This Century-Old Construction Company Thinks Now Is The Time To Expand Into New York City
At a time when many firms are cutting back, one construction company has decided now is the time to expand its reach in the Northeast — using an economic downturn in New York City as an opening to break into a normally competitive market.
Swinerton, a 132-year-old construction company that has 20 offices in eight states, is setting up in New York City, firm representatives told Bisnow. The company is a general contractor for the planned $1B mixed-use development Oceanwide Center in San Francisco and working on the Los Angeles International Airport modernization plan, but has never had a presence in New York City, Philadelphia or Washington, D.C. — all cities where it is now planning to expand.
“We are taking a lesson from our history books, we are taking advantage of the opportunity to help rebuild New York," said Swinerton Vice President Andrew Pearl, who is leading the expansion. "Swinerton was founded in LA, but in 1906 it was moved to San Francisco to rebuild after the earthquake and the great fires."
The company has been working to take a greater national presence, but accelerated the Northeast plan by at least a year in light of the coronavirus pandemic and its economic impact, Pearl said.
“We are looking to bring a lot of the West Coast approaches to what is a somewhat old, conventional market,” Pearl said, adding that the firm’s experience in public-private partnerships will prove to be a competitive edge as those kinds of projects get more traction on the East Coast.
“With public funding ever more difficult for municipalities to secure, they are looking for creative ways to fund projects," he said. "The public-private partnership is becoming a more viable source.”
Over a decade ago, Swinerton created a specialized public-private partnerships arm when it formed a venture with Griffin Structures, a development and program management firm. At first, the company will focus on corporate interiors and office space in New York, Pearl said, with the view of eventually branching out into more complex jobs.
By targeting that area, the company hopes to ease into the market rather than taking on significant risk.
“We find growing within the corporate accounts gives us a lot of successful tools we can learn from," he said. "These projects are fast-paced and there are not a lot of complexities and challenges — as opposed to doing a new vertical construction building out of the gate."
Eventually, he believes the firm will target life sciences, education and healthcare developments. Despite enormous uncertainty hanging over the future of office, Pearl said many clients are still looking to upgrade their workplaces in the city. He said Swinerton is already working with a technology company to build out a new office space in Manhattan, though he declined to give specifics.
“As far as we can tell from our external partners ... the future of the workplace is strong,” Pearl said.
The firm has yet to lock down office space, though Pearl said he is on the hunt for a location. The Swinerton office will start with 10 employees and the company’s first official first day of business is set to be in June next year.