"Demolition is crucial for starting over, and we are taking this down to the bones," the construction company owner said

By Dave Quinn
March 11, 2020 01:36 PM

Barbara Kavovit has a long career working in the male-dominated field of construction management, but her latest job is one for the books.

The Real Housewives of New York City alum, 54, and her firm, Evergreen Construction, have been hired to demolish the Tribeca offices once inhabited by disgraced movie mogul Harvey Weinstein.

We are taking it down to the walls and building it new,” Kavovit told the Hollywood Reporter, who broke the news of the former reality star’s gig on Tuesday.

It’s a hefty job, too. The 15,000-square-foot space will first be taken down to its bare bones and then rebuilt so that no trace of the previous tenant can be seen, Kavovit said. All in all, it’ll require the work of 50 workers (20 percent of whom will be female, as Kavovit requires) and will take close to 16 weeks.

But the process will also be cathartic in a way for Kavovit.

“This is so personal, emotional and passionate for me because I feel the pain of those women,” said the construction maven of Weinstein’s accusers. “I’ve had a lot of Harveys in my life. I’m part of an industry that has been 98 percent male and very unwelcoming to women. I’ve met a lot of adversity, a lot of door slamming and a lot of propositioning. I’ve been fighting for 25 years to stake my claim. I had to go out with people I had no interest in. I repeatedly had to sit across from men I wouldn’t give the time of day to in order to get work. Many of them just lead me on because they wanted to date me.”

Charles Sykes/Bravo; Alexander Koerner/Getty Images

The Weinstein gig in particular is also something of a cleansing ritual.

“Demolition is crucial for starting over, and we are taking this down to the bones,” she said. “When I walk in here, I can feel the emotional ghosts. There were such brave women who stood up in that courtroom and faced Harvey. As we rip out the studs and use the sledgehammers to tear down the walls, I feel like I am doing it for them.”

Barbara Kavovit

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Kavovit told PEOPLE back in June 2019 she started Evergreen Construction (named for the street where her late father grew up in the Bronx), at 21 years old, handing out homemade business cards for handyman services to housewives in the parking lot of a tony shopping center in Westchester County. She would connect her customers who “would rather talk to me than unreliable contractors” with the appropriate tradesperson.

“I was the general contractor,” she said. “I didn’t know it at the time.”Larger and larger jobs led to multimillion-dollar contracts in the years to come. “From there I built one of the largest female-owned construction companies in New York City,” Kavovit said.

That success didn’t mean that getting the Weinstein job from real estate firm Olsham Properties was easy.

She told THR that she beat out three other, male-run firms to land the contract.

“I had to go through four interviews,” she said. “I was afforded this opportunity to show that I am an expert. I can do what everyone else does, and I believe I do it better. Even though drawings were laid out, I was not shy about immediately telling them that I could save two weeks and $50,000.”

Harvey Weinstein

Meanwhile, Weinstein, 67, was sentenced Wednesday to 23 years in prison.

Earlier this month, a New York City jury of five women and seven men found him guilty of rape and sexual assault charges. He was found not guilty on three other charges, including predatory sexual assault.

A producer behind 20 best-picture Oscar nominees, Weinstein has fiercely denied the allegations, countering that his sexual encounters with the two accusers in the New York case were consensual.

In a statement to PEOPLE, Weinstein’s lawyers, Donna Rotunno and Damon Cheronis, said, “While he was not convicted on the most serious charges, we are disappointed in the verdict and will be filing an appeal. There are issues in this trial that were extremely troubling, and they prejudiced Mr. Weinstein’s ability to have his case fairly judged.”

If you or someone you know has been sexually assaulted, please contact the National Sexual Assault Hotline at 1-800-656-HOPE (4673) or go to online.rainn.org.