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Real Estate Executives Paint a Rosy Picture of LIC at Annual Breakfast

One Court Square (Photo: David Shankbone)
April 4, 2019 By Christian Murray

Long Island City will continue to attract big-name tenants, dynamic entrepreneurs and educated professionals, despite the black eye the neighborhood took with Amazon’s abrupt withdrawal in February.

That was the view presented by some of Long Island City’s leading real estate executives who spoke before hundreds of attendees at the Long Island City Partnership’s 14th Annual Real Estate Breakfast this morning at the Ravel Hotel.

Andrew Kurd, the managing partner of Savanna that owns One Court Square, told attendees that there were some positives that came from the Amazon debacle.

“The silver lining is that the entire Amazon experience has put Long Island City on the map on a global scale,” Kurd said. “When a tenant like Amazon commits to an area…it automatically adds credibility.”

Savanna was one of the hardest hit firms as a result of Amazon’s cancellation. The e-commerce giant had committed to take 1 million square feet of office space at One Court Square, as it looked to build out its Anable Basin campus.

Amazon was going to take the space that Citibank said it was going to exit in 2020. The Amazon announcement led Citibank to accelerate its departure.

Kurd said that there has been a lot of interest in the building since Amazon’s withdrawal. He said that Savanna is likely to announce two large lease deals in coming weeks, which will fill the Amazon hole.

It has been widely reported that Centene, a St. Louis-based healthcare company, will be one of those companies– taking 500,000 square feet of the One Court Square property.

“It’s been in the press but I can’t speak to anything,” Kurd said.

“The interest proves what everyone believes…the fundamentals of Long Island City are still there,” Kurd said, referring to the area’s proximately to Manhattan, airports, relative affordability and tax advantages.

David Brause, the president of Brause Realty and the LIC BID chair, said: “I have never seen Long Island City as exciting as it is now, with as many projects in development, projects having been developed, with amazing tenants, landlords and entrepreneurs.”

He said that the fact that there were 500 attendees–a record– at the breakfast this morning spoke to that strength, comparing today’s meeting to the inaugural event 14 years ago when about 30 people showed.

A good portion of the discussion dealt with One Court Square and its future.

Kurd said that Savanna has big plans for the 110,000 square foot annex that sits alongside the 1.4 million square foot tower. The company is working on transitioning the space to a retail/community hub.

“We are focusing on layouts and what the right uses would be and have had a number of conversations about food halls, gyms, bars and restaurants. We are focused on how we can create a town center within Long Island City. It is going to take some time…and we are working with our architects and consultants,” Kurd said.

The Court Square Library is currently located in the annex and its lease will end later this year. Kurd didn’t say where things stood with the library, just saying Savanna has held discussions with Queens Library officials.

The general mood at the breakfast was that Amazon was an unfortunate chapter but that the neighborhood will continue to move forward as it was prior to November.

“Everyone made significant business decisions to come to this neighborhood before Amazon was announced,” Brause said. “No one is backing out and people are investing $100s of millions—a very good sign.”

Panelists at LIC Partnership breakfast: (L-R) Christopher Mascari of Wirecutter; Melanie Lemieux of The Baroness Bar and The Huntress Bar; Andrew Kurd of Savanna, John Cunningham of Alexandria Real Estate, and David Brause of Brause Realty (Photo: QueensPost)

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