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Land prices are too costly for affordable units: Experts

Western Queens business leaders told Long Island City Business Development Corporation members at a business breakfast last week that the neighborhood continues to steadily attract new residents, but it still has a long way to go in terms of providing amenities.

The LICBDC's third annual real estate forum breakfast, held at Long Island City's Water's Edge restaurant May 21, drew hundreds of business leaders from the neighborhood and featured a round-table discussion with Rockrose Development Corp. Vice President Patricia Dunphey, Prudential Douglas Elliman Managing Director Andrew Gerringer and John Lewis, senior vice president of the United Nations Federal Credit Union's corporate affairs and general counsel.

Lewis said the UNFCU-owned Court Square building is 100 percent leased and that he expects the federal credit union to fully occupy the building in 15 to 20 years. He said the neighborhood's rapid transformation into a bustling community continues.

"Everyone who says Long Island City is the next big place is three years behind," he said. "Long Island City is here. You just may not be able to see it in the sky yet."

But Lewis said prices are soaring in the neighborhood. He said the federal credit union, a full-service financial institution, paid an estimated $245 per square foot for its Long Island City tower in 2005. He said the credit union would have been paying an estimated $375 per square foot under 2008 prices.

Dunphey said she thought the spike in prices would prevent cheaper housing from being developed in the community.

"I think the land prices are too high to support affordable housing," she said.

Gerringer said the neighborhood, which currently has 38 buildings in various stages of construction, continues to draw in new development and that there has been a rush to grab apartments at the buildings Prudential manages, including The Power House on 2nd Street and The Crescent Club on Crescent Street.

But he said Long Island City is still in need of more amenities, including pizza parlors and drugstores.

"We need retail to draw people in," he said. "We need the butcher, the baker and the candlestick maker."

Dunphey said Rockrose was also trying to develop more amenities for the neighborhood at its upcoming Court Square tower, such as a grocery store or take-out food business.

Reach reporter Nathan Duke by e-mail at news@timesledger.com or by phone at 718-229-0300, Ext. 156.

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