Swain Weiner is president, partner and founder of Greiner-Maltz Investment Properties, which specializes in all types of commercial investment sales throughout the five boroughs and Long Island. Before Greiner-Maltz, Weiner sold more than $215,000,000 in aggregate sales with more than 1,300 residential units. Weiner also serves as vice president of the Astoria Kiwanis, a board member of the Astoria Civic Association and Central Astoria LDC, a member of the LIC Partnership, a board member of Queens Symphony and past president of the Sunnyside Chamber of Commerce. He sat down with Real Estate Editor Liam La Guerre to talk about the Queens market.
La Guerre: Right now the Queens market is hot in certain areas. Do you think owners should sell property now before land prices fall?
Weiner: I kind of think we are reaching the top of the cycle now. A lot of properties are even higher than they were pre-2007 when the market was at its strongest point. The question I think owners have to ask themselves is how much more do they think they can make versus how much they can lose if there is a correction. If the loss is greater than the gain, then they should sell.
La Guerre: And many are. But owners of many manufacturing sites and buildings in Queens are selling their properties for huge numbers to residential developers, who are looking to maximize profits. But people have said this is damaging an industry here. What do you think?
Weiner: The problem is those opportunities for business in the United States have left. They are being outmaneuvered by foreign trade. If you rezone those neighborhoods back for factories then there’ll have to be tax incentives as well. And if there isn’t then I think it’s just window dressing. I’m not saying to blow everybody up because of residential development. I think a balance between those two will be totally interesting. But how do you get those guys to stay when you’ve got 10 years left to work and you’re getting money now to walk away from the land? So I think it would be great to keep, but I don’t see how the economics come into play.
La Guerre: What Queens projects are you looking forward to and why?
Weiner: I’m really happy about the Astoria Cove project. I think that’s going to really put Astoria on the map. The other project that I really like a lot is the Willets Point transformation. I think that’s going to be a major help in bringing Corona to a higher level and also to unite Flushing and Corona together. I think that’s going to open up that part of Queens, because Corona has been lagging behind in comparison to Flushing. Then what I think will happen is Jackson Heights will start to feel the overflow and Elmhurst will take some of the overflow and East Elmhurst will feel it also.
La Guerre: But doesn’t the Willets Point project still have lots of opposition?
Weiner: There are some eminent domain issues with it, but the city will work through that stuff.
La Guerre: What is one thing that you would you like to see happen going forward?
Weiner: Generally, people that invest in real estate are kind of juxtaposed to the stock market. At a certain point many people that have owned properties for a number of years, and either their kids don’t want them or they don’t want to deal with it anymore, they would like to see and take the money out. But they can’t because by the time the accountant advises them, they are looking at a 35 percent tax liability and basically all of their hard work is going to the government. So I think if there was a relaxation on some of that, you could possibly see more sales.