QUEENS — For years, Rego Park featured mostly modest, decades-old red brick apartment buildings. But the neighborhood is now getting an infusion of upscale buildings that offer top-notch units with “Manhattan-style” amenities such as roof decks, lounges and even libraries.
Roughly 800 to 1,000 upscale apartments — either renovated or brand new — have recently been built or are currently under construction, according to Harold Valestin, vice president of MNS, a real estate brokerage firm.
The rise was fueled in part by people who were priced out of Long Island City and families looking to put down roots in the "family destination."
The change, real estate experts said, started around 2012 when The LeFrak Organization converted an office tower into a residential building, called The Contour, which featured large luxury apartments, a lounge and a roof deck with barbecue grills.
“That building began to raise the rental prices [in the area] just because it was the newest product that was out there,” Valestin said.
“A lot of the younger folks wanted that newer feel versus those old co-ops or brick buildings,” Valestin added.
A one-bedroom there with a library can rent for around $3,000 a month.
Since the opening of The Contour, experts said, several new buildings with high-end amenities have been built in the neighborhood or are currently under construction, including both rentals and condominiums. A number of buildings also upgraded their apartments.
Here are some of the major developments that have recently altered the Rego Park real estate marketplace:
The neighborhood still offers mostly affordable prices, but in some instances, prices can reach nearly $3,000 for one-bedroom units and $3,500 for two-bedroom apartments, experts said.
The area has also been developing commercially. The Rego Center mall, which includes T.J. Maxx, Century 21, Costco and Kohl’s, opened in 2010. A former car wash and a strip club on Queens Boulevard are currently also being replaced with revitalized commercial space.
“The area is definitely expanding in terms of commercial [developments]," said Vincent Yee of Modern Spaces NYC, which specializes in real estate in Long Island City, but is now marketing its first project in Rego Park. "With that you are going to have more infrastructure and then there is going to be an influx of new residents.”
Frank Gulluscio, district manager at Community Board 6, which covers Forest Hills and Rego, said that the growth in the neighborhood has both good and bad sides. "The good thing is that people want to live in that area," he said. "But it’s definitely a congested area and we are watching it because the infrastructure can only hold so much."
► The Contour
The 13-story building, at 97-45 Queens Blvd., was constructed in the 1960s as an office building. But in 2012, The LeFrak Organization converted it into a residential building. The Contour’s 108 units include studios, one- and two-bedroom apartments.
For a 500-square-foot studio, renters pay at least $1,900 a month, according to the development's website. A 1,100-square-foot one-bedroom apartment with a library costs $2,950.
The building, which is located only one block away from the 63rd Drive/Rego Park subway station, “has a magnificent lounge and roof deck with beautiful views,” said Maya Autret of LeFrak.
The Contour, which has a doorman, offers spacious layouts with open kitchens and stainless steel appliances, walk-in closets and in-unit laundry, Autret added.
► The Alexander at Rego Center
A 24-story rental apartment building is currently being constructed by Vornado Realty Trust above the Rego Center Mall. The 288-foot-tall structure at 61-35 Junction Blvd. was designed by SLCE Architects, and will contain 312 units, according to Department of Buildings records.
The building will include studio apartments alongside one- and two-bedroom units and is slated to be completed in December 2015.
► The Rego Modern
This brand-new seven-story development offers 38 apartments at 99-39 66th Ave.
The building, constructed by Lions Group II LLC, is marketed by Modern Spaces NYC, a Long Island City-based company. It features studio, one- and two-bedroom apartments as well as a penthouse.
Amenities include a fitness center, an outdoor recreation area on the second floor, a parking garage and bike storage.
Studio apartments start at $1,600 per month, one-bedrooms at $1,775 and two-bedroom units with two bathrooms start at $2,500, according to Vincent Yee of Modern Spaces.
► Saxon Hall Apartments
This 16-story rental building at 62-60 99th St., was purchased by Treetop Development in 2013. Among the building’s 417 units are studios, one-, two- and three-bedroom apartments.
The company did not immediately return phone calls seeking additional information, but according to the Queens Chronicle, Treetop Development paid about $85 million for the building and was planning to invest another $5 million in upgrades, including renovation of the facade, electricity, elevators and lobby.
The company has been renovating apartments, by adding hardwood floors and tiled bathrooms, after they become vacant.
Renters have to pay about $1,550-$1,600 for a studio, one-bedrooms cost between $1,825-1,950, two-bedroom units are between $2,400 and $2,600 and three-bedroom apartments go for between $3,100 and $3,200.
Real estate experts say that upgrading existing apartments has been a growing trend in Rego Park.
► High-end Condominiums
Rego Park has also been experiencing an influx of new luxury condominiums, which has contributed to an increase in prices in the area, experts said.
One of the first such projects in the area was 99 Millennium, at 63-36 99th St. The 66-unit building, constructed by Tuhsur Development, LLC, went on the market in 2012.
The condo, which includes a built-in synagogue, also features floor-to-ceiling windows, tiled bathrooms — some of which have Jacuzzi tubs — dishwashers and six burner stoves.
One-bedrooms at the co-op start at $629,000. A two-bedroom unit sell for between $729,000 and $979,000.