North Shore Towers and Country Club is easy to spot from various points in Queens and on Long Island. It’s hard to miss the three 33-story buildings on 110 acres of land that seem to tower over the rest of the area.
However, there are many people who see those buildings and don’t have any idea what they are. This has earned the Towers, which has its own zip code in Floral Park, 10005, the reputation of being the best kept secret in Queens.
But, the secret is out to its several thousand residents who have grown accustomed to a unique lifestyle that only North Shore Towers can offer. And as word continues to spread about all the amenities at the Towers and its multitude of benefits, it won’t remain a secret for long.
“North Shore Towers is like a city within a city, and in this respect it offers all the conveniences of their surroundings,” William West, the CEO of Towers management company Charles H. Greenthal Management, said in a September 2007 article. “The residents are not required to leave the Towers to enjoy all the amenities of city life. It’s a wonderful experience and something that is quite unique in New York City.”
The History of NST
Before the three buildings that make up North Shore Towers were ever erected, the grounds were the Glen Oaks Country Club, which was owned by William K. Vanderbilt.
The 1,844 unit apartment complex was built around 1974 by Sigmund Sommer and Abraham Harold Salkowitz served as the project’s architect. The construction was made possible through the “J51 Program.” The program is a “tax exemption and abatement for residential rehabilitation or conversion to multiple dwellings,” according to the New York City Department of Housing Preservation & Development.
North Shore Towers underwent a major transition in 1987 when it was converted into cooperatives. The change was made official that year on January 20.
Although the majority of the apartments at the Towers are owned, there are still some owned by a sponsor, Three Towers Associates, that are rented.
Country Club Life
One of the many amenities that draws residents to North Shore Towers is its Country Club. It becomes the center of life for many as they attend the events and frequent the facilities.
“We are an extension of our members’ homes,” Country Club Manager Mary Anne Langone said. “We interact on a daily basis with most of our members.”
Upon first entering the Country Club, visitors see a card room to their right and, straight ahead, the “VIP Room.” As you walk through the VIP Room, you soon make your way to the Pro Shop, which is just the beginning of the golf presence at the Towers.
In fact, it is the golf program that many have referred to as the “crown jewel” of the Country Club. There is an 18-hole, par 70 golf course that wraps around the buildings.
During the golf season, tournaments are held on a regular basis by the Towers Men’s Golf Association and Towers Ladies’ Golf Association. Special tournaments for residents to enjoy as they celebrate the holidays, such as Memorial Day or the Fourth of July, are held.
The Towers employs a golf professional and assistant golf professional. Outside tournaments and outings are brought to the course throughout the season. Also, last year the professional and assistant professional held a children’s golf clinic.
North Shore Towers also has a very active Tennis Association for its tennis players and there is a tennis professional on staff. The facilities include five tennis courts where the members frequently play and hold tournaments. The lady tennis players also take part in inter-league play.
Along with residents using the tennis courts, there are also some younger players who show their skills on them. Each summer, North Shore Towers hosts one or two USTA junior tennis tournaments.
“They’re excited to come back to North Shore Towers again,” Langone said of the upcoming season.
The golf and tennis programs are not the only ways that residents can stay active. The Country Club also has a fully equipped gym and various aerobics schedules. In addition, there is both an indoor and an outdoor pool, among other things.
“Between the gym and the classes that they offer, you could be busy all day and all night,” said Bob Ricken, a resident for about eight years who is now President of the North Shore Towers Board of Directors.
There are aerobics classes every day of the week from 7:15 a.m. to 8 p.m. Aerobics Director Lori Scolaro said that they are for all levels, from “sit and be fit” classes to cycling to kickboxing.
The gym has a wide variety of equipment. A gym staff member is always on duty and there are trainers that can be hired to work with one on one.
“We have everything in there you need to have a full body workout,” Scolaro said.
Each month, the Country Club schedules many different events, including performances, lectures, dinner dances and parties, that residents can attend in the VIP Room or on-site catering hall, Towers on the Green.
During Halloween and the December holidays, the Country Club typically organizes parties specifically for children. These give the children and grandchildren of residents the opportunity to have some family fun at the complex.
Located in the arcade level that runs the length of all three buildings are vendors of every kind. Without even leaving the complex, North Shore Towers residents can get groceries, get their hair done, see a movie, eat lunch, book a trip and see the dentist, just as a few examples.
The vendors in the arcade are Advanced Hearing Center, Charles H. Greenthal Property Management, Charles H. Greenthal Property Sales, Chase Bank, Coinmatch Laundry, Countess Travel, Attorney Errol Brett, Honest Ballot Association, Linda Tours, New Yorker Contractors, North Shore Dental, North Shore Towers Cinema, North Shore Towers Valet, P.M. Productions, Pouran’s Salon, Pouran’s Med Spa, Pouran’s Boutique, Studio 4 Art Studio, Towers Auto Care, Towers Country Club Golf Shop, Tower Drugs, Towers Fruit Market, Towers on the Green Catering, Towers Restaurant and Towers Supermarket.
For many residents, it is the convenience of having everything right downstairs that enticed them to live at the Towers.
“I think my favorite part is the convenience,” said on-site realtor and resident Linda Rappaport. “I absolutely use all the vendors.”
When one walks the grounds of North Shore Towers, there is plenty to see and admire.
As was already mentioned, there is the 18-hole golf course and the tennis courts. During nice weather, plenty of residents can be seen making use of both.
In between Building One and Building Two, a courtyard with a garden provides residents with a place to sit outdoors to enjoy the sunshine. The courtyard also serves as a location for cocktail hours during dinner dances in the warmer months.
To one side of the courtyard is the outdoor pool. And, behind it is a playground.
The grounds include a basketball court and barbecue section. There is also a plot of land used by the Garden Club.
Finally, there is an above ground parking lot with 265 spaces, making it easy for visitors who come to the Towers.
The 24-hour security at the Towers gives residents a peace of mind that would be hard to find elsewhere. There is always someone keeping an eye on the place and, even if someone goes away for a while, they know that their apartment will be safe and secure.
The company that is contracted for such services is Summit Security. The various security personnel each have a specific area that they have to cover.
Being in a gated community can be a comfort to many.
“We feel very safe, very secure,” resident Robert Covell said.
Jim Quinn, another resident, described North Shore Towers as being an open community with a gate he said the gate gives the perception that it is a closed community, which keeps residents secure.
Quinn also said that pictures are taken of all of the cars that come into the complex. He said this is a deterrent to crime and one of the major reasons that there is no crime at the Towers.
One reason why North Shore Towers runs so efficiently is the employees at the Towers.
When you first arrive at an individual building a doorman is there to greet you and, if necessary, help people in and out of their cars or with taking items from their vehicles. There is also a concierge who calls apartments to announce visitors.
A maintenance crew constantly handles the day-to-day upkeep of the facilities.
There is also 24-hour security at the Towers. Before even entering the cooperative’s grounds, a person must first stop at a security gate. Security workers constantly patrol the grounds.
Behind the scenes coordinating all of this is the on-site management company, Greenthal Management. Its employees handle the daily operations of the cooperative.
There are also many employees at the Country Club who make things run smoothly, whether it be the manager, department heads, or support staff.
Quinn said that it is the highest compliment that so many employees remain at the Towers from year to year. Annette Kroll, a realtor and Towers resident, said that the staff is wonderful and described them as being very service-oriented, warm and friendly.
The location of North Shore Towers puts the cooperative in the ideal location to get to many other places.
It’s just a short drive to Grand Central Parkway, the Long Island Expressway and the Cross Island Parkway. The easy highway access makes most destinations extremely accessible. Of course, Manhattan is also just a short trip away.
“It seems to be 20 minutes to half an hour from just about anywhere around here that we go to,” Covell said.
For those who don’t wish to drive, there is an express bus, the QM1A/QM1, that has a stop at North Shore Towers and travels to both midtown and downtown Manhattan. Other stops on its route include Glen Oaks, Oakland Garden, and Fresh Meadows. A couple Long Island Rail Road stops are also near to the cooperative.
Ricken said that the Towers has been a great place for he and his wife in part because of the express bus.
“I love to go to the city; I hate to drive to the city,” he said.
Another service provided by the Towers to its residents is a courtesy bus, which operates Monday through Friday. It takes residents to do shopping at Fortunoff’s, Roosevelt Field Mall and Macy’s, and to other areas in Manhasset and Great Neck.
It’s already easy to see that there are many reasons why people chose to live at North Shore Towers. But, one reason that is listed time and again is the views that are enjoyed from apartments in the cooperative.
According to www.emporis.com, North Shore Towers is “located on the highest point in Queens County called North Shore Towers Hill at 258 feet.” Due to its elevation, those looking out the windows get treated to many views that can’t be found anywhere else in Queens.
From some apartments, on clear days Manhattan is visible. From others you can see the different bridges in the area. There are locations where Grand Central Parkway is visible and others where you can look down on the neighborhood community that surrounds the Towers.
Kroll said that, regardless of what apartment a person is in, there is a great view. She also said that each apartment offers “beautiful exposure.”
The residents of North Shore Towers have a history of being very active when it comes to politics, and it has paid off more than once.
Each building at the Towers is its own voting district. During elections, a voting booth for each district is set up in the on-site catering hall, Towers on the Green, so that residents don’t even have to leave the premise to cast their votes.
On a regular basis, many different elected officials come to address residents and answer any questions they might have. They have included councilmembers, senators, assemblymembers, and even Mayor Michael Bloomberg, among others.
“They’re very happy to come here because it’s like coming to a little city,” Ricken said. “They love to come and be able to come to a nice place and have a gigantic audience coming to listen to them. We have very little trouble getting top-notch speakers.”
Having good relationships with the area’s politicians has paid off for the residents at North Shore Towers on several occasions. For instance, when there was a threat that the express bus that goes to the Towers would be taken away, Bloomberg made sure it did not happen.
Another time when politicians were able to help the cooperative in a big way is in regards to the complex’s utility tax. Several years ago, the Towers, which produces its own power, was charged for back utility taxes. Elected officials stepped in to reach a settlement and ensure the problem would not arise again in the future.
A Giving and Concerned Community
Whether those who live at the Towers are inside the gates of their own community or outside in the surrounding areas, they continually are working to make a difference.
A nine member Board of Directors made of up of unpaid residents oversees what goes on at the complex. Each director chairs a committee, including House & Grounds, Political Action, Screening, Public Relations & Marketing, Capital Improvements, Country Club, Finance and Legal. Numerous residents volunteer to serve on these committees.
Also on-site, the residents hold fundraisers to benefit various organizations. When Hurricane Katrina hit, residents got together to raise more than $60,000 to help its victims. Residents also conducted a fundraiser with the Jewish National Fund in the past to purchase a first responder fire truck for Israel.
On an annual basis, residents hold a golf tournament and dinner dance to raise funds for UJA. The Towers Ladies Golf Association also organizes a Babe Zaharias Golf Tournament, luncheon and card party to benefit the American Cancer Society.
Outside of the Towers, many residents do volunteer work and devote their time to helping different organizations. Ricken noted that about 30 or 40 residents volunteer at the nearby Long Island Jewish Hospital.
“It’s very charitable, the community here,” Linda Rappaport said. “They really pride themselves on reaching out to one another in good and bad times.”
Due to the diverse interests of the community at North Shore Towers, multiple clubs have been started. These clubs enable residents with like interests to interact with each other while doing activities they enjoy.
Many of the residents previously owned their own homes where they were able to garden. In order to bring back the joy that activity gave, a Garden Club has been created. Reserved land at the Towers has been divided into plots for members to use.
Another club that has been around for many years is the Investment Club. Members each make a contribution so that the club can make different investments. They also discuss investment-related issues and socialize.
Some of the more recently formed ones at the Towers include the Debate Club, Camera Club and Knitting & Crocheting Club.
When you have so many people living in one place, you are bound to have a group of diverse backgrounds and talents.
The residents at North Shore Towers have been business owners, musicians, artists, writers, teachers, politicians, lawyers, and doctors, just to name a very few. However, they do have one thing in common – they all found success within their careers.
There are many ways that residents put their professional backgrounds to use to benefit the community. For example, during an annual art show, they display their pieces for the entire community to enjoy. Hundreds of residents, along with family and friends, filter into the show every year to see the talents of their neighbors.
Another individuals who live at the Towers use their musical talents to entertain residents, whether t be in the VIP Room, poolside or at Towers on the Green during special events.
Of course, those who serve on the committees at North Shore Towers also put their talents to use on a regular basis. While a committee member, each person puts their personal skills and knowledge to use to try to better the community.
Other NST Tidbits
There are many other facts about North Shore Towers that complete the picture of it being a unique place to live.
For one thing, the Towers has its own on-site power plant. During the major blackout in 2003, the entire complex still had power while the rest of the city was in the dark.
An in-house channel enables residents to keep up-to-date on what happened at meetings or see what events they might have missed. A videographer regularly records open Board meetings or other events taking place at the Towers to air them on the in-house channel.
Another way that residents keep informed is through the recently launched Towers website, www.northshoretowers.com. The site features a resident log-in page to gain access to information like golf and tennis times, among other informative pieces.
The website also provides information about North Shore Towers for outsiders, including a press kit.
Down in the arcade, mixed in among the many vendors, is a library. Resident volunteers take care of the well-stocked library.
And, the above ground parking lot is not the only one available. There is parking for residents in a large underground lot. It can accommodate approximately 2,500 vehicles.
Since North Shore Towers is predominantly in Queens, it falls under the New York City public school system and District 26 specifically. It is not eligible for school systems in Lake Success or Great Neck even though a small portion of the property is in Nassau County.
Some of the schools that are in District 26 are Martin Van Buren High School; Benjamin N. Cardozo High School; P.S. 18 Winchester; Louis Pasteur Junior High School; P.S. 94 David D. Porter; P.S. 115 Glen Oaks; P.S. 133; Irwin Altman Middle School; P.S. 186 Castlewood; P.S. 188 Kingsbury; P.S. 191 Mayflower; P.S. 205 Alexander Graham Bell; P.S. 221 North Hills; P.S./I.S. 226; and the Queens High School of Teaching.
“It’s the best school district that the City of New York has to offer,” Kroll said, adding that District 26 has always been at the top of the ratings.
When it comes to the real estate market at North Shore Towers, Rappaport said that there is a lot of activity.
“It’s a lot of first-time buyers that are coming here,” said Rappaport, a resident for 21 years who began working for Greenthal Property Sales in 1998. “There’s a tremendous demand for the rental market.”
Rappaport said that lower mortgage rates are partially behind there being so many first-time buyers. In addition, she said that there is now an $8,000 tax credit for first-time buyers.
“I think a lot of times people want to come here because they want a more carefree or easier lifestyle,” Rappaport said.
During the month of February this year, there were a total of three sales. The average price per share was $120.96. The lowest per share price was $118.31 and the highest $123.42.
A positive thing has been taking place that is also benefiting the Towers, Rappaport said. She said that brokers can no longer rely on working in their own neighborhoods in order to maintain their income and now have to do more in outside areas. Because of this, Rappaport said that more realtors have been “taking time to come to North Shore Towers and discover” it.
Kroll, the realtor of Magic of Great Neck Realty, has been working at North Shore Towers since September of 1986 as it was going through the transition to become a co-op. She also bought her own apartment at the Towers in 1998.
“It’s a market that is certainly a good time to be a buyer,” Kroll said of the current market.
Kroll said that there is a large selection of apartments and there have been some price reductions, meaning that anyone looking should be able to find something. She also said that the lower prices have made the Towers “a more conducive and favorable place” for younger first-time buyers.
“I’m hoping that a lot of these younger people coming in will continue to sing its [the Towers’] praises and encourage friends to join them,” Kroll said.
The Future of NST
North Shore Towers is in a position that should be beneficial looking to the future.
“I think right now we’re in a position that very few co-ops are in,” Board President Ricken said. “In fact, I’d say that we’re in a position that very few banks and stockbroker firms are in.”
Ricken said that the cooperative has a “very sizable reserve fund.” He added that they are “financially prepared” should there be an emergency or increase in oil prices or commodities.
The fact that the Board of Directors has maintained and improved the facilities at the Towers while also having a sizable reserve fund is something that Ricken said the Board is most proud of.
“I really feel like we’re at a turning point in the direction of North Shore Towers. We have to really walk the walk and talk the talk,” Rappaport said. “We can’t just say that we want to attract people that are going to use our amenities. We have to make that a priority and not expect that’s just going to come to us.”
In order to accomplish this, Rappaport said that that they need to do at outreach program. She said that the Towers already hosts brokers’ luncheons and breakfasts to expose them to North Shore Towers.
Barbara and Robert Covell
As Barbara and Robert Covell approach their two year mark for living at North Shore Towers, which will happen in June, they couldn’t be happier with their decision to move there.
“We think that this is a hidden jewel,” Barbara said of North Shore Towers.
The couple had been living in their Rockville Center home for 40 years when they decided to move. Robert is retired, having worked formerly as a lawyer, business owner and psychoanalyst at different times. Barbara still works as a psychoanalyst.
After growing tired of home upkeep such as snow removal, they decided to move. It didn’t take long at all for them to select North Shore Towers as their new home.
“We just fell in love with everything about it,” Barbara said. “We never looked back.”
Robert said that one of the main attractions was that the complex was on a golf course. He said that he is typically on the course every day, while Barbara is on it two or three times a week.
The location was also very convenient for the Covells since it is near the city and they go into Manhattan on a regular basis.
Barbara said the views from their apartment, which faces west, also were a drawing point. She described them as being ones that could not be replicated anywhere else.
Along with making use of the golf course, Robert uses the gym three or four times a week and Barbara is a regular in the swimming pool.
“I swear sometimes I think I’m living in a hotel,” Barbara said.
Because of their love for living at the Towers, the Covells convinced friends to also move to the complex. Their friends moved in last October.
The couple has three children and five grandchildren who love coming to visit. They enjoy going to the pool, playground, coffee shop and blowing bubbles out on the apartment’s terrace.
“We’ve had the family here for most of the holidays and it’s just a very happy…place for us to gather,” Robert said.
Jim and Maureen Quinn
This past December 1 was the 22nd anniversary of Jim and Maureen Quinn moving into North Shore Towers.
Jim said that he had raised his family in the Bayside/Flushing area and was then living in a rental in Bayside. Although he had friends who lived at the Towers he had not been to the complex until going to visit a sick friend.
“After I visited my friend, I went to the rental office,” Jim said. “I realized that it was very affordable so I went home and brought my wife over here and she said ‘let’s do it’.”
The Quinns came to the Towers right around the time it was being converted into a cooperative.
“My investment has quadrupled since then, but, more importantly, it’s been a very happy home for us,” said Jim, who works in commercial real estate financing.
One of the factors that drew the Quinns to the cooperative was the ambiance of living on a golf course, even though at the time they did not play. Also, Jim said they liked the simplicity of apartment living and liked all of the amenities offered in the arcade level.
A few years after moving into North Shore Towers, Jim began playing golf, now doing so on a frequent basis. In fact, he has won the club championship and gotten three holes-in-one.
Maureen, a retired first grade teacher, is a social golfer who plays on occasion.
Both Jim and Maureen make frequent use of the gym facilities and pool. They also attend many of the holiday parities.
“I have a lot of nice, nice memories here,” Jim said.
Jim also said that he enjoyed his service to the community as a member of the Board of Directors for five years. He spent his last year of service, June of 2001 to June of 2002, as the Board President.
“It was a great sense of satisfaction because we did accomplish a lot of good things,” he said.
Susan and Gary Zwetchkenbaum
Along with enjoying the amenities and convenience that North Shore Towers has to offer, Susan and Gary Zwetchkenbaum have also made many friends in the complex.
Susan, who does marketing for a radiology group, moved into the Towers in January of 1993.
“I was in the area and this seemed to be a great place,” Susan said. “I used to visit my mother here.”
When she first moved in, she said she felt like she was living in a hotel. She liked the convenience and safety and continued to make more and more friends.
Susan and Gary met in 2003 and began dating. At the time, Gary was living in a house in Roslyn and, since he had not lived in an apartment since he was 23, was not sure what to expect but soon realized the Towers was perfect for anyone working in Manhattan or Long Island.
“In terms of living, this is a city within a city,” said Gary, Senior Vice President of Investments for Gilford Securities Incorporated. “This is a place that has everything at your fingertips.”
Gary also said that he has been in many other luxury apartments but has never seen a complex that is able to offer the amenities North Shore Towers can.
Both Susan and Gary use the gym and the pool. Gary has occasionally played golf and tennis at the Towers.
“The country club lifestyle living has just made it really special,” Susan said. She added, “I like the convenience of the gym. You walk downstairs and it’s there.”
Gary said, “You don’t have to get in a car to go anywhere. It’s all underground. Everything is here for you and it’s here whenever you want it.”
While living at North Shore Towers the couple said that they have met many nice people and made a lot of new friends. In fact, when Gary and Susan wed in June of 2007, several friends from the Towers were in attendance and shared the day with them.