New York, NY The classic New York City success story: A driven individual makes his way to New York City from overseas, ready to work hard and build a career in his trade. One success leads to another and, a decade later, the driven individual employs 120 people.
“I was able to seize on opportunities as they presented themselves,” said Damien Smith, founder and CEO of First Standard Construction. “Successful single apartment renovations led to full-floor renovations which eventually led to full-building gut renovations and ground-up projects. The key has been maintaining the same commitment to magnificent workmanship and attention to detail, regardless of the size and complexity of the project.”
Founded in 2008, First Standard Construction is dedicated to providing exceptional general construction services, technical detailing and project management to the New York City building industry. First Standard’s versatility in fine construction services include ground-up construction, interior and gut renovation, building envelope enlargement, retail, condos, townhouses and mixed-use.
Staying Ahead Of the Curve
Back in 2004, Smith was given his first opportunity to manage a multi-apartment gut renovation. Working with several different landlords and property management agencies, Smith was tasked with equipping 12 free-market apartments with luxury finishes. The project was given a six month timeline and Smith’s team delivered the 12 rejuvenated apartments in just five months.
Fast forward 15 years and the same story prevails, albeit on a larger scale. Smith’s company, First Standard Construction completed a ground-up 12-story, 60,000 s/f building three months ahead of schedule. The newly constructed 440 Washington St. contains 50 units and retail shops located on the first floor. Additionally, the building’s amenities include a full service gym, laundry, parking garage, bike storage, large common room and terrace on the second floor.
The original completion date of the project was slated for May 2019. However, First Standard was able to persevere through the difficult winter conditions the New York City area experienced during 2017-18 and completed the foundation, super structure and mechanical phases three months ahead of schedule. The remainder of the project continued at its elevated pace with the project closing in February 2019.
Preserving New York City History, With a Modern Flair
A designated landmark, 4 St. Marks Place – a.k.a. Hamilton-Holly House – was the home of Eliza Hamilton, the widow of Alexander Hamilton, from 1833 to 1842. First Standard Construction conducted a full landmark restoration of the historic Hamilton-Holly house including a new slate roof, windows, wood cornice and decorative cast iron railing to recreate the original historic detail. The re-constructed building includes five luxury rental apartments, two common spaces and commercial space on the first floor.
Since the start of the full landmark restoration project, the leadership team at First Standard Construction was enamored with the history of the building and discovered that Eliza Hamilton established Graham Windham as the first private orphanage in New York City in honor of her husband, Alexander Hamilton. 212 years later, Graham Windham’s mission to support kids and families lives on. Today, Graham serves more than 4,500 kids and their families.
In an effort to support the New York City community and in memory of Eliza Hamilton, First Standard Construction teamed up with Graham Windham to give away two free tickets to a lucky winner who attended a showing of Hamilton: An American Musical on Broadway back in January 2019 coinciding with the completion date of the Hamilton-Holly House restoration project.
“The folks at Graham Windham are doing terrific work to support our New York City community, it’s truly an honor that First Standard found itself in a position to support this great organization,” Smith said. “There is so much history in the architecture of this city. When you have an opportunity to add to it, it is important to pay respect to the past, especially when you can do so by supporting the future leaders of our great city through Graham Windham.”
Reviving Retail Glory
Situated along the charming cobblestone streets of New York City’s premiere retail destinations, 102 Greene St. boasts 11,000 s/f of space over five levels, 25 ft. of frontage and an exclusive rooftop oasis.
First Standard Construction, completed a full gut renovation of the mixed-use building one month ahead of the originally scheduled November 2018 completion date, with the opening of the Celine boutique in October 2018.
Smith attributed the early completion to First Standard’s paperwork and record keeping processes. “At First Standard, we pride ourselves on maintaining immaculate records on each step of our construction process. Necessary paperwork for each stage is completed in real time so that our records are flawless for inspections and approvals,” said Smith. “The commitment to these processes allows us to execute most efficiently.”
The gut renovation included the removal of wood joists down to the cellar which have been replaced with steel beams, Q deck and concrete. The installation of a new elevator with an additional stop to the roof will be used as a shared space for the commercial tenants. Due to the need to have a second means of egress, a new opening in the cellar wall between the building and its neighbors was created with a corridor through the neighboring building, connecting with their hallway and out onto the street. The first floor and cellar are retail spaces and floors 2, 3 and bulkhead are available for commercial use.
Looking Ahead With the Past Fresh in Mind
As First Standard continues adding projects to its impressive portfolio, they are guided by their founding principles of maintaining high standards, ethical practices and consistent delivery at or above client expectations. First Standard’s skilled project managers schedule, coordinate and oversee all projects, ensuring smooth facilitation of all trades. Attention to detail allows the company to manage field conditions up front, eliminating or reducing costly on-site changes and avoiding delays in the project schedule. This steadfast commitment has resulted in First Standard’s well-respected reputation of setting the highest standard in New York City construction.