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American dream story as owner aims to sell LIC building for $18 million

LICpropertyJan. 13, 2014 By Christian Murray

Two three-story buildings in the heart of Queens Plaza North are expected to be put on the market this week with an asking price of $18.1 million.

The two brick buildings—located at 41-21 and 41-23 29th Street– are tucked between two sites that are being developed into glitzy hotels. A Hilton Garden Inn is being constructed at 29-21 Queens Plaza North, while a Marriott Hotel is going up at 29-07 Queens Plaza North.

The two modest brick buildings are owned by Indian immigrant Lachman Rattu, who bought them in the late 1990s, after owning a deli in the Queens Plaza area for years. He got his start in the United States working as a delivery boy for a Greek restaurant in Queens Plaza in 1984.

Rattu had been running an employment agency called LIC Staffing Services outof one of the buildings–and an Indian restaurant, called Rocky’s Food, out of the other. He closed both businesses last year.

But Rattu has been the big beneficiary of the upswing in Long Island City neighborhood—as well as the massive zoning changes.

When he bought the two buildings for less than $1 million (with a combined site area of 2,727), the zoning on the sites permitted a floor area ratio of 5.0.

However, the area continued to get up-zoned and became part of the Long Island City special district, according to Tom Winter, of Tom Winter Architect, who is working on behalf of Rattu. “The FAR is now 12, and he is able to build a zoning floor area of 32,724 sqf—up from 13,635 sqf. [when he bought it].”

“We believe the property is best suited for a hotel developer,” said Steven Christmann, a real estate broker with Sotheby’s International, who is selling the property. ”We are in an area where there are several international hotels and next to the Hilton and Marriott developments,” he said.

Rattu and Christmann

Lachman Rattu and Steve Christmann

Christmann said that the area has fast become a hotel district. “There are several subway lines here and it is a quick cab ride across the Queensboro Bridge to the city,” he said.

The new Hilton Garden Inn at 29-21 Queens Plaza North is now rising. That building will eventually stand 16 floors, and hold 163 hotel rooms. Meanwhile, next to Rattu’s site, a new 31-story Marriott at 29-07 Queens Plaza North is under construction.

Winter said a developer could build a 17 or 18 story 80- room hotel on Rattu’s property. He based this on his own designs and zoning research he conducted on behalf of Rattu.

“While someone might want to buy the property for rentals or condos, we think it is best suited for an international hotel,” Christmann said.

 

rendering of possible hotel for site

rendering of possible hotel for site

 

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JMS

An amazing grocery store called Food Bazaar recently opened Northern Blvd approximately a 10 minute walk from the park. Check it out, they have some great offerings.

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Jay

@J – seriously – I love how the article neglects to say that he is asking almost 3x the market price. Let’s all make believe hes making 17 million when its more likely going to be 1/3 of that.

@ Megan and David, sounds like you should pool your funds, buy the property and then you can dictate the use. Until then, there are a lot of savvy real estate investors in NYC who will always use a property for its highest and best use.

The NYC Real Estate cycle has been displacing residents since people started settling here, why would anything be different in this neighborhood?

Reply
David

Amen, Megan! We have no grocery or pharmacy within a 10 minute walk of QBP. No more hotels, no more luxury high rises until you fill the mostly empty ones you’ve got!

Reply
Megan Friedman

I have lived in a 19th century former NYC firehouse in Dutch Kills (2 blocks North of Qns Plz) for over 34 years. This area is MORE than a hotel neighborhood. In April, 2007 NYC Planning offered residents a re-zoning plan for Dutch Kills to PREVENT the possibility of any hi-rise commercial development, which would include Hotels. We all supported the City’s plan. After waving a red flag to announce such a restriction, commissioner Amanda Burden and her minions delayed their own plan. The result: 15 hi-rise hotels in the 8 block radius of Dutch Kills. We were hoodwinked.

Are developers really so limited in their ideas and their ability to analyze real opportunities, besides building yet more hotels?

Meanwhile Dutch Kills has been developing and improving exponentially. The formerly working class, lower middle class area with a population that was slowly drying up has now been discovered. For the last few years, we in Dutch Kills have had a wonderful charter school K-5, attracting and retaining young couples who discovered the quiet of this neighborhood and its strategic location. They are realizing that they can actually put down roots here and raise a family. We also have an incredibly diverse community. So what is needed?

What kind of development should come to Queens Plaza? It should take into account the local population as well as the potential for customers from the nexus of 7 trains in Queens Plaza? RETAIL!

How about a Target, or a Kohl’s? We have one cheesy mall in Queens and it is hardly accessible by train. The Queens Center is very far from us in Long Island City and it is far from what anyone now living here would ever be attracted to. Let’s face it, the Queens Center is an out-dated suburban type of mall, it does not reflect the affluent, upwardly mobile young people around Queen Plaza who do not rely on a car to shop. The other potential consumers are passing Queens Plaza 2 X’s a day, going and coming home from their work in Manhattan are a working urban population. Queens Plaza could be developed as a destination to stop, shop and dine. Why not a Mall with the kind if International restaurants that would reflect the amazing array of nationalities we have in Queens (greek, colombian, chinese, thai, korean, turkish) and have a really amazing anchor store. People have answered this by telling me that we don’t have enough residents here to support a Mall. My answer, does Herald Square have many residents? No, but it does have millions passing through on a number of trains.
We in western queens on Queens Plaza have 7 trains passing through, at least as many as pass through Herald Square.

Is the only alternative, a Johnny-come-lately, copy-cat HOTEL? How many hotels can this area support? Even hotels need amenities around them, another hotel is not an amenity.

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