CUNY Student Housing To Go Up in Hunters Point

Image in LIC Article mentioning O'Connor 8/25/15

August 20, By Jackie Strawbridge 

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A student and faculty residence will be built in Hunters Point, following a long-awaited land sale, developers announced last week.

O’Connor Capital Partners sold property at 47th Avenue and 5th Street to the Graduate Center Foundation Housing Corp. – a supporting organization of CUNY’s Graduate Center – for the construction of student housing.

CUNY Graduate Center students are primarily doctoral students in their mid 20s and 30s.

CUNY hopes to charge rents 20 to 25 percent below market rate, according to Sebastian Persico, senior vice president for finance and administration at the CUNY Graduate Center.

The property is part of a 2-acre site that O’Connor Capital purchased in 2006, with the intent to build luxury housing and student housing. The luxury housing component of the plan was completed in 2013 with the construction of the Maximilian, a 188-unit luxury rental.

The Maximilian is located at 5-11 47 Ave.; the student housing building will sit next door.

“We are delighted to successfully follow through with our intended plan for this unique Long Island City site and provide CUNY with the opportunity to build new housing in this burgeoning neighborhood,” O’Connor Capital President and CEO Bill O’Connor said in a statement.

The student housing building can be as tall as six stories, according to the Board of Standards and Appeals, which issued a variance for the project to override zoning restrictions.

Persico said CUNY hopes to build that tall, to accommodate about 300 residents.

“We have great need for student and faculty housing,” Persico said. “The only issue is the financing.”

A fundraising campaign was initiated for the project, with a goal to raise between $10 million and $15 million, according to Persico. If the campaign is successful, he said shovels could be in the ground in the next 24 months, “but it’s difficult to predict.”

As for amenities, Persico said CUNY hopes to include a fitness center, lounge space and bike storage, among others.

In a statement released with the sale announcement, Graduate Center Chair Craig Kaplan said a major appeal of the site was the short ride to Manhattan on public transportation.

“The central Long Island City location is an ideal commute to the Graduate Center,” Kaplan said. “This housing project is critical to the Graduate Center’s ability to attract and retain the best students and faculty.”

The CUNY Graduate Center is located near Herald Square in Manhattan.