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Real estate development firm director discusses challenges and opportunities facing LIC

Long Island City waterfront. (Photo via Getty Images)

Nov. 1, 2023 By Ethan Marshall

Over the last decade, Long Island City has experienced a lot of growth when it comes to housing. There are still many more opportunities for more growth, but this also comes with more challenges.

Brad Zackson, the director of development and co-founder of the real estate development, investment and marketing firm Dynamic Star, discussed what he believes the future holds for Long Island City. Additionally, Dynamic Star Director of Planning Penny Lee also shared her views on the matter.

Zackson credits the growth over the last decade in large part to rezoning that occurred in the neighborhood in 2001. This rezoning facilitated commercial development at increased densities and allowed for new residences to mix with commercial and light industrial businesses. The goal at the time was to foster redevelopment and reinvestment taking advantage of the undeveloped properties. Zackson also pointed out the convenience of the location, situated close to Midtown Manhattan, and how it is served by several forms of transportation.

According to Zackson, he believes there will be more commercial and retail properties to come in the near future. He also noted the possibility of more green space being added, citing a desire among many residents of the area for this.

“Under some of the structures, there’s some creative ways of [adding more green space],” Zackson said. “We could always use more green space. I see Long Island City as its own part of New York, where people can live, work and play. I think that’s the City’s core goal for its outer boroughs. I think Long Island City is going to be a major hub for New York City.”

Zackson also said the prices for properties in outer borough areas like Long Island City may also help attract national commercial businesses to establish themselves there, creating more potential for economic development. The prices in the boroughs are far lower than Manhattan.

One of the biggest challenges Zackson emphasized that could hinder continued development in Long Island City is poor decision-making by the local government. He pointed to the state’s 421a Exemption, which was available to construction projects that began from Jan. 1, 2016 to June 15, 2022, as an example. Its purpose was to encourage new housing construction by alleviating property taxes on the added value that comes with new development. However, Zackson believes the loss of the exemption is stopping a lot of residential development.

Lee stated that one thing she would like to see done in Long Island City is for Queensbridge “Baby” Park, located along 41st Road and 12th Street, to be restored to a public open space. She cited a neighborhood planning study recently initiated by the NYC Department of City Planning and Council Member Julie Won, noting that public open space and public realm improvements is a category they are considering and planning for.

“I hope that they consider a way to restore that property,” Lee said. “It doesn’t need to be all of it, but it would be great if the property facing Queensbridge Houses could be converted to public open space again.”

Zackson voiced his support for any initiatives that would increase public open space and green space in the area.

“I think Queens is on its way to being a major part of our metropolitan [area],” Zackson said. “I think the more New Yorkers see that Long Island City is setting the example, I think that it will spread into other neighborhoods.”

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