Oct. 2, 2012 By Bill Parry
The real estate market south of Queens Blvd. is starting to undergo a resurgence after being quiet since the economic downturn
Caryl Schiff, s real estate agent with Cooper Real Estate (47-16 44th St.) said that it used to be so slow that “we hardly left the office.” However, she added, “it’s starting to pick up lately.”
Celtic Park appears to be the first residential area on the south side of Queens Blvd that is showing signs of a real estate come back. Several co-ops units within Celtic Park, the nine acre complex between 48th Ave. and 50th Ave., from 44th St. to 42nd St., have sold in the past six months. And while prices have not really moved, there is growing interest among buyers.
Celtic Park, which has a rich history, is a massive complex that has 756 units and is home to more than 2,000 people. Of those units, 539 are owned by co-op shareholders, while the remaining 217 are rented by the sponsor BRG Celtic LLC.
In the past six months, Schiff said a one bedroom unit closed for $160,000, while another one bedroom closed for $172,000. She said the unit that fetched the higher price had a skyline view.
The most recent shareholder newsletter also stated that a 1 bedroom sold for $175,000, while a two bedroom sold for $225,000.
It’s rare for three bedroom coops to sell. There are only 18 of them in the complex. The last one sold two years ago for $300,000.
While coop prices are reasonable, co-op owners do get hit with high maintenance fees. A one-bedroom coop owner pays about $700 per month, while an owner of a two-bedroom pays about $850.
Miriam Fardey-Nafa, the property manager, said the maintenance fees cover a wide range of items from heat & electricity…and the 22 employees, which include a Super and his assistant, handymen, porters and the security staff.” All employees are members of Local 32BJ Service Employees Union.
The rentals are handled exclusively by First State Realty, which is located at 48-08 44th Street. Josh Glickman, an agent with First State, said “one bedroom apartments are in the $1500-$1600 range, while two bedroom units are about $2,000 a month.”
Celtic Park went co-op in May of 1986, and it’s been steadily improving since. “Back in the 50’s it was considered to be the projects,” said Rosalind Iverson of Cooper Real Estate, “not so anymore; not at those prices.”
A colorful history
The construction of Celtic Park began in 1933 on land that was owned by The Irish-American Athletic Club (IAAC), a training institute that sent many to the Olympic Games beginning in 1898.
After World War One, club membership fell. The club converted the venue into a greyhound racing track—that later became the scene of drunken rioting. The track became such a problem that the members sold it during the housing shortage in the ’20s. It was razed and Celtic Park was later built.
Ian McGowan, who led the campaign to rename 43rd Street to Winged Fist Way in honor of the IAAC club emblem, moved to Celtic Park eight years ago, “When I left Park Slope… I looked at 20 different neighborhoods. The name and the history drew me here.”
However, McGowan isn’t pleased about everything. “I just wish people were more involved,” he said. “There’s a lack of community here. No community room, no senior center. Other co-ops have book clubs and barbeques. People here lead insular lives,” he added.
Charles Herzog, the president of the shareholders board, responded to McGowan’s complaints. “I’d be all for it but the lawyers say that we’d be liable and the insurance costs are prohibitive. I’m not speaking for the board but I love the idea of a senior center, a community room and even a weight room but it’s too prohibitive [expensive].”
But many longtime residents are comfortable at Celtic Park. Bobby Scott has retired from The Daily News and can often be found sitting on the benches along Winged Fist Way socializing with neighbors and dog walkers.
In the dead of winter he’s the kind that keeps jumper cables nearby ready to help a stranded motorist. “I grew up in this neighborhood,” he said. “As soon as I got separated I moved back here from Bayside. I love how centrally located it is and how maintained it is.”
The complex is financially strong, which is a big draw, one leading agent said. It’s also a haven for pet lovers. It’s one of the last co-ops in the area that still allows pets.
Fardey-Nafa, the property manager, said there are no ongoing issues in the day to day operation of the complex, “I don’t even hear ghost stories in the five years I’ve been here.”
There is one puzzling aspect to Celtic Park: it is a house divided by zip code. “The zip code line runs right through the small courtyard,” Fardey-Nafa said. “Half the building is in Woodside and the other half is in Sunnyside. It confused the hell out of me when I first got here.”