New York Times
The 30-Minute Interview – Joe McMillan
By: Vivian Marino

Mr. McMillan, 42, is the chief executive and chairman of DDG, an investment, architecture, construction and development firm that focuses mainly on […]


Mr. McMillan, 42, is the chief executive and chairman of DDG, an investment, architecture, construction and development firm that focuses mainly on residential and mixed-use projects. Past developments include the 41 Bond and 345meatpacking condominiums; DDG is currently working on several other down-town projects, among them 325 West Broadway, a former chocolate factory, and 100 Franklin Street.

DDG was founded in 2009.

Interview conducted and condensed by Vivian Marino.


Q. There are other principals at the firm. What is your main role?

A. My main role is to run the company and set strategy: what we’re going to do over the next 12, 24, 36 months, and the long-term planning as well. I’m also in charge of acquisitions.

Q. Your company takes on many roles in development as well, from design to property management.

A. The integration, we think, helps us control the quality of our product and differentiates us from the market. The quality control we’re able to have — given we are developer, designer and the general contractor — enables us from start to finish to end up with a product that we’re really happy with.

Q. So how is business?

A. Business is very good. We did our first project in 2009 and so we are about four and a half years in, going on our fifth year, and it’s going exceptionally well. We have the office in New York; we have an office in San Francisco; and we’re actively acquiring buildings.

Q. How many projects are you working on?

A. Between New York City and San Francisco we have 10 in total. In New York City we currently have six.


Q. Let’s talk a little bit about some of them, starting with the Chocolate Factory Building project.

A. There are two separate buildings at the project, actually. One is a new construction and the other is a landmark renovation. We’ll be doing a series of maisonettes, full-floors and penthouses.

We broke ground for the new construction last year. We would expect construction to be complete next year, and we would expect to market units at some point between now and the beginning of next year, subject to approval of the offering plan. There’s currently contemplated to be 21 units and retail. The bulk of the building will be two- and three-bedroom units, some as large as four- or five-, and there are a small number of one-bedroom units.



Q. How about 12-14 Warren Street?

A. Warren is also under construction. It started approximately the same time as West Broadway. Warren will be a combination of large, 4,000- to 5,000-square-feet full-floor units and some duplexes. A lot will have outdoor space. It’s designed with families in mind.

Q. DDG recently received approval from the Landmarks Preservation Commission for a new building design at 100 Franklin.

A. We worked with L.P.C. and the members of the community to get to a project that we think is beautifully designed.

We went through two, three iterations to get to where we are now. I think that generally Landmarks was very, very happy. And we’re very happy with the outcome. I would expect we would break ground next year. We haven’t settled on the number of units — it’s still in the design phase — but it will also have retail.

Q. What else do you have in the pipeline?

A. 180 East 88th Street — it’s a tower. It will be our first project on the Upper East Side. We’re still drawing the project — we have not filed with the Building Department yet — but we would anticipate there to be full-floor units and some half-floor units.

It will be ground up. There are currently three four- to five-story buildings on the site that have been vacant for some time and which are in the process of being demolished.

We purchased the site and the ability to do a cantilever over the neighbor to the south.

We also have a project in Brooklyn that we are waiting to close on — our first project in Brooklyn. It’ll be a conversion of an existing building to condominiums — a beautiful masonry 100-year-old building.


Q. Where is that building?

A. I’d rather not say presently.

Q. DDG has some of the more attractive construction sites. For instance, you shrouded 345meatpacking in a black-and-yellow netting designed by the Japanese artist Yayoi Kusama.

A. We collaborated there with the Whitney Museum and Yayoi Kusama to wrap our building in the work she had done some 20 years earlier. And so it was 120 feet tall, 150 feet wide around the building. We thought it was a creative opportunity to do something for the neighborhood.

Q. Do you live in, or plan to live in, any of your projects?

A. I live at 41 Bond, the inaugural project. It is a duplex with a backyard.

I am personally invested in every project we have done.

Q. I understand you have an Army background. Has it helped you in this business?

A. Tremendously. It teaches you a sense of discipline, tenacity and self.

I went in as an E1, which was a private, and I got out as a specialist, an E4.




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