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Queens co-op market revitalized.

In 1997, the Borough of Queens underwent a startling resurgence.

Out of public favor for nearly a decade many in financial difficulty and physical disrepair - cooperative apartment complexes throughout the borough enjoyed renewed vigor, thanks to a continuing healthy economy, increased local demand for for-sale rather than for-rent apartments, and a restructuring of bloated underlying mortgages.

Much of the turnaround can be credited to "White Knight" investment firms, which acquired interests in available unsold shares, improved the co-op's financial situation and provided funds for needed repairs or renovations. They were assisted by astute real estate agents who performed valuable service in launching aggressive and successful marketing programs to sell units.

Just such a relationship was put together last year for Hyde Park Gardens, a 750-unit, garden-style cooperative apartment complex adjacent to Flushing Meadow Park in Kew Gardens Hills.

While the complex had a lot going for it an enviable location near public transportation into Manhattan, a park-like setting and a variety of one-, two- and three-bedroom layouts Hyde Park Gardens had experienced extreme financial difficulties in the early 1990's. Low ownership occupancy ratios and a high underlying mortgage created severe sales difficulties. These, in turn, caused the physical facilities to fall into neglect.

In January of 1997, Hyde Park Gardens' underlying mortgage was purchased by The Cheshire Group, a Manhattan-based investment firm. The company restructured the complex's underlying mortgage and refinanced with the Community Preservation Corporation (CPC).

Once confidence in the cooperatives financial health was restored, Cheshire and the co-op selected The Carlton Group, Ltd. to initiate sales of available market-rate and controlled apartments.

Carlton and Cheshire devised a comprehensive renovation program and an intelligent pricing structure for the complex. This was combined with aggressive advertising and public relations programs in local newspapers to provide exposure for Hyde Park Gardens among a wide variety of potential buyers.

The results were impressive: During the year, approximately 1,800 people visited our sales and model center and more than 50 apartments were sold, representing some $2 million worth of co-op sales. We even sold five units between Christmas and New Year's Day - typically a very slow sales period.

As we enter 1998, Hyde Park Gardens is nearly sold out of available apartments. But the successful relationship between Carlton and Cheshire is continuing. This spring, the two firms plan to market more than 200 additional unsold co-ops in Queens, and are actively seeking other profitable opportunities elsewhere in the city.

(Mona Hamburger heads up the on-site sales and marketing division of The Carlton Group, Ltd., which serves as sales and marketing agent for cooperative and condominium complexes throughout the New York metropolitan area.)
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Title Annotation:Annual Review and Forecast, section 4; New York City borough; real estate market
Author:Hamburger, Mona
Publication:Real Estate Weekly
Date:Jan 28, 1998
Previous Article:A year of historic reform in rent regulations.
Next Article:Consumer-based marketing strategies in real estate.

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