Queens developer pays $8M for former Aloft site in LIC

<i>Builder plans 230-unit condo in rapidly changing area </i>

Developer Steve Cheung purchased a vacant site for $8.3 million where a bankrupt Brooklyn company sought to build a Starwood Aloft Hotel in Long Island City during the real estate boom.

Cheung, president of Elmhurst-based E Home Real Estate, closed this past Friday on the acquisition of the L-shaped parcel at 29-37 41st Avenue that has 205,032 square feet of development rights, he told The Real Deal. The price comes out to about $40.48 per square foot.

Cheung has been developing residential projects for about a decade in Queens, he said, in areas such as Flushing and Ridgewood, including the five-story mixed-use project at 311 Saint Nicholas Avenue in Ridgewood. He recently purchased 70-32 Queens Boulevard in Elmhurst for a future project.

“I think there is a big potential over there [in Long Island City],” he said. “In Flushing, it is hard to find any [development sites] to get in. But in LIC there is a lot of opportunity.”

He expected the project to take about three years and $60 million to complete. He would not give projected prices per square foot, but said he would try to be within the market price, which now is about $600 per square foot, he said. Public records have not yet been published for the transaction.

The sale was part of the bankruptcy of the Brooklyn-based Queens Plaza Development, and bids began at $8.1 million.

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Alfonso Holloman, first vice president of sales at Massey Knakal Realty Services, brokered the transaction.

“In spite of the downturn, there has been a lot of activity, mainly in the proximity of Manhattan,” Holloman said.

The Queens Plaza section of LIC is undergoing a rapid change, with the rehabilitation of several commercial buildings, the closing of a long-time strip club and the construction of another modern office building.

For example, the commercial building at 23-10 Queens Plaza South, between 23rd and 24th streets, is undergoing rehabilitation, and Rockrose is developing a 42-story apartment building at 24-02 43rd Avenue, between 24th Street and Crescent Avenue, with a planned 709 units.

In the third quarter, LIC was one of the most active areas in Queens in terms of sales, as well. There were nine industrial sites sold in the third quarter for $18.3 million, forming nearly half of the of the total 21 industrial properties worth $62.3 million sold in that period, data from Massey Knakal shows.