THIS LOCAL REAL ESTATE FIRM, WITH A LONG HISTORY OF COMMUNITY CONTRIBUTION, HELPED SIUH INSTALL NEGATIVE PRESSURE ROOMS DURING THE COVID CRISIS
BY JESSICA JONES-GORMAN • PHOTOS BY AMESSE PHOTOGRAPHY
When COVID-19 hit New York City hard, making an indelible mark on all five boroughs, James Prendamano saw his hometown community of Staten Island in distress and immediately knew he had to do something to help. “I contacted Staten Island University Hospital because they were on the frontlines of this pandemic, and I knew there had to be something that we could do to alleviate the pressure they were under,” noted Prendamano, CEO of Casandra Properties in Bulls Head. “They said there was a need for more negative pressure rooms, so we stepped up to make it happen.”
Prendamano, who has been a real estate professional in the borough for close to two decades, partnered with David Berman, owner of Gaeta Green Environmental Services, to each donate $10,000 to cover the cost of the $20,000 space.
“Not only does the room protect patients, it protects our heroes too– doctors and nurses who are still working diligently to save all of those suffering from this illness,” Prendamano said. “It was such a vital and necessary project. It wasn’t a question of if we could help, it was a question of how soon can we get this accomplished.”
The negative pressure room Prendamano helped provide is a space in which infected air is rerouted away from other patients and hospital staff. A lower air pressure allows outside air into the room, and any air that flows out of the room has to pass through a filter. The method is common in infection control to ensure infectious germs don’t spread via the heating, ventilation, and air conditioning systems, and it’s employed by hospitals when a virus like COVID requires patient isolation.
“The SIUH Foundation said it was a necessary measure to keep Staten Islanders safe. So I was compelled to help them provide it.”
For the Staten Island native, who has a history of charitable giving, the donation was a no-brainer.
“I was born and raised here, and this is where I live and work,” he explained. “My mother always taught me how important it was to give back. She was extremely civic minded. I’m just following in her footsteps.”
Prendamano’s mother, Casandra, the namesake of his business, was a trailblazer in the local real estate scene in the late 1980s.
“She founded this business in 1989 when there were not many women working in commercial real estate. She carved a path, closing complex land leasing deals in a male-dominated industry. Mom hustled. She was truly a pioneer. And she never forgot about the people of the community that helped her and enabled her to build her success.”
Prendamano, who says he grew up in the real estate industry, tagging along with his mother on showings and closings when he was just a child, began working in the company after graduation. He watched as she grew the firm from a small two-room office specializing in high-end homes to a larger, full-service commercial entity. The founder’s son has served as the CEO of Casandra for the past ten years.
“It was probably around that time that we started becoming very tech heavy. We invested in what we saw as the next frontier of real estate the digital space. In this business you not only have to be an exemplary deal maker, you have to be a smart marketer, too.”
Explaining how the birth of the digital age changed the real estate industry profoundly, Prendamano said his efforts at modernizing the company have paid off tenfold.
“We operate one of the top real estate websites in the country. We have over 10,000 monthly visitors, over 30,000 page and video views, and our podcast attracts an audience of over 5,000. We also operate one of the top 100 real estate blogs in the country.”
Headquartered in a large office space on Richmond Avenue, the real estate firm served as consultant and broker for several major projects on Staten Island, including Urby and Empire Outlets.
“We’ve grown the business significantly and are proud to have been the recipient of many awards over the years. When you’re recognized by your peers for your work, it is a true indicator of your success.”
Casandra Properties’ charitable work extends beyond the SIUH Foundation; Prendamano’s agents serve on a variety of committees and contribute their time to organizations like the YMCA, Michael’s Cause, Project Hospitality, St. Jude Children’s Hospital, Central Family Life Center, and Shiners Hospital for Children, Mt. Sinai Center for Community Enrichment, and several Kiwanis clubs. Each year the staff hosts toy drives during Christmas. They’ve participated in fundraisers for the Staten Island Zoo and Sunrise Day Camp. Last year it came to their attention that a local resident was unable to pay her hospital bills, so the company paid the bills on her behalf.
“It’s part of who we are,” the longstanding philanthropist concluded. “We place great importance on playing a vital role in this community. I’m proud of this borough and have great respect for the people who live in it. I want to do whatever I can to help our neighbors in need.”
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