The Benjamin Companies
The economy over the last couple of years has created an environment that has been especially difficult for real estate developers. In spite of that, The Benjamin Companies (TBC) has continued to develop its award-winning properties. The company is based in Garden City, N.Y., and from there has established a national reputation in the 50 years it has been developing properties.
The company was founded by Alvin Benjamin in the early 1960s, and has since grown substantially. TBC currently employs over 250 personnel and has developed and/or constructed over 25,000 residential apartments and homes with a combined development cost in excess of $1.5 billion. TBC has proudly completed the development of over 1 million square feet of office space and shopping center developments on Long Island and in New Jersey.
From Benjamin’s first developments of both affordable and luxury apartments to the company’s current luxury residential and premier professional building properties, TBC has always been a market leader in responding to residential, commercial and community desires and needs.
New Development in NYC’s Hot Spot
Russell Mohr, a vice president with TBC, outlines the details on two recent TBC projects as follows: “Currently under development is Arverne by the Sea, which is a 127-acre beachfront site in the Rockaway section of Queens.”
The $600 million project is currently under construction and features six self-contained neighborhoods with a total of 2,300 residential units, a marina, a 44,000-square foot state-of-the-art YMCA, public spaces and amenities including neighborhood pocket parks, as well as a beachfront preserve. The project also includes retail space, which features a 55,000-square foot Stop and Shop, Chase Bank, Subway and Dunkin Donuts. Arverne by the Sea will stand as the model for smart-growth urban and transit -riented development.
The project’s Rockaway location is ideal, as the neighborhood was identified as one of the 20 best neighborhoods for growth in New York City. Rockaway has a young vibe, relatively inexpensive properties and a burgeoning restaurant and nightlife scene. TBC is complimenting the project’s location on the beach with subway access, which will drive further growth in the community.
Feedback from homeowners who have invested in the project has been uniformly positive. “My two years here have been the best ever; Arverne by the Sea is a friendly, vibrant, diverse community, where everyone is welcomed and made to feel at home,” Barbara Vollrath, a new Arverne by the Sea resident, says. “Each season brings its own special beauty: the ocean, dunes, sky, with the Manhattan skyline as a back drop. It is wonderful to be part of the continuing growth of this neighborhood, Arverne and the Rockaways.”
The Best of Both Worlds
Mohr is also excited about another one of TBC’s newest projects, the Dover Knolls, which is located in Dover, N.Y. The project is the redevelopment of the former Harlem Valley Psychiatric Center into a smart-growth walkable village in a bucolic setting. This project requires a significant investment for infrastructure and the demolition of buildings. However, TBC has faced the challenges of adaptive reuse before, and has successfully overcome them.
The redevelopment plan for the Dover Knolls features 1,376 residential units, as well as 250,000 square feet of commercial/retail space. On-site resources include a reservoir, as well as water and wastewater treatment plants, which will require upgrades and will assist in making this development a success. TBC has an opportunity to create a truly unique development in an unparalleled location.
The project is going to be developed in phases utilizing traditional neighborhood design principles. The Dover Knolls master plan will provide a wide range of housing types for all income levels for both seniors and working families.
Phases of Perfection
“Smart growth planning will create a walkable community, allowing a variety of housing, easy accessibility to both the new Village Center and our own Metro North train station and recreational activities,” says Mohr. “The new Village Center will be located across from the train station and will have a main street with a mix of retail, residential, commercial and civic spaces.”
The adaptive reuse of the former power plant and storehouse and the development of architecturally distinctive buildings will create a unique community in the heart of the Harlem Valley. The plan includes traffic-calming measures and landscaping along the roadway that will enhance the pedestrian-friendly atmosphere of the Village Center. The Village Center will provide goods, services and great shopping opportunities for new residents, the existing community and Route 22 travelers.
With his over 50 years of experience in the real estate development industry, Benjamin can point with pride to over 25,000 homes that TBC has created. With a history like that, Alvin Benjamin could have rested on his laurels, but instead The Benjamin Companies is still at the vanguard of developing desirable places to live and work.
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