Long Island City has seen a huge boom in construction and new developments over the past few years, but local real estate players said they are not too concerned about oversupply, particularly when it comes to office space.
“We’re only now getting back to the amount of office space that we had in New York City in 2001 before Sept. 11,” said Seth Pinsky, executive vice president at RXR Realty. “Through a combination of the loss of the World Trade Center and the conversion of commercial space to residential and other uses, we’ve actually been well below the peak in this market. At the same time, we’re at record levels of employment and office employment.”
Pinsky spoke on a panel about the popular Queens waterfront neighborhood on Tuesday morning at a Bisnow event at the Factory, a building at 30-30 47th Avenue in Long Island City. While panelists expressed concerns over neighborhood issues such as parking and the problems plaguing the subway, they were optimistic overall that tenants will come to fill up the development pouring into the neighborhood.
Brian Waterman, vice chair at Newmark Knight Frank, acknowledged that vacancy rates for office space are rising in Long Island City and that the average size of a new tenant is roughly 19,000 square feet, much smaller than the available space at several buildings in the neighborhood.
However, he did not see this as a permanent issue.
“There haven’t been a lot of trades. There will be absorption here,” he said. “Is it going to happen in a year? No, I don’t think it is. Will it happen in two or three years? Probably. There are a lot of tenants that are kicking the tires.”
Long Island City Partnership president Elizabeth Lusskin, said employers tend to initially get nervous about moving into Queens but then realize several of their workers already live in the borough. She maintained that, although Queens has not built up the reputation that Brooklyn has as a hotbed of young creative talent, that talent is still there.
“Brooklyn is a brand in a way that we aren’t yet,” Lusskin said, “but I meet so many people who you would’ve thought would have been in Brooklyn who are living out here because it’s more convenient. They like the price. They like the feel.”
Pinsky agreed, saying that Brooklyn’s reputation as the hipster capital of the world tends to overshadow the amount of activity going on in Queens as well.
“There’s a lot of talk about the young creative class that’s developed in Greenpoint and Williamsburg,” he said, “but I think that what we miss is how much of that class lives here in western Queens.”