I hold no illusions about the neighborhood where I own property (that is, my one-bedroom): With Manhattan real estate officially certified insane, and the best parts of Brooklyn gentrified and cutesiefied and thus largely priced out of reasonable possibility of ownership, that means all eyes are slowly turning to Queens. Long Island City, Astoria and Forest Hills have long been on the list of desirable places in this borough, which still gets no respect. At least in the Bronx there's fear (for what that's worth, however inaccurate). And in Staten Island, everyone figures you're a suburbanite. But Queens often gets the giggle of being somehow … low-class. As Betty's sister noted on "Ugly Betty" one night (I paraphrase), "We live in Jackson Heights. Our yards smell like fried onions."
Not true: We have no yards. But I digress.
Suck it up, folks — Queens is the place to be. And that's good for me. I like living here, I like Jackson Heights a lot, and as I've noted here and there with some glee, the rest of the city is taking notice. I'm all fine with gentrification, frankly. It means my apartment is worth more. And so when I sell it, I can actually retire to somewhere nice and pay off on the place. I'm all about thinking towards that 15-20 year future, assuming I'm still here at all. Some may wail and gnash their teeth about gentrification, but I'm looking forward to it.
But, I've always noted to folks, we're a long way off. How do I know? We don't even have a Starbucks. Not that I would go there, I don't even drink coffee, but even Astoria has a Starbucks.
That changed today. From The New York Times' Sunday Real Estate section:
Jackson Heights, Queens, has in recent years become a favorite
destination for young couples and families priced out of Brooklyn
neighborhoods like Park Slope and Carroll Gardens.
Carfagna, the owner of MPC Properties in Jackson Heights, says many of
these displaced Brooklynites are drawn to Jackson Heights for its
prewar buildings, especially those with large blocklong interior
gardens. He began a marketing campaign last year with advertisements
that described the area as “More Park, Less Slope.”
studios within the historic landmark district in Jackson Heights range
from $139,000 to $179,000. Prewar one-bedrooms there cost upward of
$250,000, but those in postwar buildings outside the district can cost
less than $200,000. Mr. Carfagna has several such listings, including a
$183,000 one-bedroom in a postwar building at 33-15 81st Street that
requires a down payment of 15 percent.
Buildings west of 82nd
Street and within easy walking distance of the main subway station at
Roosevelt Avenue and Broadway, where the E, F, R, G and 7 trains
converge, tend to be more expensive. The E and F trains run express and
are only three stops from Manhattan. Buildings in the high 80s and low
90s carry lower prices; they are still close to the No. 7 train, a
local line, but a long walk to E or F trains.
According to Mr. Carfagna, many of the young Brooklyn and Manhattan
transplants work in creative industries or new technology. “They come
for the diversity and all the great food out here,” he said. “They see
it changing and gentrifying, and they want to get in before it goes up
and gets too well known. Let’s call it a cheap but good date.” The area
also appeals to empty nesters, he added, particularly ones who lived
here when they were younger or have relatives who never moved away.
Mr. Carfagna saw plans for a
Starbucks in the area as proof that it had finally arrived. “Starbucks
really does its homework before moving in,” he said.
Now, I need to find out: If your building was built in 1941, are you pre-war or post-war? Aren't we just "war"? And if so, how does that fall on Mr. Carfagna's continuum?
Starbucks, bring it on.