2013-07-03 / Front Page

Successful Happenings Discussed At LIC BID Meeting

BY THOMAS COGAN

David Brause of Brause Realty usually leads the annual meeting of the Long Island City Business Improvement District (LIC BID) with great enthusiasm, but he actually outdid himself this time.
“Personally, I’ve never seen a more exciting time in Long Island City,” he said.  
Brause hailed the park in the middle of Queens Plaza, completed and opened since last year’s meeting and carefully maintained, as are the medians on Jackson Avenue, by the BID; and also walking and bus tours for new employees in newly situated companies such as JetBlue Airlines, and three new hotels.  He introduced two speakers representing two developers who are doing a lot to transform Long Island City: Justin Elghanayan of Rockrose and Stephen Kotter of Douglas Elliman Real Estate. Their presentations were followed by the treasury report and the board election.  Awards were given, one of them to the LIC Arts Open.
Elghanayan said that in the wake of the development of Cornell-Technion on Roosevelt Island, a technological wave in Long Island City “will just happen”, even without inducements to tech companies and workers.  He also said a random and informal pattern of construction there would produce what he called “positive messiness”, which he welcomes, remembering messiness in recent construction in Manhattan’s Midtown South, which he also found invigorating.  He said he met a man from Google in Hunters Point and was impressed the man had come to Long Island City. If he’d been discovered there in 1993, he would have been waylaid and given a wedgie for being a tech nerd, Elghanayan said.
The construction being done by the company he represents, Rockrose, might or might not contribute to the positive messiness he celebrates, but thus far it has put three-quarters of a billion dollars into Long Island City.  A large riverfront tower was the start, but the multi-building project to be constructed on Court Square is an even larger successor. The first part of it is Linc LIC, a residential tower at 43-08 Crescent Street that will include a large supermarket on the ground floor and a “resident parc”, currently near completion across the street.  Another residential tower will have 975 apartments and 25 percent of them will be classified as affordable.  A set of low-lying buildings on Jackson Avenue will remain that way however they are developed.  One of the old Eagle buildings, a warehouse, has been purchased and will be converted into a residential building with 750 dwellings. Finally, a small section near Linc LIC will be the site of condominium units.
Douglas Elliman, the developer that is celebrating completion of its first century, has had an office on Vernon Boulevard since last year.  Kotter, its representative at the meeting, said he was advised that Elliman had to have a presence in Long Island City.  It has certainly claimed one on Queens Plaza South with a 37-story, 330-dwelling building, and another residential building on Pearson Street, comprising rentals and condos.  As well, Douglas Elliman Capital will open a local office soon.  Kotter said that earlier development in Brooklyn’s Williamsburg established it as an extension of Manhattan, so to speak, and now Long Island City also is.  This means that residents in both places are likely to evolve from renters to owners, Kotter said.
Gayle Baron, LICBID’s executive director, said that lately the BID has been extending services to a wider area.  She said that a survey has shown there has been doubling of foot traffic in Queens Plaza since 2010.  The parks program on Queens Plaza has done a good job of pulling the commercial parts together, she added.  And if there’s greater foot traffic, it might be in part because of food traffic.  She cited the establishment of Stop & Go Chicken, stemming from the one in Forest Hills that was popular with JetBlue workers when the airline was located there.  Another Queens Plaza restaurant to come will be a diner by day, and a tapas bar by night, she noted.  Looking back, she said she was, from the start of the BID, eager to be a cheerleader but had no idea there would be so much to cheer about.
The treasury report and the election of board directors were handled with dispatch by Alan Suna, treasurer, who said the BID had $432,000 in assets and a $400,000 budget; and Gary Kesner of the nominating committee, who asked for a vote on 11 Class A property owners, five Class B commercial tenants, a Class C resident, four Class D elected officials and two Class E non-voting members, all of whom were nominated and elected.  The Queens Plaza Stewardship Award went to the city Department of Parks and Recreation; the Streetscape Ambassador Award to Atlantic Maintenance; and the Community Impact Award to the LIC Arts Open, which had another successful four days in mid-May and was represented at the meeting by Karen Dimit and Richard Mazda.

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