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Jesse Serwer is managing editor of Real Estate New York

NEW YORK CITY-”Development has become mega-projects and mega-companies and suits and MBAs, but family development companies are not dinosaurs,” Joshua Muss, Muss Development president, told members of the Real Estate Lenders Association at a December breakfast meeting at Club 101. “As long as you need approvals, there will be a need for the flesh and blood developer.”

Forest Hills, Queens-based Muss Development, which was founded by Muss’ grandfather, Hyman Muss, celebrated its 100th anniversary earlier this year.Muss provided RELA members with details behind several of its current projects, including the $600-million Flushing Town Center it is constructing near Shea Stadium, in Downtown Flushing. The 3.2-million-sf mixed-use project is slated to include an approximately 800,000-sf retail center, along with 1,200 apartment units and substantial parking, Muss said. Onex Real Estate is its equity partner for the construction.

“Rumor has it our anchor tenants are Home Depot, Target and Best Buy,” Muss said. “We would like to wait a little longer to announce the others because that is an all-star cast.”

The third-generation family developer added that he is not concerned about the housing slowdown affecting the residential portion of the project, because of a clear need for housing among Flushing’s insulated East Asian community, as well as the overall enduring interest in New York City. “People have to live there–you have no alternative,” he said, noting doubts over his company’s Oceana condominium project in Brighton Beach, which successfully capitalized on a need for additional housing for the area’s expanding Russian community, as well as growing outside interest in the southern Brooklyn beach community. Still, he said, “it’s very hard to get the hard facts in Flushing–it’s somewhat of a closed community.”

Muss acquired the property back in 1983, sitting on the former Con Edison site for 22 years before issuing its master plan for Flushing Town Center in 2005. That, the rezoning of the historically industrial area to allow residential development in 1998, as well as brownfield legislation that eased the burden of remediating the contaminated site, have all contributed to the project’s enormous potential for profitability, Muss explained.

“Our break even point is probably close to what people are paying for a secondary location in Manhattan,” he said.

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