Lendlease has been a beneficiary of the highly visible New York City building boom, leaving its mark on such projects as 10 City Point Place in downtown Brooklyn; the Delta Airlines terminal at John F. Kennedy International Airport in Queens; and the high-end residential buildings sprouting up across the city.
The contractor is working on a number of Manhattan’s highest-profile high-rises that are clustered in midtown, including the Museum of Modern Art (MOMA) residence tower at 53 West 53 St. and seven projects on or near 57 Street, which has become known as Billionaire’s Row. These include One 57, the Nordstrom Tower, 220 Central Park South, 432 Park Ave., 520 Park Ave. and 252 East 57 St.
That steady stream of work has enabled Lendlease to grow its regional revenue by $80 million in 2014 and retain its fifth place ranking in ENR New York’s 2015 Top Contractors survey.
“There is an abundance of work right now,” says Ralph Esposito, executive general manager and president of Lendlease LMB Inc., Lendlease’s construction arm.
Area building contractors are responding to market fundamentals, which are sending a strong build signal, but 55% of the projects in the market now are in the high-end residential sector. That could appear to be an attractive market, but Esposito cautions that the market is cyclical and the tide could turn. “We are fortunate to have the high-end jobs, but there are only so many good views on the 57 Street corridor,” he notes. “No one knows how many rich people there are or how long they will continue to gravitate to New York.”
The high-end boom in New York has attracted foreign investment, not just from high-net worth individuals looking for a perch on Billionaire’s Row, but from foreign construction firms looking for a piece of the New York action.
Lendlease has Australian roots, but it is not new to the city. Founded in 1958 by G.J. Dick “Duss” Dusseldorp, the young company soon won contracts to build 200 prefabricated houses for workers on Australia’s huge Snowy Mountains hydroelectric project and on the first stage of the iconic Sydney Opera House.
Lend Lease, as the company was known then, expanded into Singapore and in 1979, into the U.S. through its Actus affiliate, which developed large-scale military housing tracts. Lend Lease’s U.S. activity ramped up in 1999 when it bought Bovis Ltd., which had been Lehrer McGovern Bovis and which had a strong presence in the New York City market. The firm adopted its current name configuration in June.
Lendlease earned its bona fides in New York City working on projects as varied as Citi Field, the home of the New York Mets baseball team; the renovation of Grand Central Terminal; demolition and cleanup work at ground zero; construction of the National September 11 Memorial and Museum; and the first phase of Columbia University’s new Manhattanville campus in Harlem. “Projects are like children, you’re not supposed to have a favorite, but I think a lot of people here feel very good to have worked on the 9/11 memorial,” Esposito says.