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Cord Meyer Development Company celebrating 120th anniversary

Mar. 27, 2024 By Ethan Marshall

As Cord Meyer Development Company celebrates its 12oth anniversary, its impact on Queens cannot be overstated. Built on decades of accomplishment, the company remains firmly focused on the future, here in Bayside and beyond.

Cord Meyer Development was officially incorporated in 1904 but its roots trace back to the Cord Meyer family in the mid-to-late 1800s. At the time, they were operating a sugar refinery and fertilizer farm and factory. While Queens was comprised mainly of farmland at the time, pockets of development were forming. Cord Meyer recognized the growth opportunity and acquired more property across Queens, including farmland in what is now Elmhurst from Lord & Taylor department store founder Samuel Lord.

Thanks to Cord Meyer Development, that neighborhood started to grow, with businesses and homes being built. Cord Meyer subdivided property into lots, aligned the street grid, funded the extension of a trolley into Elmhurst, and brought water to the area through Cord Meyer’s Citizen’s Water Company.

Forest Hills with Queens Boulevard and the Cord Meyer Section in the background, circa 1915. Photo courtesy of Cord Meyer Development Company

According to Cord Meyer Development Vice President and Bay Terrace Project Lead Joe Forgione, what followed is one of Cord Meyer’s most celebrated accomplishments — the development of Forest Hills.

“Shortly after all these contributions in Elmhurst, Cord Meyer Development bought approximately 600 acres of land near Forest Park and renamed the area Forest Hills,” explained Forgione. “In fact, they built so many single-family detached homes and garden-style homes in the northeastern section that the area became known as the ‘Cord Meyer Section’ of Forest Hills.”

Between Elmhurst and Forest Hills, Cord Meyer Development was among the first Queens developers to participate in major land purchases, forming entire neighborhoods and selling off land for other developments. The Meyer family was also involved in helping to plan the 1939 World’s Fair, while the borough continued to flourish.

Cord Meyer Development office in Forest Hills, circa 1940. Photo courtesy of Cord Meyer Development Company

It was in the 1950s that Cord Meyer expanded its building activity in Bayside, selling off for development portions of a 225-acre farm in Bayside once owned by Charles G. Meyer, the son of the company founder. Much of the residential area now known as Bay Terrace came from this property. Cord Meyer retained 23 acres where, in 1960, it began construction of the Bay Terrace Shopping Center, complementing the residential area. Over the years, the shopping center grew along with Bay Terrace.

“At Cord Meyer, we place tremendous importance on the neighborhoods that surround our developments and properties,” Forgione observed. “The desire to meet the needs of the community is reflected in the current improvements and changes at the Bay Terrace Shopping Center.”

As long-term owners of many properties across the borough, Cord Meyer Development is currently looking at what development rights these properties hold and reimagining how they might evolve to keep pace with growth in Queens. “As was the case throughout our history in Woodside, Jackson Heights, Bayside, Forest Hills and more, we’re focused on not just building, but building community,” Forgione added.

Asked why he believes Cord Meyer Development continues to succeed as a leading developer, Forgione pointed out that even after 120 years of operation, members of the Meyer family still sit on the board and remain active in the company. He also attributes Cord Meyer’s success to a desire by everyone in the organization to adhere to the Cord Meyer Mission Statement: “To be a superior real estate company through strategic relationships while exceeding the expectations of tenants, stakeholders and shareholders.”

“Those objectives are something that we stress in all aspects of our business,” Forgione said. “You see it reflected in our support of the community, our tenants, and our employees. The fact that we can count so many longtime employees is testament to the values that have governed the company since its founding. You become proud of the history and the ideals of the people who worked here before you and you carry that forward each day.”

Cord Meyer Development’s history is rooted in efforts to improve the community. They have gone from literally laying out the streets and developing water and sewer lines to reaching out to community groups and getting involved with civic endeavors. Most recently, the company announced that it has again signed on as the Premier Sponsor of Friends of Crocheron & John Golden Park.

“Like the Crocheron family that the park is named for, Cord Meyer’s roots in Queens and NYC Parks go back generations,” Forgione concluded. “We are proud of that deep connection to the community as we celebrate our 120th year serving Queens.”

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