BY BENJAMIN FANG
For 25 years, Astoria native Lorraine Grillo has helped New York City find sites to build schools.
Starting as a community relations specialist, Grillo worked her way up to become president and CEO of the School Construction Authority (SCA). She has led the authority since 2010.
In July, Mayor Bill de Blasio appointed Grillo as the new commissioner of the Department of Design and Construction (DDC), the city agency that oversees public capital projects. Coincidentally, the two organizations are located in the same building in Long Island City.
Now wearing two construction hats, Grillo said she’s excited about the challenge of leading both the SCA and DDC.
“There are a lot of people at DDC who work very hard, and they don’t get the credit that they deserve,” she said. “I think it’s less about the work ethic and much more about the process that needs to change, so that they can really get the projects delivered in a timely and efficient way. That’s my goal.”
Though both are capital construction agencies, Grillo noted that the SCA, as an authority, has some advantages. For instance, it is exempt from the Wicks Law, a 1912 regulation that mandates any local government construction project costing more than $3 million to separately bid plumbing, HVAC and electrical contracts.
The SCA also has its own 45-day process, rather than going through a land use review process, which can take up to a year, if not longer.
DDC, meanwhile, has faced challenges with project delays and cost overruns. Grillo said while the agency has different rules as a city entity, none of them are insurmountable.
“I do think, however, that a clear path has to be laid out for them on each of their projects, and I think that’s the goal,” she said.