For today’s Four on Friday, we talk with someone deeply involved in one of New York City’s most exciting commercial developments. Situated on Staten Island’s North Shore waterfront, Empire Outlets will feature more than 300,000 square feet of outlet stores and 40,000 square feet of restaurant and entertainment space. Construction on the project will begin in 2014.

John Pitera of Casandra Properties, which is a consultant and leasing representative on the project, spoke to us about the dimensions and impact of the development, as well as his firm and the New York teams he roots for. Many thanks to John for his time.

PiteraHS: Tell us about the history of Casandra Properties and your role in the company.

Pitera: Casandra Properties is regarded as being a top real estate brokerage and consulting firm on Staten Island. A family-owned-and-operated business established in the 1980s, Casandra Properties is currently involved in the planning and/or marketing process of well over 2000 residential units and over 1 million square feet of commercial space.

While successful and proficient in all areas of brokerage, we are highly regarded for our expertise in the acquisition and oversight of mid- to large-scale development projects acquired both via private sale and the municipal disposition process. My partner James Prendamano and I spearhead each and every large-scale project and act as development consultants for the approval process and community outreach efforts. We then oversee our experienced sales and leasing teams for the marketing and stabilization effort.

Located in the St. George neighborhood, we have a supreme knowledge of the local market trends and the needs of the North Shore waterfront. Complete knowledge and proficiency in the entire development process has made Casandra Properties a go-to source for large-scale property acquisition and development planning on the island for decades.

HS: The Empire Outlets project was in the headlines recently after it secured approval from the New York City Council. What exactly will the mixed-use project include and what is Casandra's role in the development?

Pitera: In addition to over 300,000 square feet of brand-name factory outlet stores, the project will include a 40,000square-footfood and beverage deck that we have branded "FEAST." The venue will feature exciting food, beverage and entertainment concepts. Every restaurant will have outside seating with a panoramic view of the New York City skyline. There will also be a 200-key waterfront hotel with rooftop entertainment facility. Empire Outlets will be a destination known around the world for its retail opportunities and its state-of-the-art design.

Casandra Properties is proud to serve as development consultant and the local market leasing representative on the Empire Outlets project, having been retained by the developer, BFC Partners, at the onset of the RFP process. Helping this game-changing project emerge from concept to reality is the pinnacle of the firm’s accomplishments.

HS: Talk about the importance of the project, especially with it coming in the wake of last year's Hurricane Sandy.

Pitera: The development of Empire Outlets and the adjacent New York Wheel (a 630-foot observation wheel) are key components in the revitalization of Staten Island’s North Shore waterfront. Many people refer to it as the single most important project since the construction of The Verrazano-Narrows Bridge, which connects Staten Island and Brooklyn. The Staten Island Ferry, which delivers millions of people every year to our shore and is consistently one of the top tourist attractions in New York City, is located steps away from our site. For generations, these tourists have gone right back to Manhattan without spending any time or money in our beautiful borough.

We look at this as the key to the activation of our waterfront, and it paves the way for the expansion of hundreds of already existing local businesses and the foundation for the establishment of even more. The anticipation for both residential and commercial product in the immediate vicinity is absolutely astounding. We predict record absorption rates and waiting lists.

In a community that only one year ago was ravaged by Superstorm Sandy, this project is a testament to the strength of our community. We have incorporated several resiliency aspects into the project and intend to set the bar for future developments in the area. Always referred to as "The Forgotten Borough," Staten Island will soon be regarded as "The Unforgettable Borough."

HS: Do you root for the Yankees or the Mets? And whom do you side with in the Giants versus Jets rivalry?

Pitera: I pull for the Yankees and Giants. However, my favorite team is the Staten Island Yankees (a minor-league baseball team), whose home stadium is literally adjacent to Empire Outlets! It doesn't get any better than that!