Redeveloping Long Island City with Luxury Condominiums

Kana Kakihara-Oh, ASID, partner of New York-based DeArch LLC, discusses Roe Development’s newest luxury condominium, Star Tower, located in Long Island City, Queens. She explains the project’s aesthetics and challenges, as well as how it fits into the neighborhood’s redevelopment.MHN: What were the client¹s aesthetic and functional design objectives?Kakihara-Oh: We, along with our client, Roe Development Corporation, had a vision of bringing cutting-edge design and creativity to the forefront of Long Island City. We wanted to start a trend–maybe a movement–to show that, given the opportunity, even the less-gentrified neighborhoods can become a thing of beauty.MHN: Describe the client¹s target demographic.Kakihara-Oh: Our target demographic is primarily the first-time buyer, and we aimed to offer this demographic all the style and amenities of a Manhattan condominium at less than half the cost. We are offering the opportunity to own a peace of mind, knowing that in the near future, Long Island City will be one of the most sought-after places to live and that their purchase is an investment in their future. With the nearby subways and major highways, buyers are only five minutes from midtown Manhattan.MHN: How does the architecture and design of this project help the client be more competitive in the marketplace?Kakihara-Oh: We offer all the bells and whistles one would find in luxury condominium buildings. The architecture and interior design of The Star Tower offers a place to be proud of, instead of just a place to rest your head. All friends and family who come to visit will be in awe of the public spaces, which include The SkyDeck, a residents-only 2,700-sq.-ft. rooftop featuring a sun pool and cabanas with day beds, The SkyLounge, an 1,100-sq.-ft. club room overlooking the pool and cabanas and the 7,500-sq.-ft. Great Lawn.MHN: What were the challenges of this project and how did you resolve them?Kakihara-Oh: The main challenge was making sure that each unit had all the luxuries a buyer could ask for without making the space look crowded and cramped. We solved this by offering sleek, stylish fixtures and appliances that give the space an organized look. Homes include solid grade-A Brazilian walnut hardwood floors, and some residences feature floor-to-ceiling curved windows, creating a glass curtain wall. The colors and finishes offer a cool and comfortable feeling before even turning on the air conditioner. Custom-designed European kitchens feature fully integrated appliances, and islands and counters include grey Italian Lavastone surfaces. We hope that this building becomes a standard in the industry on how to offer the average working-class person a place they can call home.MHN: Describe the overall housing trends that this project is affecting.Kakihara-Oh: Long Island City is fast becoming a “little Manhattan.” With the changes in zoning, this area, which was once almost wholly comprised of manufacturing buildings that were an eyesore, will become one of the desirable places to live. MHN: What design features make this project stand apart from others in the market?Kakihara-Oh: The amenities, hands down, help The Star Tower stand apart from the other developments in the area. If you take a look at some of the common spaces inside the buildings, on the roof and in the lobby, you will find some things only seen in New York City’s most upscale buildings. In addition to the spaces mentioned, Star Tower offers residents access to outdoor grilling stations, on-site concierge, a 24-hour doorman, in-house valet parking and a private gym with on-site personal trainers.The developers spared no expense in offering some of the most jaw-dropping extras that can fit into a project like this. And by designing a building that utilizes commonly used construction materials and methods, while including cutting-edge design, the money saved in construction cost was directly invested into adding all the creature comforts buyers can ask for.