Casandra Properties is on a mission to make Staten Island cool Company works on some of borough’s most visible projects, including Empire Outlets
James Prendamano with renderings of Urby and Empire Outlets (Credit: Urby Staten Island, Empire Outlets NYC)
Staten Island may commonly be known as New York City’s “forgotten borough,” but broker James Prendamano and his company Casandra Properties are trying hard to turn that into an outdated moniker.
“Did we agree with it? Yeah, we agreed with it for a long time,” he said of the disparaging nickname. “It’s really what inspired me 10 years ago to dig in on the North Shore, where there was some progressive zoning, and go fight.”
These days, Casandra Properties is tasked with handling some of the most high-profile projects in Staten Island, including Empire Outlets and the Urby rental complex.
“It’s been hard to get out of the shadow of Manhattan, but we’re doing it,” he said. “I think we’re doing it a little more every day.”
Prendamano’s mother Casandra Zappala founded Casandra Properties in 1989, at a time when there were few women in the commercial real estate industry. She described it as “a man’s world at this point, especially for the types of deals that I was going for, which was the large banks, the drug chains and so on.”
She found success, which she attributed to one factor.
“They knew I knew what I was doing,” she said. “It was that simple.”
Prendamano, the managing director, had been interested in his mother s work since he was a child.
“The other kids had doctors and politicians and lawyers and everything else,” he said. “My mom, she was the lady that people trusted to sell their homes and their businesses and their properties.”
Zappala took her son on as an employee after he graduated from college, and the two both said they balance each other out well, with Prendamano focusing on topics like organization and logistics and Zappala focusing more on sales and the creative side of the business. The company currently has a team of about 18 people and access to thousands of listings on Staten Island, according to its website.
Although Casandra Properties does some work in New York’s other boroughs, Staten Island is the primary focus. Employees handled almost 200 transactions in the borough in 2017, compared to about 10 outside of it, according to the company.
“To do large projects out here, you really do have to be part of the fabric of the community,” he said. “We are a tight knit borough, and they want to see a familiar face that they can trust. Yes, we are branching out beyond the borough, but our focus I think ultimately will remain here.”
This familiarity with the borough, along with a strong emphasis on personal service, also helps the firm compete against larger Manhattan companies trying to establish a presence on the island.
“There are so many nuances and details unique to individual neighborhoods, and Staten Island is no different,” Prendamano said, adding, “It’s got its nuances, and it’s got its un[……]