Tag Archives: Queens real estate

New owner of massive vacant Whitestone site pledges to stick to zoning with development plans

| lguerre@queenscourier.com

Photo courtesy of Christopher Bride/PropertyShark

The new owner of a contentious massive development site in Whitestone is going to give the community what it wants: single-family detached homes.

Tim O’Sullivan paid $13.6 million at an auction on April 10 for the 6-acre site near at 150th Street between Fifth and Sixth avenues, which is zoned for smaller residential properties, and hopes to build two-story, single-family detached homes on the land. The property was previously known as the Cresthaven Country Club and was used for years by the Catholic Youth Organization (CYO) as a summer day camp.

Residents and community leaders were planning to fight any development on the property that didn’t meet zoning, such as high-rises or other large properties, hoping to protect the character of the residential neighborhood.

O’Sullivan, who grew up in Whitestone, said he understands what the residents are feeling and wants to be on their side.

“We are looking forward to working with the community, state Sen. Tony Avella and our architect, Frank Petruso, to produce a development befitting this beautiful Whitestone neighborhood,” O’Sullivan said. “I grew up in Whitestone and I am happy to contribute to the neighborhood in a positive way.”

The site was part of the former Cresthaven Country Club and then was owned by real estate firm Whitestone Jewels LLC, but has been in foreclosure since 2007 after the firm defaulted on its mortgage.

Whitestone Jewels LLC purchased the site in 2006 for $23.3 million from the Catholic Charities, Diocese of Brooklyn, according to city records.

As the April 10 auction date was approaching, Avella and residents began to warn potential buyers about overdevelopment, and the new civic group We Love Whitestone was hoping to convince the city to purchase the property and transform it into parkland.

“Whitestone is a residential area dominated by one-family homes,” Avella said. “This lot sits immediately across from homeowners who do not want their community to be overtaken by large buildings that tower over their houses. I am happy to support a project that will preserve the look and feel of the surrounding community.”



Queens rental inventory and prices steadily rising: report

| lguerre@queenscourier.com

Photo courtesy of MNS Real Estate

While it’s nowhere near the levels of Manhattan or Brooklyn, the amount of available rental apartments in Queens is steadily rising, and prices are trending upwards as well.

From February to March the rental inventory rose 6.59 percent to 889 apartments available throughout the borough, according to the MNS Real Estate’s March Queens Rental Market Report.

This marks the second consecutive monthly increase. Additionally, since MNS has been tracking the Queens rental market in August 2014, the borough’s inventory climbed from just 592 apartments.

The borough’s real estate boom is driven by popular neighborhoods, such as Long Island City and Astoria, and MNS CEO Andrew Barrocas said the inventory will continue to increase because demand is high in Queens and developers are bringing more projects here.

When inventory rises, normally prices fall, but that may not be the case long term in the Queens rental market because of the high demand, Barrocas said.

“Traditionally it does [fall],” Barrocas said, “but I think certain markets flourish when more inventory comes.”

Barrocas pointed to Long Island City, where the demand to move into the area has caused increased creation of new amenities, such as dinning and retail options, further pushing up values in the neighborhood.

The most expensive rents in the borough are, of course, in Long Island City. March rents in LIC averaged $2,385, $2,932 and $4,091 per month for studios, one-bedrooms and two-bedrooms respectively, according to the report.

But only studios in the neighborhood saw a monthly increase in March.


New LIC condo building to begin sales in May

| lguerre@queenscourier.com

Rendering courtesy of Modern Spaces 

Although the Long Island City real estate market is scorching hot with thousands of apartments planned, last year there were no new condo units available, said Eric Benaim, CEO of brokerage Modern Spaces.

Meanwhile, the demand for condos in the burgeoning area is climbing as more people desire to settle down in LIC after renting there for a while.

To meet demand, some planned LIC condos will come to the market this year, including a building called The Corner at 47-28 11th St., which Modern Spaces recently announced will begin selling next month.

“We are excited because we know there is a lot of demand for condos,” Benaim said. “What tends to happen is people get introduced to the area through the rentals then they live here for a while, and then they are ready to buy.”

The Corner has 23 units, which are a mix of one- and two-bedrooms. The homes feature chef kitchens and oak flooring, and some units have private outdoor space. The building also offers designer-style bathrooms with Kohler tubs, Grohe fixtures and ceramic titles.

Additionally, there are numerous amenities through The Corner, such as a fitness center, sundeck and residents’ lounge.

The condominium is being built through a joint venture partnership between Kora Developers LLC and BK Developers.

Prices for the condos have yet to be announced, and the building isn’t planned to be completed until later this year, so new homebuyers won’t be able to move in until at least the end of the year.


Row of buildings sells for nearly $7M in hot Ridgewood market

| lguerre@queenscourier.com

Photo courtesy of Cushman & Wakefield 

An assemblage of four contiguous buildings was sold in Ridgewood for $6.75 million as the heated Ridgewood market continues to see more interest.

The buildings, 56-48 through 56-54 Myrtle Ave., are all three-story, mixed-use attached properties with 17,645 square feet of space, and located just a few blocks away from the Myrtle-Wyckoff Avenues L/M subway station.

There are eight residential apartments in the buildings, and two retail stores on the ground floor. A Cushman & Wakefield team of Thomas Donovan, Tommy Lin, Eugene Kim and Robert Rappa combined to represent the seller in the transaction.

“These properties are ideally located in the heart of Ridgewood, currently one of the most in-demand neighborhoods in Queens,” Donovan said. “We were able to utilize our proven marketing process and leverage the tremendous interest in Ridgewood to achieve the full asking price for our client.”

Recently, a Ridgewood apartment building at 71-13 60th Lane sold for $21 million, which was more than double its last sale price in 2012, when the former owner paid $8.6 million for it.

The increase in prices reflects how real estate investors are looking at the neighborhood.


Jamaica revitalization to benefit from state Brownfield Opportunity Area designation

| lguerre@queenscourier.com

THE COURIER/Photo by Liam La Guerre

In a sign that the state is looking to help spur Jamaica’s revitalization, 132 acres near the LIRR and JFK AirTrain transit hub have been designated as a Brownfield Opportunity Area, meaning development projects there could receive public funds.

Gov. Andrew Cuomo announced the designation Thursday along with 11 others at sites around the state.

The Brownfield Opportunity Area Program is a state initiative that seeks to transform potentially contaminated or polluted places to better utilized areas. The downtown Jamaica area has 224 potential brownfield sites near the rail station.

Being located in the newly designated area now gives property owners and developers access to Brownfield Cleanup Program tax incentives and they have priority to state grants for projects.

“By designating these sites as Brownfield Opportunity Areas, we are helping to reimagine their potential as vibrant parts of the surrounding communities,” Cuomo said. “This distinction allows us to put their rehabilitation on the fast track with additional state resources, and that means new development, jobs and opportunities in the future.”

Downtown Jamaica, especially near the transit hub area, has seen a lot of real estate development action recently as the market is heating up.

Huge projects, including a 210-room, 24-story hotel nearby the LIRR and AirTrain station at 93-43 Sutphin Blvd. and a $225 million mixed-use, 29-story residential and commercial tower at 93-01 Sutphin Blvd., are coming to the area soon.

Also, massive properties were sold or listed in downtown Jamaica recently, including a 90,000-square-foot building and parking garage at 163-05 and 163-25 Archer Ave. that sold for $22 million in October last year.


Why real estate brokers charge the fees that they do

By Queens Courier Staff | editorial@queenscourier.com

Photos courtesy of Minas Styponias


Real estate agents have always been scrutinized and lambasted for the often large sums of money they collect in transaction fees, whether it’s a rental transaction or a sales transaction.

The common public sees the amount received and always seems to utter the same uninformed responses. “For what?” or “What did he/she even do?” or the ever-popular “Just for doing that?” Those are but brief examples of the type of disdain and scrutiny that a real estate agent must often put up with when performing their duties.

The fact of the matter is, however, that those paydays often come after grueling weeks of late-night telephone calls, numerous hours in front of a computer screen doing research and advertising, and hours of individual communications with tons of prospective renters, sellers or buyers.

The true real estate professional commits themselves to their chosen career and puts in the necessary man hours and intellectual effort to be good at what they do. We sacrifice time, energy and our personal finances all in the hopes that we can obtain a small percentage of the enormously large pie that we have staked ourselves to. The additional factors of loss of personal time and finances make the collection of a transaction fee rewarding and appreciated in those sporadic instances when it is achieved.

Each opportunity is a mini relationship. And just like any relationship there are times where you consummate the relationship and times when you get dumped. The emotions and intellectual roller coasters are often enough in and of themselves to merit some sympathy from the public, but the reality is that most people seem to think that real estate agents are nothing more than overpaid tour guides.

For those of us who dedicate their lives and stake their reputations on our efforts, our fees are but frosting on the proverbial cake that is our life’s work. So before condemning the entire profession after the experience you may have had with a few, please consider that for every fee my peers and I earn we have often had to deal with untold rejections leading up to it. We strain. We struggle. We hurt. And through it all we provide the services that we are expected to regardless of the outcome.

Minas Styponias is a licensed real estate broker for BuySell Real Estate in Astoria, where he was born and raised. He has had a career as a luxury rental property manager in New Jersey and Manhattan. Styponias speaks English, and is conversational in Greek and Spanish.


Minas Styponias


An overview: Multi-family buildings in Astoria and Long Island City

| sweiner@gmipny.com

THE COURIER/Photo by Liam La Guerre


For a long time, Queens has had the reputation of being the go-to borough if you want to buy tires or surround yourself with the elderly.

That being said, this generalization is quickly becoming antiquated as neighborhoods in Queens are experiencing revitalization through the renovation of 1950s and pre-war era apartment buildings as well as the addition of new, modern buildings that have attracted the attention of young families.

Combine these new living spaces with sites like MoMA PS1, four restaurants that were just granted a Michelin star rating, and reasonable rates, and the stage is set for Queens to become a primary option for families looking to make an investment in themselves.

Though this trend is throughout the borough, the areas most impacted and evident of this change are Astoria and Long Island City. The New York Times reports that over 10,000 apartments are being planned over the next three years, ranging from “amenity-laden rentals to family-sized condos.” These condos are especially attractive to younger, up-and-coming families.

Last summer, I listed a 32-unit building in Long Island City. The asking price was just over $6 million, average rents for each unit were around $1,300 a month and 28 of the 32 units were one-bedrooms. This location was not more than a 90-second stroll from Queensboro Plaza.

Consider that the same station has stops for the N, Q and 7 trains, as well as the E, M and R a block away. That’s six trains with accessibility to almost every area in the city. For people looking for a chance to have the space and extra cash to expand their families, the location alone is reason enough to invest in properties like those 32 units. From its rooftop, a very large portion of visible real estate is in some kind of development, just further evidence of the opportunity provided in this part of town. It’s buildings like these that already have provoked the attention of potential investors and residents who have pushed along the progress of Astoria and LIC.

Families see a place where they can have their cake and eat it, too. The amenities offered in a luxury rental are not exclusive to the condos, as the Times reports these buildings will often have gyms, play areas for children, cafes and green roofs. All of these offerings, plus the space required to house a family, plus accessibility to other areas of New York City have bred a common mindset among this demographic.

The New York Times quotes one recent resident as saying that the amount of new people “asking directions and taking photographs” of what was once a very untouched area in the city feels very “cosmopolitan,” a word that would never have been used in reference to Queens until recently.

The question remains: where will the occupants come from? As Bloomberg reported, Cornell University has just been granted 12 acres on Roosevelt Island to build a graduate and applied sciences campus.

The people who populate that campus will populate Long Island City and Astoria. Not only is Roosevelt Island next door to these neighborhoods, but Queens is by far the most affordable of all the areas surrounding it. People feel that the low price they are paying is not reflective of some lack of character the neighborhood has; instead, they feel like they’re getting in at the ground floor of an exciting new investment.

The families that move in, like those that will attend the future Cornell Campus, will bring others similar, and what was once simply a reasonable place to live will remain reasonable with the added benefit of camaraderie and popularity. The new, “cosmopolitan” view of this area is now the generalized view.

What Williamsburg was to hipsters is what Astoria will become for young families, and the discrepancy between low prices and quality of the areas and residents absolutely screams investment opportunities. The allure of Astoria and LIC will only become greater, increasing the already high demand for renovated multi-family housing.

Astoria might still have some of the highest rent prices in the borough, though families moving in feel they are still getting a bargain. A New York Times piece on the area references a couple who recently moved to Astoria who pay $3,720 a month for a two-bed, two-bath with use of a “two-story gym, squash and basketball courts, a coffee lounge, three roof decks with barbecues and wet bars, and a children’s playroom.”

The family states that anywhere in Manhattan the same environment would cost more than $5,000 a month. This is the case with much of Astoria. Prices are comparatively higher than the rest of Queens, though lower than anywhere else in the city. But what the cost does not show is the value for these families’ purchases — the list just goes on and on for recreation and opportunities that these condos will provide to their families.

Last year, a developer in Astoria had a goal of selling 23 of 58 available condos in six months; every condo of the 58 was spoken for within four months. Another development group has followed suit and started 33-unit and 77-unit condos that will likely be taken in a similar amount of time. Though these are just two groups, they are not the only ones. These are the types of living spaces that will start popping up all over the neighborhood — condos tailored for families, complete with skyline views of Manhattan.

The growth of Astoria and LIC will be characterized by the addition of more than just the 10,000 apartments the New York Times mentioned. These additions will be tailored to suit the needs of families, spreading the popularity of multi-family housing by creating an environment where people raising children can have the best cost-benefit ratio offered anywhere in the city.

The 32-unit I listed last summer is far from the last time I dealt with a multi-family building in Astoria and LIC. In fact, I suspect that in the near future many more buildings cut from the same cloth will come out of the woodwork, primed for investment. Queens is in high demand, Queens is up-and-coming, and Queens is affordable. This new possibility of having enough room and means for families will continue to be a driving force in how these neighborhoods flourish.

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 Investment Properties, Weiner sold more than $215,000,000 in aggregate sales with more than 1,300 residential units.

Swain Official Headshot

Swain Weiner


Flushing real estate seeking new heights

| spreuss@queenscourier.com

Photo courtesy of PropertyShark/Scott Bintner

Stephen Preuss is a vice president at Cushman & Wakefield who focuses on the Queens market. 

Last year showed us record-breaking pricing of development sites in the Flushing area. This year has taken those numbers upwards and has even left real estate professionals scratching their heads.

The average price per buildable square foot in the fourth quarter of 2014 throughout the city was approximately $303, which is 52 percent higher than the same period last year. Since the start of 2015, we have seen multiple properties sell at more than $300 per buildable square foot.

Just this past February we sold a development site at 142-26 Roosevelt Ave., a prime location in downtown Flushing. The property offered 21,060 buildable square feet and sold at $322.89 per buildable square foot.

Recently we have received several calls from appraisers trying to make sense of these prices where capitalization rates and price per square foot do not make financial sense.

The interest from foreign buyers has kept the interest in an upswing and has since resulted in sale prices comparable to those in Manhattan. Multiple properties especially on Northern Boulevard have sold for above average pricing, and most properties have a retail component with development potential.

For example, 138-12 Northern Blvd. in Flushing sold at $341.27 per buildable square foot. The property consisted of a four-unit retail strip, but allowed for an additional 20,000 buildable square feet to be developed on site.

We have been seeing an exponential amount of interest in development since 2012 and expect the remainder of this year to follow suit.


Stephen Preuss


Buildings Department authorized nearly 4,900 Queens units in 2014: report

| lguerre@queenscourier.com

THE COURIER/Photo by Liam La Guerre

The Queens building boom is continuing to gain steam, according to a new report.

The Department of Buildings authorized about 4,900 units in 448 buildings in Queens last year, a 64 percent jump from 2013 when the department approved 3,161 units, according to a New York Building Congress analysis released Thursday. An average of 11 units per building will be constructed in the approved projects.

Despite the increase, the borough remained in third place, behind Manhattan, which had 5,281 units approved and Brooklyn, which won first place for the third consecutive year, with 7,551 units.

Overall, the city is continuing to see a gain in approved units. The Department of Buildings authorized 20,329 residential units in 1,513 buildings last year citywide, the analysis found, which marks the fifth straight year that the number of approved units has increased.

It is also up 241 percent from a post-recession low of 5,953 units in 2009.


Ridgewood apartment building sells for $21 million

| lguerre@queenscourier.com

Photo courtesy of StreetEasy.com

A Ridgewood apartment building recently sold for $21 million, which is more than double its last sale price in just three years, indicating the opportunity that real estate investors see in the neighborhood.

New Ridgewood LLC purchased the 50-unit rental building at 71-13 60th Lane from Bonjour Capital, according to city property records.

Bonjour Capital has owned the building since 2012 when it was constructed, and paid just $8.6 million then for it.

Due to its proximity to trendy Brooklyn neighborhoods and access to public transportation, rents and values in Ridgewood have been rising. In addition, relatively low land prices are helping it become a hot area for investors.

Some firms are already working on sizable development projects in Ridgewood, including Essex Capital’s 90-unit building on Madison Street and AB Capstone’s planned 17-story, mixed-use residential rental building on St. Nicholas Avenue.

The building at 71-13 60th Lane is situated near the neighborhood’s Myrtle Avenue commercial strip, where there are national banks, and various outlets for shopping and dining.

There is a mix of one-, two- and three-bedroom apartments in the building, and the average monthly rent is around $2,661, according to Eastern Consolidated, which was marketing the building. The property has 53,865 square feet of space and parking available.

Amenities such as a game room, a resident lounge, a children’s play room and a roof deck with views of the neighborhood are included in the building.


Early plans indicate a large residential tower is coming to Ridgewood

| lguerre@queenscourier.com

Rendering courtesy of AB Capstone

The owner of properties on Myrtle and St. Nicholas avenues in the heart of Ridgewood is planning to construct a 17-story residential rental tower with 130 apartments, according to a source close to the project.

Construction permits have yet to be filed with the Buildings Department for the sites at 54-27 Myrtle Ave., and 336 and 350 St. Nicholas Ave., but early plans indicate that the project will have 200,000 square feet.

The building will also be mixed-use with retail space, the source said, but since the project is in the “very early stages,” designs and details may change.

Developer AB Capstone, which purchased the sites last year, filed demolition permits late last year for the sites, and recently posted an early rendering of the tower on its website.

The image shows the residential building with its entrance facing St. Nicholas Avenue. Other details about the building could not be confirmed yet, including price ranges or sizes for the units.

The development site is located a block from the L and M Myrtle-Wyckoff Avenues subway station, which will be a big benefit for future residents.


Flushing Mall set for demolition soon, new permits filed for 13-story building

| lguerre@queenscourier.com

THE COURIER/Photo by Liam La Guerre

It’s the end of the road for the Flushing Mall, but the fate of the massive site it sits on is still up in the air.

Developer F&T Group, which is working on the huge Flushing Commons project and constructed One Fulton Square, filed plans Thursday to construct what is being called Two Fulton Square on the site at 133-15 39th Ave. in downtown Flushing.

The development will include a 13-story mixed-use residential building with 192 units, according to the filings. Margulies Hoelzli Architecture will design the building, which will have retail stores in the basement level. A parking facility with about 377 spaces was also recently filed for the site.

The project is much smaller than a September filing on the site for a 16-story mixed-use commercial, residential project that would have housed nearly 400 apartments in 368,868 square feet of residential space and 520 enclosed parking spaces. Those plans were not approved by the Buildings Department.

The developer has been tight-lipped about the plans for the project, and has not returned The Courier’s requests for comments and more information. The change in filing could be a downsizing of the project or possibly just part of the development structure.

But one thing is certain — the current mall is about to come down. Last month the developer filed permits to demolish the old Flushing Mall, and scaffolding has been recently set up around the site.


Low supply of Queens homes driving high prices: report

| lguerre@queenscourier.com

Photo courtesy of Multiple Listing Service

The inventory of homes for sale in Queens is continuing to fall, driving higher prices throughout the borough, according to a monthly report on Queens homes sales by Keller Williams Realty Landmark II.

The current median price of a home in Queens is $405,000, which is up 9.6 percent from last year.

The report, which is based on data from the Long Island Board of Realtors, found that there are 27 percent fewer homes available for purchase in March this year than a year ago. Currently, there are 3,902 homes available in the “World’s Borough,” while there were 5,338 in March of 2014.

Sellers have an edge in the market, since demand is high but supply is low, and so they are pricing their homes higher than this time last year.

The low inventory is also having another effect on the market. Although the demand is great, people aren’t buying homes as fast, because they don’t have enough choices.


See it: Spacious Forest Hills home built to entertain, listed for $3.28 million

| lguerre@queenscourier.com

Photos courtesy of Terrace Sotheby’s International Realty

The humongous home at 72-20 Harrow St. in Forest Hills has four bedrooms and four bathrooms in a whopping 5,000 square feet of space — and the heart of this giant is the kitchen.

The residence features an enormous kitchen with an open concept and breakfast area, which could probably host get-togethers with extended family or friends. The space also includes a wet bar and breakfast counter complimented by granite counter tops and custom cabinets. And the additional breakfast area is warmed by a stone fireplace, which is just one of five in the entire house.

The fireplaces are scattered throughout the residence, including one in the living room and another in a bedroom on the second level.

The home, which was listed by Terrace Sotheby’s International Realty for $3.28 million, might seem like a renovated classic at first glance with its Tudor exterior designs, but it’s not even a decade old, and a baby compared to the near century-old homes in the neighborhood.

Constructed in 2006, it was built for entertaining with a speaker system, media and game room, and a bar in the basement. There is a brick patio area and a large garden for outdoor parties.

But when the owner wants to relax in peace, the master bedroom makes for a great escape with a private dressing area, and a spacious bathroom that has a Jacuzzi tub.

Click here to see the listing.


First Queens Doughnut Plant ready for business

| lguerre@queenscourier.com

Photos courtesy of Doughnut Plant 

Queens doughnut lovers can now experience a whole new menu of the classic treat from a popular city-based store without having to leave the borough.

Manhattan-based Doughnut Plant opened its first Queens location in Long Island City on Tuesday, complete with doughnut-shaped stools.

The store, which signed a 10-year lease for a 8,500-square-foot space in the Falchi Building at 31-00 47th Ave. last year, will be the second production home for the company, which also has a 4,000-square-foot space in the Lower East Side.

Doughnut Plant is holding off on a grand opening ceremony for the location as the bakery isn’t fully completed, but during its soft opening, patrons can try the full range of menu options at the store, including doughnuts, coffee, tea, milk and juices. The store will be open from 6:30 a.m. to 7 p.m. daily.

Established in 1994 by Mark Isreal, Doughnut Plant products are now sold at various retailers throughout the city, including at some Shake Shack and Dean and DeLuca locations.

The firm also opened a location in Japan in 2004, and has since expanded to nine spots in the “Land of the Rising Sun,” and one in Seoul, Korea.

Take a look at the Doughnut Plant official website by clicking here see the various flavors and types of doughnuts the company offers.