2005-07-27 / Features

Queens Family Court To Become Condos, Rentals

by linda j. wilson

According to an announcement from the New York City Economic Development Corporation, the Dermot Company has been named to acquire and develop the two-acre site of the former Queens Family Courthouse at 89th Avenue and Parsons Boulevard in Jamaica. The proposed project consists of 375 residential units, 300 rental units for low- and middle-income tenants and 75 market-rate cooperative units, 18,500 square feet of retail space and parking for approximately 190 cars, as well as 25,000 square feet of space for community or cultural uses, including the Queens Borough Public Library. Amenities such as a health club, a clubhouse and an outdoor terrace will be included in the project. The $130 million project will create more than 750 construction jobs and 80 permanent jobs.

The 80-year-old Italian Renaissance style building was once the Central Library in the Queens Borough Pubic Library system, and later was taken over by Queens Family Court after the library had moved into new quarters. Queens Family Court also moved into a new building several years ago, leaving the older building vacant.

The property holds a four-story courthouse building and a three-story annex. Constructed in 1928 as the Parsons Central Library, the 75,000-square-foot courthouse building underwent major renovations in 1966. The 32,000-square-foot annex was constructed to accommodate the Queens Family Courthouse. Although the original building’s exterior remains intact, renovations destroyed all interior architectural integrity. Dermot plans to demolish the annex building, but will retain and restore the Italian Renaissance-style fa├žade of the courthouse building as well as several of its interior spaces.

The project is one of several changing the face of Jamaica. The Ciampa Organization recently completed two 90-unit market-rate residential towers a block away from the former Family Court site and the area will receive more than $55 million worth of improvements and makeovers to its transportation hub, which includes the Long Island Rail Road’s Jamaica station and a well used subway stop. The Greater Jamaica Development Corporation has completed a 410-space parking garage and is negotiating for at least three commercial projects. A Dermot partner said that one of the reasons for the increasing popularity of the Jamaica neighborhood is the availability of relatively inexpensive housing stock and a commute to Manhattan that is only slightly longer than from some other areas.

Earlier this year Dermot completed The Opal in Kew Gardens Hills, a 388-unit upscale rental project. Its success prompted Dermot to pursue the Queens Family Courthouse Request for Proposals to serve the Jamaica market. Dermot currently manages some $500 million in assets and owns or holds investments in more than 5,000 multifamily units. In addition to the Queens Family Court project and The Opal, Dermot is also active in converting the Williamsburgh Savings Bank in Downtown Brooklyn to condominiums and the construction of a 633-unit, mixed-use building at 53rd Street and Tenth Avenue in Manhattan.

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