Spotlight on Queens

Queens, New York’s second most populous borough, has been deemed “the next big thing” in New York City real estate development. With recent efforts to rezone parts of Long Island City, Court Square, and Queens Plaza for residential purposes, developers are investing heavily in these areas and are expected to continue moving east. Existing housing stock is quite diverse, ranging from high-rise apartment buildings to large, free-standing single-family homes. Even as real estate prices are on the rise, Queens is still seen as an affordable alternative to Manhattan or Brooklyn.

Last month, the average and median sales price of condos in the borough set an all-time high, at $575,339 and $468,000. Long Island City’s median sales price reached $998,000, a significant increase from last year’s median sales price of $775,000. Still, Queens seems like a deal in comparison to Brooklyn, with a median sales price of $605,000 and Manhattan, with an average sales price of over $1.8 million. Rental prices are still relatively lower than in Brooklyn; the average one-bedroom goes for $2,483/month while renters could expect to pay $2,772 in Brooklyn.

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Queens was established in 1683 as one of the original 12 counties of New York and was named for the Queen of England at the time, Catherine of Braganza. The New York City Borough of Queens was authorized over 200 years later, in 1898. When the Steinway Tunnel for the IRT Flushing Line was constructed in 1915, connecting Queens and Manhattan, the population in Queens more than doubled in the following decade, reaching 1,079,129 in 1930. As of the 2010 Census, the population of Queens had reached 2,230,722 and that number keeps rising each year. Nearly half of those who call the borough home are foreign born, earning it the nickname, “The World’s Borough.” The borough is a patchwork of dozens of ethnically diverse neighborhoods. Jackson Heights, Elmhurst, and East Elmhurst are primarily Hispanic, Asian-American, Tibetan and South Asian; Flushing has a large community of Chinese- and Korean- Americans, and Astoria is known for its large Greek and Italian populations.

The vast array of cuisine available in Queens reflects the borough’s cultural diversity. Jackson Heights is known for its Indian, Pakistani, and other South Asian eateries, and Astoria is home to the city’s best Greek restaurants. You can find Latin American, Thai, Chinese, Guyanese, or any other cuisine you could possibly want if you go to the right neighborhood.

Photo courtesy of

Photo courtesy of

Photo courtesy of

Photo courtesy of

Queens is home to several renowned cultural institutions, such as the Afrikan Poetry Theatre, the Museum of the Moving Image, MoMA PS1, and Socrates Sculpture Park. The borough was home to the World’s Fair in 1939 and 1964 – you can see artifacts from both fairs at the Queens Museum. Every summer, MoMA PS1 is home to Warm Up, a series of concerts paired with exclusive installations in the museum’s courtyard. This weekend, Flushing Meadows Park will host the Hong Kong Dragon Boat Festival, a race among 180 teams on the park’s lake. 2015 marks the 25th year this Chinese tradition will be celebrated in Queens, and the races will be accompanied by traditional food, live entertainment, martial arts demonstrations, Chinese crafts, and children’s activities.

If you’re interested in looking at homes in New York’s next up-and-coming borough, please let me know.

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