83° Good Morning
83° Good Morning
ClassifiedsReal Estate


YOU CAN'T miss him: He parks his silver Harley-Davidson

right out front on the sidewalk, adjusts his black leather jacket to fit

jauntily on his 6-foot-2 frame and heads for the Plaza Caf� on the corner,

where his regular morning order-one paper cup of coffee, milk, no sugar, with

lid on-is waiting.

As soon as his slick black cowboy boots start striding down the street, people

in the neighborhood come running up and follow him wherever he goes.

They wave, they shout hello from the opposite side of the street, they shake

his hand, they give a hug, they stop him and ask him how his family's doing.

Just who is this guy, anyway? Some celebrity? Nah, he says. Just Demetrius


Partridge-as in Partridge Realty, a family-run business at 29-38 30th Ave. that

has been an Astoria institution for more than four decades.

You can't miss Partridge Realty any more than Partridge himself: It's the

building on the corner decorated with the psychedelic mural of the Parthenon

rendered in acid colors.

And Partridge, a Manhasset resident, is not the only family member involved in

the metropolitan area's real-estate industry. His wife, two brothers, a sister,

sister-in-law, niece, nephew and cousin are all in the business, spread among

four firms. Together, the Partridges own more than 800 rental units in Astoria,

Jamaica and Brooklyn.

Demetrius Partridge, who runs the original family business, doesn't like fancy

titles or even full names, so visitors just call him what everybody in the

neighborhood has called him all his life: Demey.

"Hey, Demey," calls the guy from across the street who wants to buy a second

house. "Have you found me anything? No? Please keep something good for me."

"Hey, Demey," says the elderly woman taking a morning constitutional as she

launches into a seemingly endless conversation, in Greek, with her favorite

native son of Astoria.

"I usually have to say hello to about 18 million people who stop me on the

street," he says in English as he finally breaks away from her. "A lot of my

tenants pay rent in person, so I recognize them."

Knowing the neighborhood and knowing the people in the neighborhood is all part

of the real-estate business in Astoria.

Partridge, 44, has not only worked around 30th Street and 30th Avenue for

nearly 30 years,he was born here, baptized here, attended elementary school,

junior high and high school here, got married here and continued to live here

until 14 years ago, when he moved to Manhasset.

That's why he can tell you that the butcher lives in this house. The Swiss

family owns the house on the corner. There's a Greek family over there, and by

the way, did you ever hear of Christopher Walken, the actor? Well, his family's

bakery used to be on the corner-that one right there -and Christopher used to

work behind the counter.

"I pretty much know every family on the block," he says. "Not only do I know

them, I've sold most of them their properties."

Although the Partridge firm does sell properties, most of its business has been

in rentals since its founding in 1957 by Demey's father, Harry, a Cyprus

native who settled in Astoria in 1925.

As a start, Harry Partridge bought a big two-story house with eight bedrooms,

filling the first floor with his family and the second with renters who paid $5

per week. He made that house the family homestead(his son Harry Jr. still

lives there)then bought some more rooming houses and eventually sold them so he

could buy apartment buildings.

That Harry would make his mark was certain: With his big bow tie, bowler and

Cadillac Fleetwood, he was every bit as flamboyant as Demey, his youngest son,

has become, with his leather jacket, cowboy boots and Harley.

By the time Harry Partridge died in 1988, three of his four sons had entered

the business and expanded it: Right around the corner from Demey's Partridge

Realty in Astoria is Chris Partridge Realty; Michael Partridge Realty is in


Their sister, Katherine Partridge, and Demey's wife, Victoria, are agents for

Aug Millang Inc. in Manhasset. Chris' wife, Carmen, and Chris' son,

Christopher, work with Chris; Diane Partridge, Demey's niece, works in Demey's

office; and Demey's cousin, Melani Zaharis, is the manager of his five-person


"The Partridge family is the typical American success story," says City Council

Speaker Peter Vallone (D-Astoria). "I've known them all my life. The

Partridges are the class of the [REAL ESTATE]field ... I know of cases of

people who really needed a home, and they came to the rescue."

And, he says, they have made other contributions to the community: It was Harry

Partridge who was instrumental in establishing Athens Square Park, a "little

miniature Greece" filled with columns and larger-than-life classic statues,

right across the street from Partridge Realty.

Real estate was "something I was born into," Demey Partridge says. I started

working for my father at 18. At 19, I rebelled, moved to California for six

months, but came back to the family business."

His first position with the firm was as a super's helper and handyman, whose

duties included fixing faucets. At 18, he got his salesman's license, and at

20, he bought his first apartment building, a 42-unit building in Astoria.

When he sold it, he invested the money in gold, and by age 21 had made half a

million dollars. "My father begged me to buy more property, but I invested the

money in the stock market and lost it all, plus I had margin calls of $30,000

to $40,000. When I told him, I thought he would be mad, but instead he burst

out laughing and said, 'My boy, you just paid for your education.' That was the

turning point of my life."

Through the years, Partridge has watched Astoria, "the melting pot of the

world," change. "When I grew up," he says, "it was Italian, Irish and German,

and we were the only Greek family. Now, Greek restaurants line the streets.

There are a lot of Indians, Russians, Lebanese, Egyptians, Pakistanis,

Ukrainians, Kosovo refugees and a large influx of kids from the Midwest who

think they have discovered Europe."

Elena Kaminskaia, who came to the United States from St. Petersburg, Russia

seven years ago, is one of the newer property owners in Astoria. Before she met

Partridge, she, her husband, her grandmother, two cats and two dogs were

living in a one-bedroom apartment in Astoria. When she told Partridge she

wanted to buy a condo, he talked her out of it and told her to buy a house

instead because it was a better investment. Not only did she buy one house in

Astoria, she got her real-estate license, joined Demey's office and is getting

ready to purchase home No. 2 in Astoria, which she will rent out.

Although Astoria is still largely a blue-collar immigrant area, it is

undergoing a gradual gentrification, with the children of Long Island baby

boomers discovering it.

"This is becoming the Brooklyn Heights of Queens," Partridge says. "A lot of my

neighbors in Manhasset are from Astoria or other parts of Queens. They went to

Long Island to raise their families, and then their families come back here."

One of the newcomers is Telly Karoussos, 24, of Garden City, who just rented a

two-bedroom apartment at Newtown Manor, a circa-1938 Art Deco Partridge Realty

building on Newtown Avenue in Astoria that has 54 units.

"Manhattan is too expensive, and Long Island is too far away to commute to

Manhattan," he says. "I like Astoria because there is good, cheap Greek food,

and I'm good and Greek. I have this gigantic, beautiful apartment for $1,350."

If that apartment were not rent-stabilized, Partridge adds, it would be around

$1,800 because "rents are going through the roof."

Partridge says one-bedroom apartments in Astoria are going for $900 to $1,200;

two-bedrooms for $1,100 to $1,500 and three-bedrooms for $1,200 to $1,800.

"Two years ago," Partridge says, "the rents were 30 to 40 percent less. And we

have 100 people who want to rent each available apartment. We could use another

10 apartment buildings here, no problem."

Even the old-timers, whom Partridge calls the "locals," are cashing in on the

boom, but they are not renting, they are buying. "They always buy more than one

house because it is income," Partridge says. "They scrimp and they save, and

they have good business sense."

As Partridge is leaving Newtown Manor after a quick inspection, he runs into

Emma Marcodes, one of the old-timers.

"Emma, how come you don't come to my office any more? You're doing great," he

tells her. "How old are you?"

"I'm 89," she tells him.

"Don't lie to me, Emma," he teases. "I think you're older than that. The last

time I met you, you were 91," he says as he gives her a hug.

It is because of people like Marcodes, Partridge says, that he loves the

real-estate business in Astoria.

"The neighborhood people are true grit, and that's my attraction," he says. "It

keeps me very real to see people, blue-collar people who are speaking broken

English, who are struggling. People still walk into this office and say, 'If it

wasn't for your father telling me to buy a house, I wouldn't have done it.'"


We're revamping our Comments section. Learn more and share your input.

More news