LICP’s 19th Annual Real Estate Breakfast explores urban transformation in Long Island City

real estate
The panelists at the LICP Real Estate Breakfast.
Photo by the Queens Post

The Long Island City Partnership (LICP) held its 19th annual Real Estate Breakfast at the newly-opened Brewster LIC Conference Center Tuesday morning, exploring the challenges and opportunities facing the neighborhood in 2024. 

Over 300 people attended the event, which took place at 27-01 Queens Plaza North and explored the theme of “LIC’s Evolution: Navigating Urban Transformation”. 

A diverse panel, including CityPickle co-founder Erica Desai, Noguchi Museum Director Amy Hau, Evan Orsatz, CEO of upscale grocery store Butterfield Market, and John Silviano, Principal with Barone Management, discussed the importance of working together to improve the neighborhood. 

LICP board member David Brause, President of Brause Realty and the long-time host of the Real Estate Breakfast, moderated Tuesday morning’s panel discussion while Queens Borough President Donovan Richards delivered closing remarks. 

David Brause (left) addressing the audience. (Photo Queens Post)

Brause said it was “absolutely crucial” to hear from a diverse range of voices about the issues and opportunities facing Long Island City, including representatives from the neighborhood’s retail, cultural, and real estate sectors. 

“If you look back at our 19 years, it’s been a really diverse group of people,” Brause said. “It’s a really good collection of people. Every year, you get a different flavor of what’s going on in the neighborhood.” 

Tuesday’s panel discussed the difficulties of bringing new retailers and office tenants to Long Island City since the Covid-19 pandemic, with Brause calling for an extension of New York’s Real Estate Incentive Program (REAP), which offers tax incentives for businesses who set up in the boroughs outside Manhattan. However, the program is set to expire in June 2025. 

“REAP is absolutely crucial to getting office tenants to come to the boroughs,” Brause said. “I mean, it’s a critical, critical component.” 

CityPickle, an indoor pickleball location that opened at 9-03 44th Rd. last September, and Butterfield Market, a beloved Upper East Side grocery store that is set to open a 10,000-square-foot location at 29-17 40th Ave. later in the year, are two examples of businesses that have migrated to Long Island City since the Covid-19 pandemic. 

Desai of CityPickle and Obsatz of Butterfield Market told Brause and Silviano of the importance of interconnectedness between retail and real estate to lure more businesses to the neighborhood. 

Hau, meanwhile, called for incentives to keep artists in the city and also noted that the Noguchi Museum is consistently facing problems related to climate change. 

The museum, which is located at 9-01 33rd Rd., is experiencing “more and more extreme stormwater issues” on Vernon Boulevard. 

“Every time there’s a big rain storm, we just know we have to batten down everything,” Hau told the audience. “We have a lot of art to protect – and people. We need to make sure they’re safe.” 

The panel discussed the planned expansion of the Long Island City Business Improvement District (BID), which is set to almost double in size after receiving advisory approval from Queens Community Board 2 last month. 

Brause said the proposal will allow the BID to take care of the beautification of Long Island City and install more street lighting to improve safety for pedestrians at night. He also said he expects the expansion to be confirmed within the next few months. 

Responding to a question from Hunters Point Park Conservancy President Rob Basch about a lack of green space in Long Island City, Brause said developers are now incorporating parks and green spaces into their designs. 

Basch pointed out that Long Island City ranks 57th out of 59 in New York City in terms of parks and green spaces, but Brause highlighted the BID’s efforts to improve parks in the area, pointing to the maintenance and beautification of Dutch Kills Green in Queens Plaza. 

QBP Donovan Richards during his closing remarks. (Photo Queens Post)

In his closing remarks, Richards remarked that retail “continues to struggle” in Long Island City but noted that a number of new restaurants and businesses have opened in the area. 

He urged ongoing support for businesses in Long Island City to help them thrive and stay in the community.

“We want to ensure that we continue to support industries across different sectors here,” Richards said, adding that he will do everything he can to keep JetBlue in Queens. 

He also pointed to several upcoming projects, including the transformation of the Ravenswood Generating Station into a green energy hub and the planned Champlain Hudson Power Express, which, once completed, will bring renewable energy from Quebec to Astoria. 

“There’s so much potential here, but we know we have a lot of work to do. We want to make sure that we have the right investments ahead of us to make sure that this special industrial business area is seeing the investments that it needs.”