Tag Archives: Taste of LIC

Q&A: Modern Spaces CEO explains real estate in LIC


| lguerre@queenscourier.com

Photo courtesy of Donna Dotan Photography Inc.

Eric Benaim founded real estate firm Modern Spaces in Long Island City in 2008, and within a handful of years led the explosion of residential interest in the neighborhood. Over the years, he expanded the company from LIC to Astoria, Manhattan and Brooklyn, and recently, Modern Spaces announced the launching of its commercial and investment property division, tapping into another side of the market.

In a question-and-answer session with The Courier, Benaim explained the current status of real estate in Long Island City and the transformation of the neighborhood.

Courier: How did you get inspired to start working in Long Island City?

Benaim: I guess I was always a Queens boy, and I started focusing in LIC back in 2005. I was a broker focusing mostly in Manhattan and at the time there were pretty much no brokers in the neighborhood over here, so I figured I would try to make this my niche. Just walking around you see the views of Manhattan, you see there’s a lot of potential over here and I stuck with it, and obviously it paid off. The neighborhood has changed dramatically since 2005.

Courier: Did you really think it [the transformation of LIC] would happen so quickly?

Benaim: No. Literally, from my window I see cranes everywhere, and it’s just crazy to see my skyline changing every day.

Courier: What is the real estate market in LIC like now?

Benaim: There is a lot of development. There was not that many condos being developed over the last couple of years, but condos are about to come back strong. We are seeing a lot of condo projects that are going to be coming online probably by first and second quarter of next year. And in regards to rental projects, a lot developers are doing stuff now whereas before it was predominately TF Cornerstone and Rockrose. now you are seeing a lot of big developers coming into the neighborhood that were never here before.

Courier: Why do you think there is a switch from rentals to condos?

Benaim: Because land prices have gone up a lot and when land prices go up so much it just doesn’t make sense to do a rental because the return on your investment does not really pay out. So it just makes more sense financially to do a condo rather than a rental. Rental projects that are coming along, these are projects sites that were acquired probably a year or more ago when land prices were a little more affordable than they are now.

Courier: Is LIC already a successful live, work and play community?

Benaim: I think [live, work, and play] has been established here. I remember when I first started showing clients around the neighborhood, there really wasn’t anything here. Not even a supermarket. Now we have three supermarkets already, and a fourth is opening up at the LINC, the Rockrose project in Court Square. There are a whole lot of restaurants— you know, restaurants open up here every week and now we are seeing more and more boutiques and stores opening up. Pretty much everything you need is here now. And regarding play, so we do have the bars and the night life now and LIC is a huge cultural destination. We have the LIC Arts Open, the Taste of LIC, MoMA PS1, the Chocolate Factory Theater and the LIC Flea. So there’s really a lot to do as well.

Courier: What has spurred you to go into the commercial side?

Benaim: We’ve done a little commercial these past few years, mostly like retail leasing. But a lot of our clients, whether it’s landlords who we’re doing their rentals for in walk-ups or if it’s a developer who we’re marketing their building or working with them, they never really came to us in the past, because they knew us as being residential brokers. So it was kind of like business that we lost out on. And it just seemed like the right time. Queens as a whole is in the spotlight right now and there’s not really a commercial company that can offer commercial services but still insight in the residential market.

Courier: What is the next neighborhood that has potential?

Benaim: We do see a lot of potential in Astoria, and other areas like Woodside, Sunnyside, Flushing and areas like Rego Park, where we just opened up a building called The Rego Modern. We rented 10 in the first open house [at The Rego Modern] and for high prices also, which they weren’t used to seeing. So that just shows that there is a lot of interest in Queens. Being a Queens boy myself it’s just nice to see that Queens is getting the spotlight that Brooklyn had stolen from us.

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9th Annual Taste of LIC offers items from over 50 local restaurants


| aaltamirano@queenscourier.com

Photos by Dominick Totino Photography

Foodies made their way to the Long Island City waterfront to a get a taste of what the popular western Queens neighborhood has to offer.

The Chocolate Factory Theater presented the Ninth Annual Taste of LIC, a community-wide festival highlighting Long Island City’s culinary and cultural accomplishments, Tuesday at Gantry Plaza State Park.

FOR MORE PHOTOS CLICK HERE

This year’s celebration featured food and beverage tastings from 50 restaurants and auction and raffle prizes courtesy of 100 local Long Island City businesses. The event also featured a special performance by over 30 Sunnyside/Woodside Girl Scouts choreographed by Madeline Best.


Executive Director of The Chocolate Factory Theater Sheila Lewandowski and Borough President Melinda Katz

Councilman Jimmy Van Bramer served as Master of Ceremonies and “chocolate lover honored guests” included Borough President Melinda Katz, state Senator Michael Gianaris, Councilwoman Julissa Ferreras, Congresswoman Carolyn Maloney and Assemblywoman Catherine Nolan.

All of the event’s proceeds go toward The Chocolate Factory’s 2014-2015 season of dance, theater, music and multimedia performances.

 

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Queens’ Morning Roundup


| ctumola@queenscourier.com

TODAY’S FORECAST

Tuesday: Clear in the morning, then partly cloudy. High of 75. Winds from the NW at 10 to 15 mph. Tuesday night: Clear in the evening, then partly cloudy. Low of 59. Winds from the NNW at 5 to 15 mph.

EVENT OF THE DAY: Taste of LIC

Come experience the diverse flavors of Long Island City at the 8th annual Taste of LIC food festival. From 5:30 to 8:30 p.m. at Gantry Plaza State Park,, the event, hosted by The Chocolate Factory Theater, will feature food and beverage samples from some of the borough’s culinary forerunners such as The Astor Room, Sweetleaf, and the Rockaway Brewing Company. Click here for more info or to submit an event of your own

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Hundreds dine at the annual Taste of LIC


| aaltman@queenscourier.com

THE COURIER/photo by Sarah Yu

Dozens of Long Island City restaurants served up specialty snacks and sweet treats at the Taste of LIC. The seventh annual culinary cabaret drew several hundred hungry guests, smacking their chops for a sampling of the neighborhood’s finest fare.

Attendees crowded under an enormous white tent at Gantry Plaza State Park for the June 5 food festival, tasting everything from curried merguez meatballs from LIC Market to watermelon marshmallows from Mitchmallows

Bear Bar chef Natasha Pogrebinsky was ecstatic to participate in the event. She had high hopes for the promotional possibilities it could provide for her new restaurant, only open for the past seven months.

“We want to show off our amazing cuisine,” said Pogrebinsky. “It’s a chance for more people to meet us and have samples of our menu. We’re still pretty new. It’s a great chance to meet people in person. We’re a little bit out of the way, so we’re going to the people.”

The event benefitted The Chocolate Factory’s upcoming season of dance, music and theatre performances.

Shelia Lewandowski, the playhouse’s executive director, said the fair has the ability to bring together those responsible for providing some of the area’s best food.

“[The Taste of LIC] is a broad representation of the food and beverages that are all right here,” said Lewandowski. “It’s cool that you can discover all these things right in your backyard.”

The festival, now in its seventh year, began as a way for the theatre to bring together multiple parts of the community while raising money for programming at The Chocolate Factory. The first year, the Taste of LIC hosted roughly 12 restaurants and saw 200 guests. Every year, the festival grew.

City Council Speaker Christine Quinn and Councilmember Jimmy Van Bramer attended the celebration, sampling the featured cuisine. Van Bramer adored Manducatis Rustica’s grilled shrimp served on sugar cane – a combination he categorized as “unique and exciting.”

“I feel lucky to represent such a dynamic area that is home to so many cultural organizations and so many restaurants and small businesses supporting the neighborhood,” said Van Bramer.

The councilmember applauded the festival for its ability to introduce the public to what’s new and good to eat locally.

“You try stuff and say ‘Oh my God that’s really good! I have to eat there for real.’”

Additional reporting by Sarah Yu