Minskoff sells LIC site where it planned 635-room dorm

By Adam Pincus | March 08, 2011 12:58PM

30-30 Northern Boulevard in Queens and Edward Minskoff

Developer Edward J. Minskoff Equities abandoned plans to build a 635-room dormitory in a rapidly-changing section of Long Island City in order to concentrate on larger projects in Manhattan, the company’s president said.

Edward Minskoff, president of the commercial firm, had sought to build the 19-story tower on the property at 30-30 Northern Boulevard in Queens Plaza. 

He sold it to Long Island City-based Alma Realty, which paid $21.5 million for the 238,000-square-foot building and the 103,000-square-foot parcel under it on Jan. 27, city property records published last Friday show. The sale went into contract in September 2010.

The Queens Plaza neighborhood is undergoing a transformation thanks to the city’s rehabilitation of the streets underneath the elevated N and 7 trains, as well as the completion of Tishman Speyer’s $316 million Gotham Center Tower office building. Yet brokers said the site still presents challenges because it faces the elevated subway tracks.

This purchase was not Alma Realty’s only acquisition in January. It also paid $4.95 million for two apartment buildings with a total of 36 residential units in Manhattan, at 1619 and 1627 Amsterdam Avenue, data from PropertyShark.com shows.

Minskoff’s dormitory was slated to house 1,640 students on the parcel wedged between the elevated N train and Sunnyside Yards. He bought the site in 2006 for $15.75 million, city records show.

Minskoff told The Real Deal that he accepted the Alma Realty offer so he could concentrate on other projects, including the 430,000-square-foot office building at 51 Astor Place set to break ground in July, and the rehabilitation of 101 Sixth Avenue in Hudson Square.

“Since we have three other major projects that have priority for me right now, we accepted the offer and we are focusing on the other three projects that we are in the middle of,” he said. Minskoff said he has two other transactions in the works, but he would not elaborate.

Investment sales broker Shay Zach, of Itzhaki Properties, said the low price of about $90 per square foot for a building located in a manufacturing zone could justify its use as a warehouse. The site sold for $42 per buildable square foot.

“It looks to me like a warehouse trade,” he said.

Alma Realty did not return calls seeking comment. But the Department of Buildings issued a permit to the company in February to make repairs that would clear six building violations on the structure that existed before and on Minskoff’s watch. The repairs were estimated to cost $1.7 million.

The site is zoned for manufacturing and would have required a zoning variance to provide student housing.

Minskoff’s plans for a 525,000-square-foot commercial and dorm building were filed in January 2010, but were never approved, city records show.

An industry source familiar with Alma’s purchase said the firm has not yet decided what to do with the property.