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Deals & Dealmakers

A Q&A on Long Island City with JRT Realty president Greg Smith


A Q&A with Greg Smith, president of JRT Realty. 
Give us a “big picture” idea of what has been making Long Island City such an attractive location over the past couple of years.

Long Island City has rapidly emerged as one of New York City’s most vibrant business districts. With more than 6,300 businesses employing more than 93,000 people, it is also one of the state’s largest manufacturing centers.

The community is home to two million square feet of Class-A office space, 25 hotels, and a booming residential sector. It is also a major transit hub, served by eight subway lines and thirteen bus lines, the East River Ferry and the Long Island Rail Road.

And the LIC Partnership has been doing a tremendous job in supporting businesses and owners in the area’s commercial district.

One of the most closely watched properties in Long Island City is the Falchi Building.  Can you talk about the work you’ve done there?

The Falchi Building
The Falchi Building

JRT and Cushman & Wakefield serve as leasing agents on behalf of Jamestown for this five-story, 650,000-square-foot building at 31-00 47th Avenue.

The property, now almost fully leased, recently signed leases with Spaces, a division of Regus, the shared office company. The property is also home to the popular Astoria Distilling Company, which started selling its “Queens Courage” gin last year and recently opened a tasting room.

Ride-share companies Uber and Lyft are also on the tenant roster. Its dining tenants include an Eastern European bakery called Stolle Bakery, Juice Press, and the Doughnut Plant, that makes handmade doughnuts.

JRT and Cushman & Wakefield currently represent the Vanbarton Group at the “Zipper Building” and previously worked on leasing for Offices at the Square in Long Island City.  How has leasing been going at those sites?

JRT and Cushman & Wakefield currently represent the Vanbarton Group at the “Zipper Building” and previously worked on leasing for Offices at the Square in Long Island City.  How has leasing been going at those sites?

“The Zipper Building” is a four-floor, 56,500-square-foot property at 47-16 Austell Place. And yes, it is a former zipper factory. The Joffrey Ballet recently signed on as anchor tenant there under a 15,500-square-foot lease. We also expect to announce two leases soon with exciting new tenants for 10,000 square feet of retail/production space on the ground floor. Vanbarton has made a big commitment to this property and is actively upgrading and repositioning the site.

We also represented the, now fully leased, Offices at the Square, a 90,000-square-foot property at 35-37 36th Street. It’s well known for its ground-floor beer garden.  In partnership with the Vanbarton Group, our team signed the first Queens lease there for WeWork, the prominent co-working company. The Miami Ad School, a widely known advertising school, has also leased space there.

What other properties are in your LIC portfolio?

JRT is the exclusive leasing agent for The Hakimian Organization’s 23,000-square-foot property at 44-16 23rd Street, a combination office-retail structure which is comprised of two floors. We also represent Hakimian at its 10,000-square-foot property at 33-01 38th Avenue.

44-16 23rd Street
44-16 23rd Street



Hospitality is a good indicator of a vibrant urban center. What’s happening in Long Island City’s hotel market?

The hospitality sector is indeed lively. Twenty hotels have opened in Long Island City since 2008. Twenty-five are now in operation, and plans are underway to add 31 more. The district is home to 2,579 hotel rooms now, with some 3,900 more in the pipeline. That’s a 51-percent increase in hotel rooms.

Who are some of the biggest employers in Long Island City?

The community’s biggest employers are: Citibank, with 5,000 employees; MetLife, with 3,000 employees; and the JetBlue headquarters, with a workforce of 1,200.

What does a brokerage company like JRT do to get more deeply involved in the civic culture or a community like this?

JRT Realty Group is proudly and actively engaged in the civic life of Long Island City. I had the privilege of recently being named to the board of the Long Island City Partnership, which advocates for economic development that benefits the community’s industrial, commercial, cultural, and residential sectors. Our company’s founder, Jodi Pulice, and I are both active board members of the Long Island City YMCA.

The members of the JRT team have made a personal and professional commitment to Long Island City. It has been exciting to watch and be a part of the community as it blossoms into such a large and important business center.

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