For Muss, Queens Remains High Priority
Daniel Geiger March 27, 2012, 10:30 a.m.
While Muss Development has focused in recent months on a huge deal brewing at its large Forest Hills office tower, the company hasn’t forgotten about other vacancies in Queens.
Last year, long time tenant Olympic Airlines, a Greek air carrier, decided not to renew 33,000 square feet it had at 70-100 Austin Street, a commercial building Muss Development owns that is also in Forest Hills.
Already, the landlord has filled the space. Muss Development just completed a lease for half of the floor, a 16,415-square-foot space that is being taken by Health Acquisitions Corporation, an outpatient healthcare center. Asking rents for the space are in the $30s per square foot and the deal stretches for 10 years.
In recent weeks prior, Muss Development signed a deal with Bilinguals Inc., an organization that specializes in helping developmentally delayed children with language training and therapy, for the other 15,500 square feet of space. Bilinguals will also take the office for 10 years.
Jason Muss, a principal at Muss Development, said that incentive programs offered by the city, which offer tenants credits against their income tax for relocating to Queens, has been one factor in helping to spur deals in the company’s portfolio of commercial properties in Queens.
“The real estate assistance program appeals to tenants,” Mr. Muss said. “It can offer up to $3,000 per employee for tenants who are coming from outside of the borough.”
Health Acquisitions didn’t use the program but Bilinguals did, Mr. Muss said.
Mr. Muss also pointed out that Forest Hills was a convenient locations for tenants because of its proximity to public transit and the highway system and is close to the region’s major airports Laguardia and JFK.
On the neighborhood’s main retail thoroughfare, 70-100 Austin Street has a collection of big name stores in its 50,000 square feet of retail space, two of which just renewed. Eddie Bauer and T.G.I. Friday’s each extended their tenancy on the ground floor of the 80,000 square foot property for five years. Barnes & Noble has a large store at the property and also recently renewed for five years and Starbucks has a location there as well. Retail rental rates at the property are about $50 per square foot Mr. Muss said.
“I think that Austin Street has benefited from people’s preference to do open air shopping rather than go to the mall,” Mr. Muss said. “A little further down Austin Street is getting $100-a-foot rents so our space offers tenants a lot of value.”
The deals come as Muss Development is in talks to have the Queens District Attorney’s Office move into about 200,000 square feet at Forest Hills Tower, a building it owns on Queens Boulevard and Union Turnpike that is one of the largest commercial buildings in Queens and one of its few Class A office locations. Mr. Muss said he could not comment on the status of that deal.
In the deal with Health Acquisitions, Gale Roseman of the brokerage company Sholom and Zuckerbrot represented both the tenant and Muss Development.