Greater Boston Edition - Builder Architect, VOL. 14, NO.7

Sometimes, life presents opportunities to the alert individual. Although trained in one discipline, opportunities may present a different direction. That is how the professional careers of three men trained as engineers diverged into real estate development and construction services and Real Acquisitions and Phoenix Construction Group, Inc. were formed.

Karnig Ostayan, the co-founder of both companies, started purchasing properties and redeveloping them thirteen years ago. Many of those redevelopment projects were enhanced by additions, historically restored or were demolished and built anew. His first project, redeveloping a two-family in Watertown in 1994, was accomplished with the help of his father Garo while he was still in college. After graduating from Bentley College, and working in software development, it became clear to Karnig that real estate offered more opportunities and gratification.

Since then projects ranged from redeveloping a church into multi unit condominiums, in an effort to save the historical church building, to custom 7,000 square foot single family houses. Geographically the companies’ projects have stretched from exclusive neighborhoods in Boston to the surrounding suburbs such as Cambridge, Somerville, Watertown, Belmont, Arlington, Newton and Lexington.

Karnig’s focus has been on buying properties that have potential, both in the building’s “bones” and in that old real estate chestnut, “location, location, location.” A good example was the project at 40 Stonybrook on Belmont Hill. Ostayan explains, “It was a good size lot at 20,000 square feet, but the home needed updating. We added 1,200 square feet to the existing 1,600 and now have a comfortable nearly 3,000 square foot residence.”

As Real Acquisitions & Development’s (RAD) projects grew in size and complexity, it became evident that the company needed to control the construction more closely. Luckily for Karnig, his brother Jirair who had been working as a mechanical engineer was looking for a new endeavor. Several years before joining forces with his brother, Jirair had been involved by providing valuable design input to several of the early redevelopment projects. The creative side and the engineering background continue to prove extremely valuable assets in Jirair’s position with the company as the Design and Production manager.

Jirair’s close friend from College, Dani Chedid whose background was in electrical engineering, had also been dabbling in real estate development as an investor and project manager in some of RAD’s projects. Dani’s family had been in the Real Estate Development business internationally for several generations. Prior to his recent retirement, Dani’s father Victor has build entire subdivisions and created vibrant neighborhoods. With his father’s training, Dani was very familiar with all aspects of the construction business and a valuable addition to the team.

The two men, Dani and Karnig founded Phoenix Construction Group, Inc (PCGI) to help RAD better serve their market of repeat customers. Karnig recalls, “We would receive many calls from clients who lived in one of our renovated properties. They were contemplating a move-up to a larger home, and needed advice. Often times, the properties we would evaluate for them didn’t meet their needs, and they asked for assistance with renovations and additions.”

Dani describes both businesses as being, “Extremely customer-oriented and driven by the market. We won’t be put in a box, however. We undertake everything from a bathroom renovation to extremely high-end multi-million dollar projects.” He adds, “PCGI has mastered the art of estimating, and learned how to manage the schedule and customer expectations. Our challenge now is to get clients past their innate feeling that general contractors are not professional; then we can set expectations and offer guidance towards their budget and deadlines.”

RAD works internally on some designs and also works with outside architects. They have worked repeatedly with Eric Rhodin of Line Company Architects in Waltham, both on 84 Wellesley Road and the church conversion of St. Theresa’s. “He did a tremendous job,” notes Ostayan. Real Acquisitions acquired the former Watertown church in 2003. The church had been built in two phases, the lower in 1927 and the upper in 1948. The property also came with a 5,000 square foot Victorian rectory. The team capitalized on the unique features of each property, reproducing moldings and millwork as needed or having historic profiles remilled.

Karnig notes that the church conversion was not the first time they have worked with historical societies. “In Cambridge, we worked on a Greek Revival home built in 1854. Located on Hampshire Street, we were able to restore the whole building while preserving its unique features. We also worked on converting a 6,000 square foot Victorian on Winter Street in Watertown; we were able to convert it into two units while preserving the moldings and the 12’ high first floor ceilings.” The firm continues with its restoration projects, currently working on a five condo townhouse in Inman Square in Cambridge as well as a brownstone renovation on Mission Hill in Boston.

PCGI has its own team of in-house carpenters which allows it the flexibility necessary to do custom work. They also work with a unique group of subcontractors and vendors who bring years of experience to the table. Dani notes, “Our customers demand the best, and our subcontractors understand this. Our vendors also know what we want and provide us top quality materials. We work closely with many of the best in the industry like Metropolitan Cabinet, Yale Appliance, Harvey Industries, National Lumber, Sterrit Lumber and Concord Lumber.”

What’s next for RAD and PCGI? Their growth strategy is to keep flexible and continue growth without building too large of an in-house staff. The three partners enjoy their collaborative efforts; Karnig considers the “respectful disagreements” shared by the three as a sign of a healthy relationship. Karnig concludes “It’s wonderful that we’ve developed an ability to keep our personal and professional lives separate.”

Real Acquisitions & Development, LLC and Phoenix Construction Group, Inc. have been savvy enough to take advantage of the opportunities given them. Their ability to stay flexible and nimbly respond to an ever-changing residential market should ensure that they stay around for years to come.


Posted on Wednesday, May 9, 2007 at 03:18PM by Registered CommenterDani Chedid in | CommentsPost a Comment | References23 References | EmailEmail | PrintPrint