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Black History Month: Nigel Parkinson

4 March 2016 at 21:16 | 4226 views

Black History Month Special:

Sierra Leone-born Nigel Parkinson, a Success Story Stunner!

By Kwame Cumalé Fitzjohn USA.

It is perhaps pertinent this Black History Month to put the spotlight on Sierra Leone-born Developer Nigel Parkinson (seen in photo with former president Bill Clinton) who last fall opened his Hotel Indigo—a 135-room boutique hotel in Pittsburgh, Pennsylvania, home to the Pittsburgh Steelers! This first class hotel may indeed come to stand out as the crowning jewel of Nigel’s recent accomplishments to date.

Who is Nigel Parkinson?
Nigel is the President and CEO of Parkinson Construction Company which he began in the early 1980s. Today his company is the largest self-performing African American-owned construction firm in the Metropolitan Washington/Baltimore area – “We don’t just build structures, we build landmarks” is their catchy motto.

Throughout the nineteen nineties, Parkinson Construction has hired and trained trade supervisory personnel, mechanics, journeymen, operators, engineers, and project managers who have remained steadily employed by the company for as long as twenty years.

An alumnus of the Methodist Boys High School in Freetown, Sierra Leone, the teenage Nigel migrated to the U.S. in 1969. He pursued undergraduate studies at Florida A& M, where he earned a B.S. in Political Science, following which he undertook graduate work at Harvard Business School.

Prestigious structures Parkinson has built
Among the outstanding structures Parkinson Construction has participated in building are the Pentagon, the Washington DC Convention Center, the Verizon Center, the IMF Concordia Hotel, Concourse B at Dulles Airport and Concourse C and the South West Airlines Terminal at BWI Airport. And there is more …

Parkinson Construction was involved in the construction of the elegant Arena Stage in Washington which lends a special flair to the southwest waterfront and draws crowds from throughout the metropolitan area and beyond.

Hotel Indigo Owner
Nigel’s Pittsburgh Hotel is part of the Indigo chain – a division of IHG Intercontinental, which also owns the Holiday Inn, Crowne Plaza, Hyatt, Hilton and Choice Hotels brands. Though Nigel’s company builds new structures – and that they do well - they specialize in restoring old buildings, as well. In Indigo, he has ushered the historic into the modern era.

The fabulous Hotel Indigo

In 2007, even before there was a Target close by, Nigel took a look at a group of abandoned buildings in Pittsburgh’s East Liberty and purchased six of them for $4 million. Several years later and at the cost of a good chunk of change - $40 million - three of the buildings and a new edition comprise the Indigo, one of the buildings house Nigel’s offices and retail space and yet another will become a three-story restaurant and nightclub venue. But for now all Nigel’s attention is on the Indigo.

He remarks:

"I like old buildings because back then, they had craftsmen, stone masons … Not just boxes like today …. This is more interesting. How do you use existing structures? How do you use resources without waste?"

Nigel envisioned an attraction that would help inject a new vitality into Pittsburgh’s East Liberty neighborhood and in that he has succeeded. Nestled in this historic re-energized environment, Nigel’s beautifully restored Hotel Indigo is located in the heart of it all. The Hotel allows you to explore the city’s historic attractions such as the Carnegie Museum, Phipps, Heinz Chapel, and East Liberty Presbyterian Church known as a beacon of history.

Pittsburgh is also home to respected facilities such as the Carnegie Mellon University and the University of Pittsburgh, both within minutes of the Hotel, as well as major medical facilities like the world-renowned University of Pittsburgh Medical Center, also barely minutes from the Hotel’s front door. Some of Pittsburgh’s major corporations that are steps away include Google and

Software Engineering Institute.
Unwind after a productive day at Hotel Indigo’s casual yet sophisticated restaurant and lounge offering a full array of libations and dining options. Thoughtful changes are made throughout the year to keep the hotel fresh and intriguing. The establishment’s sharp eye for unusual and exciting detail is expressed through contemporary artwork and cutting-edge furnishings. Bringing Indigo’s renewal brand concept to life means acting as an inspiration maker - providing an unscripted and refreshingly individual style of service that sets out to delight and inspire guests.

Current Projects
Among current projects Nigel’s company is engaged in are the Smithsonian National Museum of African American History and Culture that will open in the fall. Further, last October, MGM National Harbor announced a contract had been awarded to Parkinson Construction to provide concrete masonry services as part of the development of the $1.3 billion integrated resort project.

On the occasion, Lorenzo Creighton, President MGM National Harbor said:

"We are pleased to reach this important milestone for the MGM National Harbor project, which has been accomplished through a strong, dedicated team. It further demonstrates our continued momentum toward embedding diversity in every phase of the development."

"Nigel commented:

"We are thrilled to be a part of this exciting project and I am glad to see MGM National Harbor making minority-owned businesses such a priority. For our company, which is the largest African American contractor in the area to provide these services, the National Harbor contract means jobs and the opportunity to work on a high-profile project. It’s a project that comes around once in a lifetime."

MGM National Harbor is expected to open in the second half of this year as the Greater Washington D.C. region’s first fully-integrated destination gaming resort. The setting offers stunning panoramic views of the eastern shore of the Potomac River in Maryland. The resort sits a short distance from Washington, D.C. to the north and historic sites, including George Washington’s Mount Vernon estate across the river in Virginia.

The 24-story, 308-room resort will feature premier amenities and experiences for locals as well as visitors from around the world including a dynamic casino with over 125,000 square feet of space that includes slots, table games and poker; a world-class spa and salon; an entertainment theater with flexible seating for up to 3,000; high-end branded retail; 27,000 square feet of meeting space; and restaurants from renowned local, national and international chefs.

Additionally, back in November, 2011, the joint venture team of Parkinson Construction and Forrester Construction Company broke ground on the construction of the New Student Center at the University of the District of Columbia. The Ceremony, which was attended by, among others, the then-DC Mayor, Vincent Gray, and the President of the University Dr. Allen Sessoms marked the commencement of the university’s first ever LEED platinum project, the highest possible standard. The iconic $40 million project will sit on the existing plaza deck facing Connecticut Avenue, and will adorn its intersection with Van Ness Avenue and serve as a true gateway to the 160 yr. old University.

In his speech, Dr. Sessoms mentioned that the project will give a clear insight on the new direction the University is headed in, with regards to future construction projects and her overall master plan.

In the true spirit of Joint Venturing, Nigel and Mr. Forrester reiterated the importance of the project being a success to the businesses and residents in the city; during, before and after construction.

Giving Back
Nigel’s firm did the masonry work on the National’s Park, the distinctive home to the Washington Nationals major league baseball team that is indeed a landmark structure in Washington’s largely low-income and black Anacostia neighborhood. The $408 million ballpark project was completed in 2008.

Nigel, first right, giving back to the community

Nigel, without question, is the exemplary fruition of the American Dream – he also has emphasized giving back to the community. One of his company’s most recent efforts in this area involves partnering since 2012 with DC’s Office on Returning Citizens Affairs whose mission is to get formerly incarcerated residents back into society and on a path of success.

In recent months, Nigel met with prospective employees in Anacostia’s Ward 8. “The only way we can promote a safe community is to increase the number of productive members in that community,” he says. He also mentioned that there has to be an added emphasis on training these citizens. Coupled with a robust masonry apprentice program (Nigel has incorporated 12 new students in free classes at Anacostia) he has hired 16 returning citizens to work for Parkinson Construction.

Nigel is not oblivious to his roots either – Charity begins at home. Through the years, he has made substantial donations to Mozambican children and to youth in his native Sierra Leone by contributing to the National Organization of Sierra Leoneans in North America (NOSLINA).

Awards & Honors
Parkinson Construction has earned many accolades over the years. In 2005, the company received a craftsmanship award from the Washington
Building Congress. During the 1990s, the company was honored with excellence awards from the District of Columbia Contracting Associations and named Contractor of the Year in 1992 by the National Association
of Minority Contractors.

Looking Ahead
Parkinson Construction is a construction firm that has served the Baltimore/Washington corridor for more than a quarter century. The company continues to enjoy steady growth and great success in working with some of the region’s top firms and owners of structures, leaving a dynamic impression on the landscape.

General contracting and masonry subcontracting have been the firm’s core business (they are the largest minority-owned self-performing masonry construction company) and over the years it has been involved with some of the region’s most prestigious and challenging projects. In the process, Parkinson Construction has earned a reputation among owners and major prime contractors for excellence in meeting tight schedules, safety, competitive pricing, performance and quality work. Exciting new ventures continue to be undertaken as creative partnerships are established.

The Washington, D.C.-based Parkinson Construction Company represents a unique success story in the local contracting business community, especially with regards to minority-owned businesses. Parkinson has led the company into a strong business position. Serving the greater D.C. area, his company has developed a positive reputation based on quality work and financial strength.

Parkinson Construction engages in construction projects regardless of size, especially with projects that present unique challenges. The firm successfully competes with much older, larger companies to obtain contracts.

“We add value to the marketplace,” says Parkinson. “Our niche is [that] we really excel in extremely large, complex jobs.” The company has a broad range of experience that has made it marketable, which contributes to the company’s overall success.