BY LUIS GRONDA
Two prominent developers have invested a lot of capital on projects in Flushing and Jamaica.
The Bluestone Organization and the F&T Group have worked on multiple projects that have helped revitalize the eastern section of Queens, including the Flushing Commons project and the Norman Towers project in Jamaica.
The heads of both companies, Eric Bluestone and Michael Meyer, attended Tuesday’s breakfast conference on affordable and luxury housing hosted by the Queens Tribune and the PRESS of Southeast Queens. The duo discussed the various projects their respective companies have completed and what is in store for the present and future.
First up was Bluestone, a partner in the Bluestone Organization, who discussed projects they have completed including Norman Towers in Jamaica, the Andrew and Austin Terrace, both in Rego Park.
He discussed the Norman Towers project in-depth, saying they were immediately interested in the available space after the Greater Jamaica Development Corp put out the Request for Proposal, partially because they were looking for new office space, but also because they saw the great potential for development in that area of the Borough.
Norman Towers is a 101-unit residential apartment located at 90-11 160 St. and 90-14 161 St. According to the website for the property, it boasts “state-of-the-art, energy efficient central air and heating, lighting and appliances.”
Bluestone said they encourage more development in areas like Jamaica because it will make it more attractive for companies like theirs to invest money as well as people who are looking to settle in an up-and-coming area.
“We welcome more development because it means more opportunities for commercial, shopping and restaurants,” he said. “It will only help to improve the community for our tenets and other development opportunities.”
Bluestone said they chose to build and be based in Queens because their family has been in the Borough for three generations and it is where they have been their whole lives. He said his grandfather first migrated to Queens from Russia and that is how the family business started.
As for what is in store for the future, the next project Bluestone has invested in is a combination residential and commercial space in the East Arverne section of Rockaway. That project includes 1,199 residential units and 154,000 square-foot commercial space. It also includes measures to protect the peninsula from future storms like Superstorm Sandy, including a 50-acre nature preserve and a forest.
The F & T Group has focused on building and development in Flushing, including finishing the Flushing Commons project.
The $1 billion dollar project will turn what was the Municipal Lot 1 into a mixture of residential housing, commercial space, retail, community facilities and a 1,600-space public parking garage.
“Flushing Commons owes its origins to the community leaders, who over 12 years ago went to the City to seek support in redeveloping this dynamic community,” Meyer said when it broke ground earlier this year. “This project that will transform Flushing is a result of that initiative and is thus a model of what public-private partnerships can accomplish.”
That project is divided into multiple phases.
Phase 1 will have about 219,000-square-feet of office and retail space, 150 units of housing and a 982-space parking lot. This portion of the project is aiming for an early 2017 completion. Phase 2 will construct 242,000-square-feet of office and retail space, 450 residential units, 618 parking spaces, a YMCA recreational facility and a 1.5-acre public plaza. This final part of Flushing Commons has a completion date of 2021.
At the conference, Meyer said part of what drew them to Flushing is its diversity, with a large amount of immigration from the Asia, its geographic location near LaGuardia Airport and its transportation options.
The One Fulton Square project is another job the F&T Group just completed. According to its website, that project consists of bringing a Hyatt hotel to Queens, the first one in the Borough, according to Meyer, 22 professional and medical offices, 43 residential condominiums and 300 parking spaces.
Regarding Flushing itself, Meyer said the wave of immigrants from the Far East to Flushing really transformed the area in what it is today. Meyer said the neighborhood used to be a blighted area and it has a lot of commercial space that was available.
“As Asia has gone into ascendency, Flushing has benefitted because it’s the bridge to New York,” he said. “Because of the cuisine and language and it’s a 30 minute ride to Grand Central Station on the 7 train.”
He added that Flushing and Jamaica are sort of competing to be the commercial center of Queens because of the hubs that have been created in each neighborhood.
As for future projects, they own additional land in the area where the Hyatt Hotel will be built and they plan on building in that available space in the next 10 to 15 years. It is unknown what will be built there, Meyer said, but it will definitely be mixed-use because that is what all of their projects center around.
Reach Luis Gronda at (718) 357-7400, ext. 127, email@example.com or @luisgronda.