A Condominium Project is Rising in Throgs Neck

New York Times, August 5, 1983

By ALAN S. OSER

    Like father like son, and nowhere so much as in the construction business.

Or so it seems when Joseph Procida describes his introduction to the business at the age of 18. “My father took me out to the job and said, ‘There it is, go out and hire the men and do it.’He offered me $50 a week and 1 percent of the profit. And I did it.”

The job was Public School 125 in the Bronx. The Procida Construction Company, a general contractor for three generations now based on East 173d Street in the Bronx, built it.

Now Joseph Procida has a son – in fact three of them and a daughter too, and a wife named Dorothy, whom he describes as “the brains of the business” – and at the age of 21 the son has gone out and done it.

Bill Procida, whom his father calls Willie, never wanted to go to college, though he talks with pride of his older brother, Mario, who studied engineering at Lehman College and got a master’s degree in architecture at the University of California in Los Angeles.

Four years ago, right from high school, when he was 17, Bill went into the family business. “He brought in $3 million in work the first year and to date he’s brought in $14 million,” his father said.

So Bill, too, was offered a percentage of what the family hopes will be a decent profit in a new development venture. It is called White Beaches -52 condominiums with a 25-slip marina on the Fast River waterfront off Schurz Avenue in the Throgs Neck section of the Bronx.

The first phase of White Beaches, with 16 condominiums in a four-story walk-up building divided into four sections, is already in construction for occupancy in November. Every apartment is to have at least one balcony, and the three-bedroom duplex units on the top floors will also have private balconies off the master bedroom.

“I’ve always wanted to be a developer,” said Mr. Procida, who these days is growing accustomed to the developer’s required rounds from banker to lawyer to accountant to the Buildings Department to the construction site itself.

He trained. After two years of construction experience with his father, he took over as construction manager on the conversion of an eight-story building at 181 Hudson Street into 20 apartments. The project, called Vestry Place, is a joint venture of the Cumberland Investment Company and the Morsemere Federal Savings and Loan Association of Palisades Park, N.J.

When Joseph Procida acquired the Throgs Neck site, the former playground of Preston High School, a parochial school, it became his son’s job as developer to find the needed additional investment participation from private sources and the construction financing as well. It took him three years to find the financing, Bill Procida said. Morsemere, apparently pleased by the progress at Vestry Place, made the loan.

Influential with the bank was the positive report from appraisers about the housing market In Throgs Neck. One of these came from Peter Smith of The Appraisal Principals of Maplewood, N.J. Another recent Throgs Neck condominium, Country Club Beach Estates, which sold out between 1979 and 1981 at prices of $70 to $83 a square foot, had a sale six months ago at $100 a square foot, or about $100,000 for a thousand-square foot apartment, Mr. Smith said.

As Mr. Procida sees it, these values are bound to stimulate demand for property, especially along the water, which is currently lined with private beach clubs and marinas.

   Throgs Neck’s population of 30,000 lives mainly in single-family and postwar brick two-family houses, and turnover is low. Younger members of the largely Italian population tend to remain in the area. Joseph Limongelli, president of Better Homes Realty on East Tremont Avenue, said that about 150 to 200 houses change hands each year, mostly at prices of $75,000 to $80,000 for one-families and $85,000 to $90,000 for two-families.

   The White Beaches property has 375 feet of water frontage and a white sand beach that will be about 15 feet wide at high tide. Condominium owners will descend on stairs to the beach and along a lengthy catwalk to a board deck and the boat slips.

   The buildings will be of natural brick and white stucco. First-floor apartments, with two bedrooms, two baths and 975 square feet of floor area, will sell in a range of $97,500 to $130,000, depending on their proximity to the water. Similar second-floor apartments are priced at $105,000 to $140,000, and three-bed-room apartments on the third floor are priced at $180,500 to $200,000. There will also be three-bedroom duplexes, priced at $157,500 to $175,000.

   For the 16 condominiums there will be eight garages selling for $9,500 and eight open off-street parking spaces.

   Procida Construction, as general contractor, has built the River Cafe on the Brooklyn waterfront and the Water Club on the East River and is rebuilding the facilities of WNYC in the Municipal Building. In the fall, the company will break ground on a 26-story building at 32-34 West 66th Street for Herbert Handman, a developer whom the younger Mr. Procida also considers a mentor.

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