The Real Deal New York

Jamestown mulling Chelsea Market-type conversion in LIC

Redevelopment of the Falchi office building could change retail picture in Queens neighborhood
By Guelda Voien | April 26, 2013 11:45AM

Is a Chelsea Market-type mixed-use development coming to Long Island City? Jamestown Properties, the owner and developer of the Chelsea Market, is considering transforming an office property it nabbed there last year into a similar type of marketplace, said the company’s chief operating officer, Michael Phillips.

“I envision a very vibrant maker’s market culture with retail as an outgrowth around food,” Phillips told a crowd of guests at the LIC Partnership’s annual real estate breakfast, held yesterday at the UNFCU building, at 24-01 44th Road in Long Island City.

However, he said he “envision[ed] it differently” than the Chelsea Market.

Jamestown recently received city approval to add an additional 285,000 square feet to the 1.2 million-square-foot building, between Eighth and Ninth avenues, which currently houses office tenants such as Google and the Food Network in addition to the market, which features artisanal food and other retail.

Across the bridge, the company paid about $80 million for the massive, industrial-style office building at 31-00 47th Avenue last year. A partnership of Joseph Chetrit and principals of the Brooklyn-based commercial brokerage and property manager Kalmon Dolgin Affiliates were the sellers.

It’s not clear when the developer would move ahead with converting the 638,712-square-foot office building, and Jamestown representatives did not respond to requests for comment.

Retail with that level of cultural cachet is the cornerstone of a vibrant neighborhood, experts said at the panel. With a destination such as the proposed Jamestown project, smaller retailers like those that have made Brooklyn a bastion of culture will fill in spaces, in turn boosting residential rents in the area.

“Retail is the affirmation stamp on a neighborhood,” said Jonathan Miller, a panelist and president of real estate data firm Miller Samuel. Other panelists included Jason Sheftell, real estate editor for the New York Daily News; Eric Benaim, president and founder of residential and commercial brokerage Modern Spaces; and Andrew Nimmer, principal of the Local Hostels, a group working on hostel projects in the neighborhood.

Long Island City has a number of developments, both rental and condominium, premiering in the next year.

Rockrose is close to completing Linc LIC, a 709-unit rental tower at 43-10 Crescent Street, and is in the planning phase for a larger tower a block away at 43-25 Hunter Street that will have about 975 units. TF Cornerstone has completed an 802-unit tower at 4545 Center Boulevard, which will begin leasing this year.

Those new residents will bring a need for retail — the final piece of the puzzle in a neighborhood where inventory is airtight, said Benaim, who specializes in the area.