New Orleans-based contractor Palmisano regards the hospitality sector as one of its specialties. With experience serving that industry in Louisiana, the company recently announced it is opening an office in Nashville, Tennessee, a market with a very similar focus, according to founder Wesley Palmisano.
The contractor is known for its historic restoration of Big Easy landmarks including the Ace Hotel, Seaworthy restaurant, Maison de la Luz, Hotel Saint Vincent and the Fulton Alley entertainment venue. "We see a great opportunity to play a role in similar projects in the Music City," Palmisano said.
There are strong cultural and historical parallels between Nashville and New Orleans, he noted.
"Both have business cultures driven by entrepreneurs, as well as unique and vibrant music, arts, food and family cultures,” he said.
In addition to restaurant and hotel projects, Nashville presents many other opportunities for the firm, said Craig Floyd, company regional growth leader and head of Nashville operations. Among them are affordable and workforce housing.
“Addressing the growing low-income and workforce housing shortage will be critical to maintaining Nashville’s prosperity,” Floyd said.
Nashville, named one of Construction Dive's "mini megacities to watch" last year, has thrived even through the COVID-19 pandemic. The city issued $4.4 billion of building permits between March 21, 2020, and March 20, 2021, according to the Nashville Department of Codes and Building Safety records. This is an increase of more than $400 million from the same period between 2019 and 2020.
While residential construction drove almost half of those numbers, the rest represented a wide variety of new commercial projects, both new construction and renovations.
In addition, tourism has not slowed down, Clay Crownover, president and CEO of the Greater Tennessee Chapter of Associated Builders and Contractors, told Construction Dive, and new residents are moving to Nashville in droves, driven in part by relatively low taxes and corporate jobs.
To weather COVID-19 and its effect on New Orleans' hotel and restaurant industry, Palmisano pivoted to serve other in-demand sectors, including affordable, senior and multifamily housing and mixed-use projects. “With restrictions being placed on the service industry early in the pandemic, the future of the sector was unclear," Palmisano said. "Projects that may have been coming down the line a half-year or more were up in the air."
The diversification plan has served the 71-year-old company well and since COVID-19 began, the company has been awarded more than $250 million in new commercial work, and $24 million in new civil work, he said.
Palmisano's five-year goals revolve around its mission, "To build a better world," said Palmisano. “We want to be a force for social innovation," he said.
Through Palmisano’s nonprofit division, The Palmisano Foundation, the firm has served the New Orleans community by creating education and career opportunities for youth, often partnering with organizations such as Junior Achievement of Greater New Orleans, Youth Rebuilding New Orleans, and PlayBuild NOLA.
Company leaders intend to bring this same focus on community building to Nashville.
“As we build our team in Nashville, we’re confident construction professionals seeking exciting career opportunities and the opportunity to make a greater impact will be drawn to our culture, team-of-teams philosophy, and true builder focus," Floyd said.