Briarwood Organization: A Century of Excellence

BY LUIS GRONDA
Staff Writer

In its 100-plus years of existence, the Briarwood Organization has left its mark on Queens, developing many properties in the Borough and throughout the rest of the City.

The company, actually based in Bayside despite being named after the mid-Queens neighborhood, started off as a builder of one-and two-family homes, but has since evolved into one of the most well-known and respected developers in New York.

According to its website, Briarwood has developed more than five million square feet of mixed-use, residential and retail space throughout the five boroughs, at a total value of around one billion dollars.

The Briarwood Plaza II project was built by the Briarwood Organization.

The Briarwood Plaza II project was built by the Briarwood Organization.

Some developments the company has worked on includes Briarwood Plaza and Briarwood Plaza II, both commercial office spaces in Bayside; Archbishop Molloy High School in Briarwood and the Hatton Funeral Home in Bayside, which was the first building the company ever built, according to one of its senior principal and co-owners, Vincent Riso.

The Briarwood Plaza II project was completed not too long ago and serves as a companion to the Briarwood Plaza that houses the company’s headquarters.

Briarwood has also won numerous awards throughout its history, including Excellence in Design and Construction from the Queens and Bronx Building Association in 2013 and Excellence in Design from the Queens Chamber of Commerce.

Regarding the future of the City’s housing and real estate market, Riso said companies like his are waiting for Mayor Bill de Blasio’s rules and regulations on affordable housing, because that will tell him how they are able to build housing projects in the City moving forward.

De Blasio has turned his latest agenda push to the affordable housing market, which includes unveiling his new plan for that on Thursday. The Mayor plans to create about 200,000 units of affordable housing over the next 10 years.

Although many details are not known as of press time, he did outline what he would like to do with housing in the City on his campaign website. The ideas listed there mandating building affordable housing in areas that are rezoned, converting vacant properties to affordable housing and bringing basements into the housing legal system to make it safer for people to live in.

Riso said many developing companies could stand to benefit if the Mayor’s plans go through.

“There is always a need for apartments and housing in New York City. That market is always strong,” he said.

When asked about potentially legalizing basement apartments, Riso said he finds that “difficult to imagine” because of the potential safety hazards that it could bring. Concerns about the basement apartments that have been raised in the past include increasing population density in areas that would have those types of apartments, as well as improper ventilation.

As for what is next on the docket for Briarwood, Riso said that although most of their current projects are outside of Queens, they are looking at two Borough neighborhoods, Jamaica and Woodside, as areas they hope to focus on.

He said both, and Jamaica in particular, are up and coming areas that call for more housing to be built. When discussing Jamaica, he said the Southeast Queens neighborhood has a terrific business district that is very attractive for developers like Briarwood.

Reach Luis Gronda at (718) 357-7400, Ext. 127, lgronda@queenstribune.com, or @luisgronda.