs flashing. Our goal is to continue to build a true neighborhood of corporate buildings where Staten Islanders can enjoy coming to work, play, and visit.”
Ground was broken in October, and the Nicotras simultaneously began working with a landscape architect to create a temporary nursery on the grounds to house tens of thousands of indigenous plants and hundreds of native trees displaced by the construction, which will be replanted on the grounds once the building is complete. And in an effort to continue their history of environmentally responsible development, the Nicotras will donate two acres of land to the community. The site will offer visitors a unique opportunity to see Staten Island’s untouched greenscape.
“This newest project has given us a glimpse at the past,” Nicotra said. “Our landscape architect says the untouched, preserved acres are as close to what Henry Hudson saw in the early 1600s as anything visible to New Yorkers today.”
To share the unique space with the community, the Nicotras are also planning to build an outdoor classroom where students can visit and learn about the environment, preservation, and the historical significance of this land in a welcoming and appropriate educational setting. Additionally, the property surrounding Corporate Commons Three will feature a vineyard, a pedestrian promenade, and a town square, and will be filled with large-scale, original sculptures.
“The rooftop of the building will be green and lush, with a 40,000 square foot organic farm featuring tomatoes, kale, beehives for honey production, and some beautiful fig trees,” said Lois Nicotra, adding that “the vineyard will be located along the pedestrian promenade next to the building. Our initial intent was to create our own wine here, but after flying in a consultant from Sonoma University, we found out that it would take seven years to accomplish that. What we really loved about the vineyard was its symmetry and look as you drive along South Avenue, so we decided to keep it in our plans and grow table grapes there instead. We’ve chosen a delicious seedless sapphire grape, which will grow in about a year’s time. We will donate each harvest to food pantries on Staten Island.”
Following the social enterprise model they’ve already created at the Commons cafe, which has given away almost $650,000 in its five years of operation, the Nicotras will open Pienza, Pizza, Pasta & Porchetta at the new site. This restaurant will also donate 100 percent of its profits to Staten Island charities.
“We will sell prepared foods and have organic foods for sale that grow on the rooftop,” Nicotra noted. “Brides who get married at our Hilton venues or guests who dine at Lorenzo’s will be able to have a salad with a tomato that was picked that day, not one shipped green from California two weeks ago.”
Doctors’ offices and laboratories will join 23 other medical practices along the Nicotras’ Medical Mile on South Avenue, as well as law, real estate, and financial services firms. The Nicotras’ new building will create an estimated 2,500 full-time and part-time jobs for the borough’s West Shore, known as the Jobs Coast of Staten Island. Additionally, the John W. Lavelle Preparatory Charter School will expand operations into the new structure.
“We have 23 different doctors’ offices now, plenty of parking, and a place for patients to eat breakfast or lunch after they’ve had a blood test,” Nicotra said. “There’ll also be two beautiful acres of preserved land that patients, doctors, lawyers, and accountants can stroll through. There will be streams, bridges, seating areas, even an outdoor classroom that visitors can enjoy.”
And of course, the Nicotras will fill the property with art.
“We just purchased a new sculpture,” Lois explained. “It’s a beautiful key and keyhole—30 feet long. We saw it in Napa Valley and fell in love with it. It’s being shipped from California right now and will be joined by a number of other locally commissioned works.”
“We simply wanted to continue what we’ve been doing here for the past 25 years,” Richard Nicotra concluded. “I think this is going to be one very special building.”
The Nicotra Group, LLC
1110 South Avenue, #401 / 718.477.2100 / officespacestatenisland.com