Throughout New York City's five boroughs there are myriad neighborhoods that attract a particular demographic due to history and culture. Astoria, Queens is as widely known for its Greek community as Greenpoint, Brooklyn is for its Polish one. And Flushing – also in Queens – is increasingly being recognized for its Chinese population.
Looking to capitalize on the Flushing market, developer Onex Real Estate Partners is currently selling condo units at a mixed-use, three-building development off the 7 train called Sky View Parc. As reported in the South China Morning Post last month, “the project from the Toronto-based developer bares a strong resemblance to the mega-sized retail and residential structures built above MTR [Mass Transit Railway] stations in Hong Kong.”
Helen Lee, the sales director of the development, said in the article that, because of zoning laws and competing land rights, it's difficult to secure a plot large enough for these type of mixed-use projects, but “Chinese love to live close to family members and favour [sic] projects which cultivate a sense of community,” which Sky View Parc aims to foster.
Among Sky View Parc's amenities, according to South China Morning Post, are a garden, an Asian supermarket, two pools, a basketball court, and two tennis courts. story. A 22-year-old resident and NYU student from Guangzhou remarked in the story that the project “reminds him of a 'Xiaoqu,' or an enclosed and gated compound associated with luxury developments in China.”
According to Wikipedia, Flushing had a population of 72,008 as of 2010, 69.2 percent of whom were Asian. And while it doesn't specify what portion of that 69.2 percent is specifically Chinese, the area's multiple Chinese commercial centers speak to a thriving market.
The Cooperator reached out to several brokers, developers, property managers, and architects who work extensively with condos and co-ops of all stripes to see if Sky View Parc speaks to some larger trend; whether building design or amenities therein were being considered based on the cultural demographic of a particular neighborhood, and the results were inconclusive! Most of them felt as if they hadn't the requisite amount of outer-borough experience to weigh in on the significance of this notion, while others simply hadn't seen projects take this particular consideration into account.
However, there have been developments that offer features specifically aimed at Jewish communities for some time – as can be ascertained by an entirely cursory Google search - so this concept is somewhat road-tested.
As early as 2007, The Forward reported on “a slew of new condominiums in Brooklyn” that offered “kosher amenities – including two-sink kitchens, balconies pre-fit for sukkahs, gyms with separate schedules for men and women.” And a 2012 piece in Tablet reported on high-end condos that featured a vegan restaurant “with a hashgacha, or kosher certification” in the Lower East Side to better attract that neighborhood's Orthodox Jewish population.
Also, with foreign buyers increasingly driving the marketplace, catering directly to the cultures of those buyers seems like a fairly logical step for developers, especially in a city whose own culture stems mainly from its diversity.
The Cooperator will follow this potential trend as it develops and update as we learn more.
Mike Odenthal is a staff writer at The Cooperator.