Insider gentrifying: Amazon employees buy LIC condos before HQ2 announcement

The deals came before the surge that followed the news

Brendan Aguayo and Galarie at 22-18 Jackson Avenue (Credit: Halstead)
Brendan Aguayo and Galarie at 22-18 Jackson Avenue (Credit: Halstead)

Buyer interest in Long Island City has spiked since the announcement that Amazon will build a new campus in the neighborhood. But some employees snagged condos there before the news was public.

Two of the company’s employees bought units at Adam America’s Galerie just before the first reports surfaced, the Wall Street Journal reported. Brendan Aguayo of Halstead Property Development Marketing — which is selling units there — said the buyers currently live in New Jersey and Queens.

Employees are prohibited from insider trading, or buying and selling stocks based on nonpublic information. But lawyers told the Journal they weren’t aware of such restrictions on real estate transactions.

Amazon announced on Nov. 13 that it would split its HQ2 between LIC and Arlington, Virginia. Employees will start arriving in New York early next year. TF Cornerstone, which is developing a portion of the new headquarters, signed a contract to buy a $300 million development site nearby just days before the official announcement.

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The report of condo deals comes as brokers in LIC have reported seeing a flood of interest from buyers. Amazon’s move is expected to push up property prices in the neighborhood — with some units already being priced higher. The rental market, meanwhile, is anticipated to see a more gradual shift.

Though it’s unclear how many units have gone into contract in LIC recently, brokers have described “an unprecedented surge,” the Journal said. At the Galerie, for example, Aguayo said 25 deals were done in the last two weeks.

The surge comes as residential deals in New York, particularly on the high end, have slowed and prices have fallen. Sales in Queens dipped 5 percent in the third quarter as inventory expanded — while the Manhattan market saw a more pronounced decline of 11 percent[WSJ] — Meenal Vamburkar