Asian-American real estate developers have increasingly become power players in New York City, buying up more condominiums, hotels and office space over the last decade—and, as a result, business is booming in neighborhoods with large Asian American populations, such as Flushing, Sunset Park and Chinatown.
BY JAMES FARRELL and NATHAN DUKE
According to market reports, there have been increases in median home sales and price per square foot for all three neighborhoods during the past year.
A report by MNS Real Impact Real Estate found that the overall average rent in Queens decreased by 1.34 percent in September from $2,279.09 to $2,248.53. The report also found that Flushing had the least expensive studio rentals in the borough, while Jackson Heights had the cheapest one-bedrooms and Ridgewood’s two-bedrooms were the most affordable.
In a 2016 report, Epos Global Management LLC found that Flushing’s real estate market has seen a 14.5 percent growth, which was expected to continue. The neighborhood—which has the city’s largest Chinese immigrant population—was also recently reported to have a 3 percent increase in median home sales during the past year, with an average price per square foot at $678, according to Trulia.
Flushing is currently the site of several large development projects, including Flushing Commons, the Sky View condos, the 232-unit affordable rental project One Flushing and hotels along Northern Boulevard near Main Street.
Dian Yu, the executive director of the Downtown Flushing Transit Hub Business Improvement District, said that Flushing’s real estate market was seeing exponential growth.
“I definitely think it’s booming,” he said. “There’s no sign of slowing down. You don’t need to do any analysis. You just need to walk down the downtown Flushing area, on Main Street to 39th Avenue to College Point to Union Street—and I mention those streets because every one of those streets has a major construction project going on.”
Yu said that Flushing has become a hotbed for development due to its proximity to both John F. Kennedy International and LaGuardia Airports. He said that it is also a transit hub with 20 bus lines, Long Island Rail Road stations and the 7 train.
“It’s the convenience,” he said of the Flushing real estate market boom. “Downtown Flushing is the right place at the right time, and our geographic location really gives us an advantage.”
But he added that the neighborhood’s draw was due to more than just its transportation options.
“It’s not just location, but the kind of businesses that have been built in this neighborhood,” he said. “It really creates a comprehensive community. Downtown Flushing is known for restaurants and supermarkets, but we also have comprehensive medical service, which I don’t think is talked about enough—the number of doctors we have over here. And also, the law firms, the CPAs. It’s a community where once you move in, you really don’t need to go anywhere else. Everything’s here.”
But Flushing is not the only community with a large Asian-American population that has seen a booming real estate market. Over the past year, Sunset Park has witnessed a 34 percent increase in median home sales, with an average per square foot up from $515 to $774, while Chinatown’s median home sales are up by 49 percent during that same period of time, with an average price per square foot up from $1,072 to $1,451, according to Trulia.
Carlo Scissura, who is the former president of the Brooklyn Chamber of Commerce and currently the president and CEO of New York Building Congress, said that Asian-American communities in Brooklyn are also growing quickly due to the proximity to N and R subway lines and good schools.
“Sunset Park and Bensonhurst are two very fast- growing Asian communities that are seeing records in terms of housing prices, turnover and thriving business districts, where the Asian community is purchasing and buying up,” Scissura said. “It’s a booming market. It’s growing—and it just continues to grow.”
He cited a mixed-use project on 64th Street and 7th Avenue as one of the “transformative” developments in the community.
“Clearly, the Asian community has jump-started neighborhoods—places that were not doing that great and were maybe seeing a little bit of a downturn,” Scissura said. “The Asian community has gotten invested in real estate, opened up businesses and created hubs of different types of businesses. I think that’s been exciting.”
Some of the city’s most prolific developers are Asian-Americans, including Sam Chang, whose McSam Hotel Group—which is based out of Great Neck—has become one of New York’s largest hotel developers, and John Lam, whose Lam Group has developed 50 buildings in the five boroughs and currently has seven buildings under construction in Manhattan.
On Oct. 26, the Queens Tribune will honor eight emerging real estate leaders who are transforming New York City’s skyline during an awards ceremony and reception at Flushing’s New Mulan Restaurant.
The event’s guest speakers include Richard Buery, the city’s deputy mayor for strategic policy initiative, and Carlo A. Scissura, the president and CEO for the New York Building Congress.
This year’s honorees include Sam Chang, founder of McSam Hotel Group LLC; John Lam, a hotel developer and founder of the Lam Group; Louie Liu, CEO of Really Management; Sidney Luu, the president and CEO of Clean Tech Service Solutions; Xuejie Wong, the founder of Research Institute Joined Affiliation with China Real Estate Club; Sam Suzuki, founder of Suzuki Capital LLC; Moses Seuram, the secretary of the New York State Association of Realtors and the group’s 2018 president-elect; and Wellington Chen, the executive director of the Chinatown Partnership.
For more on the Real Estate Marketplace Awards and Dinner click here.