The Long Island City Partnership (LICP) held its 17th annual real estate breakfast on Wednesday, April 6, at the Raven Hotel, welcoming a diverse panel of business leaders who discussed their experience operating in the neighborhood.
LICP is an economic development agency that helps to attract new businesses to Long Island City, retain the ones already in the neighborhood and promote a vibrant community. The annual LICP breakfast is an anticipated real estate event for western Queens, bringing more than 300 business leaders together.
Multiple city elected officials including Queens Borough President Donovan Richards and Comptroller Brad Lander attended the event. Lander said that what LICP and its sponsors have made possible is very exciting.
“There was a time when mixed-use was an idea in New York City, not a reality,” Lander said. “There was a debate, of ‘Do we want an office community or a residential community?’ What Long Island City is showing is a vibrant, dynamic and mixed-use community that has all of those things.”
Elizabeth Lusskin, the president of LICP, presented a neighborhood snapshot, which revealed immense growth in residents and workers. Over the past decade, Long Island City’s residential population increased five times, while jobs grew more than two times faster than the city as a whole.
According to LICP, over 318,000 square feet of retail mixed-use building and commercial space will be added to the neighborhood by 2025, along with over 2.8 million added square feet of industrial space.
The panel of local business owners and large corporation leaders first spoke about their decision to locate in Long Island City. Kevin Costello, director of infrastructure properties and development of JetBlue Airways, recently shared that they re-upped a 15-year lease at 27-01 Queens Plaza N in Long Island City. Costello said that the original deal to put offices in the neighborhood 12 years ago just made the most sense.
“New York is our center of gravity,” Costello said. “We are delighted to be referred to as New York’s hometown airline. We continue to really value our relationship with Queens and in particular Long Island City.”
Doyun Kim, owner of No Stress Coffee, opened during the pandemic and mentioned that Long Island City was the smartest choice for her when considering what type of customer base No Stress Coffee would cater to.
“Somewhere where you can just walk in and know the barista, know the owner and have a true relationship with places and brands you visit on a day-to-day basis,” Kim said. “I don’t think we would have been able to be in the LIC area if not for the pandemic.”
Kim said that it has been difficult to keep up since the rush of customers has not been consistent. Usually, Kim keeps track of businesses in the area like JetBlue that require employees to come in on a certain schedule and has noticed a slew of coffee buyers on those days. However, other days are very quiet when employees work from home.
“For a small business, because we rely so much on pattern human behavior. Just the lack of patterns right now has been difficult in inventory and staffing and just predicting outcomes,” Kim said.
Queens Borough President closed out the event saying “Queens is open for business.”
“The small businesses truly are the lifeblood of our borough and there really were immense challenges coming through the pandemic,” Richards said. “But it really was the private and public partnerships that got us through this hard time.”
Richards also mentioned JetBlue’s impact on the borough, adding 5,000 jobs to the area. On top of that, the borough president mentioned the partnership with Steve Cohen, the owner of the Mets, to produce the Queens Small Business Grant of $17.5 million to fund close to 700 small businesses across Queens County.
“Moving into the future, there’s a lot of opportunity,” Richards said. “Long Island City has a lot to offer. It’s amazing to see how far we’ve come and the growth here, and now how we sustain it.”