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[IMGCAP(1)]LONG ISLAND CITY, NY-Long Island City has recently become much more active, not only residentially, but also in other sectors as well, according to Sanford Zuckerbrot, chairman of Long Island City-based Sholom & Zuckerbrot Realty. Neil Dolgin, co-president of Brooklyn-based Kalmon Dolgin Affiliates, tells GlobeSt.com that the Queens neighborhood is flourishing in some parts and is remaining industrial and commercial in others. John Reinertsen, SVP from the LIC Queens office at CB Richard Ellis, tells GlobeSt.com that perhaps in another year, the picture will be more clear as to what will be successful in the area and what will not.

[IMGCAP(2)]The area has been known as an industrial neighborhood for decades, Zuckerbrot says. He explained that the area has flourished in recent years and is outgrowing its industrial identity.

Dolgin tells GlobeSt.com that “properties along the waterfront are transforming into hi-rise apartments and the large industrial buildings are renovating to accommodate other uses, such as commercial offices,” he says. “However, it is hard to say that Long Island City is outgrowing its industrial identity.”

[IMGCAP(3)]Dolgin continues to note that “the waterfront locations have been replaced with beautiful buildings and the blight is being removed permanently, yet the area still maintains an industrial feel which many people may enjoy. The still-industrial areas are being updated with better types of businesses, many relocating from Manhattan. There has also been a dramatic push into office space from Long Island City’s historic industrial, manufacturing or warehouse heritage.”

Zuckerbrot says that the growth comprises several areas including: retail chains such as Starbucks, Applebee’s and Panera Bread; Kaufman-Astoria Studios is expanding here; the Museum of the Moving Image is expanding its space across the street from Kaufman-Astoria; the educational sector continues to expand. The Frank Sinatra School of the Arts is set to open shortly, and other schools are active in the area; there has been an enormous increase in new apartments, with no fewer than 40 new residential developments built in the area over the last few years.

However, Reinertsen tells GlobeSt.com that even with the Frank Sinatra School soon to open; there are not a lot of schools down towards the waterfront where the new residential units are all being built. “On the whole, if they were to populate the buildings, we would have a problem with schooling,” he explains. “Schools don’t site very easily.”

In the meantime, Zuckerbrot says that the supply of industrial properties in Long Island City is dropping. “With all the recent new developments and conversions, plus rezoning, there is reduced inventory of industrial sites in Long Island City,” he says. “That has actually helped the industrial market there to remain buoyant, thanks not only to the diminished supply of properties, but also to the availability of financing and of incentive programs.”

For credit-worthy deals, Zuckerbrot says that traditional loans are available, but perhaps requiring a little more equity. “And that’s because demand has remained strong,” adds Zuckerbrot. “Accordingly, despite concerns that the commercial market may be over-heating and building prices in Manhattan are somewhat down, Long Island City’s industrial buildings have become a growing target for buyers, which include users and investors.” He continues that “there is considerable competition for those buildings. Investors can typically pay a lot more than users, depending on the floor area ratio. And with the zoning changes in Long Island City, the more generous F.A.R.’s allow bigger developments,” he says.

Reinertsen tells GlobeSt.com that the area was always the “kind of premier address for industrial, and with all the rezoning in recent years, what’s left got to be more expensive.” He agrees with Zuckerbrot that industrial property is doing well. “Demand is the same or more, and there is less product,” he says. “Industrial has been steady and increasing for the past six years.

Reinertsen explains that Tishman for example an RFP on a garage site in the area and has been trolling tenants for the past three years. “If they land one, they will build it and if they don’t then they won’t and it will stay a garage site.” He notes although yes, there have been a few commercial tenants–such as Citibank and the United Nations credit facility–there hasn’t been a huge increase, which he says can partially be blamed on the lack of amenities. “When people come out here to look around for commercial space, they don’t see any amenities. In essence, the residential will help, but until that’s up and running, it will be difficult to attract tenants. …You want a 24-hour community.”

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