A real estate investors guide to NYC’s most expansive and diverse borough

Feb.February 01, 2017 07:00 AM

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The former industrial hub-turned-development mecca of Long Island City continues to be ground zero for real estate projects in Queens. Over the last 10 years, roughly 11,000 condos and rental units have been built in the neighborhood, according to the Long Island City Partnership. Looking ahead, there are nearly 200 projects in the pipeline, with nearly 23,500 residential units and more than 23 million square feet planned. The largest megaproject in the works is Tishman Speyer’s 2.8 million-square-foot Gotham Center. The $707 million plan includes three residential towers with 1,900 apartments, and a pair of office towers spanning 1.1 million square feet to be anchored by WeWork TRData LogoTINY and Macy’s. Tishman began assembling the site in 2014, paying a total of $84.2 million. Construction is slated to begin this year.

Meanwhile, the Wolkoff Group is in the midst of its controversial redevelopment of the 5Pointz site, once home to an iconic graffiti-covered warehouse. The massive project will add 1,115 apartments to the neighborhood upon completion, which is set for mid-to-late 2018.

Over at Hunters Point, the pair of towers TF Cornerstone has planned on the waterfront will add 1,197 apartments, though that project hit a delay last year when the developer discovered an Amtrak tunnel under the site that requires a redesign of the project.


Like its neighbor Long Island City, Astoria has been a magnet for investors, with some 3.5 million square feet of development projects in its pipeline, including 4,132 residential units. The biggest planned project is the Durst Organization’s 2,000-unit, $1.5 billion Halletts Point complex. Durst broke ground last year on the first building, which will have 224 units. The rest of the project got put on hold, however, when the 421a tax incentive expired. But with a revived tax-break program winding its way through Albany, the entire development looks to be back on again.

Similar to Halletts Point, the neighborhood’s other megaproject, Alma Realty’s 1,763-unit Astoria Cove complex, also stalled when 421a expired. But in July, Politico reported that the 2.2 million-square-foot complex had financing problems and that there was speculation Alma would look to sell the site.


The low-rise neighborhoods of Sunnyside and Woodside are less than six miles from Midtown Manhattan, with the latter being a roughly 10-minute train ride to Penn Station on the Long Island Rail Road. Still, residential projects here are smaller than what one would find toward the west, as there are fewer sites for assemblages and more restrictive zoning. Not surprisingly, development activity is slow: Between the two neighborhoods there are fewer than 500 units in the works. One of the more active areas is along Queens Boulevard on the border of the neighborhoods, where a handful of small apartment buildings and hotels have sprouted up over the past few years, including the 44-unit residential hotel Flushing-based developer Michael Hu completed last year at 65-15 Queens Boulevard.


Serviced by several subway lines and relative bargains compared to LIC and Astoria, Elm​hurst and its neighbor to the north, Jackson Heights, are being touted as the next frontier of rental neighborhoods in Queens. There are slightly more than 1,860 residential units in the works.

Major projects include the 18-story, 183-unit apartment building Flushing-based developer Chris Jiashu Xu is planning across from the Queens Place Mall at 88-08 Justice Avenue. Another Flushing developer, Ka Tai Yeung, is planning a 138-unit condo building at 45-16 83rd Street. Yeung filed an offering plan with the state attorney general’s office in December indicating a planned $91 million sellout for the project.


The two airports are major economic drivers for the borough, and both are planning major overhauls. Last June, officials broke ground on LaGuardia’s $8 billion redevelopment, which will result in a completely reconstructed Central Terminal Building, also known as Terminal B, as well as a new central entry hall. That phase is expected to be completed by 2021. And in January, the Port Authority of New York and New Jersey committed $600 million toward the estimated $4 billion construction of two new terminals. That same month, Gov. Andrew Cuomo announced a $10 billion plan to overhaul John F. Kennedy International Airport. While funding has not been determined, the proposal sets out to improve and expand JFK’s terminals as well as to redesign the transit system around the airport.


Flushing is Queens’ second-busiest neighborhood for development. A city unto itself populated mostly by Asian immigrants, it has a total of 160 projects in the pipeline that will add 4,536 residential units and 6.48 million square feet. The biggest megaproject is Flushing Commons, the F&T Group’s $1 billion, 1.8 million-square-foot redevelopment of a former municipal parking lot. All told, the project will bring 600 residential units and nearly 500,000 square feet of office and retail space. The first phase is set to be completed in 2017. The same developer is also working on another megaproject nearby named Tangram, a 1.2 million-square-foot mixed-use complex about two blocks away. And Onex Real Estate Partners’ Sky View Parc, a residential and retail complex that broke ground in 2008, is now building its sixth and final condo building. Grand Three, a 280-unit building, is expecting a total sellout of $283 million.


In December, StreetEasy put Bayside on its Top 10 list of neighborhoods to watch in 2017, based on median asking home sales prices and rents, population and page views on the website. Located near the Nassau County border, Bayside is an upper-middle-class suburb dominated by single-family homes. According to StreetEasy, the median rent last year was $2,250, while the median asking price on a resale was $325,276, up nearly 9 percent from 2015.


Despite a 2007 rezoning, Jamaica hasn’t shot up as many might have expected. But the neighborhood, which boasts a rich transportation infrastructure with three subway lines and the Long Island Rail Road, is starting to show signs of an upward trend. About 4.8 million square feet of development are in the pipeline, including more than 4,500 residential units. BRP Development is behind the neighborhood’s most buzzed-about project: The roughly $400 million Crossing at Jamaica Station apartment complex has been described as the largest private investment in Downtown Jamaica in decades. Construction is set to begin early this year on the two-building complex, made up of a 26-story high-rise with 539 apartments and a 14-story mid-rise with 130 apartments. All of the units will be affordable. Not far away, the highly anticipated redevelopment of the shuttered Mary Immaculate Hospital may also soon help kickstart the area’s revival. In December, the Chetrit Group landed roughly $127.5 million in construction financing for the project, which will contain a four-building, 324-unit apartment complex.

(To see condo filings accepted in Queens in the 4th quarter of 2016, click here)

Correction: A previous version of this article incorrectly stated the estimated cost of the Crossing at Jamaica station. The project’s total investment is roughly $400 million.

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