Business

Family business graces Park Avenue in New York

NEW YORK. There is a small business in the upscale Park Avenue neighborhood that brings a festive mood to its streets year after year.

City-Scape Landscaping, a Queens-based family company, installs 120 fir trees shipped from Nova Scotia, Canada along the avenue for nearly 50 blocks, from 49th to 97th streets.

The business has maintained the grassy middle of the avenue, known as the Park Avenue malls, for 50 years. A team of six to seven City-Scape employees sets up the Christmas trees. According to Experian Business Data, the company generates more than $1 million in annual sales from all of its customers. The Christmas tree process accounts for about $100,000 a year.

According to City-Scape’s owners, Park Avenue has been a key part of the company’s business since 1972, helping pay salaries and feed families.

The city’s landscaping began when late owner Vincent Sofield’s older brothers, Joe and Duke Sofield, were hired by their neighbor Peter Van de Wethering.the consummate park avenue tulip impresario“To help his team build and maintain malls,” Vincent said.

Christmas tree installed by City-Scape Landscaping on Park Avenue in New York.

CNBC

Shortly thereafter, Van de Wetering moved to Long Island to open the Van de Wetering Greenhouses, which still line the avenue with tulips and seasonal flora. He handed over the operation of the mall to the Sofields forever, and City-Scape was in business.

“I don’t think Park Avenue would be as glamorous if there were no dividing walls,” said Vincent Sofield’s son, Dylan. “I think it really creates a nice contrast with the concrete jungle – it softens your look a bit, makes it less aggressive.”

Half a century later, City-Scape retains the family business. Since becoming co-owner earlier this year, Dylan, 26, is taking over the business following the recent death of his father.

“A lot of people don’t believe me when I tell them I own a company,” he told CNBC earlier this year. “They ask the boss and I say, ‘You’re looking at him.’ But they lose that quickly once they realize I know what I’m talking about.”

Sofield said he played a part in the business from a young age, not because he had to, but because he “always wanted to be involved.”

“I must have pulled a rake before I could walk,” he joked.

Despite the prospect’s high status, Sofield said he felt out of place because that was “all he knew” growing up. But as he’s gotten older, he now realizes that Park Avenue isn’t just a landscaping job.

“It’s definitely something to be proud of,” Sofield said. “I see my work everywhere, on TV, on Instagram. I scroll and think, “Oh, here are my tulips” or “Here is my lawn.”

Dylan Sofield, owner of City-Scape Landscaping.

CNBC

For most of the year, City-Scape visits malls every Monday in the lead up to busy weekdays. Crews weed, mow lawns and hedges, remove debris, water plants and repair damaged wooden barriers.

The company is hired by the Park Avenue Foundation, a non-profit organization in charge of shopping malls, to maintain the green spaces year-round.

The malls change with the seasons: tulips in spring, begonias in summer, chrysanthemums in autumn, and temporary fir trees in winter.

“These are people’s front yards, front gardens along Park Avenue,” said group president Barbara McLaughlin. “So everyone who’s lucky enough to live on Park Avenue really enjoys it every day, but other than that, it’s a great place to walk around and a lot of people like it.”

Trees are lit at the annual Park Avenue Tree Lighting Ceremony at Brick Presbyterian Church, an event that drew 4,000 people this year, a church spokesman said.

Christmas tree installed by City-Scape Landscaping on Park Avenue in New York.

CNBC

“This is such an intimate event for New York,” McLaughlin said. “It’s a neighborhood event, a neighborhood feel, but everyone is welcome.”

The trees will be cut down in mid-January.

“We wish they’d stayed longer, but they haven’t been planted,” McLaughlin said. “These trees are temporary, so they’re drying out.”

And as trees mark the changing of the seasons, they also mark the season of change for City-Scape. It was the first installation of a Christmas tree by Dylan Sofield, who ran the business without a father.

“My family still helps me,” he said. “My uncle is still here and he’s been doing this for 50 years, he’s not going anywhere.”


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