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LIC real estate gathering draws record crowd

By Bill Parry

More than 200 movers and shakers gathered to discuss the latest developments and marketing trends in the Long Island City real estate market Wednesday morning at the Con Ed Learning Center.

City Councilman Jimmy Van Bramer (D-Woodside) surveyed the crowd prior to his opening remarks and then said, “This room is full of the incredible people that have made this neighborhood the hottest in the city. Everyone talks about this place when they talk about a neighborhood realizing its potential. There are great things happening here.”

The event was the 8th Annual Real Estate Breakfast presented by the LIC Partnership and sponsored by TimesLedger Newspapers, and President Elizabeth Lusskin declared it the biggest one yet.

Moderator David Brause, the President of Brause Realty, set the tone early saying, “What a great time to be in LIC real estate with 8,000 new units planned between Court Square and Queens Plaza. in addition to thousands more on the waterfront, 23 hotels with eight more under construction and industrial warehouses that don’t have to be torn down, they are converted into office space for media and tech companies.”

The moderator of the event, David Brause, of Brause Realty, helped lure companies like JetBlue and Met Life to Long Island City.

A panel of speakers included two real estate developers, a news producer from Crain’s New York Business, the vice president of Cornell NYC Tech and a Hunters Point retailer who is expanding his business into Court Square.

Cathy Dove, founder and vice president of Cornell NYC Tech, said construction on the Roosevelt Island campus will begin next year and Long Island City can expect an influx of newcomers connected to the school.

“When we decided to put the campus on Roosevelt Island, we wanted to become honorary members of the community,” she said, adding that faculty and administrators are already being hired even though construction would take a couple years.

“Our students will be looking to live, work and play in Long Island City,” Dove said. “We’d like to see more ferry service on the East River, especially with stops at Roosevelt Island.”

Amanda Fung, senior news producer at Crain’s and an LIC resident, pointed out that housing for the faculty and students should not be a problem.

“There’s an explosion of rental in Queens Plaza North. When I first moved there four years ago, there were two residential buildings. Now you can’t even count how many there are,” she said.

Rachel Loeb, director of development for The World Wide Group, said her company is building QLIC, at 41-42 24th St., because the transportation is unmatched.

“We’re developing in Queens Plaza and Court Square because of the eight subway lines within four blocks. We see that as a serious transit hub,” she said.

Arvind Bajaj, managing director of Madison-Marquette, said his company is more accustomed to South Beach or Santa Monica but bought the Center Building, at 33-00 Northern Blvd.. The former Model T assembly plant makes a perfect office building.

“It’s called the Center Building because it’s the geographic center of the five boroughs, it’s so much more accessible than Westchester with it’s two subway lines and a future Long Island Rail Road station being planned,” he said. An LIRR station is planned as part of the East Side Access project but it will be in Sunnyside.

Bajaj said there are already a thousand workers at the Center Building, but the area lacked retail amenities.

That seemed to be a problem in the neighborhoods north of Hunters Point.

Erhan Bahceci knows retail. He opened Food Cellar in 2008, at 485 47th Road, and after a few lean years, his supermarket is expanding.

“We’re getting ready to open our second market at LincLIC in Court Square. The growth is exciting,” he said. “We’re also opening a home goods store in May.”

Van Bramer summed up the breakfast session by saying, “It’s a model community because real estate, small business and the cultural institutions all have a vision and a commitment to the community, and anything we can do to keep the momentum going we will do.”

Reach reporter Bill Parry by e-mail at bparry@cnglocal.com or by phone at 718-260-4538.

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