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NEW YORK CITY-The Nicotra Group is enlarging its Corporate Park of Staten Island with a pair of buildings across the street from the developer’s current holdings. Built in the 1980s as Teleport I and II by Murray Construction and Silverstein Properties, the two three-story properties on South Avenue will now be known as Corporate Commons, following the Wednesday closing of Nicotra’s $25-million purchase.

Richard Nicotra, co-chair of the Staten Island-based company, tells GlobeSt.com that the two properties–totaling 286,000 square feet–will be 100% available when sole tenant AT&T’s 20-year lease expires at the end of December. The telecommunications giant–which coincidentally announced Thursday that it would lay off 12,000 employees–hasn’t occupied the space in seven years, he says.

The first order of business will be a $10-million to $15-million renovation on the two properties. “We’re starting on that today,” Nicotra says. A designer has been brought in to revamp the lobbies and landscaping as well as any systems upgrades. On the latter count, not much work may be necessary, he explains, saying “These buildings were designed in conjunction with the Port Authority of New York and New Jersey, so there is redundancy” on their operating systems. The space within the two buildings–with floorplates as large as 58,000 square feet–can also be divided depending on tenant needs.

To help draw tenants in a challenging economy, Nicotra says he’s making private shuttle service available from the Staten Island Ferry directly to the corporate park. He will look to bring in back-office space users. “When the Twin Towers came down in 2001, Staten Island did not get any of that,” he explains.

Also notably lacking on the island, he says, is city agency headquarters. Staten Island is the only borough that does not have a municipal agency headquartered there, something Nicotra hopes to change. He also plans to attract nonprofit agencies. “If a nonprofit has offices in Manhattan, it’s hard for them to ask people for donations if they’re paying $80 per square foot,” he says. “They can come here and get the same space for less than $20 per square foot.”

Nicotra says he and his wife, co-chair Lois Nicotra, will direct 25% of the profits from the Corporate Commons to the newly formed Lois and Richard Nicotra Foundation. The Nicotra Foundation will support the children of their employees in their pursuit of a college education while also supporting a variety of not-for-profit institutions, primarily on Staten Island.

When Teleport I and II–built to support telecommunications activity that has since dried up–were in their early years of success, there were plans to construct a Teleport III as a build-to-suit. In fact, Nicotra Group planned to do so in the mid-1990s, but instead put up 300,000 square feet of office space across South Avenue. “Maybe history will come full circle and we will add a third building” at Corporate Commons, Nicotra says. However, he adds, that’s in the future. “First things first–I’ve got 300,000 square feet of vacant space to fill in a difficult economy.”

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