Real Estate

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A Long Island City townhouse priced at $3.25 million has received several offers over $3 million possibly making it a record for the area. According to the broker, some offers were under $3 million and some over including some that were all cash and others not contingent on financing. The 21 foot-wide brick townhouse at 531 51st Avenue is set up as a four bedroom owners duplex with a finished basement playroom that includes its own entrance. It also has a 1,000 square foot two bedroom, two bathroom top floor rental with a roof deck that could be combined into the main house. Prices have been rising dramatically in parts of the borough according to the Wall Street Journal which first reported the offers on the home today. According to a report by the Real Estate Board of New York, sales prices of one to three family homes were up nine percent in the second quarter this year compared to last year. The median sales price borough-wide for these homes was $475,000. Prices in Astoria were up 27 percent in that period. However, prices in areas hit most severely by Hurricane Sandy including the Rockaways and Howard Beach were down by as much 30 percent.

City’s Housing Bounce Spreads Beyond Manhattan [WSJ]
521 51St Avenue [Core] GMAP

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When Sally Jones, a Carroll Gardens, Brooklyn home renovation blogger who writes Renov8or, started looking to upgrade from a one-bedroom (pictured above) to a two-bedroom apartment, she quickly realized that the neighborhood, and even the borough she had long called home, was no longer in her price range. Here’s her tale of finding her new home.

You know the neighborhood in Brooklyn that everyone loves right now — the one near Prime Meat and Buttermilk Channel and Black Gold and Trader Joe’s and Fairway? The one with all those brownstones with front gardens and bathtub madonnas? Yeah, Carroll Gardens. That one. I’m moving out of that neighborhood and I’m heading for Queens.

Crazy, right?

It’s not that I don’t love Carroll Gardens anymore. It’s not the much-discussed-among-the-natives “French” taking over the hood thanks to the immersion schools (though my friends with kids tell me that’s a real game-changer). It’s not even the much-maligned “hipsters” moving in. I welcomed the great restaurants and food shops and vinyl record stores, hey, even the hipsters. Live and let live.

It’s not any of that. To paraphrase a failed candidate for governor: The rents are just too damned high!

And as rents climb, purchase prices follow. A good thing for me The Seller. For me The Buyer, not so much.

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PropertyShark compiled some numbers for us to create a market snapshot of Astoria, looking at residential sales trends in the neighborhood since 2005. Above, you can see the median price for all residential sales hovers around $400,000, despite the boom in 2007 and the expected drop in early 2009. Despite a steady number of sales last year, prices fluctuated from just under $400,000 to just over $500,000. After the jump, check out graphs for the condo and co-op sales trends, as well as the single- and two-family sales trends. Condo and co-op prices also saw huge drops in early 2009. Prices, however, are on the rise this year with a median sales price of $325,000 in the first quarter of 2013. Prices of single- and two-family homes are more stable, mostly in the $600,000 to $700,000 range. The most expensive residential sales in the neighborhood, according to PropertyShark, are 31-30 38 Street for $1,650,000 (purchased in 2006), 30-53 35th Street for $1,350,000 (in 2008), and 25-34 31st Street for $1,300,000 (this April). Currently, you can get an apartment in Astoria for as cheap as $99,000 and a home as expensive as $2,175,990.

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For nearly fifty years, the Bank of Manhattan tower facing the new Queens Plaza and the elevated train tangle was the undisputed king of all Queens buildings. The 15-story building, finished in 1927, looks like something The Fountainhead’s Howard Roark himself might have designed. That year, American architecture was shedding Beaux Arts and adopting the more streamlined motifs of the Machine Age.

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The Business Improvement District (BID) in Jamaica is in the midst of a major marketing campaign aimed at raising the profile of the neighborhood in the minds of shoppers and business owners. As part of a campaign with the tagline “Hip Meets Historic meets Downtown,” the BID (whose website is at jamaicacenter.org) is touting Downtown Jamaica’s demographics (86,000 pedestrians, 260,000 visitors, 158,000 workers), its connectivity (20 minutes to Manhattan, 8 minutes to JFK) and its real estate development pipeline (a 368-block rezoning to pave the way for more than 5,000 new units of housing and more than 1,000 new hotel rooms). The BID has also started a window redesign program to help local merchants–check out one of the before-and-after shots on the jump. And if you are really interested, you can check out the BID’s annual report here.

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The one-story warehouse at 530 47th Avenue, between Vernon Avenue and 5th Street, is not long for this world. The Department of Buildings issued a demolition permit this May, although the owners were slapped with a stop work order a few weeks ago for not properly installing the scaffolding. In August of last year, the DOB approved a building application for a new four-story mixed-use building with two residential units to rise in the warehouse’s place. The DOB has yet to issue building permits, so there’s no word on how soon a new building’s going up. Of course, this warehouse has to go down first! GMAP

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Apartments are now available for rent at a former office building at 41-15 29th Street near Queens Plaza North in Long Island City. The apartments are being marketed by FiveBoroRealty, and move-ins are expected to start at the end of July or early August.

The open-plan, loft-style apartments start at $1,600 and go up to $4,000. For an extra charge per month, they are available furnished. Many apartments have  views of Manhattan; apartments on the 10th floor and higher will have outdoor space as well. Once construction is completed, there will be a doorman, on-site laundry, and a fitness center. The building does not yet appear to have its Certificate of Occupancy.

The 12-story building, originally built in 1928, has had its share of problems in recent years. After getting approval to convert the building from office to residential space, the developer, Allied Properties, was reportedly unable to get financing to complete the renovations. The building was sold in May 2010 for $12,750,000.

Commercial space is also available on the ground floor; a women’s clinic is slated to take the second floor. A new Hilton Garden Inn is currently under construction in the adjacent lot. GMAP

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Tons of work is going down at the one-story commercial space at 78-02 Northern Boulevard, on the corner of 78th Street. (An old PropertyShark photo shows us that once upon a time, this was a Mandee’s clothing store.) DOB permits call for a full gut and rehab and the architects listed are Architect’s Loft, PLLC. So what’s to come? We haven’t heard back from the architecture firm and attempts to get in touch with the building owner were unsuccessful as well. The most we know is that the owner, who is associated with Queensboro Toyota, plans to rent the space out. Considering the extent of the renovation we’d guess they already have a tenant in mind. Anybody know? UPDATE: A commenter notes that this will become an Auto Zone. GMAP

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The Long Island City Parent’s Group has come up with an interesting proposal for LIC landmark 5 Pointz, the graffiti-covered warehouse its owners plan to demolish, although it’s still unclear what’s going up in its place. The group is proposing that artists bring their graffiti to “the bare grey walls” around P.S. 1, and, well, stop fighting to save the 5 Pointz building altogether. Here’s a good chunk of what they said in their most recent email newsletter:

Was it really necessary that angry activists stop an environmentally conscious developer from building more space for people with jobs, incomes, degrees, and families? Can’t the graffiti move diagonally across the street right onto the walls of another art-friendly building owner, our own MOMA’s P.S. 1? The bare grey walls surrounding P.S. 1 like a proto-Reaganesque Cold War bunker would provide tens of thousands of square feet unadorned by windows and stairs. The hundreds of running feet of concrete walls along Jackson Avenue and 46th Avenue are highly visible to all folks who track to Queens to experience modern art, munch in the M.Wells-managed school cafeteria, and dance (or mostly hang out) at the sultry warm-up parties. Could there be a better synergy than between MOMA’s high concept art and mind-numbing street art of the aerosol kind?
Advice to aerosol activists: advocate as aggressively for the right to splash, splatter, and spray onto the MOMA-walls as you agitated against the development plans. This “concrete” solution would provide a new, better, lasting home for your graffiti: more space, more visibility, more foot traffic and maybe the museum could even carve out some office space for Jonathan Cohen’s graffiti group?
No sane developer will let artists into a building after what happened to the Wolkoff family. They were generous (and a bit clever) by parceling up brittle floors with drafty windows into artist studios and renting the spaces at rates that few real businesses would be willing to pay. But no good deed goes unpunished and the graffiti activists who had used the building facade for free are now paying back their benefactors by blocking the plans and appropriating the building.
I personally know half a dozen owners of commercial loft spaces in Long Island City who will rent to everybody but artists. After what happened to David Wolkoff there will be more.

Thoughts?

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Under construction at 70-38 Broadway in Elmhurst: a four-story building with plans for both community space and residential units. According to DOB documents, there will be 2,881 square feet of residential space and 5,228 square feet of community space. Only two dwelling units are proposed, which suggests they should be generously sized. This lot was previously home to a modest wood-frame house. The architect of record for the new development is Askon Architects. GMAP