A Newcomer’s Guide To Buying Real Estate In Long Island City:

Are you new to the city or have you lived in NYC for years but never been to Hunters Point or Dutch Kills? Didn’t know that NYC’s newest waterfront park is also one of the nicest? Didn’t know that there are 5 micro breweries, superb Italian food and the only Michelin Starred Mexican restaurant in New York City there?

Also did you know its one stop from Grand Central, 3 stops to Times Square and 15 minutes from Union Square?  The 7, E, M, F, N, W, R, and G trains all stop in LIC along with the Hunters Point and Long Island City LIRR stations and if you are driving, the Long Island Expressway (LIE/i495), Midtown Tunnel, and Queensboro Bridge all provide access in and out of LIC.  Also LIC has multiple Ferry Stops with more service being added to help with the reduction in L train service.

Well if this is the first time your are hearing these things, don’t feel bad, you are not alone. This once sleepy semi-industrial neighborhood is now the fastest growing residential neighborhood in the country with 9,000 new rental and condo units that have or are coming online in LIC.  Add to that Queens’ first $1 billion dollar high rise tower with 800 condo units starting construction and even without Amazon’s HQ2 that was expected to bring 25,000 new jobs to the area, interest in LIC is booming.

Long Island City is not cheap and there is not a lot of inventory for sale.

The vast majority of the newer inventory in LIC are rental units.  Most of the high-rise buildings that you can see along the waterfront or in the Court Square area are rental buildings.  On the sales side, there are number of low-rise condo buildings and more on the way.  Towards the end of 2018, the median ask price for a 2 bedroom is $1,322,000 with 60 apartments on the market.  Looking at verified sales from the past year, listings in LIC sold at 98.2% of asking price – with approximately 16% selling above ask.  This is while Manhattan is in the slowest market since 2008.  Putting these numbers together you can project the 2018 median sales price of a 2 bedroom apartment in LIC at $1,298,204.

At the end of 2018, There are about 35 two bedroom apartments for sale in LIC from $1.2m-$2.7m and 25 two bedroom apartments on the market for under $1.2m in LIC.  Half of these less expensive apartments are in a building that feels far enough north that you should call it Astoria, and the other half are in the building City Lights on 48th Ave– one of the first high-rise condop projects in LIC dating back to the 90s that has cheaper 2 bedrooms but the 25 year tax abatement for the building will be phased out by 2022 and the monthly maintenance can run you $3000+ per month for a 2 bed 2 bath . Consequentially apartments can take years to sell, like this one: 521 days on market and counting..    For the newcomers to the market, I have two words for you: “caveat emptor” which is the Latin for “get a good real estate broker”.

Also its worth noting that in LIC you can buy a single or multi family townhouse for around $2.5m.  And for the intrepid, you can also buy a 25′ wide rent-stabilized, 6-family for under $2m (but then you would be limited as to what you can do with the apartments if you wanted to move in which is possible but not easy and an article for another time).  But again, buyer beware, here is the NYC flood map for LIC (click on the pic to see the live map:

Flood Map:

Rents and Fees:

Median rent for a 2 bedroom apartment in LIC below the 59th St/Queensboro bridge is $4,271 and average rent is a very similar $4,283 with most (87%) of the listed apartments being no-fee.  Almost all of the broker fee apartments are clustered in the sub $3,500 range in pre-war, low-rise buildings.


I happen to live in Hunters Point (the southernmost part of LIC) and am pretty familiar with the neighborhood.  From Newtown Creek which separates LIC from Greenpoint to the still semi-industrial Dutch Kills, the northernmost part of LIC above the 59th St. Bridge.  I recently had listed what is likely the nicest private residence in LIC, known to residents of Dutch Kills as “The Firehouse” an 1840s federal-style, 25 foot wide, converted former firehouse.  If you are thinking about buying real estate in LIC, its good to know about new developments and businesses moving there.  Its also good to know about things like the Queensbridge housing projects – which happen to be the largest low income housing development in the United States that sits along the eastern edge of LIC just above the Queensboro Bridge.  I think of the neighborhoods in LIC as, Hunters Point, The Waterfront, Court Square/Queens Plaza, Dutch Kills and The Queensbridge Projects.  Each of the areas have their own distinct characteristics and opportunities and difficulties from a real estate perspective.

Hunters Point – The southernmost part of LIC north of Newtown Creek up to the Court Square area.  Hunter’s Point is the Village to Court Square’s Midtown if that makes sense.  Older buildings, less densely populated as compared to the Waterfront or Queens Plaza. Hunter’s point has many of the best bars and restaurants in LIC including some of the best Italian restaurants in NYC Maella, Manettas, Manducatti’s and Bella Via to name them.  Hunters point encompasses some industrial areas, at the southernmost tip where more development is forthcoming and low rise residential near the Vernon-Jackson 7 stop.  It also encompasses The Waterfront described below but they feel like different neighborhoods and certainly have different characteristics.

The Waterfront – Home to Gantry State Park and its recent, wetlands-friendly, beautiful expansion and a number of high-rise rental buildings with some of the best views of the City to be found.  This is the domain of TF Cornerstone, an active big developer in LIC with several large rental buildings there and also just spent $300m on a new development site in Hunters Point.  Great access to the waterfront and view from the high rises are the big draws to this area.  Depending on which building you are in, there may actually be a bit of a walk from a subway although the buildings to provide shuttle busses in some cases.  Watch out for the wind-tunnel that is Center Blvd in the winter.

Court Square/Queensboro Plaza – Legend has it that Citibank opened One Court Square in 1990 with the promise of developing the surrounding neighborhood which didn’t really materialize- until recently – and not due to any efforts of Citigroup but more due to rezoning of LIC and the developers that have moved in.  While still transitioning from a fairly industrial low-density area to a high-density residential and commercial hub of Queens, you can expect not only a lot more people moving into this neighborhood but also that it will be the domain of chain stores like Starbucks and Chipotle (which have already moved in) along with popular places like M.Wells Steakhouse.  Someone would be smart to plan a shopping mall here as it will certainly continue to be the commercial and retail epicenter of western Queens.  There are a couple of blocks of beautiful landmarked townhouses here and some new low-rise condo inventory but the real story here as far as real estate is living in the new high-rise, amenity-laden buildings that are sprouting from the earth like weeds.

Dutch Kills – North of Queensboro Bridge and east of the waterfront sits this still semi-industrial area with some new rental buildings as well as a good number of single and multifamily mixed use townhouses.  If you want a townhouse for under $2m and don’t mind being a bit farther away from the bar/restaurant action and waiting for it to creep up towards you, then this is your place.  There are some great old buildings from the 1800s, mixed together with a number of boutique hotels (a product of rezoning as well) and a number of one and two story industrial buildings which are waiting for developers to pounce.  Overall this is probably the best long term bet on real estate appreciation and development possibilities but you could be waiting 5+ years to see big changes.  Also worth noting here is the planned development of Sunnyside Yards, no doubt inspired in part by the success of Hudson Yards – a city plan to develop on top of the LIRR tracks on the easter edge of LIC which promises to bring another huge influx of development in coming years.

QueensBridge Projects – North of the bridge on the western side of LIC, The Queensbridge Houses are the largest public housing project in the Western Hemisphere and famously home to Queens rapper Nas.  In addition to the housing projects themselves, there are as of yet undeveloped industrial buildings and land as well as inexpensive deals on multi-family buildings in the area.  You can read more about it at the Wikipedia Page here.

Its hard to cover everything about LIC real estate in one article so for more details on the real estate options of LIC, questions or information about commercial real estate in Long Island City, feel free to reach out and contact, Cary Tamura here.

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