The Plan: A Factory Conversion at 33-02 Skillman Avenue in Sunnyside, Queens


How do you turn a former car parts factory into office space?

First Pioneer Properties is grappling with that question now at 33-02 Skillman Avenue in Sunnyside. The six-story industrial building sits across from Sunnyside Yards, a 192-acre rail yard that occupies a deep trench between Long Island City, Sunnyside and Woodside in western Queens. After owning the property for 24 years, First Pioneer has teamed up with architecture and interior design firm SGA to revamp the 105,000-square-foot, wedge-shaped property between 33rd and 34th Streets.

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“We’ve been prepping it for kind of a new life,” said Brooks Slocum, a partner at SGA. The renovation work includes replacing the windows and elevators, upgrading the mechanical systems and installing individual heating and cooling units on each floor. SGA is also designing a roof deck with pavers and plantings, part of which will be reserved for a single tenant. The new lobby will be outfitted with concrete floor tiles, large, hanging lights that are being reclaimed from elsewhere in the building and old doors from the boiler to serve as wall decorations. If First Pioneer can find a retail tenant, it will build out some groundfloor retail as well.

“We’re trying to keep it more like a warehouse feel but everything else is upgraded,” Slocum said. “We’re staying within that same vibe of a warehouse building.”

Construction began last month and is expected to finish in March. The property has housed a car parts manufacturer and was more recently home to a high-end furniture builder and a picture-frame maker.

First Pioneer’s Bill Becker, who is handling leasing for the building, said he’s not sure what kind of tenants will want to move in. He pointed out that the property is only a block and a half from the 7 train and could accommodate light manufacturing or office tenants. Asking rents in the building range from $29 to $33 a square foot.

“We’re marketing to back-office tenants, distribution-type tenants, light manufacturing and industrial,” he said.