Zappico Real Estate Development
Zappico Real Estate Development nails community developments in Westchester County, N.Y., and has begun expanding its portfolio.
By Janice Hoppe-Spiers
Jim Zappi’s passion for developing communities from scratch was realized more than 30 years ago when he founded Zappico Real Estate Development. Starting from nothing, Zappi grew the company into a multimillion-dollar business based on a stellar reputation for quality that he will pass down to his sons, Brian and Brandon Zappi.
“Today we are one of the biggest subdivision developers in Westchester County, N.Y.,” Brandon Zappi says. “My brother and I went to school for engineering and are taking our tests now to become professional engineers so we can take the company to the next level.”
Zappico has a reputation for building things the right way, Zappi says, and if there is ever an issue, the company is back quickly to resolve it. “We thrive on our reputation,” he adds. “We have a reputation for quality, quick builds, reasonable prices, doing right by the homeowners and doing things right in general. We stand behind our product.”
The Hawthorne, N.Y.-based company prides itself on having lots throughout Westchester County that appeal to different demographics. Its bread-and-butter is building subdivision communities, but it will build a custom home on a single lot, too. “South of Interstate 287 [in New York] is very dense with single-family homes and it’s hard to find land for subdivisions, so we do a lot of teardowns and rebuild communities on those lots,” Brian Zappi explains. “We started off in northern Westchester County with bigger developments because there’s more open space, but today we have a lot of inventory in the middle of the county, building smaller subdivisions and individual site plan approvals.”
Designed to Suit
Zappico looks at each site as a unique challenge. “We are all engineers at Zappico, so we see a site as a challenge and can get creative on how we lay out the development,” Brandon Zappi says. “Most other builders don’t have the confidence to take on some of the projects we do.”
“Designers often have blinders on and can’t really envision creative ways to get good subdivisions on a site,” his brother adds.
When choosing a new site, Zappico focuses on locations with good school districts and that are in proximity to the train because at least 50 percent of its buyers commute to New York City for work. About 60 percent of the company’s clients are young families who want to buy a home in that exact location. About 40 percent of Zappico’s clients are baby boomers looking for a first-floor master bedroom, smaller lots and maintenance-free features.
From start to finish, the entire homebuilding process with Zappico can take three to nine months. Permitting for a single-family home in Westchester County takes between two weeks and six months – depending on the town – while the actual construction spans three to four months.
Zappico caters to homebuyers who do not want to customize any part of their homes and choose from one of six model homes, to those who want to customize every inch of their new houses. “We have built hundreds of homes in Westchester County and no two are the same,” Brandon Zappi says. “We are all engineers and have an architect on staff, so we develop all the plans in the office.”
The average Zappico home is about $1.3 million, but prices range from $400,000 for townhomes up to multimillion-dollar homes.
Point Place in Chappaqua, N.Y., is one of Zappico’s newest communities, featuring lots for 11 homes. The company purchased the property out of foreclosure in 2008 when it was in the preliminary approval process to become a subdivision. “Typically that’s not something we do,” Brian Zappi says. “We design and do all the layouts ourselves, but this was when the market was bad and we got a good price, so we picked this up and redesigned the subdivision.”
Zappico created smaller lots in Point Place, which the company says has been a growing trend in the area. The object is to maintain green space around the community that is deeded and can never be built upon or disturbed. “We have noticed a trend towards smaller lots for less environmental disturbance and less lawn to maintain,” Brandon Zappi says. “People are looking for better finishes inside, outside decks and more livable space rather than sprawling space.”
The community’s homeowner’s association preserves the green space from disturbance or future construction. Although every home is custom, Zappico’s design team has coordinated interior and exterior color palettes to ensure the community maintains a visual balance and harmony.
Homes range in size from 2,400 to 4,500 square feet and include four to five bedrooms with a first-floor master bedroom option. The master bath includes a whirlpool tub and tumbled marble flooring.
Hardwood floors span throughout the home, except for the powder room and hall bath, which feature ceramic tile. Granite countertops are included in the kitchen and maintenance-free windows that tilt in for easy cleaning are included throughout the home.
Point Place is attracting young families because of the attractive school district and easy commute to the city. A model home has been completed, as well as a custom home across the street. Zappico broke ground on a third home in the beginning of May and anticipates it will be a little more than a year until all lots are sold. “We pre-sell everything before we build,” Zappi says.
Zappico says it sets itself apart in the industry when it comes to homebuilding because it holds its clients’ hands through the entire process. “On our website we now have a customer login so our clients can pick out their options from home and don’t have to run around to every vendor picking out materials,” Brian Zappi says. “As the tech generation grows, we will have more features online and improve our site to make it user-friendly and expedite the process.”
In addition to its website, Zappico has a showroom in its headquarters where all options are featured for its clients. “Most people start online and inevitably come in so they can touch, feel and see the product,” he adds. “We want to make it easy for them.”
Moving forward, Brian and Brandon Zappi are preparing to take the reins of Zappico and are focusing on diversifying the business. Although subdivision development and custom homes will always be the company’s forte, the brothers are moving into the commercial space. “We bought two properties in central Westchester and are going to be proposing the construction of two mixed-use developments,” Brandon Zappi says. “We should have 150 lots approved and ready within the next couple of years.”