For LIC’s Residential Developers, the Sky’s the Limit
Neighborhood’s skyline being reshaped at a rapid pace by high-rise boom
By Rey Mashayekhi
September 30, 2016
You don’t need to gaze across the East River – at the army of cranes looming over Manhattan, and the towering 21st century skyscrapers they’ve recently built – to see how the luxury high-rise boom has reshaped New York City’s residential real estate market.
Look over your shoulder and you’ll find a similarly impressive array of high-rise construction taking place in the heart of Long Island City, where numerous projects – either currently underway or still in various stages of planning – are poised to alter the Queens skyline and further revitalize the formerly industrial neighborhood.
With more than 11,000 new residential units built over the past decade and another, roughly 22,000 units in the pipeline (the vast majority of them rentals, according to data from the Long Island City Partnership), the residential sector has driven much of the new development in Long Island City. What’s more, developers are increasingly ripping a page out of the Manhattan playbook and setting their sights higher than ever when it comes to new projects.
Developers Brause Realty and Gotham Organization, for instance, have partnered on a 33-story, 270-unit luxury rental building at 44-28 Purves Street. The tower is quickly approaching its targeted height of just under 400 feet, as New York YIMBY reported last month, and upon completion next year will feature more than 26,000 square feet of residential amenities, including a courtyard housing a swimming pool, grill, bar area and even a movie screen.
Brause and Gotham are seeking LEED Silver certification for the building, as its design utilizes both wind and solar polar, a green roof and water retention tanks. The development is going up right across the street from 44-41 Purves Street – where developer Rabsky Group recently completed a 26-story, 284-unit luxury rental building known as Halo LIC.
Yet there are other residential projects – albeit ones with a bit further to go – that promise to loom even larger on the Long Island City skyline. Simon Baron Development recently started work on a planned 42-story, 467-unit residential tower at 29-26 Northern Boulevard, in Queens Plaza, that’s slated to sprawl roughly 500,000 square feet and feature amenities including an indoor swimming pool and fitness center. That building is expected to open in 2018, and Simon Baron’s plans for Long Island City will also likely include another, as-of-yet-unknown development currently in the works at 45-40 Vernon Boulevard, the former Paragon Paint factory.
Simon Baron is far from the only developer putting up residential high-rises in Queens Plaza, however; Rockrose Development is among the most prolific builders in Long Island City, with projects including a planned 54-story, 790-unit building at 43-22 Queens Street, known as the Eagle Electric Factory development, that’s expected to top out at 580 feet in height upon completion late next year. Only a five minute walk away, Rockrose is nearly finished building the Hayden at 43-25 Hunter Street – a 50-story, 974-unit tower that already topped out at 509 feetearlier this year. Twenty percent of the Hayden’s units will be designated as affordable and available at below-market rents, thanks to the city’s now-defunct 421-a tax abatement program.
Yet even those projects are dwarfed by others that are in the works, such as Heatherwood Communities’ enormous 58-story, 453-unit rental building at 42-12 28th Street. The property, known as Tower 28, has already topped out as the second-tallest building in Queens, behind One Court Square, at 647 feet in height. The nearly 400,000-square-foot project is set for completion in 2017, with leasing expected to kick off before the end of this year, according to Heatherwood’s website.
And neither Tower 28 nor One Court Square would be able to compete with 43-30 24th Street, where developer Axel Stawski’s Stawski Partners filed plans earlier this year for a massive 66-story, 921-unit skyscraper that would reach 700 feet in height. While that project is only in the planning stages, it would rise alongside the elevated 7 train tracks that run through downtown Long Island City and feature roughly 840,000 square feet of residential space and more than 17,000 square feet of retail space.
But no development, either under construction or in the pipeline, would be able to compete with Flushing developer Chris Xu’s plans for a giant 78-story, 660-unit residential skyscraper at 23-15 44th Drive, also known as Court Square City View Tower. The roughly 970,000-square-foot project would rise just shy of 1,000 feet in height – so tall that Xu’s United Construction and Development filed a request with the Federal Aviation Administration seeking permission to build the project, New York YIMBY reported earlier this year.
City View Tower would rise roughly 330 feet above the adjacent, 658-foot-tall One Court Square, which has been Queens’ tallest building since 1990. But Xu looks determined to shatter that record, with United’s website noting that it plans to break ground on the project next year.
Of course, just because developers like Xu are thinking huge doesn’t mean you can discount other, slightly smaller high-rise developments that are already here. Kevin Maloney’s Property Markets Group, which is teaming with JDS Development Group (www.jdsdevelopment.com) to build the supertall 111 West 57th Street in Midtown, partnered with Hakim Organization and Vector Group’s New Valley LLC to recently complete a 45-story, 391-unit rental tower at 23-10 Queens Plaza South.
Leasing recently kicked off at the 481-foot-tall building – which the developers are currently marketing for sale to investors, Bloomberg reported last month. PMG and Hakim also appear to be on the fence about their plans for a much larger, 914-foot-tall residential tower at 29-37 41st Avenue, known as Queens Plaza Park – having listed that development site for sale this past summer, according to The Real Deal.
Tishman Speyer, meanwhile, isn’t looking to break any height records in Long Island City, but is arguably thinking bigger than anyone else in terms of scope. The developer’s three-building residential development along Jackson Avenue, near Court Square, will hold 1,900 units and span a mammoth 1.7 million square feet. The three towers at 28-02 Jackson Avenue, 28-30 Jackson Avenue and 30-02 Queens Boulevard will stand 45 stories, 53 stories and 43 stories, respectively, upon the complex’s completion in 2018. Right across the street, Tishman Speyer is also at work on 28-07 Jackson Avenue – a twin-towered, 27-story office development spanning 1.1 million square feet.
And no conversation about the changing face of Long Island City would be complete without 5Pointz, the former warehouse-turned-graffiti art mecca that G&M Realty is turning into a huge residential complex at 22-44 Jackson Avenue. The developer’s plans call for two towers standing 41 stories and 48 stories tall, respectively, and holding a combined 1,115 units. The 1.2 million-square-foot project will also feature nearly 40,000 square feet of retail space and numerous amenities – including artists’ studios and galleries -- upon its expected completion late next year.
So there you have it – a look at only a handful of the projects and developments that promise to further transform Long Island City into a residential destination for New Yorkers, and maybe even give Queens a skyline to rival its neighbor across the East River. As anyone can now see, the neighborhood is coming up – and in more ways that one.