The New ‘Business as Usual’ for Owners and Developers in New York City Construction

Several of New York’s leading owners, developers and industry insiders held a compelling roundtable discussion at a recent seminar, “Building Better: Boosting Your Construction Project’s Bottom Line,” that focused on controlling costs for new construction and identified paradigm-changing solutions to improve project profitability and construction success. 

Sabrina Kanner, Senior Vice President of Design and Construction at Brookfield Office Properties and the session’s keynote speaker, reviewed the firm’s paradigm-changing approach to building over the existing track lines for her firm’s $4.5 billion Manhattan West Project. The approach saved over $200 million and deployed sophisticated bridge technologies for the commercial development.  

“Our panelists understand the importance of choosing the right design and construction teams, using the latest technologies and incorporating sustainability and resiliency while minimizing risk and cost overruns to successfully build some of the city’s most important projects,” explains Michael S. Zetlin, Founding Partner of Zetlin & De Chiara LLP and the session moderator.

The panel of preeminent construction authorities, including Christopher Franks, Executive Vice President/Industry Practice Leader for Willis of New York; Sabrina Kanner, Senior Vice President, Design and Construction for Brookfield Properties Corp; George Ladyman, International Director for Jones Lang LaSalle; Joseph A. McMillan, Jr., Chairman and CEO of DDG; Josh Schuster, Principal of DHA Capital; Izak Senbahar, President of Alexico Group; and Michael Stern, Managing Partner for JDS Development Group, shared their insights and best practices for building intelligently and cost-effectively in today’s complex environment. Here are some excerpts from the conversation:

  • On insurance, Christopher Franks of Willis says, “We have our people on the ground with the owners and developers to find ways for them to save money both before they build and when construction starts.”
  • On sustainability, Sabrina Kanner of Brookfield Office Properties says, “Today, sustainability is a given, not an isolated decision in the design of a project. The New York market expects sustainable development."
  • On sustainability, Izak Senbahar of Alexico Group says, “It is inherent in everyone’s planning that sustainability is integrated into all phases of the design and construction process.”
  • On project delivery, Josh Schuster of DHA Capital says, “Good rapport encourages cooperation and is one of the key fundamentals when thinking about project delivery. It is important to encourage a dialogue with your neighbors by getting to know them and opening lines of communication, so you establish relationships that are beneficial.”
  • On sustainability, Joseph A. McMillan of DDG says, “We supply all of our key frontline personnel with iPad minis, giving them access to important documents, streamlining communications and empowering them to make real time decisions.”
  • On lender approval, Michael Stern of JDS Development says, “The majority of subcontractor trades must be pre-purchased for lender approval. For an effective project, you have to buy and lock down trades early.”
  • On resilience, George Ladyman of Jones Lang LaSalle says, “Resiliency approaches are not just being thought of; it’s now a part of every phase of the design and development process, and all parties involved, from the developer to the end user, are interested.”

Building Better: Boosting Your Construction Project’s Bottom Line was hosted by The Steven L. Newman Real Estate Institute and Real Estate Weekly, in association with Jones Lang LaSalle, Willis of New York, Zetlin & DeChiara and New York Building Congress, for a crowd of almost 200 attendees on Wednesday, November 13 at the Harvard Club. For two hours, the session engaged industry leaders and the audience by exploring specific strategies for saving money on construction projects and the ways in which owners and developers can ensure successful and profitable construction.

In the coming months, Building Better will be aired on CUNY TV. As a further follow-up, the event producers and partners are developing a white paper that incorporates the outcomes of the discussion as well as suggestions, best practices, questions and feedback from the audience that can be submitted online at

Additional information available at 
or by calling 718.646.2700 x 119

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