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Finding A Healthy Balance Between Luxury And Community-Oriented Projects In Queens


For decades, when people dreamed of moving to New York City they often pictured renting an unrealistically sprawling Manhattan or Brooklyn apartment to bring their NYC visions to life. Now, however, as rents in these areas remain unattainable for many, renters and developers are setting their sights on other boroughs.

Queens is one such area that has been gaining rising interest from renters as a more affordable alternative. Investors and real estate companies, such as Modern Spaces, a real estate firm based in Long Island City, have seen the untapped potential of Queens and how they can help cultivate it into a more lucrative space.

Q4 2022 market report from Modern Spaces showed that despite the rocky economic conditions, such as rising mortgage rates and high inflation, growth has been strong in Long Island City and Astoria. That continued growth shows that Queens is becoming a hub for new developments and more developers will likely capitalize on this market trend.

“We’re putting Queens on the map with the Skyline Tower in Long Island City and Innovation QNS in Astoria,” Modern Spaces CEO Eric Benaim said.

Bisnow spoke with Benaim about the Skyline Tower and Innovation QNS projects, what they mean for the community and what Modern Spaces plans to do for the future of Queens. 

Bisnow: What's the inspiration behind the Skyline Tower in Queens? 

Benaim: Our developers wanted to build the most iconic building in Long Island City.

We acquired the property, which was previously known as Court Square City View Tower, in 2015. We put in six years of work to make the dream happen and completed it in 2021.

With Skyline Tower, we wanted to create a sense of luxury while maintaining Queens’ unique neighborhood feel and sense of community. It’s a project that we put our hearts and souls into every step of the way, from the inception to the build-out to getting it across the finish line. 

We worked with Hill West Architects, Risland US and Chris Xu from United Construction & Development Group to create a long-lasting, legacy project in Queens that we could be proud of for years to come. 

Bisnow: How does the Skyline Tower impact Queens? 

Benaim: For one, it’s the tallest residential building in Queens and the tallest building outside of Manhattan. It was over a $1.1B sellout. We wanted to put Long Island City on the map, and this is the project where we’ve really been able to showcase our talent. 

The 802-unit luxury property on 3 Court Square features condos ranging from $650K to $3M. The 67-story building has 360-degree views and is conveniently located five minutes away from Manhattan. Some of the amenities include a dog care area and children’s playroom, a business center, a fitness area and spa room.

As a Queens guy, I take pride in this project not only because it provides a luxurious and modern appeal to the epicenter of Long Island City, but we’re still connected to the community and MTA-accessible.

Bisnow: How did you collaborate with the MTA?

Benaim: One of the deals that the developers had to make with the city is connecting Skyline Tower to an MTA subway line. We worked out an $18M deal to build a subway station right in the Skyline Tower that gives access to the E, the M, the G and the 7 trains. It took our developers a year to make this happen with MTA contractors, but we feel it was worth it in the end. 

Bisnow: What is unique about Innovation QNS?  

Benaim: Innovation QNS is a development in Astoria, Queens, encompassing five square blocks. The plans were just approved right after Thanksgiving 2022 through lengthy negotiations between the city and the developers. 

This will be the largest, privately developed project in Queens’ history, featuring 3,200 units at 45% affordability. This is a passion project — we worked with developers such as Silverstein Properties from the beginning to help identify community partners to ensure that it would fit into the area and give Queens’ residents what they need. 

We worked with Silverstein Properties, Bedrock Real Estate and Kaufman Astoria Studios to help get this project underway. This was not a simple task, it was a labor of love — the rezoning took about a year and we went through major hurdles with the city council to make this happen. We will be working on finalizing the unit mix, layouts and finishes. 

Bisnow: What makes Innovation QNS such an important project? 

Benaim: This is not just a mixed-use project but something that helps the community. Of the 3,200 units in this space, we’re making 1,400 of them affordable for low- and middle-income residents. We want to create more economic and social opportunities for the people in the neighborhood. That’s why we’re opening a nonprofit space and getting various community organizations involved to get more feedback from locals. 

We’re providing thousands of jobs for locals. Additionally, we have a $2M community fund in place to help with tenants’ rights, anti-displacement and other concerns for our local residents. We will also provide discounted rent options to aspiring small-business owners and startups to really drive creative and economic forces to help empower the community. It’s all about working together to build a stronger Queens.

This article was produced in collaboration between Studio B and Modern Spaces. Bisnow news staff was not involved in the production of this content.

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