West Developing LIC
right on the East River, the City hopes to
revitalize Hunter's Point with commercial
and residential development.
Noah C. Zuss
Queens West, a mammoth development project which
aims to transform the formerly inhospitable Hunters
Point industrial area into a desirable residential
neighborhood directly across the East River from
Manhattan is one
of the most ambitious and massive development
projects in the more than 200 year history of
the borough of Queens.
The project will change the face of the Queens
waterfront – making riverside property more
sought after and pricier. This massive development
project is in line with the City’s overall
goal of giving Western Queens a complete makeover
and transforming the area into one of the New
York’s most exciting and attractive residential
and commercial destinations.
The plan entails large-scale development on a
massive scale. The first step in preparation was
getting the area rezoned to allow for commercial
and residential development.
Now, the project is really rolling along, with
the finish line in sight.
The plan envisions dozens of residential towers
rising on a 75 acre patch of prime waterfront
property, directly across from midtown Manhattan.
The Queens West Waterfront Development is one
of the City’s largest and boldest mixed-use
projects in the history of New York.
This $2.3 billion development is targeted at working
professionals wishing to work close to Manhattan.
It is ideally located for commuters with easy
access to transportation.
Developers on the site are taking advantage of
panoramic river-views stretching from the Upper
East Side to downtown Manhattan, landscaped parks
and recreational areas.
They hope to provide a great location for residents,
retailers and office tenants at Queens West as
the area is transformed into a residential community.
The parcels at Queens West are ready for development,
with zoning and environmental approvals secured,
and necessary infrastructure improvements in place.
Queens West is also eligible for New York City
and State sponsored economic development incentives,
relocation assistance for residents, tax relief
and energy savings credits for businesses.
This 9.1-million-square-foot project includes
1,457 apartments, 20,000 square feet of retail
space, an early childhood learning center, 769
parking spaces and two public parks. An additional
residential tower offers 400 residential rental
apartments and 35,000 square feet of retail space
and a 150-unit condominium complex are also under
The economic impact of the project will be huge
for the borough as Queens West is expected to
generate an estimated 14,000 construction jobs
and $428 million in wages and salaries. When complete,
the development is estimated to provide nearly
10,000 full-time positions and $100 million in
sales, income, corporate and business tax revenues
for the City and State.
The Queens West project is sponsored by the New
York Empire State Development Corporation, the
New York City Economic Development Corporation
and The Port Authority of New York & New Jersey,
in cooperation with the Queens Borough President.
In October, 2006, The Port Authority Board of
Commissioners agreed to sell the agency’s
property in the Queens West development to the
City of New York.
The approved development plan calls includes 19
development parcels. Residential neighborhoods
are to be peripherally located on the north and
south ends of the site, with a commercial core
anticipated for the lower central area. When complete,
the Queens West project will house 6,400 residential
units, 2.3 million square feet of office space,
225,000 square feet of local retail, two elementary
schools, parking for over 5,500 vehicles. Also,
a 20-acre park system is interspersed among the
Retail and services will also accompany the project
with a supermarket, restaurants, and medical offices
planned to provide services to residents and businesses.
Two new elementary schools will be added as well;
a 650-student pre K to fifth grade public school
and a 300-student early childhood learning center
and 40,000 square feet for various uses-including
health and day care facilities, meeting rooms,
and a public library will provide future generations
a home at Queens West.
The project will also include a recreational full-service
community center with a pool, gymnasium, fitness
center and meeting rooms.
Also, a 20-acre public park system intended for
a variety of activities, with 12 acres of a continuous
waterfront esplanade and larger multi-purpose
park areas of various sizes for residents to enjoy
will be included.
Stages one and two of a four stage development
are already under construction and two residential
buildings have been completed. The General Project
Plan has been fully reviewed and approved through
established environmental and public policy procedures.
The sponsors established the Queens West Development
Corporation (QWDC), a subsidiary of the Empire
State Development Corporation, in 1992 to facilitate
implementation of the approved development plan.
There are six members of the QWDC Board of Directors,
two from each sponsor, who play an instrumental
role in formulating policy and authorizing major
The Port Authority has committed $190 million
for property acquisition, planning and pre-development
activities and infrastructure design. The City
of New York has funded construction contracts
for building the first stage area streets, infrastructure
and parks. Portions of this work are completed
and the balance, currently underway, is scheduled
for completion in the next several years.
begins for Hunter’s Point developments
By Michael Lanza
Mayor Michael Bloomberg will leave many legacies
when his term expires a little more than a year
from now – some positive, many controversial.
Despite his habit of jumping front and center
on hot-button political issues, the mayor’s
most visible legacy probably won’t be his
stand against global warming or his position on
same-sex marriage. Instead, it will probably involve
his sweeping development initiatives – reclaiming
stagnant waterfront property in a city where many
assumed land resources had long been exhausted.
The city began what will be an eight-month rezoning
certification process, a Uniform Land Use Review
Procedure, on Monday for one of the mayor’s
major waterfront initiatives in Queens.
The Hunter’s Point South project seeks to
add 5,000 housing units across 30-acres along
the East River coastline in Long Island City.
The development will provide nearly 60 percent
of its units at an affordable fixed rate for middle-income
families, making $50,000 to $158,000 per year,
according to projections by the New York City
Economic Development Corporation.
Bloomberg said that the beginning of the ULURP
process for Hunter’s Point and other development
projects was “a major step forward in our
five-borough plan to revitalize the waterfront,
create mixed-use neighborhoods on once blighted
or underutilized land, and protect existing neighborhoods
The Hunter’s Point project also seeks to
reserve 10-acres for retail and community spaces.
“It is a vital part of the mayor’s
$7.5 billion New Housing Marketplace plan, the
goal of which is to provide 165,000 units in affordable
housing over 10-years,” Janel Patterson,
a spokeswoman for the NYCEDC, said.
The mayor plans to acquire the land from Empire
State Development and the Metropolitan Transit
Authority, who believe the city is more capable
of developing the massive housing initiative,
Patterson said. If the project survives the ULURP
process, the city will begin seeking private bids
to develop the land to meet the community’s
Despite the project’s clear goals, details
on any initial designs and cost estimates are
still thin – and will remain thin until
the ULURP process is complete.
“It’s all conceptual at this point,”
Like many of the mayor’s initiatives, Hunter’s
Point South is not without controversy. With the
nation on the cusp of economic crisis and in a
borough where the median annual household income
barely broke $51,000 according to the U.S. Census
Bureau’s 2006 American Community Survey,
community leaders are questioning the mayor’s
Community Board 2 Chairman Joseph Conley believes
that the Hunter’s Point South developments
should reflect the economic diversity of the surrounding
community, not simply cater to one or two income
“We’d like to see a percentage set
aside for middle-income; a percentage for low-income;
a percentage for senior citizens; a percentage
for civil servants – cops, teachers, fireman
and nurses,” Conley said. “The 60
percent (middle-income) needs to have 20 to 30
percent set aside for lower-income groups.”
The Hunter’s Point project’s nearby
relative, dubbed Queens West - North, drew criticism
for its inflated luxury housing prices, far outside
the means of the average Queens resident.
“In 1989 we were saying we had million dollar
views of Manhattan – we never thought you’d
actually need a million dollars to move there,”
Despite disagreements over pricing, as well as
some zoning and crowding issues, Conley is confident
that they’ll be able to work out a compromise.
“It’s a very exciting project,”
Plaza Garage at Center of Construction
By Noah Zuss
Development is the order of the day in Long Island
City with the area rezoned and ready for a renaissance.
Formerly an industrial patchwork of factories
and warehouses, Mayor Michael Bloomberg has staked
much of his legacy on transforming the area into
a desirable residential and commercial hub.
Along with major housing redevelopment projects,
the city will alter several streets in the area
to allow for more neighborhood growth.
Consistent with the City’s overall efforts
to assist development in Long Island City, the
Economic Development Corporation’s first
step was to issue a Request for Proposals for
development of the Queens Plaza Municipal Garage
in October 2000.
The garage is located at the intersection of Queens
Plaza South and Jackson Avenue. Its public parking
capacity is 1,150 spaces and it also includes
180,000 square feet of commercial space.
Ground floor retail and office uses occupy a portion
of the Queens Plaza South front and the entire
Jackson Avenue facade. Under the rezoning proposal,
an approximately 1.5 million square foot building
could be constructed on the site. Developers of
the site will be required to retain public parking
access at the garage.
Community Board 2 Chairperson Joseph Conley commended
the project. “Everybody’s anxious
for project to get started, it’s long overdue,”
he said. And it will improve the quality of life
in Long Island City.”
In her state of the borough speech in January
Helen Marshall, Queens Borough President praised
the work happening at Queens Plaza.
“Queens Plaza and Jackson Avenue, is poised
to undergo a $30 million dollar beautification
and traffic improvement project,” she said.
Thanks to a $20 million dollar grant from Congresswoman
Maloney, we will break ground this year. And when
completed you will see a beautiful oasis-a brand
new entrance to Queens with greenery and open
She continued by mentioning developer Tishman-Speyer’s
work on the garage.
“The long-awaited renovation of The Queens
Plaza garage is moving ahead. Tishman-Speyer is
finalizing negotiations for the development that
will include office and retail tenants and much
needed parking. The project is expected to bring
6,000 jobs to the area.
In 2005, Mayor Bloomberg announced the City’s
$30 million commitment to fund key infrastructure
improvements in Long Island City, a 37-block area
the City rezoned to spur commercial and residential
“Long Island City represents one of the
City’s best opportunities to develop a central
business district and create capacity for job
growth, a key part of our economic development
strategy,” said Mayor Bloomberg. “Expansion
and commitment to create more jobs is a clear
sign of the business community’s confidence
in Long Island City. Combined with the City’s
$30 million allocation for key infrastructure
improvements, this new building will prove to
be a tremendous boost for the area.”
Other commendations for the development come from
the Economic Development Corporation.
“From the start, our Administration has
followed a five-borough economic development strategy
that focuses on creating jobs and growing diverse
areas of the City,” said EDC President Andrew
Alper. “By investing public dollars to improve
Long Island City’s infrastructure, we are
creating the conditions to catalyze additional
In 2002, the Administration identified Long Island
City as a major opportunity to attract and retain
commercial businesses because of its proximity
to Midtown and its superior transportation access.
To encourage commercial development, the City
allocated $30 million to reconstruct Queens Plaza,
Jackson Avenue and other local streets.
Officials say the reconstruction of Queens Plaza
will improve traffic flow, increase pedestrian
safety and enhance the environment through streetscape
improvements and the creation of 1.5 acres of
The City received $17 million in federal funding
for the project including $7.4 million from Representative
Carolyn Maloney (D-Queens).
Queens Borough President Helen Marshall will provide
The Queens Plaza project is currently still in
the design phase with construction to begin imminently.
Jackson Avenue-envisioned as the business district’s
main boulevard linking Queens Plaza with Court
Square-will also be revitalized with new planted
medians, public art, benches, street lighting,
and improvement of nearby open spaces.
Of the need for the project Congresswoman Maloney
said, “Queens Plaza has become known for
its rusty elevated tracks, traffic snarls and
take your life in your hands crosswalks—but
all that is about to change. Queens Plaza will
soon become the welcoming gateway that the residents
of Long Island City deserve.”
Long Island City officials are hailing the project
as a significant step toward attracting residential
development and business to the area, which has
been historically industrial.
“This will help Long Island City reach its
full potential as one of the great business districts
of our city. We expect this transformation to
further catalyze reinvestment in this dynamic,
transit rich and culturally distinct district,”
said Amanda Burden, the director of the New York
City Department of City Planning.
Studios still on track with it’s $1
Plaza Garage at Center of Construction
By Brad Groznik
Silvercup West was unveiled to the public in August
When built, the towering design will welcome those
traveling across the East River to the borough
of Queens with striking presence.
However, rumors have surfaced from an inquiry
by “New York Magazine” that the project,
slated to start this year, is stalled.
“The project is now in the ‘post-approval
or pre-development’ phase, where almost
all of the activity is behind the scenes,”
said Silvercup spokesman Lee Silberstein in an
e-mail. “The next level of design, determining
site conditions, negotiating with potential partners
and tenants and working with the public sector
to ensure that the site will be available as promised
are all happening now. So there is no truth in
the statement that the project is not moving forward
– it is in the typical ‘quiet period’
before construction actually starts.”
The approved plans designed by acclaimed architect
Richard Rogers shows an expansion of its studio
space with a new sound stage 1,000 apartments,
retail shops, a gym and revived waterfront for
the cool price of $1 billion.
According to Silberstein, the Long Island City
studio has “never been busier.” Five
of the seven television pilots being filmed in
New York City are are using the Queens space.
American and foreign commercial producers are
working there as well.
“We expect that the studios provided in
Silvercup West will help fill the demand for additional
production space in New York City,” Silberstein
said. “It is important that the City remains
economically viable and that it has the needed
infrastructure, because the industry generates
billions of dollars in economic activity and creates
thousands of jobs that are a real access point
to the middle class.”
Silberstein said Silvercup has established a series
of relationships with nearby organizations like
Socrates Park, Queens Museum of Art, Long Island
City Business Development Corporation and Business
Improvement District, Museum of the Moving Image
and Queens Theatre in the Park.
Than A Summer Destination
By Ben Hogwood
Development along the Rockaways is well underway
and there is plenty more to come, with some residential
communities of the Arverne by the Sea complete
and the project known as Arverne East expected
to get underway later this year.
Also, the Department of City Planning Monday initiated
the start of the public approval process for the
Rockaway peninsula to make sure future development
in the area is in accordance with the current
Arverne by the Sea is the larger of the projects
and will consist of 2,282 residential units, a
30,000-square-foot YMCA, a Super Stop & Shop,
a Retail Transit Plaza and an estimated 200,000
square feet of shopping and fine dining facilities
A spokesman with the Department of Housing Preservation
and Development, the lead government agency on
the both projects, said 590 of the residential
units planned for Arverne by the Sea have been
completed. Another 266 are under construction
and slated for completion by the end of the summer.
The remaining units will be completed over a five
Kathy Sheck, senior vice president for the Beachwood
Organization which is working on this project,
said people have already moved in to the Sands
and Palmer’s Landing communities and The
Breakers - the community currently under development
- is about 90 percent sold. Also, a groundbreaking
ceremony for the YMCA was held earlier this year,
though plans for the structure are still being
finalized with the community. Both the YMCA and
the Super Stop & Shop are slated for completion
by the end of the year.
Arverne East, also known as Beach Green, consists
of 1,650 residential units and is expected to
begin in the fall. The project also includes 250,000
square feet of retail space, a 35-acre nature
preserve, a 15-acre dune preserve, a town square
and possibly a hotel.
Both projects have a percentage of the units reserved
for families that meet certain income limits.
Councilman James Sanders (D-Laurelton) represents
the area being developed and said he was pleased
to see the property, which has been empty for
the past 30 years, finally being developed.
“In the Rockaways, we have been praying
for these projects for more than 30 years,”
Sanders said homes in that area were torn down
30 years ago when the City wanted to revitalize
the area. However, the project was never finished
and the lots sat empty until just over three years
ago, when development began.
And while he was looking forward to the development
of Arverne East, he said he had concerns that
so many residential units were being developed,
but construction of a school had not been included
at this time.
“We have to correct this,” Sanders
Without a new school in the area, students would
be pushed into the other public and private schools,
which Sanders said are already operating over
capacity. “This is a point of concern,”
Sanders said. “We have time to work it out
if there is a good faith attempt to do so.”
Dolores Orr, chairperson of Community Board 14,
agreed and said the Department of Education has
said a new school wasn’t needed at this
“We all know that not to be the case,”
While the department has not provided funding
to construct a new school, Orr said land has been
Orr said she liked the overall look of the project,
but had some concerns with the number of residential
units. “I don’t know it’s the
best use for the land,” she said. “I
would like to see more retail and recreation than
Another concern Orr has is with traffic. She said
the Department of Housing Preservation and Development
did not include a section of Rockaway Beach Boulevard
for expansion from two lanes to four lanes. As
a result, she expected traffic to bottleneck.
As far as the City’s plans to rezone the
project, Orr said it was a long time coming. City
Planning Director Amanda M. Burden announced the
beginning of the public review process for a comprehensive
rezoning proposal of 280 blocks of the peninsula.
The proposed rezoning is a block-by-block approach
that reinforces and protects the special character
of five Rockaway neighborhoods: Far Rockaway,
Edgemere, Somerville, Rockaway Park and Rockaway
The proposal is an attempt by Mayor Mike Bloomberg’s
administration to curb overdevelopment in the
“The Rockaway peninsula has evolved from
a summertime destination to a series of unique
and varied oceanfront communities, but today’s
zoning is outdated and does not relate to the
area’s existing character,” said Burden.
four-level shopping center provides Queensites
with one-stop shopping.
Park Mall II Site In Flux
By Juliet Werner
Vornado Realty Trust, the developer in charge
of Rego Park Mall II, recently told Community
Board 6 that the residential component of the
mixed-use project has been put on hold.
Dan Berger, Vornado vice president of design and
construction, assured CB 6 members he would return
in the next couple of months with an update.
“Keeping the lines of communication open
is very important,” CB 6 District Manager
Frank Gulluscio said.
When the project was first proposed in 2005, the
residential component was vague. Vornado returned
to CB 6 in 2006 with a more detailed proposal,
which included two residential towers with some
400 units. When the property owner, Alexander’s
Inc., submitted a report to the SEC earlier this
year, the number of units had slipped to 315.
Gulluscio said the design will accommodate residential
units if necessary.
“It will be ready to go from an engineering/architectural
standpoint,” he said. “They’re
not walking away from the project.”
In the meantime, construction continues on the
retail component of the project with completion
expected for the end of the summer. The initial
groundbreaking on the site took place in October
2006 and construction began in earnest in May
Adjacent to the Queens Mall, Rego Park Mall II
comprises the entire square block bounded by the
Horace Harding Service Road (of the Long Island
Expressway), 97th Street, 62nd Drive and Junction
The four-level, 600,000 square foot shopping center
will include a 134,000-square foot-Century 21
department store, a 138,000-square-foot Home Depot
and a 132,000-square-foot Kohl’s, as well
as a parking deck containing approximately 1,400
spaces. The cost is estimated at $410 million,
of which $156.7 million had been spent by Dec.
31 of last year.
Councilwoman Helen Sears (D-Jackson Heights) said
forward momentum is in everyone’s best interest.
“Any development doesn’t like delays,”
Sears said, adding, “We knew the entire
project wouldn’t be done in one fell swoop.”
She said the parking garage and commercial component
were the priorities.
“What I find in Western Queens is you can’t
have enough good shopping,” Sears said.
“They’ll have one-stop shopping in
Queens. That’s the most important thing.”
public presentation on the effect of rezoning.
Village To Change Jamaica
A new day is on the horizon for Downtown Jamaica.
The business district will soon undergo a facelift
as new development dots the landscape.
A 368 swath of land was approved for rezoning
by a vote of 45 to 3 by the City Council in September.
The rezoning effort is the largest one ever undertaken
by the Bloomberg Administration.
According to the Department of City Planning’s
Web site, the current zoning in the vicinity limits
growth and vitality in transit accessible areas,
especially surrounding the AirTrain. Existing
zoning also allows out of character development
in residential neighborhoods and does not differentiate
density between major thoroughfares and residential
The improvements and rezoning mapped out in the
plan includes preserving lower density residential
neighborhoods, developing the area surrounding
the AirTrain with hotels and offices on industrial
land. The plan also calls for the Hillside Avenue
corridor to be rezoned to R6A, which would allow
a building to be at maximum 70 feet in height.
For the land around the AirTrain to be developed
the plan leaves room for public acquisition of
the properties in the vicinity, of which Councilman
Leroy Comrie (D-St. Albans) said there was a mitigation
plan to assist businesses owners in relocation.
“This rezoning effort will help to transform
and revitalize downtown Jamaica into a vibrant
economic engine that will create much-needed jobs
for the Southeast Queens community,” he
As of now the area around the AirTrain, which
is dubbed Airport Village will see the rise of
hotels and residential units.
According to published reports, a-16-story Marriott
Courtyard with 172 rooms, a 150-room Residence
Inn and a 150-room hotel is planned for the area.
The construction on the Marriot will start in
The area is also going to see an increase in retail
with the addition of a 929,000 square-foot, 13-story
building. It will house three floors of retail
and 10 floors of wholesale, which will focus mainly
The $260 million project is scheduled to bring
3,000 jobs to the vicinity. The building will
rise from a vacant meat parking plant located
at 94-01 Sutphin Blvd. Construction is scheduled
for the third quarter of 2008.
“This project is an excellent example of
what was envisioned by the Jamaica Plan Rezoning,”
New York City Economic Development Corporation
President Robert Lieber said. “In addition
to bringing an attractive international wholesale
merchandise mart to Jamaica, it will also offer
a home to local and national retailers and restaurants.”
There are limitations to the retailers allowed
to operate within the building. The list of unacceptable
tenants includes Dollar/99 cents stores, sellers
of pornographic material, independent non-national
cell phone and electronic retailers.
Mets have committed to using local, minority
and woman-owned businesses for the construction
House That Queens Built
Back to Top
Citi Field may have fewer seats than Shea Stadium
– 12,000 fewer to be exact – but that
doesn’t mean Queensites will be left out
in the cold.
The Mets have been working closely with the Minority
and Women-Owned Business Enterprises Program and
the Program’s Advisory Committee –
chaired by Borough President Helen Marshall and
Councilman Leroy Comrie (D-St. Albans) –
to ensure that at least 25 percent of construction
contracts were awarded to Queens-based firms and
at least 25 percent of construction contracts
were awarded to qualified M/WBE firms.
According to reports recently released by the
Mets, 36 percent of construction contracts went
to Queens-based businesses with 22 percent of
the workforce hailing from the borough. And minorities
and women have accounted for 24 percent of the
It’s an ongoing effort that the Borough
President mentioned her State of the Borough Address
earlier this year.
“I am working hard to ensure that opportunities
are available to local, minority and women owned
businesses and workers on the project,”
Hunt-Bovis, a joint venture of Hunt Construction
Group and Bovis Lend Lease, is managing construction.
Hunt-Bovis Diversity Supplier Anthony Miller tracks
the participating businesses and sends numbers
to Melva Miller, director of Business and Workforce
Development at the borough president’s office.
Requests for the names of contracted Queens businesses
went unreturned by press time.
According to the Mets, however, more than 1,350
Queens residents have been employed since construction
began in summer of 2006.
“We understand that’s a flexible number,”
Queens Chamber of Commerce Executive Vice President
Jack Friedman said. “Numbers vary on a construction
site. Still, it’s encouraging. Major development
is going on all around the borough and many times
the community gets concerned they’re going
to bring in people from outside… nonunion
workers…people from out of state.”
Mets figures also show that $179 million has gone
toward the Queens economy as a result of Citi
Field construction, with more than $175 million
in contracts awarded to Queens-based businesses.
“It’s a lot easier for us to monitor
it during the construction phase than afterwards,”
Friedman said. “Once you get your parking
or concessions in the stadium, then the Mets are
more in control, the unions, the vendors themselves.
We’ll have to watch that closely, but we’re
very satisfied with what we’re seeing so
far on the construction end.”
Queens Chamber President Al Pennisi echoed Friedman’s
“We have a lot of people in the construction
business in Queens. We thought it would be nice
to retain them for Queens-related projects,”
Pennisi said, adding, “We’re expecting
and hoping to see the same thing happen with Willets
Construction on the new stadium, slated for completion
by 2009, requires hauling 12,500 tons of steel,
2,400 pieces of stadium concrete and 1.2 million
bricks. It also entails installing 11,000 light
fixtures, 824 sports lights and 850 televisions.
A recent Citi Field newsletter announced that
approximately 90 percent of the stadium’s
structural steel frame is complete, including
the Jackie Robinson Rotunda, as well as the pouring
of structural concrete on the Promenade Level.
In addition, masonry brick walls for concession
stands and restrooms on the Field and Club Levels
are well underway. According to Mets officials,
they are meeting their construction timeline and
staying on budget.
But Comrie, who co-chairs the M/WBE Advisory Committee,
questions whether the team is actually complying
with its goal of employing local, minority and
“I think they could do better, but I’m
never satisfied,” Comrie said. “They
could exceed their goal with a little more effort.”
Neither Friedman nor Pennisi of the Queens Chamber
had details on which Queens-based businesses had
profited as a result of construction.
“Clearly there’s still been a breakdown
in communication,” Comrie said. “A
couple of businesses had reached out and tested
the water a couple months ago...I haven’t
followed up with them to see who got called back,
but if it’s done correctly it should not
be a system that creates animosity.”
Crossing will open this summer.
Faces The Future
Much has been written about the boom in Flushing
The last stop on the No. 7 train has developed
into one of the centers for Asian small business
in the City and the infrastructure to facilitate
this boon is growing with the ambitions of its
One developer in the area is Michael Meyer, president
of TDC Development which is part of F&T Group.
TDC Development is responsible for much of the
changes seen on Flushing’s Main Street.
Flushing Mall, the Prince Center, Sanford Tower
and Queens Crossing are all TDC projects completed
in downtown Flushing. They are also a finalist
for the Willets Point Development.
Of the projects Meyer has worked on, the nearly
completed Queens Crossing is his shining jewel.
“I was sold out [of office space] before
it was completed,” he said. “Some
of the shops are opening just this week. Once
we have a hard opening this summer, I’m
confident it’s going to be a great success.”
With all the small business thriving in the area,
Meyer said Queens Crossing fills a specific demand
for office space.
“What Queens crossing does, is it marks
an era for Flushing, when it doesn’t become
so ethnically insulated,” he said. “You’re
going to see Flushing become a destination.”
Marilyn Bitterman, community board 7 district
manager, said her board has no say in the changing
face of Flushing.
“A lot of the development is as of right,
meaning it is being built for the zoning,”
she said. “The community board has no input.”
Bitterman said some of the developers are nice
enough to seek community input. In those cases,
the board will always ask for more parking but
the development will normally be built to code,
with what Bitterman said is insufficient.
However, the board and the City does have a say
in TDC’s Flushing Commons project which
is planned to be built on a municipal parking
When the project was proposed and TDC won the
bid, the cost of the mixed-use office building
hovered around $450 million dollars. In the four
years since, the project has stalled and the price
of construction has nearly doubled, Meyer said.
“Those delays have occurred in unprecedented
spikes in construction cost so almost a doubling
of the entire project,” he said.
Meyer said he hopes to begin the year-long review
procedure in June and begin construction next
Councilman John Liu (D-Flushing) sees it differently.
“They have been saying that for two years,”
he said. “That project is dead.”
Much of the controversy surrounding the Flushing
Commons, or sometimes referred to as Municipal
Lot 1, stems from the City asking for more parking,
a permanent rent subsidy and a youth center that
have yet to appear in blueprints.
Still Meyer remains optimistic in his endeavor.
“If you want be a developer and you’re
not an optimist, don’t go into business,”
Meyer was appointed president of TDC Development
in 2005 and has been responsible for oversight,
acquisition and development for F&T Group.
How did you get started in business?
My father started a family business. I helped
the business right after college even though I
was an English Literature major and then found
out I was pretty good at it and went off to the
Harvard business school. Then I got into international
trade and winded up working for the Port Authority
for New York and New Jersey heading up some of
their international trade. When they bought the
Vista Hotel [between the two World Trade Towers],
they needed someone with a business background
so they had me oversee the management and the
financing of the hotel. That’s how I got
into real estate because hospitality is a segment
of the real estate industry. Then I got picked
up ultimately by Tishman Realty and Construction
to head two convention city hotels in Miami, Fla.
That’s what really got me into real estate
What’s changed since you got
The whole world. My touch point in Queens didn’t
happen until ‘95 or ‘96 when I put
that [Request For Proposal] out in the Wall Street
Journal for Queens County Savings Bank, so my
exposure is really the last 11 years and what’s
changed is extraordinary. Flushing was already
starting to become the amazing economic success
story as the former Alan Hevesi said “not
just of New York City but of the State of New
York.” It was already the center for multi-Asian
ethnicity and they were already changing it from
a blighted crime-ridden more-manufacturing-warehouse
area to the center of small business that it’s
become. So it was already starting and now, it’s
just become extraordinary.
What advice would you give a young
If you read about Queens you see that it’s
going to have a huge amount of development activity.
That’s the borough with a lot of potential.
And if you’re going to focus on real estate
development, I think Queens is a good borough
for focusing. There’s a lot of opportunity
for building residential and retail.
What’s the secret to your success?
I worked for my father and started in a business
with someone who was very entrepreneurial. That
gave me the ability to relate and understand people
like [Flushing developer] Michael Lee who is a
visionary and very entrepreneurial. Number two,
I started in international trade and have a knowledge
and sensitivity to international cultures. I’ve
also been involved with public private businesses.
So I have the ability to understand the political
dimension very well and weave the business and
political dimensions that are required in large
What have you failed at?
I think when I graduated college and entered my
fathers business, he was expanding from brokerage
and trading of food and got into the production
and processing of food. And it ultimately failed
and it was a huge blow to the business. And I
learned from that and one of the reasons I wanted
to go to Harvard business school and learn to
get it right. I learned how important finance
is to the success of a business. You can have
the greatest idea, you can have great demand for
a product but if you don’t have the right
capitalization, you can be doomed to failure.
How do you see yourself affecting
Working with Michael Lee and Sunny Chiu, the founders
of F&T Group and TDC, I’ve also brought
a vision. I have help shape Flushing based on
my experiences to the extent that we have one
for Flushing Commons. I’ve also been persuasive
to Michael and Sunny to acquire more property
in downtown Flushing in order to achieve his vision
of making Flushing a downtown metropolis.
What’s has been difficult about
developing in Flushing?
What’s very difficult, and this is true
with all major developments and also true in Flushing,
is parking. Downtown Flushing is very congested
and our Flushing Commons project is on an existing
municipal parking lot and there’s a lot
of controversy whenever you build a large project
because it has impacts on the public. And people
often don’t understand the complexity of
these issues and leads to a lot of controversy
and sometime manipulation, depending on who’s
You know, sometimes people are fearful and certain
groups appear to those fears. Working and educating
people through that, it’s tough. As an example,
there was opposition to Queens Crossing and now
when they see what incredible quality and how
it’s changing Main Street, people are asking
“why didn’t you build more?”
Sky View Parc will finish construction in
For Luxury High-Rise
More than 25-years after purchasing the land,
Muss Development is finally putting the finishing
touches on its Flushing jewel – bucking
the bear mauling the real estate market in the
The six-tower, 3.3 million-square-foot, billion-dollar
behemoth – Sky View Parc, will open its
first three towers and retail space in the summer
of 2009 after an intense 4-year construction run.
“We’re creating a very unique project,
there’s nothing else like it in Queens,”
Jason Muss, a principal at Muss Development said.
The former Con Edison site will include 1,100
housing units in six towers, 75-feet above an
800,000-square-foot retail center on a 14-acre
site located at College Point Boulevard and Roosevelt
Avenue. The site will also include parking spaces
for 2,500 cars.
The luxury apartments are retailing for $400,000
to $2 million and feature stripped oak hardwood
floors, nine-foot ceilings, large open windows,
in-home washers and dryers, open granite kitchens
with GE energy-efficient stainless steel appliances
and marble bathrooms.
Residents of Sky View Parc can expect an onsite
pool, tennis and basketball courts, a running
track, golf putting greens and driving nets, a
health club and spa, children’s play areas,
24-hour doormen, concierge and valet parking,
onsite shopping and a panoramic view of Manhattan,
Flushing Meadows-Corona Park, major bridges and
the Long Island Sound.
“Queens is very under-retailed and is desperately
in need of housing, especially the kind of high-quality-luxury
product that we’re producing,” Muss
said. “and nowhere in Queens offers anything
close to the kinds of amenities and convenience
that we offer.”
The retail space, which is already nearly three-quarters
leased, will include national retailers, a supermarket
and 30,000 square feet of restaurants.
The Flushing condos are selling briskly, Muss
said, despite the national housing bust. Sky View
Parc began its phase one sales earlier this year,
with 448 condominiums hitting the market. Nearly
a month later, Muss announced that it had sold
almost half of the available space.
“Sky View Parc shows that even in a down
market, people will still flock to quality product,
especially when it is priced right,” Muss
said. “Everyone who has visited the sales
office has been blown away by our 9-foot by 14-foot
model of the project, which shows the four-acre
rooftop park, the amazing range of amenities and
beautiful residential buildings.”
The buyers have been diverse, Muss said, attracting
people from throughout the metropolitan area,
including Queens, Long Island, Manhattan, Brooklyn
and New Jersey.
The site’s proximity to major transit hubs
and Queens landmarks has also been attracting
buyers, Muss said. Sky View Parc is a stone’s
throw from Main Street, the 7 train and the Long
Island Rail Road, all two blocks from the buildings.
It is situated between LaGuardia and JFK airports,
and within walking distance of the new Citi Field,
the U.S. Tennis Association’s National Tennis
Center and Flushing Meadows-Corona Park.
“You can get anywhere you wanna go,”
Muss said. “We’re putting much needed
high-end housing and quality shopping within very
close reach of 2.5 million Queens residents.”
The project has also been an economic boon for
the area, Muss said. It has added thousands of
temporary construction jobs, he said, and will
eventually add hundreds of permanent service jobs
within its retail and residential centers.
The New York City developer recently celebrated
its centennial birthday. Founded in 1906 by Russian
immigrant Isaac Muss, the family owned and operated
business has completed more than 15 million square
feet of commercial, residential, industrial and
retail space throughout the five boroughs.
In the past decade, Muss Development has built
more than 5 million square feet of space, including
several office and retail buildings, nearly 1,000
hotel rooms and more than 1,500 residential homes.
Yards and auto repair businesses are currently
prevalent in the area.
Point Redevelopment Moves Closer
Once again, the 61.4 toxic acres in Queens known
as Willets Point is back in the spotlight, and
once again it is a highly controversial subject
with emotions running high on every side.
Mayor Michael Bloomberg announced Monday the Department
of City Planning had initiated the seven-month
Uniform Land Use Review Procedure (ULURP) for
the project. The plans will now be reviewed in
a series of public hearings and will go before
the local community boards, the Borough President,
the City Planning Commission and the City Council.
“At Willets Point, our plan will transform
what is now a highly contaminated area into a
vibrant, mixed-use neighborhood, with new housing,
parks and thousands of jobs,” said Bloomberg.
But few of the partners needed for the project
to become reality are behind it, including Councilman
Hiram Monserrate (D-Corona), who represents that
Monserrate wrote a letter to Deputy Mayor Robert
Leiber Monday opposing the plan. The letter was
signed by 29 of the 51 Councilmembers.
“We are writing to adamantly oppose moving
forward with the current redevelopment plan for
Willets Point,” he stated. “The plan
is deeply flawed and the opportunity for public
consideration has been dangerously absent.”
City Council Speaker Christine Quinn issued a
statement saying when a majority of Councilmembers
signal their concern about a project, all parties
involved should take notice.
“While there is still time to work out any
differences, I am disappointed that the plan was
certified when there is clearly such adamant opposition
in the Council,” she stated.
The plans presented for the land include 5,500
housing units, a hotel, considerable amounts of
office and retail space and possibly a convention
center. The City Economic Development Corporation
(NYCEDC), which is leading the project, proposed
an alternative plan April 16 that did not include
development of the convention center.
Borough President Helen Marshall has long been
an advocate for redevelopment of the area, but
recently said she would be disappointed in any
plan that did not include the center.
Willets Point, located adjacent to Shea Stadium
and the Flushing Meadows-Corona Park, has a long
history of environmental abuse and neglect. In
the early 1900s, the site was used to dump ash,
providing an excellent metaphor for redevelopment
proponents who want to see its future rise, phoenix-like,
from this ground.
Today, the area is the home of auto repair and
service businesses, as well as junkyard operations.
According to the Willets Point Development Plan
Generic Environmental Impact Statement, there
is a presence of hazardous materials and a lack
of infrastructure at the site, including no sewer
allocation. The businesses there, it states, are
creating unsafe and unhealthy conditions. As of
January, 2008, there were 192 open building code
violations in the district, many issued for Work
without a Permit, Occupancy Contrary to Certificate
of Occupancy and Failure to Maintain Building.
Bloomberg’s office put out a press release
Monday stating the plan would help transform the
environmentally contaminated site into a vibrant
mixed-use community with affordable housing, parks,
a playground and would create 6,000 permanent
and 20,000 construction jobs. The release also
stated Willets Point would be the City’s
first green neighborhood and the removal of the
existing contamination would help clean the Flushing
Michael Meyer, president of TDC Development, which
is a finalist for the redevelopment project, said
he saw it as a critical link in the redevelopment
of Queens. He said it would be an “extraordinary”
lost opportunity to have the new Citi Field, replacing
Shea Stadium next year, come up next to this wasteland.
The problem many of the opponents have with the
plan is that it includes the purchase or use of
eminent domain to acquire the privately owned
land, displacing the 250 businesses which employ
Eminent domain refers to the power possessed by
the government over all property, specifically
to appropriate property for a public use. The
owner of any appropriated land is entitled to
reasonable compensation, usually defined as the
fair market value of the property.
The plan, according to Monserrate, provides no
guarantees that the displaced workers and small
businesses will be treated fairly or compensated
with meaningful benefits to the surrounding communities,
such as housing affordable to the average family.
“This plan is unacceptable, and we wish
to inform you that without significant modifications,
we will strongly oppose it, leaving no chance
of it moving forward,” Monserrate stated.
“If the plan does not meet basic standards
of public benefit, there can be no justification
for this broad use of public authority and funds,
and we will not allow the redevelopment to take
Daniel Sambucci, owner of Sambucci Bros. Inc.
Auto Salvage - one of the properties that could
get forced out of the area - said his business
has been in the Willets Point area for 50 years.
“If we had our way, we would stay here,”
he said. “We’re not a big business,
but we’ve been here a long time.”
He said he has spoken with the NYEDC about relocating,
but he believes doing so would cause him to lose
“I wouldn’t know what to do if we
left,” he said.
Point Police Academy
Academy To Be Built In College Point
Point Tow pound will be home to a new Police
The New York Police Department has selected a
35-acre Tow Pound in College Point as the site
for its new Police Academy.
The current academy, on East 20th Street in Manhattan,
opened in 1964 and by all accounts is decrepit.
Construction on the Queens facility will begin
in November 2009 and is expected to last three
Still in the preliminary conceptual design stage,
the new academy would consolidate many of the
NYPD’s existing training facilities currently
scattered across the City; the firing range is
in the Bronx, the emergency-vehicle course is
in Brooklyn. The campus’ proposed facilities
were described by NYPD Inspector Anthony Tria
at a public scoping meeting on April 3.
“The total development size will be approximately
1,893,600 gross square feet of indoor training
facilities, classrooms, related administrative
and support space, a police museum, a visiting
police/lecturer dormitory facility, a tactical
village, K-9 units, an outdoor track and an indoor
pistol training facility,” the scope read
In addition, the $1.5 billion Police Academy will
have an above-ground parking lot with between
1,800 and 2,000 spaces on-site. According to Tria,
parking and traffic ranked highest among community
members’ concerns at the public scoping
“We’re taking those comments into
account,” Tria said, adding that a final
scope was being prepared. “They’re
very involved in the process and I appreciate
their input. It doesn’t do me any good to
hold a hearing and not have people show up.”
The Site Selection process requires compliance
with standard Uniform Land Use Review Procedures.
In addition, it is possible that the development
will necessitate special permits and/or zoning
The campus, bounded by 28th Avenue to the north,
Ulmer Street to the east, 31st Avenue to the south
and College Point Boulevard to the west, will
accommodate up to 2,000 recruits in one graduating
class, with up to 4,000 recruits graduating per
year. Personnel on-campus will include 1,500 officers
for in-service training, 1,369 general staff and
approximately 143 maintenance workers.
The Academy’s courses emphasize physical
fitness and integrity as well as firearms skills
and driving training. The current course catalogue
includes classes on everything from the tactical
expandable baton to hostage negotiation.
CB 7 District Manager Marilyn Bitterman said the
development so far satisfies the needs of both
the NYPD and the community.
“From the police’s point of view,
consolidating operations into one location makes
better organizational sense,” Bitterman
said, adding, “I think more of a police
presence will add to the community feeling safer.”