Frank Cassata – Stream Realty Partners
Frank Cassata has worked through many ups and downs as vice president of construction for Stream Realty Partners’ Chicago operations.
That’s not about the swings in the construction industry—Cassata reports that since he joined Stream Realty Partners, or Stream, revenue for the construction management services division he leads increased by 218 percent in 2022 from the previous year, and revenue is projected to grow 171 percent this year.
Instead, the ups and downs refer to finished and ongoing jobs completed for building landlords and tenants, including projects such as a required stormwater detention system below an expanded parking area and replacing a roof on a 17-story building while minimizing disruptions to the building’s systems and tenants.
“I work closely with our property management and brokerage divisions with a team of three that executes from soup to nuts,” Cassata says. “We scope the jobs, onboard the contractor and ensure the space is viable for what it will be used for.”
A subsurface solution
Stream was founded in 1996 and provides an all-encompassing approach to commercial and industrial real estate and development with services including representing landlords or tenants on leasing, property management, construction management, workplace strategies and marketing services.
Headquartered in Dallas, Stream operates in 15 U.S. locations, including Atlanta, Denver, Nashville, Washington, D.C., and Southern California. It opened its Chicago office in 2016, which currently leases and manages more than 23 million square feet of office space for landlords while managing 13.6 million square feet of industrial properties.
This spring, Cassata and his team of three completed the renovation and expansion of a light manufacturing plant and corporate office at 4000 South Racine in Chicago as they represented the landlord on a new tenant lease and worked with the tenant to ensure the property could meet their needs.
The project added 8,000 square feet to the existing 6,000-square-foot building, but an additional 100 parking spaces were needed, too. However, environmental regulations require a retention system to capture and hold stormwater and control the flow into the municipal drainage system. That system could have used up needed parking space, but the team suggested building the retention system under the lot.
“It required months of negotiations to complete the lease deal and then to get needed city permits to begin the work,” Cassata says.
The heights of the job
A couple of miles northeast of that site, Stream and Cassata’s team faced an ongoing challenge that took them into the air in an office building at 525 W. Van Buren. As part of the renovations for the landlord and tenant, a 20-year-old roof that’s 17 stories up needs to be replaced.
Cassata says the first big challenge was getting the needed roofing materials and products into the West Loop neighborhood—and removing the old roof. Using a crane would have required a city permit and closing a street. Airlifting materials by helicopter presented logistical and financial issues that couldn’t be surmounted.
It was eventually determined the building’s freight elevator would have to suffice, although the building is partially occupied, and work would need to be done at times to minimize disruptions to the tenants. The roof replacement was also complicated because the building’s mechanical systems were directly below, so maintaining the roof’s structure became even more important.
As the project at 525 W. Van Buren neared completion in October, Cassata was already planning a new job where Stream would manage moving a crane into a plant where the tenant would be repairing heavy-duty industrial motors.
Cassata says the preliminary review of the tenant’s needs shows a 15-foot-high crane is needed to effectively lift and move motors, components and other items. It will fit well as the building has a 22-foot ceiling, and a smaller crane saves money in the long run. The next step is to evaluate the surface below with some borings because while the height works, the ground below the concrete floor has to be strong enough to hold the additional weight.
“One of the first questions we have to look at is the capacity with the crane and weight limit,” he says. “We’re also working with a structural engineer on the foundation for the crane, which must remain independent of the building’s structural design.”
Working in the Windy City
Although he’s facing some unique project challenges, Cassata knows his territory. He’s from the Chicagoland area and left only to earn his bachelor’s degree in construction management from Purdue University in Indiana in 2011 and then to work in the southern part of the Hoosier State after graduating.
That stint as a project engineer for F.H. Paschen was brief as Cassata was transferred back to Chicago in October 2011 to work on public infrastructure projects such as water treatment facilities, roads, and bridges.
He continued those roles in August 2016 when he joined Bulley & Andrews Concrete Restoration but says taking on the role of construction project manager for CenterPoint Properties in January 2018 transformed his career as he began working for building owners.
Married and raising three young children, Cassata has enjoyed snowboarding in the western Rocky Mountains and golfing. He says his two older children are already swinging clubs at foam golf balls in the backyard.
He joined Stream in October 2021 as senior construction manager and was promoted to his current role in December 2022.
“Moving to the ownership side seemed almost too good to be true given my experience,” Cassata says. “I enjoy explaining projects and what is needed for them while having the best interests of the building in mind.”
View this feature in the Blueprint Vol. I 2024 Edition here.
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