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May.May 05, 2021 10:12 AM

As retail comes back to life, architect launches new developer focused firm

Thomas LaPorta wants to take the ego out of architecture and reopen NYC

Over the last 20 years, architect Thomas LaPorta has carved out a special niche in world of New York real estate design.

“I’m not a name-brand designer,” LaPorta tells The Real Deal. “I’m not concerned with having the next award-winning building or getting published in design magazines – and that is exactly why I exceed my client’s expectations.”

In a city dominated by expensive and self-important starchitects, LaPorta said that he is offering a refreshing, practical and client focused vision of architecture.

“My ego is never bigger than my client’s project,” he said.

Now, this month, LaPorta is officially launching his own eponymous firm, specializing in developer oriented custom shell design, marketing drawings, and lease drawings to say the least, for new or redeveloped retail, office, and mixed-use buildings.

“It’s a different kind of firm,” LaPorta said, who started his career in the construction industry and investing in distressed and abandoned residential properties, before completing the architecture program at Drexel University with an acclaimed thesis that was displayed at the Philadelphia Center for Architecture. “I pride myself on being heavily involved, available at all times and putting my client first.”

Previously, LaPorta co-founded Gambino + LaPorta Architecture, where he ran day to day business operations, as well as managing and designing over a million square feet of projects, totaling over $500 million in construction costs.

Some clients have included retail king Jeff Sutton of Wharton Properties, the Gindi family’s ASG Equities, and Icon Realty.

“Developers want to land the best, big name tenant, but big-name tenants always have very specific requirements,” LaPorta explains. “And when it comes to an existing building, it almost never has what it takes – whether it’s the amount of vertical circulation, the amount of store front exposure, the layout, the ceiling heights, even getting ‘use’ to work within the existing zoning. That is where I come in and do anything it takes to get the tenants what they need.”

Business, he said, is already booming, as the life gets back to normal in New York post-pandemic, with tenants beginning to ink fresh leases.

“A lot of my clients lost tenants with COVID, but now the bigger names are coming back,” he said.

For instance, ASG Equities — which owned not only the now defunct department store Century 21, but also the buildings the store occupied – is now marketing its New York portfolio to big box tenants. They tapped LaPorta for the job.

“The tenants that survived COVID are trying to get into these boxes that are vacant but complex” he said. “To get those deals done, developers come to me because they know that I’m going to do the job personally, that I’m always available and that I love what I do.”

If your interested in connecting with LaPorta you can find him at TL-Arc.com


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