Experts discuss plans for JFK Airport and Astoria at QNS Real Estate Conference

Panels discussed the current condition of the Queens real estate market at the QNS Real Estate Conference on Thursday morning.
COURIER/Photos by Anthony Giudice and Alan Ngai.

More than 300 of the best and brightest real estate experts gathered at Terrace on the Park for the 2015 QNS Real Estate Conference on Thursday morning to focus on the future of Astoria and what the multibillion-dollar investment in New York City airports means to the real estate market in Queens.

Queens Borough President Melinda Katz kicked off the event, explaining the need for the city’s transportation options to grow in order to keep up with the expanding development throughout the borough.

“Only a third of our borough is [serviced] by subways. So we need to figure out how to get people in and out,” Katz said. “We need to make sure that our transit system keeps up with our development … so as we move forward we’re all going to work together to make sure that we still have folks coming in who want to build and also want to make Queens their home.”

The conference’s keynote speaker — MTA Chairman and CEO Thomas Prendergast — helped explain what improvements the MTA is currently making to make transportation better for residents of Queens and said that developers are looking to build homes and businesses in the borough.

“The relationship we have with the real estate industry is one in which we need to improve to the point of better coordination,” Prendergast said. “We got that commitment from the city by where we know where you’re going to be investing your money and we can put elements of our capital program in place to be able to match up against that.”

Some projects that the MTA is working on include creating Select Bus Service for the Q43, Q70 and Q52/Q53 lines; renewing 16 subway stations throughout the borough; and creating a new depot in Jamaica, Prendergast told those in attendance.

One area of transportation that is getting a major upgrade is John F. Kennedy International Airport, which will be home to the new TWA Flight Center hotel. This $265 million project was one of the topics discussed during the event’s first panel.

Not only will the TWA Flight Center hotel help improve JFK Airport, but it — along with other large-scale real estate projects — will be instrumental in creating jobs for the people of Queens.

“We’re going to help start clearing houses for openings with a job board or a job bank and help get those people who want jobs to get the jobs as the airports and the areas surrounding them grow,” said Tom Grech, executive director of the Queens Chamber of Commerce. “There’s just a ton of opportunity to help people get the jobs they need, especially in that area in southeast Queens.”

One area of Queens that is experiencing tremendous growth is Astoria, which was the topic for the conference’s second panel.

Developers are looking at areas like Astoria as great opportunities because it is becoming increasingly difficult to buy land in Manhattan to create residential buildings.

“We saw an opportunity in Queens, specifically because we had an issue of not finding land in Manhattan and we knew that people would start coming to Queens because Brooklyn is having the same issue,” said Eric Benaim, CEO and president of Modern Spaces, the leading brokerage and marketing firm in Long Island City. “So we’ve seen a huge surge in developers coming from Manhattan or Brooklyn who are now [seeing] the opportunity in Queens.”

The event was presented by The Queens Courier and Star Network in association with the Real Estate Board of New York (REBNY). The event was sponsored by The Durst Organization, CPEX Real Estate Services, Modern Spaces, Flushing Bank, Wells Fargo Home Mortgage, NY Space Finders, Lyons Mortgage, RCN and the Queens Chamber of Commerce.

More from Around New York