Shawmut targets NYC area growth

Dave Margolius, executive vice president of Shawmut’s New York City metro region, wants his firm to take a bigger bite out of the Big Apple. 

The Boston-based construction firm is already working on marquee projects in New York City, including City Harvest’s newly-unveiled Cohen Community Food Rescue Center in Brooklyn, the Diagrid Club and Chef Jean-Georges Vongerichten’s restaurant at 425 Park Avenue, Marymount Manhattan College’s new creative hub at the Judith Mara Carson Center for Visual Arts and Adams Street Library in Dumbo, Brooklyn.

But now, Shawmut plans to increase its New York City market share in large-scale projects and expand into more secure sectors, such as healthcare and life sciences.  

To do this, Shawmut hired Charles Avolio, former president and general manager of Suffolk’s New York division, as head of major projects for its New York metro region. Margolius said Avolio’s reputation in the industry and experience in New York’s construction industry “made him a natural fit to drive our growth.”

Here, Construction Dive talks with Margolius about the company’s New York ambitions, its recent addition of Suffolk’s Avolio to lead the charge and where it’s headed next in the region. 

Editor’s note: This interview has been edited for brevity and clarity.

CONSTRUCTION DIVE: You recently hired Avolio, who headed Suffolk’s New York office and serves on the board of the New York Building Congress, to oversee this push. What should we expect from this effort?

DAVE MARGOLIUS: Our New York Metro region is focused on growing its market share in the commercial, education, healthcare and life sciences sectors. Charles is working closely with New York Metro region leadership and operations teams to find, win and execute large project work. He will be client-facing and lead the delivery strategy for all major projects.

Dave Margolius

Permission granted by Shawmut

We recently broke ground on a $70 million out-of-ground health sciences center, are underway on a $50 million mixed-use conversion and repositioning for a prominent non-profit organization, and working on completing a complex multi-year renovation and restoration of a 180-plus-year-old church on the Upper East Side.

What are the goals for Shawmut’s New York metro region?

As a 100% employee-owned company, our goals are simple: create a place where our employees can build the career and future they want by building amazing spaces for our clients that contribute to the fabric and landscape of the cities we work in. By taking on larger projects and diversifying the sectors we work in, we are positioning ourselves for continued, scalable growth. Those are the critical ingredients in driving opportunities for our people and clients. 

You mentioned commercial, education, healthcare and life sciences sectors as sectors Shawmut is looking to expand. Those sectors are surely well-positioned to withstand a potential recession. Is that why Shawmut is looking to bolster its efforts in those sectors?

That is part of the reason. At Shawmut, our mission is to build spaces that educate, entertain, and heal — the commercial, education, healthcare, and life sciences sectors are where we bring that mission to life.

New York City, perhaps like nowhere else in the country, has an incredible ability to reinvent and adapt after major change. Coming out of the pandemic, we continue to see a growing need for lab and graduation space in life sciences

In healthcare, the momentum driven by the pandemic for infrastructure upgrades and the move to improve energy efficiency continues. 

On the commercial front, New York must innovate through the return-to-office landscape — including amenities spaces and conversions of commercial office buildings — to continue to draw people to our city every day.

Are there any other trends you’d like to mention?

On the higher education front, colleges and universities are doubling down on their commitment to student education and bringing a sense of normalcy back to the learning experience. A new wave of student-centered spaces is driving a return to normal for capital projects, and like with commercial space, flight to quality in offerings and environment is what wins.

Many healthcare systems are also creating optimized, one-stop-shops when constructing new spaces. Some of these turnkey projects come in the form of design-build, which further enables efficiencies for such unique types of construction.

In addition, in response to the post-pandemic flight for quality, there is a heightened focus on how new spaces help raise the quality of life at work as the workforce transitions to more hybrid working environments. 

A major focus for commercial properties is creating spaces that support tenants’ health and well-being. That includes indoor air quality and heightened focus on sustainability beyond LEED Certifications, such as WELL certifications and the Living Building Challenge.

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