What’s currently lacking at the agency, which takes on a wide variety of projects, is a uniform structure that goes from point A to point B and beyond, she said.
“Even though they’re different, the process is the same,” Grillo said. “And I think that really needs to be changed. We’ve done it here at the SCA, it works really well here.”
Grillo said she will also bring a culture of enthusiasm from the SCA to her new role.
“People really have to feel good about what they do,” she said. “Every September, when school opens, our staff is out in the street, we’re watching the little ones walk into a brand new building in awe and that makes you feel really good. There are ways to do that at DDC as well.”
It won’t be an easy task, particularly overseeing and rebuilding the city’s old infrastructure. The SCA has a five-year capital budget of $15.9 billion, and DDC has a similar budget, Grillo said. But she credited the de Blasio administration with putting a “great deal of time and money” into the needs of the city’s infrastructure.
One of the problems she has faced over the years is actually a lack of contractors to bid on jobs.
“We fight to get good contractors to work,” she said. “We have to entice them by paying them on time and making life as easy as we can for their business, and to grow their business.”
Grillo said she’s excited about several projects in the pipeline in Queens, including converting an old Sports Authority site on Northern Boulevard in Woodside into a large high school.
“It will serve so many kids and it’s in such a great location,” she said. “To have something like that coming, it’s amazing.”
Noting the changes in her home borough –– Grillo now lives in Manhattan –– she said now it’s much harder to find sites for schools. But she loves what’s happening to Queens neighborhoods.
“I think it’s only made them better and richer and more exciting,” Grillo said, “and change is good.”
Grillo will emcee the Queens Chamber’s Buildings Awards in December, which honors excellence in design among the borough’s architects and developers. As the leader of two construction agencies, she said she’s “all about functionality” and efficiency.
“I love beautiful designs and beautiful buildings, but I think you can do those things and still do them in an efficient, constructible way,” Grillo said.