View Full Version : Gated Community for Ozone Park

December 5th, 2003, 02:50 AM
December 5, 2003


In Queens, High-End Living in Less-Than-Upscale Area


The phrase "gated community" is not usually associated with Ozone Park, Queens. Nor, in this densely developed and solidly middle-class neighborhood, is the term "luxury housing" much used. And a less-than-three-acre lot on North Conduit Avenue, with its unobstructed view of the Belt Parkway, is not what one would think of as a site for upscale development.

But Ronald J. and Robert J. Ervolino who, with their mother, Dorothy Ervolino, are partners in a real estate development firm mean to change those perceptions of Ozone Park with the Magnolia Court Condominiums, which are nearing completion there.

"This is a blue-collar area, and we are trying to offer a high-end product for blue-collar people," said Ronald Ervolino, managing director of the concern, who is also an architect. "Most developers wouldn't do this because they think they won't get their investment out, but we disagree."

As for the location a two-and-a-half-acre lot bounded by Cross Bay Boulevard, 95th Street, 150th Road and North Conduit Avenue "there are limited sites available out here," he said.

"People are building where they probably would not have in the past, he added. "I was surprised that what might have been a detraction hasn't been."

The property was bought for $425,000 by Sam Ervolino, the brothers' father and the founder of the business, in 1994, shortly before his death. According to Ronald Ervolino, it was condemned in 1954 by Robert Moses, who intended to build a ramp leading to the Nassau Expressway but never did. The state acquired it from the city in 1971 and held on to it until it was sold to Sam Ervolino.

"When he bought it, his vision was to buy a piece of land for us to develop, but he didn't necessarily have a plan for it," Ronald Ervolino said.

Marketing of the 48 town house condominiums in Magnolia Court awaits approval of the offering plan by the attorney general, he said, "but we have already had about 5,000 calls."

Although the streets immediately surrounding the project are lined with small frame houses, Mr. Ervolino said his project was not out of context. "We looked at Howard Beach," he said, referring to the adjacent community several blocks to the south, "and we assumed that there were customers buying there that we could bring in here."

To entice buyers, the Ervolino Partnership has incorporated many hallmarks of luxury found in Manhattan's current crop of upscale apartments: granite countertops and sinks, stainless steel General Electric Profile appliances, three-way mirrors in medicine chests, double-pane Pella windows with interior mullions and Kohler fixtures.

They also included attention to details, ranging from special drawers for kitchen sponges (installed because, Mr. Ervolino said, "Who likes to look at sponges?") to curved shower-curtain rods, permitting more spacious bathing space, to solid oak floors with wide planks and seven-foot-tall doors.

There are two gates into the development. One, already in place, has wand-style barriers that are opened with electronic cards. The other, yet to be installed, will be made of wrought iron and will also require a card for entry.

The units on the first and third floors are duplexes. The second-floor units are simplexes. Sizes range from 1,200 to 1,800 square feet, with prices tentatively set at $325,000 to $575,000.

The ground-floor duplexes have sitting-dining rooms off the kitchen with staircases leading down to living rooms. The upper duplexes have balcony lofts with skylights overlooking living rooms.

Mr. Ervolino said the high-end amenities had not substantially inflated the cost. "We were our own contractors," he said, "so that afforded us control over expenses and freed us up to make choices. When we did the math, this was a $21.5 million development, and it cost us maybe $500,000 to add the luxury finishes."

If all goes according to plan, the Ervolinos also intend to build a 34,000-square-foot commercial and retail complex on the Cross Bay Boulevard side of the complex.

Copyright 2003 The New York Times Company


December 6th, 2003, 11:53 AM
Amazing how space standards vary in different parts of the country; those units would not qualify as low-income housing in the South. Still, I'd take what New York has to offer over a big apartment any day-- but not in Queens.