Wanted: Gentrifiers for huge Long Island City warehouse

Investors look to up value of their nearby properties by wooing developer to convert 300K sf site

Oct.October 20, 2014 03:55 PM

Investors in a far-flung corner of industrial Long Island City are looking for a way to transform a 300,000-square-foot development site into a property that will raise its neighbors’ values.

Nigel Shamash, principal broker at the firm 5cre, is courting developers to see who can come up with the best use for a property in a gritty section of the neighborhood between Newtown Creek and the Long Island Expressway.

Shamash said he represents a group of owners who purchased the two-story warehouse at 30-02 Borden Avenue last week, and is issuing a request for proposals to develop the site into something that will help jump start the area’s gentrification.

“It’s in our best interest for something good to happen over there,” he said, explaining the consortium owns other properties in the neighborhood.

The property was sold by Edward Soffer, owner of a wholesaling business in the warehouse. A source close to the said it sold for the $30 million to $35 million range.

Shamash said he can offer all or part of the site, from 120,000 to 330,000 buildable square feet, and will entertain proposals such as land divisions and joint ventures.

The owners’ preference is for a hotel, but the broker said they’d also consider creative uses such as an office building or shared work spaces – anything that will breed new life into the area. Neighbors include Silvercup Studios’ east lot as well as the Fairfield Inn and Best Western hotels.

The property is only about a 10 minute walk from Jamestown Property’s Falchi Building and the more up-and-coming sections of Long Island City. But it may as well be a world away situated on the other side of the expressway, and finding someone to bet on the area may be a tough sell.

“I would be skeptical. Borden Avenue, when you head out there, you see it’s heavily industrial,” said Natalie Hurwitz of the LIC-based brokerage Sholom & Zuckerbrot Realty.

“The area is just not right for a hotel,” she added. “Of course, hotels have gone up in all kinds of areas.

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