CM & Associates – Corte

CM2CM & Associates and CBSK Ironstate is bringing luxury condominiums to Queens, N.Y.’s Long Island City neighborhood as the area prospers. 

By Janice Hoppe-Spiers, Senior Editor at Knighthouse Publishing 

Located along the East River in Queens, N.Y., the Long Island City neighborhood boasts innovative art galleries and performance spaces, trendy bars and restaurants and polished high-rises with sweeping views of Manhattan, attracting local artists and young professionals. In response to an increased demand for housing in the area, real estate firm CBSK Ironstate and construction manager CM & Associates (CMA) are on schedule to deliver luxury condos this fall, leading the evolution of Long Island City. 

Corte, an eight-story mixed-used development will be located on 44th Drive in Long Island City, half a block from Amazon’s new headquarters, offering a modern aesthetic with precise, yet warm finishes. Every aspect of the building is composed to make urban living more simple, sophisticated and inspiring. “Long Island City is known as a rental neighborhood, but we thought it was ready for a higher-level condominium project,” CBSK Ironstate Principal Scott Shnay says. “We are leading the charge in the area and are building the nicest condo project in Long Island City.”CM2 info box 

Construction on the 130,000-square-foot building began last year and when completed in September 2019, will feature 85 condo units and retail space on the ground floor. “This project was somewhat designed when we came in and bought it,” Shnay explains. “We did a fairly large redesign on the project that was done in partnership with CMA and they provided key information for us. If we didn’t have that working relationship with them, we would not have been able to adjust things on the fly as quickly.”

Perfect Partnership 

CBSK Ironstate, a partnership between Charles Blaichman’s CB Developers, Abe and Scott Shnay’s SK Development and Michael and David Barry’s Ironstate Development, is developing more than $500 million in projects in the city, including the Hell’s Kitchen project at 646 11th Avenue. “Business is good and we are very active,” Scott Shnay says. “We have built a reputation of building projects on time and on budget with quality construction and nice finishes. We are a family business, so it’s important people respond well to the projects that we deliver and we take personal gratification in that.”

CBSK Ironstate first partnered with CMA, a full-service construction management/general contractor, serving New York City and the surrounding tri-state area in 2011. The companies are currently developing six different projects together throughout New York. “We were introduced to CMA by an architect who recommended them and The Jefferson, located at 211 East 13th St. in the East Village, was the first project we did with them,” Shnay remembers. “It was one of those perfect storms where it went so well that we came in earlier than scheduled and under budget. CMA has built every project for us since then, which is over a dozen projects at this point.”

CMA’s work includes commercial, residential, institutional and educational ground-up or renovation projects. “We cultivate collaborative relationships with ownership and the design teams that see projects from concept through to completion,” founder Christopher Mesbah says. “We’ve built a reputation based on our approach, resulting in enduring relationships with. Many of the area’s leading developers and institutions.” 

CMA’s experience on past projects can be very useful to a property owner considering a new construction project. Preconstruction services are available to assist the property owner in an effort to analyze the overall feasibility of a proposed budget. “With CMA, we can bounce ideas off them quickly to get our hands around hard costs, pros and cons of the site and site logistics,” Shnay notes. 

CMA may provide a review of conceptual plans, prepare a preliminary budget, value engineering, evaluate constructability, advise on selection of materials and building systems, identify long lead items and strategies for procurement, provide preliminary project schedule, asset site logistics and identify appropriate subcontractors. “CMA is dedicated to providing comprehensive management at every stage of the project from award to overall planning, coordination, supervision, turnover and final closeout,” the company says. “The goal of our site and office staff is to meet our clients’ specific requirements while ensuring the project is delivered with the highest quality, on time and within budget.” 

Leveraging his more than 25 years of construction experience, Mesbah founded the New York City-based company in 2005 to deliver construction management and general contracting services at a superior level of quality that goes beyond the industry standard.

“Our management team, their experience and commitment to excellence allows CMA to rise above the competition,” he adds. “CM & Associates has established effective project controls that guarantee a level of quality control expected of a premier construction management firm. We understand that monitoring and maintaining these control points is essential in running a successful project.”

The relationship between CMA and CBSK Ironstate remains solid. “When you have done these many projects it becomes seamless,” Shnay says. “They know our process and we know theirs and things don’t slip through the cracks because everyone is on the same page. They know how we like to build our buildings and what our priorities are, so it has become a streamlined process.”

Sleek Design

Corte is a bold new building with clean lines, rich architectural details and a refined material palette. Wrapped in a tinted glass curtain wall, the contemporary façade appears as a collection of stacked boxes to create a visually stunning experience. Co-designed by Argentinian firm Dieguez Fridman Arquitectos & Associates and New York-based international architecture firm Beyer Blinder Belle Architects & Planners LLP, the building was inspired by Buenos Aires’ low-rise architecture. “It’s an interesting glass curtainwall made in Italy, and it’s really a pretty project,” Shnay says. 

“The beauty of the curtainwall is that it’s predominantly glass so the installation process is typically a lot faster than say a brick and punch window facade,” Project Manager Sam Taylor says. “There is more design coordination on the front-end, and we were heavily involved in the design process prior to it being fabricated in Italy and shipped to the United States."

One of the challenges with curtainwalls is always the lead time, and Corte’s required 16 to 20 weeks to fabricate. “The key is knowing it’s fabricated and being able to install it when it’s ready,” Taylor adds. “There’s always a learning curve with curtainwalls because of potential delays in fabrication and the timing of the materials, but it’s been a straightforward project so far. In Long Island City, there’s a lot more space than there is in Manhattan – we have 260 linear feet of street frontage, which helps a great deal with construction logistics. The more room you have on site to maneuver the cleaner the site looks and the more structured it all looks.”

The 250-foot-wide building will also be surrounded by landscaped gardens and an extensive amenities package, offering residents a break from city life. The south side of the property backs into the backyard of landmark townhomes, which also restricts the height of Corte to eight feet. “That means there will be no developments taller than what’s there now, which is good for potential buyers and their views,” Taylor notes. 

In terms of site logistics, Shnay says the project has gone smoothly. “There’s never easy construction, but it has been a very accessible site,” he adds. “Because of the row of landmark townhomes behind us, we have been carefully monitoring vibration monitoring and in general, this has been a pretty clean and easy construction project.” 

On the Inside

Corte will feature 700-square-foot one-bedroom units, 1,100-square-foot two-bedroom units and a number of three-bedroom units that will average 1,600 to 1,700 square feet. “The studio units are already sold out and we are very excited about this project,” Shnay says. “We will have the project completed in the fall and with the news of Amazon’s new headquarters, the timing of our project is very exciting. Corte offers great views of the city skyline and is close to transportation.” 

“The roof deck offers plenty of room to breathe, sit back, relax and soak up the sun, gaze at the stars or host some friends for a barbecue,” according to Shnay. “The interior residents’ lounge acts as an extension of the tenant’s home where they can entertain friends, get some work done or cuddle up on the plush couch with a glass of wine and a book.”

Corte’s amenities package also includes cabanas and a bocce court on the roof, a pet washing station, kids’ playroom, for sale parking and a 24-hour doorman and fitness center. “We are building a small parking garage on the first floor where potential tenants have the ability to purchase a parking space, and it also provides some potential parking for retail,” Taylor notes.  

Topping Out

In mid-November, CMA was 85 percent completed with Corte and topped out. All the mechanical services have been installed and ready for drywall on the first floor and it is still in the process of installing the mechanical systems on the upper floors. CMA is also working on the roof level and will finish installing the curtainwall after Thanksgiving. 

The 16,000-square-feet of ground floor retail space is acting as the sales office for the time being where brokers will be located and a mock-up of the condos were created. “We are in negotiations with potential tenants for the retail space and are hoping to bring amenity-style options such as fitness, a coffee shop or wine bar, for example,” Shnay says. 

At peak, there are 80 to 100 contractors on site daily. “A lot of the trades we have worked with in the past and we typically always try and use people we have good working relationships with, but there are some trades that are new to us,” Taylor notes. “For example, the curtainwall manufacturer is new to us as well as the superstructure contractor who is very good and we will now start to use them regularly on other projects. They have all been excellent.”

In terms of safety, a site safety manager is not required for Corte so CMA manages safety through weekly audits, toolbox talks and site safety meetings once a week. “We make sure everyone is operating in a safe environment,” Taylor says. 

Corte is on schedule to be completed by September 2019 and Taylor says CMA maintains that schedule by understanding the items that require long lead times, such as the kitchen material, curtainwall, plumbing fixtures and wood floor. “We need to know when the materials are fabricated and released so they are ready by the time you get to the next phases of the project,” he adds. “As long as you are hitting those targets, it goes smoothly.” 

Moving forward, CMA and CBSK Ironstate will continue to partner to develop more projects throughout the city. In New York City’s Hell’s Kitchen neighborhood, the companies have partnered again on a mixed-use development that will bring more than 200 condos and an updated Lexus showroom to the area. “The relationship we have with Chris Mesbah and the fact that we have done so many projects together, it becomes a seamless operation,” Shnay notes.

As for CBSK Ironstate, the company plans to maintain a diverse portfolio of projects and entertain deals across all asset types. “We are looking at hotel projects and in terms of underwriting, condos economically make the most sense,” Shnay says. “We are somewhat sensitive to the amount of inventory in the market, but we are actively seeking condo projects and office developments. The office market is strong and we’ve even seen people shy away from building new hotels, but we think it’s been long enough now and people are putting more hotels on the books. We are looking into those opportunities as well as multi-family projects.” 

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