Pi Capital’s rentals augur more development for Elmhurst

86-55 Broadway in Queens
86-55 Broadway in Queens

Pi Capital Partners’ Elm East, a new luxury residential rental building at 86-55 Broadway in Elmhurst, has little neighborhood company in its high-end niche — for the moment. But the luxe new digs are a sign of the future of Central Queens, sources said.

Elm East, with a spread of 30,000 square feet that includes retail space, is now 100 percent leased after six months on the market. Prices range from $1,600 per month for a 500-square-foot studio to upwards of $2,500 per month for a 1,000-square-foot two-bedroom. Features include floor-to-ceiling picture windows and balconies with views of the Manhattan skyline — a far cry from much of the multi-family housing stock in Queens.

The developer also has a second project in the works across the street, dubbed Elm West, which will be completed in the third quarter of 2014 and begin leasing immediately thereafter, in late 2014.

While the sister properties are not the only luxury residential offerings in Central Queens, their peers are currently limited to developments such as LeFrak’s Contour luxury rentals at 97-45 Queens Boulevard in nearby Rego Park, sources said.

However, that could soon change.

“[Developers] always want to see somebody else do it first, then they follow suit,” Vincent Koo, a longtime Queens broker and owner of Exit Kingdom Realty, told The Real Deal. “I wouldn’t be surprised if more luxury developments pop up along Queens Boulevard.”

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Pi Capital is aware of two other developers that intend to build luxury rentals in Elmhurst, but declined to disclose their identities because it might adversely affect negotiations, a spokesperson for the firm, Nick Chavin, told The Real Deal.

With so little luxury development in the area, Pi Capital took a chance by investing in such high-end properties here, he added.

“It really was an experiment,” he said. “A lot of people thought it wouldn’t work, and then the studio units were gone in a week or two.”

That movement, Koo said, proves that renters are willing to put more distance between themselves and Manhattan and pay rates that are uncharacteristically high in the neighborhood. Still, “for that price, they wouldn’t be able to get much in Manhattan,” he said.

“These tenants tend to move in for a few years, enjoy the neighborhood, then look into purchasing,” he said. And as more high-end residents take root, he said, demand for commercial real estate follows.

“Just like Long Island City was the alternative to Manhattan, this is the alternative now to Brooklyn and Long Island City,” Chavin said.