Feature Story

A New Lease on…Leasing

Hunters Point Park pier in Long Island City.

Landlords across the city are embracing non-traditional leases in the hope of avoiding two problems: a less than fresh roster of tenants and empty rental space. And property owners are taking advantage of the perks of filling commercial space with creative companies under a wide range of lease terms to amp up property presence, community engagement and, of course, the bottom line.

And while pop-ups came into their own amid the recession for the basic reason of filling space, landlords are increasingly using them as a way to market properties even with much improved vacancy rates, according to reports. Read More

New Developments

H&R REIT Partners with Tishman Speyer in LIC Development

2 Gotham Center. (NYCEDC)

H&R Real Estate Investment Trust has joined Tishman Speyer as a 50 percent joint venture partner in the development of a luxury residential project in Long Island City, Queens.

The development site, located adjacent to H&R-owned 2 Gotham Center, is zoned for 1.2 million square feet of mixed-use development. The plot can accommodate up to 1,600 rental units and approximately 30,000 square feet of retail space, according to a statement. Read More

Mortgage Observer

Doing Deals in Any Economic Climate: TF Cornerstone

From left: Jeremy Shell and Tom Elghanayan of TF Cornerstone

On September 10, 2001, the Elghanayan brothers, then operating as Rockrose Development, closed a loan for a luxury rental building in Battery Park City. However, the loan had not funded. The following day was, obviously, a devastating one for New York City. The damage left much in doubt—especially real estate developments in the immediate area of the World Trade Center. But the lenders, the New York Common Fund and New York Life, who could easily have opted not to provide the money in light of the terrorist attacks, decided to go ahead and fund the loan anyway. And that was because they knew the borrowers so well.

“They did it as a sign of faith in Elghanayan and in New York,” said Andrew Singer, chairman and CEO of The Singer & Bassuk Organization, who has worked with K. Thomas and Frederick Elghanayan—the founders and principals of TF Cornerstone—since 1975. He also brokered the loan for that development, at 2 River Terrace. Read More

Artists vs. the World

5Pointz Pilgrims: One Last Visit to the Doomed Graffiti Mecca

5Pointz, in all its colorful glory (iamNigelMorris, flickr).

“I’ve been coming here for years. It’s always been a great place where people will get together for art and peace and positive vibes,” said Rhonda Elhosseiny, gazing up at one of the exuberantly graffitied walls of 5Pointz, the Long Island City warehouse and global graffiti mecca. “But the reason I came today is that we don’t know how much longer it will be up and I wanted to see it again.”

She wasn’t the only one. This past weekend hundreds of visitors, including street art aficionados, hip hop-styled aerosol artists, thickly-accented Queens families, French tourists, Waspy couples pushing strollers and a 20-man crew of middle-aged birthday celebrants all wearing Polo, descended on the 200,000 square foot former factory. They came to take in the bright swirls of spray paint—some so fresh you could still smell the heady tang of chemicals in the air—offer sympathy and pay their last respects to the 5Pointz, which is slated for demolition early next year. Read More

The Plan

Check Out Jamestown’s Long Island City Project

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With Long Island City quickly becoming a popular alternative to Manhattan, both for work and play, Jamestown Properties last year acquired the Falchi Building, a 640,000-square-foot office and manufacturing facility at 31-00 47th Avenue.

Envisioned by Jamestown as a mixed-use property with retail, office and light manufacturing components, Mitch Arkin, executive director
at Cushman & Wakefield, is preparing to market space in the building as existing tenants move out and space becomes vacant.

Though Jamestown has employed similar formats elsewhere, the developer is at pains to stress that the Falchi Building is not Chelsea Market and is, in fact, its own unique opportunity. “We think we can develop this into something that is aligned with the Jamestown brand,” Mr. Arkin told The Commercial Observer.

Read More

Going Green

Long Island City’s Answer to the High Line Is Now Open

Credit: Archidose/Flickr

A waterfront park that includes repurposed rail tracks is open in Long Island City, sprucing up the 30-acre middle-income housing development underway in the Hunter’s Point South area.

The five-acre park includes basketball courts, a children’s playground, an expansive dog run and an athletic oval. And, of course, panoramic views of Midtown Manhattan reinforce one of the post-industrial neighborhood’s greatest assets.  Read More

Lease Beat

New York Kids Club Heads to Queens, Leases at TF Cornerstone High Rise

4545 Center Boulevard (Credit: TF Cornerstone)

In further confirmation of the stroller army’s successful invasion of Long Island City, New York Kids Club signed a 15-year, 5,003-square-foot lease at 4545 Center Boulevard.

The private “enrichment center” for preschool children will open by the LIC waterfront in September 2014 in TF Cornerstone‘s new mixed-use high-rise. This space–the tenant’s first in Queens–will offer preschool classes as well as after school, art, music and fitness programs. Read More

Cover Story

Long Island City’s Renaissance

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Miami native Rick Rosa stuffed a few bags with his belongings in 1999 and headed for New York City.

Though not the postcard image he envisioned, he stumbled upon the industrial waterfront neighborhood of Long Island City, where he found an affordable pad, close to Manhattan, with a yard for his dog, Benny.

“The neighborhood Read More

The Sit-Down

Sandy Zuckerbrot, The Lion of Long Island City, On Its Past and Future

Sandy Zuckerbrot

With a wealth of experience across industrial, retail and investment real estate, Sandy Zuckerbrot of Sholom & Zuckerbrot LLC has seen Long Island City and the rest of New York transform along with his own business. Boasting a portfolio of 1.5 million square feet occupied by tenants including Walmart, CVS, the United States government and Home Depot, the 76-year-old real estate veteran spoke with The Commercial Observer last week about the history of his 50-year-old, family-owned company, the transformation of Long Island City and a proposal to change its name to LIC.

The Commercial Observer: Give us some background on Sholom & Zuckerbrot?

Mr. Zuckerbrot: I am a co-founder of the company, which started 7/11/62, which is our good luck number. The company was initially started by two people, [myself] and Ronald Sholom, and we were partners for 33 years. We built up a company of six offices. We had offices in Long Island City, Garden City, N.Y., Manhattan at the Flatiron Building, in Hasbrouck Heights, N.J., Edison, N.J., and Parsippany, N.J. For many, many years we ran this very, very successfully, and we built up a staff of 150 sales reps and support staff.

What areas did you focus on early on?

The area of specialty, when we first started our business, was industrial real estate, and the first office we opened was in Long Island City—and in those days Long Island City was a very heavy-duty, smokestack-type industry city. So you had every conceivable type of operation.

In the early days, many, many companies in lower Manhattan were being pushed out because of the inadequate operations, terrible elevator facilities, and the difficulty moving inventory in and out. Because of the limited access they had, we were looking for more attractive facilities, and Long Island City offered the one-story building, high ceiling, easy loading. It was very costly for companies to operate in multistory buildings in Manhattan. Manhattan was a feeder to Long Island City.

As time went on, Long Island City was getting reasonably inundated with these operations, and soon we started to see New Jersey as being a feeder and started to bring companies from Manhattan to New Jersey and Long Island City.

Read More

The Sit-Down

Elghanayanville

Thomas Elghanayan

With three dozen projects underway in Long Island City, the brothers behind Rockrose Development—two of whom split to form TF Cornerstone in 2009—are poised to compete against one another for prize renters and retailers in what is rapidly becoming Queens’s answer to Williamsburg and Dumbo. TF Cornerstone chairman Thomas Elghanayan spoke to The Commercial Observer about the EastCoast, his firm’s waterfront rental complex, the infamous Rockrose Development coin toss, and his tense relationship with brother Henry Elghanayan, chief executive of Rockrose Development. Read More

The Sit-Down

Justin Elghanayan: Rockrose Development's Next Generation

Justin Elghanayan. (Photo by Kiki Conway)

In 2009, the brothers behind the Rockrose Development Corporation—Henry, Thomas and Frederick Elghanayan—divided their four-decade business partnership in half, with Frederick and Thomas spinning off to form TF Cornerstone, and Henry staying put at Rockrose with his son, Justin Elghanayan, 33. Since that relatively amicable split, in which the company’s $3 billion empire was divided in half, Henry Elghanayan has rebuilt the portfolio and elevated his son, who has taken the reins as the project manager of Linc LIC, a development in Long Island City, Queens, scheduled to include two residential towers and a retail complex that, when finished in 2013, could breathe new life into the long-simmering neighborhood. Last week, Justin Elghanayan spoke to The Commercial Observer about his family’s recent split, the future of Rockrose and his Long Island City project, which includes what could be the tallest building in Queens. Read More