Del Smith Partners, Staten Island’s commercial real estate expert, discusses the impact of the Verrazano Bridge

There has been a tremendous metamorphosis on Staten Island since the opening of the Verrazano Narrows Bridge.  Its quaint neighborhoods and bucolic settings opened a floodgate of people rushing to settle in this pristine borough.  Many of these families came from Brooklyn and wanted a different way of life on a tree-lined street, close to schools and parks, and we do have lots of them.
One of our first ventures was the Triumph Homes Duplex Development in South Beach in 1960. It was the first duplex development on Staten Island. Our assignment was to sell twenty homes based on one house a month. The 3 bedroom , 1 and a half bathroom, full basement homes were priced at $14,900 with a down payment of 10% and a 30 year mortgage furnished by the Dime Savings Bank of Brooklyn. One home was sold to a young couple from Brooklyn with a 6 year old son. What really sold the home was when the son said to his parents, “Look, we have our own tree in our front yard.”  Every weekend during construction of “his” home the little boy would come with his parents and having a bright yellow watering can faithfully watered “his” tree.” it doesn’t get better then that. By the way, the first weekend we sold the entire inventory out.
Quickly new homes were constructed and investors were buying land, sight unseen at the New York City auctions. Million of dollars poured into the island. There was a feeding frenzy and property was being resold by these investors every six months to someone else who wanted to get into the marketplace here.  All one had to do in those days was to hold property for 6 months in order to comply with the capital gains requirements.  Millions of dollars changed hands.
There was little infrastructure here on the island and sewers storms roadway, schools, shopping centers were popping up on all the main roads. We became the mecca for development and it has not changed in years.
We are still growing with new faces, new retailers coming to this borough all the time.  The fact of the matter is that Tottenville, the little village on the southern tip of Staten Island has been the fastest growing area in retail development and has the highest per capital household income in the entire City of New York.  Now that’s saying something!