Mattone: Smart Development Helps Through Rough Times

BY TRISHA SAKHUJA
Staff Writer

As the commercial real estate market is constantly changing in Queens, so is the Mattone Group’s ability to adapt to the diverse market conditions by expanding their portfolio, ranging from commercial, to residential and industrial development.

An attorney and Chief Financial Officer of the Mattone Group, Michael Mattone, served as a panelist at the Trib’s Economic Power Forum Monday morning. He said the College Point-based development and construction company survived the downturn of the economy. They see themselves in a position to capitalize on tremendous growth areas, like Brooklyn, Queens and Nassau County.

Michael Mattone, Chief Financial Officer of the Mattone Group  Photo by Ira Cohen

Michael Mattone, Chief Financial Officer of the Mattone Group
Photo by Ira Cohen

Since Mattone joined the Mattone Group in 1993, in his capacity as CFO, he has handled more than $600,000,000 in acquisition, development and refinance transactions.

As CFO, Mattone is responsible for financial planning for real estate acquisitions and development projects, while managing the long-term financial affairs of the company.

Mattone said two factors have helped them keep abreast since the collapse of the economy in 2008.

“We have faired better than most, only because we have relatively low debt levels,” he said.

The second factor that has kept the company afloat is their tendency to develop in “neighborhoods where there is not an oversupply of similar products.”

One of the real estate company’s recent projects in Queens is Jamaica Center, a 216,000-square-foot mixed-use center that is a 100 percent lease with tenants including a 15-screen National Amusements Multiplex Cinema, Old Navy, Walgreens and Bally Total Fitness. Another recent development was the construction of the Pathmark Supermarket, at the intersection of Springfield and Merrick Boulevards, which was once an under utilized warehouse.

Through both developments, Mattone said they have been able to impact the economy by generating 400 jobs at each site.

“We look at it this way – we are making money, but we have also proudly created 1,000 jobs in the area,” Mattone said. “We do it by providing retailers that people appreciate.”

Since Mattone serves on the Jamaica Center Business Improvement District Board, he understands how small and big businesses are interdependent on one another.

“Our projects are only as healthy as our tenants are,” Mattone said. “The same concerns that tenants have about enough foot traffic, crime, how a shopping district is perceived and the area’s night time activity, all in turn impact how the landlords do.”

Mattone said one of the ways downtown Jamaica can see a growth in its economy is by extending the hours of retail businesses to later hours in the evening. He said that is a change that will gradually happen over time.

When it comes to starting a business or growing a business, Mattone said “whatever you think it costs, double it.” He said in order to stay safe when hard times face the economy, employers must do all their homework and have more capital than you think you may need.

In terms of the future, Mattone said the outer-boroughs are “tremendous growth areas for retail and residential markets because they have become suitable alternatives to Manhattan.”

Reach Trisha Sakhuja at (718) 357-7400, Ext. 128, tsakhuja@queenstribune.com, or @Tsakhuja13.