Mansion Global: Condo and Retail Project Targets Flush Buyers in Flushing
‘Tangram’ developers see an international destination in Queens for affluent Asian-American and foreign buyers
To many visitors Flushing is something of a puzzle.
The streets are bustling with people and teeming with low-rise stores that serve the large Asian-American community, interspersed with newer condo and commercial ventures. But the overall look is drab.
Now a local developer is building what it hopes will be a high-fashion commercial and residential center in the heart of the neighborhood.
The 1.2-million-square-foot mixed-use development is called “Tangram,” for a puzzle that originated in China.
The first of two glass-walled condo buildings with 192 apartments, most with balconies, is due to go on the market in the next few weeks and open at the end of 2018.
Helen Lee, the executive vice president of F&T Group, which is developing the project with Shanghai Construction Group America, said it was designed to celebrate the emergence of Flushing, long a cultural hub, as an international destination capable of attracting affluent Asians from across the country and beyond.
“We want to create a new epicenter for downtown Flushing,” she said.
The plan is to create in Queens a smaller, mixed-use variation on the Time Warner Center in Columbus Circle in Manhattan. The 13-story residential towers will sit on a podium with a multilevel 225,000-square-foot retail center, with two levels of display windows overlooking 39th Avenue near College Point Boulevard.
Ms. Lee said the developers have been reaching out to commercial brokers in Asia to try to lure innovative retailers and restaurants to Flushing for the new shopping center.
There will be a commercial condo building known as Tangram Tower, more than 1,100 parking spaces, a hotel with about 200 rooms, a pool and a tennis court, along with the condominiums.
Anchoring the retail complex, designed without big box stores in mind, will be a multiplex, the first theater to open in Flushing in decades. The South-Korea based CJ CGV, a cinema chain with large operations in South Korea and China, will install a movie concept known as “cultureplex” in a 34,000-square-foot space, turning the entire theater into what it calls an immersive cultural experience.
The retail space will be topped by a large angular clear skylight, with panes that echo the pieces of a Tangram Puzzle. The sculpted glass skylight will also be a centerpiece to a central 1-acre garden serving the condo residents.
Nancy Packes, a residential marketing consultant, said demand for apartments in Flushing was driven by Chinese, Korean and Japanese buyers, many looking for investment opportunities. This helps insulate it from supply and demand constraints in the rest of the condo market.
“The market is hot,” she said. “It is unpegged to domestic demand as we know it.”
Halstead Property Development Marking said prices in new developments in Flushing have been rising to close to $1,100 a square foot, or about $770,000 for a 700-square-foot one bedroom, as newer buildings are completed.
There are now about 2,200 condos expected to open in Flushing in the next three years, including those at Tangram, said Matthew Petrallia, vice president of Research and Analytics as Halstead. That is about the same number as in the hot Queens neighborhood of Long Island City, he said.
The new condos at Tangram, known as Tangram House South, will come with higher levels of finishes to meet the demands of the new market. There are Miele appliances, wide oak plank floors and custom designed Italian cabinets. The project also includes some Asian-centric features along with a fitness center, spa and a 60-foot long indoor, saltwater pool.
There will be Japanese cherry trees in the garden and a pavilion with “reflection areas.” The lobby will include a large decorative metal screen with leaves, based on a bamboo pattern, with ceramic pieces designed to “mimic snowfall in Kyoto,” Ms. Lee said.
“We didn’t want to be overtly Asian, while paying tribute to the Asian aesthetics,” she said.
Ms. Lee said Flushing has become the third destination for many Asian visitors to New York, after they see Times Square and visit Woodbury Commons, a shopping outlet destination about an hour north of New York.
Studios at Tangram House South will start at about $600,000, with one-bedroom units at $725,000, and just over $1 million for two bedrooms. Three-bedroom units start at $1.9 million.
Yi Lin, a broker at Century Homes Realty Group, said the new supply of condos purchased by investors has already had a ripple effect through older condo developments. He said resales of older condo units had slowed, and rents in older buildings had moved lower, as newer buildings opened.
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