OTL IS ROOTED IN A PERSONAL SENSIBILITY THAT, NEARLY 30 YEARS LATER, IS STILL AT ITS CORE.
It began in 1985 with founder John Carson helping neighborhood friends and acquaintances with small construction and carpentry projects. John soon garnered a reputation as a builder who could recognize and solve both common and obscure problems without compromising the aesthetic.
Word spread quickly, and recognizing the opportunity to build on his passion and the need to keep up with the demand, John enlisted long-time friend and fellow real estate enthusiast Angelo Cosentini to join OTL in 1990. Angelo had similarly been honing his skills in the market, mastering the complexities of development, with a propensity for recognizing a project’s true potential long before others and structuring the deal that would bring it to fruition.
With John at the helm of general contracting and Angelo leading development initiatives, OTL flourished on the forefront of the Manhattan real estate and housing landscape while it underwent a historic transformation. The firm has proudly built and renovated countless properties with leading designers and architects totaling over one million square feet of residential, commercial, and retail property in and around New York City. Their portfolio speaks volumes, not only of the unique perspective afforded by their partnership, but also of their stellar reputation and relationships. Founded by two friends, in a city they have grown and thrived with, OTL delivers the same personal attention, obsession with detail and specialized collaboration that is at the heart of, and was the catalyst for, its founding.
"I relate my life with those builders of yesterday, and imagine what someone else will see and feel 150 years from now when they’re looking at my work."
How did OTL start? OTL started quite modestly in the early 80’s when I was staying with friends in Tribeca. Their upstairs neighbor wanted a closet built so I bought the materials and a couple tools and did the work. This small job lead to a project in the landlord’s apartment, then on to one of his development sites and the ball started rolling. In the early 90’s I met Angelo Cosentini and we instantly became good friends and partners.
What is your role at OTL? I’m the President of OTL, and often times “the chief cook and bottle washer.”
When did you realize you loved it/What do you love about it? My family had a well-equipped workshop growing up, and some of my earliest memories are from my time spent there. I actually have one of my first wood projects on my desk at our country home. I was probably 5 or 6 when I made it, which is a testament to the longevity of the field I chose.
When working on a project, how do you define success? Although there are some universal descriptions for success, I find that it varies for each project and the individual challenge of each site. My reward comes from how well we adapt to new challenges.
What makes OTL stand apart from other GC’s? I’d have to say it’s our understanding of the client’s needs. We have a broad range of experience and are quick to recognize the client's perspective and accommodate it.
How do you see the company changing over the next 5-10 years? I see our Interiors work growing in the direction of Smart Homes and Sustainability. The technology currently being utilized in the United States is limited, but I see that expanding. I also look forward to our new buildings designed with innovation and purpose. The city appreciates good architecture and I’m eager to add importance to our skyline.
What do you like about building in New York City? I like the history of NYC construction. I love working on a site that was developed 150 years ago and to see and feel the efforts. I relate my life with those builders of yesterday, and imagine what someone else will see and feel 150 years from now when they’re looking at my work.
Favorite building in the city? My absolute favorite NY building is the Met Life building at Madison Square Park. It’s so robust and strong – giving you the same feeling you’d have standing next to a football team’s linebacker. For years I thought this strength was beautifully and deliberately conveyed in the lines and construction of the volume until I recently learned that the lower 29 floors were originally intended to support another 70 stories. So while it makes sense that the base of a building would be the strongest, I still love how the building’s strength and beauty can be enjoyed even unfinished and with a lightened load.
Where are you from? I’m from a very small community in western Pennsylvania but after 36 years in NYC it feels like I have two hometowns.
"We really strive to do the right thing. It’s important to all of us here."
When did you join OTL? John and I met over dinner in 1990. We have been friends and partners ever since.
What is your role at OTL? Finance and legal, but of much more interest to me, I find and structure our development deals. It allows me to express my creative side.
When working on a project, how do you define success? When I bump into people in the street who live in the homes we have built and they are happy to see me. We made their lives better and I love that thought.
What makes OTL stand out from other GCs? We really strive to do the right thing. It’s important to all of us here.
How do you see the company changing over the next 5-10 years? Our growth has been extraordinary. We have started to venture into boroughs other than Manhattan and I think that is where our future growth lies.
What do you like about building in New York City? I love that we have been involved in the extraordinary changes in the streetscape that have taken place in this city from the late 80’s to today. The neighborhoods that we have developed and worked in have changed dramatically. As an example, both Tribeca and the Meatpacking districts are very different places today than they were 25 years ago.
Favorite building in the city? Tough question. Norman Foster's building on 57th, 8 Spruce and of course, my absolute favorite, Blue.
Where are you from? Toronto, but I’ve become this interesting blend of Canadian, Italian and American. And I love all 3 influences.
"I love that this job seems to touch almost every aspect of life from relationships to nuts and bolts."
When did you join OTL and what brought you here? I joined OTL in 2004. I wanted to start my career in a field that both utilized my strengths – communication, problem solving, organization and creativity – and had a promising future.
What is your role at OTL? I am Project Manager, Director of Estimating, and was most recently made a Partner. I have worked in nearly every aspect of the company: the field, Estimating and Sales, Accounting, Operations, Human Resources, Site Management, Project Management, and now as an Owner. This has been key to my success. I have a lot of passion for this company and I’m motivated.
What do you love about it? I love that this job seems to touch almost every aspect of life from relationships to nuts and bolts. I love that I am creating tangible, physical things that bring people satisfaction and that I can look at what I’ve done while riding my bike through the city. I’m genuinely very happy to be a part of this.
When working on a project, how do you define success? When a client is happy, a new relationship has been made and I’m proud to show my friends and family the final product.
What makes OTL stand out from other GCs? The breadth of experience in our office with regard to every aspect of our industry in New York City. The mind-trust we have collectively – from building techniques to design and planning, to maneuvering through the city agencies – is unmatched by other GCs. After 30 years of business, our rolodex is deep and faithful because they know what to expect from us. I don’t think you find that – along with the attention to detail and customized experience you get as one of our clients – everywhere. We also have the best parties, hands-down. I hope to one day be challenged on that one by my competitors.
How do you see the company changing over the next 5-10 years? I see more green building projects and building techniques. I think passive house technology, solar, radiant, LEED, etc. will become a larger part of our business. I also think we will become more efficient as we continue to build our team and utilize technology to complete our processes from planning to paint.
What do you like about building in New York City? Are you kidding me with this question? It’s New York City!
Favorite building in the city? Bjarke Ingels 625 West 57th Street. I think that is going to be an incredible place to live/watch the sunset. I love seeing its progress while driving down the west side highway.
Where are you from? Lancaster, Pennsylvania
"I like the opportunity to add to the history and skyline of the greatest and most diverse city in the world."
When did you join OTL and what brought you here? I joined OTL in 2005 after selling OTL the land and adjacent air rights for the Blue building at 103-105 Norfolk Street. An attorney at the time, I enjoyed structuring the deal with John and Angelo and then decided to join them in the world of NYC real estate development.
What is your role at OTL? I manage all aspects of project financing and structuring including the sponsorship, acquisition, repositioning and development of our properties. I take a lead role in contracts, sales and marketing, and overall development strategy and am a partner in all of OTL’s developments.
What makes OTL stand out from other GCs? Being a successful development company aids our understanding of the entire process and that knowledge is passed along to all our Construction Management/GC clients.
What do you like about building in New York City? The opportunity to add to the history and skyline of the greatest and most diverse city in the world. If you can make it here…
Favorite building in the city? 138 Delancey Street. My great-grandfather founded Ratner’s restaurant at that site in 1905. It’s been in my family for over 110 years.
Where are you from? New York City
"I love bringing a vision to life. I’ve been doing this for 30 years and have honestly always loved it."
What brought you to OTL? Well, my story is pretty crazy: I met John Carson as a sub-contractor in the early nineties, and began working for him – I can honestly say that I loved every second of those years. But when OTL pursued more real estate development, I had to move on; this is the nature of this business. Time and years passed until one day I decided to email John to see how he was doing after all of these years, and it changed my life as he asked me to come on board as a member of OTL’s in-house team. Now I want nothing more than to work with OTL for the rest of my career. Not only do I work for an amazing company, but I have gained an incredible family.
What is your role at OTL? I am a Site Supervisor, and I truly believe in my heart that I am one of the best.
When working on a project, how do you define success? I feel most proud when we complete projects and the owners send out emails about the service and the courtesy of all of the guys that were on the job.
What makes OTL stand out from other GCs? We truly care about the clients that we work for. Our dedication to detail is our top priority and our team is hand-picked.
Where are you from? I am from a small country town in Orange County, Warwick, New York.
"Technology is transforming the construction industry and I see us on the leading edge of agile new methods of increasing efficiency and accuracy over the next decade."
What do you love about your job? I enjoyed my role at OTL from the beginning. We are all passionate about what we do and each member of the team brings a unique perspective and skill set. That team environment and the caliber of projects we are doing make it very easy to enjoy going to work each morning.
What makes OTL stand out from other GCs? The depth of experience at OTL is outstanding in the industry and is what makes us a top quality contractor. Our collaborative management style is also unique and brings more brain power to bear on each new challenge.
How do you see the company changing over the next 5-10 years? I see us continuing to work with an expanding network of talented and innovative designers and taking on bigger and more complex projects. Technology is transforming the construction industry and I see us on the leading edge of agile new methods of increasing efficiency and accuracy over the next decade.
What do you like about building in New York City? Building in New York is demanding and challenging and really drives you to be the best at your craft. I also love being able to walk down the street and say “we built that!”
Where are you from? I grew up outside of Cleveland and I also have roots in Baltimore. I’m in Brooklyn now and I think I’m there to stay!
"It feels like a mom and pop shop. They put the time and effort into each project as if they were building for friends or family."
When did you join OTL? I joined OTL in December of 2013. I was referred to them by one of their development partners. Formerly, I was a Staff Accountant for a small CPA firm on Staten Island.
What is your role at OTL? As OTL’s Staff Accountant, I help manage the accounts receivable and accounts payable and make sure that everyone is paid on time. We work with so many Subcontractors, clients, and various vendors – there’s a lot to manage and keep organized.
What makes OTL stand out from other GCs? It feels like a mom and pop shop. They put the time and effort into each project as if they were building for friends or family.
Favorite building in the city? My favorite building in the city has to be the Freedom Tower.
Where are you from? Staten Island
"Seeing the client or owner satisfied and happy at how their vision was realized makes me feel like I’ve done my job."
What was your path to your role at OTL? I worked with an Architectural firm for 10 years and then moved to Construction Management. 3 years into it and loving it.
What is your favorite part of your job? Being able to take ideas from paper, or an idea from a random conversation or meeting, and making them happen. Seeing the client or owner satisfied and happy at how their vision was realized makes me feel like I’ve done my job.
Where do you see OTL going in the next five years? Sky's the limit for OTL. We have a great team that works as well and as efficiently as a company can. There are no egos here, the only concern is making sure all of our projects work and come out great. We will continue to get better, which means a lot more OTL projects to come!
Favorite building in the city and why? The Flatiron Building because It represents New York City, despite all its changes. It was a skyscraper at 20 stories in the early 1900’s! How far we have come!
"there is a uniqueness to New York that lets the entire city grow and evolve"
What was your path to the construction industry and OTL? After a degree in Architecture from the City College of New York I worked for few small Architecture firms and then architecture and engineering firm for over twelve years. After running many successful projects of various scales, I decided it was time to take my talents to the general contractor and developer side of the business.
What is your favorite part of your job? It is most satisfying when you see a project start from an idea, develop on paper, and then get built out and be enjoyed by the end user.
How do you define success in your projects? A successful project is when you can successfully work with the hundreds of people involved from designers through subcontractors and navigate through the daily unforeseen issues. If you can do all of that and still complete the project and make your client satisfied with the end result, the project is a success.
Favorite building in the city and why? Because of the size and constant rebuilding in the five Boros, there is a uniqueness to New York that lets the entire city grow and evolve. I appreciate each unique building because of its style, its context or even its history.
"I love working with a great team to overcome challenges on a daily basis."
What was your path to the construction industry and OTL? I first became interested in construction when I was in high school working as a laborer and apprentice for several different carpenters. After graduating St. Lawrence University with a degree in Geology I spent about 4 years working in the fields of environmental and geotechnical engineering. Living in New York and working in those roles naturally gave me exposure to the world of construction and development. The creative and diverse nature of the industry and the people was exciting to me. I started looking for a way to apply my skills and that’s when I was introduced to OTL.
What is your favorite part of your job? I love working with a great team to overcome challenges on a daily basis. Coordinating a project can be very frustrating at times, but I really love the daily process of problem-solving and moving forward. I work with great people and feel a sense of accomplishment on a daily basis.
How do you define success in your projects? A project feels successful to me when the entire team is able to feel proud of what they have accomplished. This, of course, means clients, but also extends to the construction team. I believe a solid team is key to project success.
What is your favorite building in the city and why? I love the Woolworth Building. The fact that it was the tallest in the world less than 100 years ago is an amazing reminder that we live in a dynamic city and society.