With affordable rents and a slew of nearby transportation, Queens Plaza in Long Island City is hitting its stride. The New York Post’s Zachary Kussin covered the story.
As per the article:
Queens Plaza — the Long Island City enclave where cranes dot the sky and the clangs of construction clamor throughout — is undergoing an unprecedented residential transformation.
“It’s a neighborhood that’s really just beginning,” says David Maundrell, Citi Habitats’ executive vice president of new development for Brooklyn and Queens, who’s handling leasing at QLIC, a new 421-unit rental at 41-42 24th St.
Formerly a low-slung industrial area home to a number of seedy strip clubs, booming activity here owes itself to a 2001 rezoning of Long Island City, which allowed for the construction of high-rises.
First came development waves in the neighborhood’s waterfront and Court Square districts, but now residential builders are targeting Queens Plaza — yes, the same as the subway stop — framed by the anchorage of the Queensboro Bridge, 41st Avenue, the Sunnyside rail yards and 44th Road.
Developers are betting house hunters will value shiny new construction and living just a short ride from midtown Manhattan. It’s a long-term bet, too: the mass of new housing construction won’t be fully realized for a few years.
Tishman Speyer is working on a three-building complex bordered by Queens Boulevard, Jackson Avenue, Orchard Street and the Sunnyside rail yards; completion is anticipated for 2018, and the project, in part, will yield a total of 1,789 rental units.
No other information is currently available. Meanwhile, Property Markets Group has two developments in the pipeline here. One of them, at 23-10 Queens Plaza South, is estimated to wrap up in 2016 and will deliver 391 rentals. The other, developed along with the Hakim Organization, will stand at 29-37 41st Ave., and reports say this 70-story skyscraper will be the city’s tallest tower outside Manhattan. It is not clear whether this project will house condos or rentals.
And there’s much more in store. Roughly 11,366 residential units are currently in the pipeline for Queens Plaza, which accounts for a whopping 56 percent of all dwellings set to list within the entirety of Long Island City, according to Citi Habitats New Developments.
“It’s a really huge construction boom going on, like in Dubai,” says Eric Benaim, the CEO, president and founder of brokerage Modern Spaces. His firm will be marketing a number of Queens Plaza projects — one of which is the 48-unit Fogarty Finger-designed Baker House, which launches leasing this winter. Others include One Queens Plaza, a 110-unit rental that’s estimated for completion in 2017 and 41-18 24th St., a building with 87 rental apartments that’s gunning for a September 2016 occupancy.
But not all neighborhood developments are months down the line. In mid-September, move-ins began at rental goliath QLIC, where prices begin at $2,374 for a studio.
“We were completely attracted to the location and its easy access to transportation,” says Rachel Loeb, director of development at World Wide Group, the lead developer of QLIC, whose partners include Rabina Properties and Cammeby’s International Group. “And it was a good site with great views … it provided a unique opportunity.”
Both developers and residents are swayed by accessible transit, a huge plus for the area. Seven subway lines — including the F, N, Q and 7 — run through Queens Plaza, as do a number of buses.
“It’s really at the epicenter for transportation,” says Queens real estate maven Ari Silverstein, president and broker at The Silverstein Collection. “And that’s the most important thing [for residents] … getting to and from the workplace.” Adds Corcoran broker Ellen Freeman, who’s handled deals in Long Island City, “It’s near the city … and that’s what people really love about it.”
Prices, too, are relatively affordable — not just for renters, but for wannabe homeowners, too.
“You can still find a bargain at $500 per square foot” in Queens Plaza, says Corcoran’s Hanifa Scully, adding that, by contrast, prices are heading towards $1,500 per square foot along the Long Island City waterfront, which is more developed, amenitized and has direct views of Manhattan.
“[We’re] building a class A residence by Manhattan standards, but the rent will be approximately 30 percent less,” says Property Markets Group principal Ned White of his rental project on Queens Plaza South.
It’s true that, overall, rental construction dominates Queens Plaza’s landscape. Developers are confident that prospective residents — largely young professionals from Manhattan and other parts of Queens — are the transient type. But now, builders are also sensing future demand for properties to purchase.
“There is a need for condos,” says Jonathan Simon, the founder and CEO of Simon Baron Development, which, along with Quadrum Global, is working on the 467-unit rental tower at 29-26 Northern Boulevard (it will be finished in summer 2017). “Some people went [to Queens Plaza] to rent, and they’ve decided they want to stay there.”
There are, accordingly, some condos in the works here. Construction is underway at 41-23 25th St. — a 25-unit development that Modern Spaces will market in 2016. Douglas Elliman Development Marketing is handling sales at the Factory House — a 37-unit build at 42-60 Crescent St. where prices now start at $799,000 for a one-bedroom. Twenty-four pads are spoken for.
They’ll also be marketing The Dutch at 25-19 43rd Ave., which will have 86 apartments and prices from $490,000; it aims for a 2017 occupancy.
Queens Plaza recently gained a new resident: Reina Miller, who moved into a one-bedroom rental at QLIC in October with her fiancé Caleb Bonvell. Miller says they ultimately want to buy in Queens Plaza, but are renting for now until more options hit the market. They moved here from the Union Square area, lured by the building’s prices, amenities and proximity to their Midtown offices.
“We’re also steps away from the [Long Island City] waterfront, which has great restaurants, nightlife and shopping,” adds Miller, who works in ad sales for news site DNAinfo. But in Queens Plaza proper, the commercial real estate scene awaits future tenants. “The area is still developing,” Miller says. “I look forward to more accessible grocery stores and restaurants in the immediate vicinity.”
Without a doubt, the neighborhood’s residential activity certainly outpaces that of its retail. But industry sources agree it’s just a temporary drawback, and that signs of growth are clearly on the horizon. We hear Starbucks is shopping for space, as is movie house Landmark Theatres.
“It’s almost like a rock in a powerful stream,” says Aaron Shirian, managing director at Lions Group NYC, which is developing four Queens Plaza projects. “After the rezoning happened and the buildings were built, many people flooded in. There was no way to add the infrastructure in time.”
What’s available now, though, does bode well for the future. Options include M. Wells Steakhouse, which opened two years ago at 43-15 Crescent St. Nearby at 41-26 Crescent is The Baroness Bar, which debuted about two years ago and serves up everything from wine to burgers. Dutch Kills is another popular watering hole at 27-24 Jackson Ave., which isn’t too far from Dutch Kills Green — a quaint park.
“It’s hard to have a lot of retail on streets that are fully under construction,” says Liz Lusskin, the president of Long Island City Partnership. “You’re going to see a lot happening once the projects are completed, and it will fill in.”
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