Neighborhood Spotlight: Ridgewood, Queens

 

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Ridgewood row houses. Photo credit: Uli Seit

Located on the border of Brooklyn and Queens, Ridgewood is a quietly up-and-coming residential neighborhood with a lot of home-grown New York character. This diverse little enclave sits adjacent to its trendy sister to the west, Bushwick, so there’s no shortage of culture and nightlife in the area, and Ridgewood is fast becoming a new cultural center in its own right. The neighborhood’s tree-lined streets, full of charming single-family homes, duplexes, and brownstones (many of which were built before 1920), and its close proximity to a variety of parks and greenspaces make Ridgewood the perfect place for buyers and renters looking to stretch their dollars. Professionals who work in Manhattan will appreciate the relative calm that the neighborhood has to offer, and the 25 minute commute.

Ridgewood’s deep roots have so far stymied new residential development. The majority of residents are homeowners who have been in the neighborhood for many years and are reluctant to sell. But this isn’t necessarily a bad thing for renters and buyers who are drawn to the neighborhood for its character. While competition for space has, by some reports, reached a fever pitch among potential new residents, prices have remained relatively reasonable; and there is hope for buyers who are looking for something brand new in the area, as residential development hasn’t been totally shut out of the neighborhood. Essex Capital‘s 90 unit complex at 16-26 Madison Street is slated to open its doors later this year, and several other condominium developments have recently broken ground.

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1626 Madison Street. Rendering courtesy of Essex Capital

Ridgewood’s quiet residential sectors contrast sharply with its bustling commercial districts on Myrtle Avenue and Fresh Pond Road, and the neighborhood’s diverse makeup has insured that residents have never wanted for a variety of food options; the recent infusion of new blood into the neighborhood has only broadened horizons for Ridgewood’s casual diners and foodies. The neighborhood, as one of the city’s oldest, also contains a wealth of treasures for NYC history buffs and architecture enthusiasts. If you’re thinking of moving into the neighborhood, or you’d just like to visit, here are a few of the best places, old and new, to check out in Ridgewood.

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Photo courtesy of The Bushwick Daily

Located a short walk from both the M and L trains, Topos Bookstore Cafe is the cozy brainchild of Benjamin Friedman, a coffee-loving bibliophile who served for over a decade as the manager at the iconic St. Mark’s Bookshop, before deciding to open this inviting haven for book and coffee connoisseurs alike. The selection of books is large, varied, and eclectic, and the coffee is the best this side of Forest Avenue.

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Johnny’s Cafe. Photo courtesy of Johnny’s Cafe

Ridgewood was a predominantly Polish neighborhood for many years, and there’s still a thriving Polish community there today.  Johnny’s Cafe ranks among the best upscale Polish eateries in Queens, and the pierogis and potato pancakes at Hetman Polish Deli and Foods are out of this world.

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Gottscheer Hall. Photo courtesy of the New York Daily News

No trip to Ridgewood would be complete without a visit to  Gottscheer Hall, where old-timers mingle with new-comers over specialty German and domestic beers and bratwurst. Or check out a relatively new edition to the neighborhood’s culinary landscape, Bunker, where head chef Jimmy Tu serves up some of the best and most reasonably-priced Vietnamese street vendor-style cuisine around. Try a banh mi sandwich or an order of vermicelli noodles.

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Lorimoto Gallery. Photo courtesy of the New York Post

Contemporary Art-lovers will find something to love at Lorimoto Gallery; and if beer, friends, and live music are your thing, The Trans Pecos and Muchmore’s are two of the coolest venues in the area to see up-and-coming bands.

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Vänder Ende-Onderdonk House. Photo courtesy of the Greater Ridgewood Historical Society

Built in 1789, and located right on the Brooklyn-Queens border, Onderdonk House is the oldest stone Colonial dwelling in the city. It houses a collection of archeological artifacts related to the site and region, and a Genealogical Resource Room and library. The Greater Ridgewood Historical Society also hosts candlelight tours of the house several times a year.

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Ridgewood is also home to the sprawling Highland Park. The park sits atop a plateau on the border of Brooklyn and Queens, and provides amazing views of The Rockaways and the Atlantic Ocean. The park is also a great place for walking, biking, and picnicking with friends and family.

In some ways, Ridgewood’s old-school charm seems tailor-made to suit a growing number of New Yorkers who are looking for a bit of quaintness and simplicity in the middle of the big city. While prices in the area have ticked up a bit since last year, the average price per square foot is still under $350, and the median sales price for homes in the area is $706,000. Let me know if you’d like to check out some real estate in Ridgewood!

NYC Gardens for Springtime

You might not expect a city like New York to be home to breathtaking botanical gardens and serene, nature-filled hideaways, but there are gorgeous gardens hidden throughout the city for New Yorkers to enjoy some peaceful respite. As Spring warms up, gardens in all five boroughs are beginning to bloom, so I’ve compiled a list of the best ones to visit. Tucked away among NYC’s high-rises and busy streets, these gardens are a great way to seek some peace, quiet, and beautiful nature this Spring:

Manhattan

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Photo courtesy of ephemeralnewyork.wordpress.com

Church of St. Luke in the Fields Gardens
487 Hudson Street, Greenwich Village
Hours: 8am – Dusk ( Mon – Sat); 8am – 5pm (Sun)
Admission: Free (but donations are welcome)

The Church of St. Luke in the Fields sits on its own two-acre city block in Greenwich Village, and is home to a collection of native American flora including rare hybrids and garden standards. The gardens’ berries and flowers attract migrating birds and butterflies in the spring and fall – over 100 species of birds and 24 types of moths and butterflies have been observed here. The Rectory Garden contains the oldest planted area on the property, a rose garden dating back to 1842.

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Photo courtesy of blog.zerve.com

Creative Little Garden
530 East 6th Street, East Village
Hours: 11am – 6pm (hours extend during the summer)
Admission: Free ($20 memberships available for those who wish to support the garden)

This community garden was started in 1978 and has since been designated a National Wildlife Federation Habitat. The Garden’s berries, birdbaths, bushes, and trees provide food and shelter for young wildlife, and the waterfall and benches provide a refreshing spot for humans (and their leashed pets) to recharge as well.

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Bosque Gardens/Garden of Remembrance
Battery Park
Hours: 24/7
Admission: Free

Located on Manhattan’s southernmost tip, and largely ignored by those heading to nearby attractions like the Statue of Liberty, the Bosque Gardens and the Garden of Remembrance start blooming with tulips and Virginia bluebells every April, with poppies, peonies, and Tassel grape hyacinth following in May. With 53,000 square feet of gardens and 34,000 perennial plants, the Bosque feels like an untamed, lush sanctuary.

Brooklyn

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Photo courtesy of bbg.org

Brooklyn Botanic Garden’s Japanese Hill-and-Pond Garden
1000 Washington Ave, Prospect Heights
Hours: 8am – 6pm (Tues – Fri); 10am – 6pm (Sat & Sun)
Admission: $12 adults/$6 seniors and students

Over two dozen cherry trees line the Japanese Hill-and-Pond Garden’s winding paths, artificial hills, and contoured pond. Cherry blossom season makes you forget you’re in the middle of a city and makes you feel instead as though you’re among Japan’s mountainous landscape. You can also enjoy Japanese irises, wisteria, and azaleas along with Japanese maples, white pines and bald cypress trees.

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Photo courtesy of timeout.com

Narrows Botanical Garden
Bay Ridge Avenue & 72nd Street, Bay Ridge
Hours: 24/7
Admission: Free

This 4.5 acre plot of land manages to pack in a wide variety of flora including weeping willows, linden trees, roses, and water lilies (which begin blooming in May). The Fragrant Pathway is lined with lilacs, lilies, and jasmine to satisfy the senses, and the Butterfly Garden is planted with milkweed to attract migrating monarchs. Visitors are invited to meditate in the Zen rock garden, and the Moon Garden contains white and silver flowers to reflect moonlight. The Narrows Botanical Garden was transformed via a community effort in 1995 and is a source of pride for Bay Ridge residents. While it’s a little out-of-the-way, it’s certainly worth a visit.

Queens

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Photo courtesy of amny.com

Queens Botanical Garden
43-50 Main Street, Flushing
Hours: 8am – 6pm (Tues – Sun, April – October)
Admission: $4 adults/$3 seniors/$2 students

The Queens Botanical Garden carries the tagline, “where people, plants, and cultures meet.” With plenty of educational programming and a month-by-month breakdown of what’s in bloom, the QBG satisfies curious minds while providing an oasis for relaxation. The Backyard Gardens present small-scale solutions which can be replicated in Queens backyards, and the Circle Garden features plants significant to Korean culture. There are 28 gardens in total to explore, and the Queens Botanical Garden’s somewhat-removed location ensures you’ll have a quiet and peaceful time.

Staten Island

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Photo courtesy of nyc.urbansketchers.org

New York Chinese Scholar’s Garden
Snug Harbor
Hours: 10am – 4pm (as of April 1)
Admission: $5 adults/$4 seniors and students

Based on the Ming Dynasty Gardens of 1368-1644, the New York Scholar’s garden contains a bamboo forest path, waterfalls, a Koi pond, and rocky landscaped features. As one of two authentic Chinese scholar’s gardens in the United States, the New York garden is home to many multi-cultural events throughout the year while serving as a peaceful escape from city stress year-round.

The Bronx

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Photo courtesy of amny.com

Bartow-Pell Historic Mansion and Garden
895 Shore Road, Pelham Bay Park
Hours: 8:30am – Dusk
Admission: Free

Built between 1836 and 1842, the Bartow-Pell Mansion is one of the last remaining country estates on Pelham Bay. The Terrace Garden was designed in 1914 to reflect British landscape tradition with grassy terraces, a central garden pool, and walkways extending in four directions from the pool and fountain. The Mary Ludington Herb Garden has been maintained since 1939, and both the herb garden and terrace garden are largely uninhabited if you go early in the day. Wild turkeys, rabbits, butterflies, and birds frequent the Bartow-Pell grounds, and make it hard to believe you’re still technically within New York City limits.

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Photo courtesy of timeout.com

The Gardens at Wave Hill
West 249th Street and Independence Avenue, Riverdale
Hours: 9am – 4:30pm (Tues – Sun)
Admission: $8 adults/$4 seniors and students/$2 children

Though Wave Hill is owned by the city now, the gardens are kept much as they were when it was a private estate. Enjoy views of the New Jersey Palisades and the Hudson River among wildflowers and various species of trees including dawn redwoods red oaks, sugar maples, and giant sequoias. Wave Hill’s flowering trees bloom in the spring and early summer, but they provide spectacular foliage in the fall as well.

There are dozens more gardens throughout NYC, but these are some of the less-frequented and most stunning examples. Take some time to enjoy the diverse flora (and the fauna they attract) within the city this Spring.

Q&A with Celebrity Stylist, Brendan Cannon

In my past career as an agent and producer for photographers and stylists, Cannon (Brendan Cannon) was one of my favorite people and certainly one of the most talented artists I worked with. He was always upbeat and genuinely a nice person: a breath of fresh air in a business full of big personalities. Brendan runs The Cannon Media Group and is always traveling the world to style projects with A-list celebrities. He took time out of his hectic schedule to share what it’s like to be a stylist, who are some of the greatest people he has worked with and why, and where he loves to go in New York City.

JD: How did you get started in the world of fashion as a stylist?

Cannon: I went on a shoot with my friend who was modeling at the time and I did not like the way they were putting the clothes together on the shoot. I gave input because there was no stylist and I ended up taking over the styling aspect of the shoot and helping the photographer. The photographer then hired me for a lot of jobs and I got a ton of tear sheets for my portfolio. So I guess you could say, the profession of styling chose me as opposed to me choosing styling. It came very naturally to me.

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JD: What does a typical day look like for you? 

Cannon: Everyday is different and presents its own challenges. Each fitting and job has its own obstacles, whether it be because the job is last minute, the celebrity changes the schedule, or the overall idea of the shoot is altered at the last minute. These are all things I have to be prepared for.

Surrounding myself with a great team is essential for several reasons. I always surround myself with people who know my style, people who can pick up where I left off, and people that I feel comfortable knowing they will prep the job according to my vision as well as the magazine’s, creative’s, or celebrity’s vision of how they view themselves and the project.

JD: What have been some of your favorite shoots?

Cannon: Colin Farrell for GQ Mexico, Photographers: Bleacher + Everard

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Alessandra Ambrósio for GQ Brazil, Photographer: Gavin Bond

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The cast of SNL for Gotham Magazine, Photographer: Robert Ascroft

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Oprah and Alvin Ailey dancers for O, wooden soldier costume styling only, The Oprah Magazine Cover, Photographer: Ruven Afanador

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Sean O’Pry for Prestige HK Photographer: Mike Ruiz

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Karolina Kurkova for Prestige HK, Photographer: Mike Ruiz

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JD: Who have been some of the best celebrities to work with and why?

Cannon: Annie Lennox, Angelina Jolie, Colin Farrel, and Jimmy Page.

A lot of times we do not understand the trials and tribulations that celebrities go through on a daily basis – whether it be paparazzi, something disparaging in the news that is not necessarily true, or bad reviews on a project or movie – but this separates the most present and sincere celebrities. It is refreshing to meet people who are so incredibly present while I’m working with them and who listen to my ideas and allow everyone to be a part of the creative process. This collaborative effort in turn creates the best work.

JD: Who are your fashion icons?

Cannon: Halston, Iris Apfel, Linda Evangelista, and Patrick Demarchelier.

JD: What stood out to you most about this years New York Fashion Week?

Cannon: There is an intense creativity constantly in New York and there are various great organizations that are helping emerging designers become more visible.

JD: Favorite NYC based designers?

Cannon: Jason Wu – I’ve been very lucky to share a great relationship with Jason Wu and watch his rise to fame.  He is extremely passionate and driven and has remained humble and true to his artistic vision.

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Image courtesy of jasonwustudio.com

Albertus Swanepoel– I’m absolutely in love with his hats and he is truly a visionary.

 

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Image courtesy of albertusswanepoel.com

Kintu New York – There is a new vegan luxury hand bag designer, Sarah Nakintu.  It is always refreshing to see such creativity in emerging brands.

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JD: Who do you wear on a daily basis?

Cannon: All Saints, Paige Jeans, John Varvatos, Vans, and Burberry.

JD: What about New York City inspires your work?

Cannon: There is a real energy in New York City that few places in the world have. I sometimes love sitting at a café or a park and seeing how people put their outfits together. It’s also incredible to see how driven so many people in New York are and how many truly successful people are there to help them become successful.

JD: How did you get involved with the handmade Italian jewelry line, PLUMA?

Cannon: I was consulting with a designer who really pushed me to take the leap and start working on my jewelry designs because I had offered so many great ideas while I was consulting for them.

We have been incredibly blessed with the press we have received and have many of my favorite top celebrities wearing PLUMA, including Halle Berry, Jennifer Lopez, Sharon Stone, and Julia Roberts to name a few. We have a really great team working on the company and are expanding rather quickly.

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Rihanna wearing PLUMA
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Gwyneth Paltrow wearing PLUMA; Image courtesy of People Magazine

Starting another company definitely poses its own challenges and everything is a learning experience. We truly have some great ideas and cannot wait for future roll outs. You can get a sneak peak at the jewelry as well as our newest collaboration with MONSE at www.pluma-italia.net.

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Image courtesy of pluma-italia.net

JD: What are your top 5 favorite spots in NYC?

Cannon:
Billy’s Bakery
Tipsy Parson
Cookshop
Caravan of Dreams
Levain
and Sullivan’s for coffee!

JD: Where would you like to see yourself in 5 years?

Cannon: I would like to be more philanthropic and give back to emerging creative minds as well as the community. I would also like to take more time to be in nature, explore more and I’d like to go on a safari before elephants are extinct.

JD: Do you have a dream project?

Cannon: I can honestly say one of my dream projects already came true. I had the chance to become the Fashion Ambassador for Snoopy and Peanuts, where I curated designers to make one-of-a-kind museum pieces for Snoopy and his sister, Belle. The project launched at the New Museum and is currently traveling worldwide.

I got to work closely with the teams and top designers of DVF, Isaac Mizrahi, Rodarte and Zac Posen to name a few and in the process Peanuts donated over $250,000 to charitable causes chosen by the designers. I also got to work with three of my favorites: Melissa Menta, Matt Murphy and Snoopy!

JD: Thank you so much for your time, Cannon.

Cannon: Thank you, Joe.

Follow PLUMA, one of the hottest jewelry lines, on Twitter @Pluma_Italia, on Facebook, and on Instagram.

Follow Cannon’s styling adventures on Twitter @thecannonmediagroup, on Facebook and on Instagram.

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Cannon TBT
Image by Mark Havriliak

Quarter 1 has recently closed and the latest market reports are out. Thanks to Town Residential’s Aggregate Report, Jonathan Miller’s Douglas Elliman Sales and Rental Reports, Streeteasy, Trulia, and UrbanDigs for the latest data about market conditions across the boroughs.

Manhattan Sales

For the first time ever, the average sales price in Manhattan has exceeded $2M. The median sales price is at $1.2M, up 17% from this time last year. These increased prices are attributable to several new development deals that closed during the 1st quarter of the year. For resales, the median price is currently at $960K. The homes most in demand at the moment are priced between $600K and $1.5M, a price range that saw a 6% increase year over year. The market is expected to see a cool down this year, a benefit for buyers who will see more flexibility from sellers and broader financing options from banks, and an opportunity for sellers to move their properties quickly by setting the right price to attract buyers looking to take advantage of the market shift.

Manhattan Rentals

For the first time since 2014, the rental market saw a very slight decrease in pricing, with the average rental price in Manhattan down 3.1% year over year to $3,989.

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Brooklyn Sales

The average price for a Brooklyn home increased 6.2% year over year to $795,409 in Q1 of 2016. The median sales price for homes in Brooklyn grew 8.4% from last year to $662,431. The first quarter saw a 26.9% year over year increase in number of Brooklyn sales, up from 1,507 in Q1 2015 to 1,912 in Q1 2016. Another impressive figure is the number of days on the market which fell nearly 38% year over year from 112 days to 70 days. These dramatic increases are due to a lack of sales inventory available to meet buyer demand.

Brooklyn Rentals

The average rental price in Brooklyn saw a year over year increase of 0.2% to $3,065. The median rental price for a home in Brooklyn is $2,775.

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Queens Sales

The Queens market slowed during the 1st Quarter of 2016 after seeing rapid gains during the second half of 2015. The average sales price decreased 3.4% from Q1 of 2015 to $475,498, while the median sales price decreased 10.4% to $399,888.  

Queens Rentals

Queens rentals also saw a 2.1% year over year decline with the average rental price at $2,927 and the median rental price down 5.2% to $2,799 for Q1 2016.

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Please stay tuned for additional market data on an ongoing basis and for the Q2 report in three months from now!