Archive for the ‘real estate’ Category

Is Queens the New Brooklyn?

October 21, 2010 3 comments

Show me the development! This corner was supposed to be developed into a new condo/shopping center. What happened?

I read the AM New York article from yesterday “Is Queens going Brooklyn?” There were many interesting points raised by it and I hope to come back to it in later posts. But one comment in there really had me baffled:

From the Q&A portion with Queens borough historian Jack Eichenbaum:

What neighborhoods are prime for development?

[It’s] already happened in Astoria and Forest Hills, and it could happen more in Jackson Heights, Elmhurst and Flushing.

Huh? Just what development is Mr. Eichenbaum referring to? The Windsor? From what I can see, Forest Hills hasn’t had any new significant “development” aside from the Windsor building in a loooong time. Am I missing something?

This especially irks me because that is exactly what our neighborhood could use — new development! How about starting with the dilapidated storefronts along Queens Blvd. heading towards Kew Gardens?

As discussed yesterday on this blog, the hotel planned for Austin St. never materialized – and that sounded like a very exciting project for our shopping district, just the type of new development we need here. And I am intrigued by the Marriott proposal in the Daily News yesterday – as long as it incorporates the historic stadium and allows public use in some way.

But Mr. Eichenbaum, if you are out there reading this, I’d love to know what development you are referring to here in Forest Hills. This is vitally important. Aside from a few creative retailers, in case you haven’t noticed, Austin Street doesn’t have much spark these days. A lot of bland or tired looking businesses, some of which seem stuck in a time warp (I can think of one or two diners in particular, and the food they serve seems to have been sitting around for ages as well).

Just walk through some of the fantastic neighborhoods in Brooklyn and Manhattan and you will see what I mean. There’s so much room to do soooo much better here.

Local Real Estate Trends

October 13, 2010 2 comments

The Springfield Gardens-Jamaica neighborhood led all Queens neighborhoods with 411 home sales, a 24-percent increase compared to both last quarter and last year. The Rego Park-Forest Hills neighborhood and Flushing were the next two highest in home sales with 346 and 309, respectively. 


Here’s the full release:



Oct 12, 2010 09:20 ET

NYC Housing Market Continues Rebound in 3rd Quarter

Total Dollar Value of Residential Property Sales in 3Q up 26% to $8.36 Billion; Sales Volume, Average Sales Prices on the Rise Citywide

Surging Sales for Brooklyn Apartments; Queens Average Home Sales Prices Rise

NEW YORK, NY–(Marketwire – October 12, 2010) – New York City’s residential sales market continued its rebound during the third quarter of 2010, in contrast to the housing market in the rest of the country, according to a new report.

The report, a comprehensive look at housing prices for all five boroughs issued by, the public real estate listings Web site of the The Real Estate Board of New York (REBNY), found that the total dollar value for residential property sales in the quarter was up 26 percent to $8.36 billion compared to the third quarter of 2009, and up 11 percent compared to the second quarter of this year.

The number of home sales (which includes cooperatives, condominiums and one- to three-family dwellings) increased citywide by 18 percent compared to last year, with a 25-percent increase in Manhattan alone. In addition, the number of home sales citywide increased 12 percent this quarter compared to last quarter. Much of the all-homes increase was due to the strength in condominium sales. The number of Brooklyn condo sales more than doubled compared to the third quarter of last year from 445 to 914, a 105-percent increase.

“New York City’s residential market continued its recovery in the third quarter and exceeded expectations despite the uneven pace of the global and national economic recovery,” said Steven Spinola, REBNY President. “Interest rates are historically low and prices have stabilized, so we anticipate that New Yorkers sitting on the housing market fence will gain increased confidence in their financial stability and jump into the market.”

The report found that the average sales price of a home in New York City increased by seven percent to $722,000 compared to last year, while the average price of a Manhattan home increased eight percent to $1,332,000.

The residential markets in Brooklyn and Queens showed solid gains in the quarter. In Brooklyn, in addition to the surge in the number of condominium sales, cooperative sales also climbed 35 percent to 622 compared to last quarter. In Williamsburg, as a result of a concentration of new developments with multiple closings in the quarter, there were 214 sales, an 83-percent increase compared to last quarter, and an astonishing 193-percent increase from a year ago. Park Slope, with 201 sales in the quarter, saw a 50-percent increase compared to last quarter and a 65-percent increase compared to a year ago.

In Queens, the average home sales price for all housing types was $396,000, an increase of three percent compared to last quarter. The highest neighborhood average sales price was in Long Island City, which has a host of new developments, where the average sales price increased eight percent to $703,000 compared to last quarter.

Unlike other reports, the quarterly analysis is a single report that provides a comprehensive look at sales data for all five boroughs, as well as neighborhood data for Manhattan, Brooklyn and Queens.

Other report highlights:

All Homes (cooperatives, condominiums, one-to-three-family dwellings)

Quarter to Quarter

  • The number of home sales increased 11 percent in Manhattan in the third quarter compared to the second quarter.

All Apartments (cooperatives and condominiums)

Year to Year

  • The average sales price of an apartment in New York City during the third quarter of 2010 was $854,000, an eight-percent increase year on year.
  • The average price of an apartment in Manhattan in the third quarter of 2010 was $1,293,000, a nine-percent increase from the third quarter 2009.
  • Brooklyn’s average sales price of an apartment in the third quarter of 2010 was $478,000, an increase of three percent from the previous year’s third quarter.

Quarter to Quarter

  • Citywide apartment sales increased 12 percent to 6,814; Manhattan sales increased 11 percent to 3,572; and Brooklyn sales increased 27 percent to 1,536.


Year to Year

  • Manhattan experienced a five-percent increase in the average sales price to $1,592,000.

Quarter to Quarter

  • Citywide condominium sales increased nine percent to 3,063; Manhattan sales increased six percent to 1,619; and Brooklyn sales increased 22 percent to 914.


Year to Year

  • The average sales price of a cooperative unit in New York City rose 14 percent to $678,000 this quarter compared to the third quarter last year.
  • Manhattan’s average sales price increased 14 percent year on year to $1,046,000. The average sales price in Brooklyn was up one percent to $385,000.

Quarter to Quarter

  • Citywide cooperative unit sales increased 15 percent to 3,751; Manhattan sales increased 17 percent to 1,953; and Brooklyn sales increased 35 percent to 622. Quarter to quarter, the average price of a cooperative unit increased four percent citywide and increased two percent in Manhattan.

One- to Three-Family Dwellings

Year to Year

  • The average sales price of a one- to three-family dwelling in New York City during the third quarter of 2010 decreased one percent year to year to $533,000.
  • The average sales price of a one- to three- family dwelling in Brooklyn increased five percent to $623,000.

Quarter to Quarter

  • Sales volume increased quarter to quarter by nine percent in Queens, 18 percent in the Bronx, and nine percent in Brooklyn.
  • The average sales price of a one- to three-family dwelling citywide increased by less than a percent quarter to quarter. The average sales price of a one- to three-family dwelling in Brooklyn increased by four percent; in Queens the average price increased by two percent.

Manhattan Neighborhoods

  • The average condominium sales price in the West Village in the third quarter of 2010 was $3,078,000. This was the highest average price for any neighborhood in the city and a 23-percent average price increase from last quarter.
  • Tribeca led all neighborhoods with the highest average sales price of a cooperative unit at $2,479,000. The average sales price of a cooperative unit on the Upper East Side ($1,407,000) and the Upper West Side ($1,212,000) increased by 14 percent and 28 percent respectively compared to last year.

Brooklyn Neighborhoods

  • Cobble Hill and Brooklyn Heights led all Brooklyn neighborhoods in all homes average sales price at $1,537,000 and $1,050,000, respectively.

Queens Neighborhoods

  • The Springfield Gardens-Jamaica neighborhood led all Queens neighborhoods with 411 home sales, a 24-percent increase compared to both last quarter and last year. The Rego Park-Forest Hills neighborhood and Flushing were the next two highest in home sales with 346 and 309, respectively.
  • The average condominium sales price in Flushing was $361,000, a seven percent increase compared to last quarter and a nine percent increase compared to last year.

For the full report visit or

About is the first comprehensive web portal enabling homebuyers to link to thousands of exclusive home listings in New York City from thousands of REBNY residential member brokers. Since launching has logged more than 56 million hits.

The site, which is updated every three hours, provides access to condos, co-ops, townhouses and homes both for sale and for rent as well as lists Open Houses. also contains a wealth of information about New York City’s residential real estate market, neighborhoods, school districts and more, making it the only true one-stop destination for New York City homebuyers on the Web.

About The Real Estate Board of New York
The Real Estate Board of New York is the city’s leading real estate trade association with 12,000 members. REBNY represents major commercial and residential property owners and builders, brokers and managers, banks, financial service companies, utilities, attorneys, architects, contractors and other individuals and institutions professionally interested in the City’s real estate. REBNY is involved in crucial municipal matters including tax policy, city planning and zoning, rental conditions, land use policy, building codes and legislation. In addition, REBNY publishes reports providing indicators of market prices for both the residential and commercial sectors.

Lunchtime in the Hills

September 23, 2010 7 comments

Just some stuff I noticed today during a nice walk around Forest Hills on this delightful Indian-Summerish day:

The empty space on 71st Continental, near Queens Blvd., is being filled by another optical store.

Some before and after tornado shots of the Queens County Savings Bank on Queens Blvd.

The Queens County Savings Bank on Queens Blvd. right after the tornado...

... and the Queens County Savings Bank today.

And the Jewish harvest holiday of Sukkot has busted out all over town!

Oh, and one other thing…. what is with the Fay Da Bakery, over near the T-Bone Diner? I walked in there and it was P- A – C – K – E – D !!!!! Is the place that good? Just what have I been missing all these years?

Eat Pray, Well Actually Just Pray

September 7, 2010 Leave a comment

Need a place to worship this Rosh Hashanah and Yom Kippur?  How about the former home of the La Terrazza restaurant near the Midway Theater? It has been temporarily converted to a synagogue for the holidays. Now, that’s an innovative use of one of our abandoned storefronts!

Brick and Mortar Memories

September 2, 2010 4 comments

Before the internet, I used to do most of my browsing in the aisles of great bookstores like our neighborhood Barnes & Noble on Austin St.

More recently, that activity has been replaced by browsing of the digital kind, for instance on my Kindle.

But now comes word that the enormous Barnes & Noble at Lincoln Square in Manhattan is closing and will become a Century 21 store. A Century 21 store???!

I have so many wonderful memories of that gigantic bookstore, pretty much from the time it opened. I remember how excited I was every time I went there. It was a great place to just while away a lazy afternoon, cracking open one book after another, never knowing what I would discover next.

Now that will be replaced by bargain clothing. How exciting.

I am all for progress. And I absolutely love my Kindle. I end pretty much every day clicking away on the thing. But I will definitely miss that wonderful Barnes & Noble at Lincoln Square. And I truly hope our store here on Austin isn’t next.

I remember when I discovered last year that suddenly all the Virgin Megastores in the City had closed. That was bad, but it was more like an incovenience level-bad, an annoyance.

Ever since I was a teenager and had a few hours to spare, I’d jump in the car and head on over to my nearest bookstore, usually a B&N and, oftentimes a steaming Starbucks in hand, meander through the aisles.

I haven’t done it in a while actually, since, like I said, I can now carry my bookstore with me wherever I go thanks to my Kindle. But just knowing that I soon might never be able to do it ever again, makes me want to more than ever.

Mexican Affairs

August 26, 2010 4 comments

By Parker

A few yards from the pigeon waste covered sidewalk of the LIRR underpass, sits 2000 square feet of empty retail space. Why does this former WaMu branch sit empty? Is it the horrible economy, the Rodeo Drive-like rents, or, like people seeking love, the right retailer hasn’t met the right location yet. But the other day permits were spotted in the window – windows covered with that nondescript brown paper that hides a mystery and seductively whispers to passersby, “yes, something’s coming.”

Permits speak their own language – one understood by architects, contractors, and inspectors. Most of us don’t know an egress from an egret, or think HVAC is an ACDC cover band – we simply want to know what’s coming soon. On this permit, between building codes, license numbers and other jargon, I saw a glimpse of the future, “…renovation of existing bank into eating and drinking est.” Now, we’ve been down this road before. For every Martha’s Country Bakery, there’s a Twin Donut. For every Jade, a restaurant to impress your Queens-phobic friends, an equally unimpressive one opens.

Since patience isn’t one of my virtues, I made some calls and discovered that Continental Avenue’s newest arrival will be hot & spicy – we’re going Mexican!

“Mexican restaurant” is a bit too vague for my comfort but my sources were tight-lipped and wouldn’t reveal the name. Taco Bell is a restaurant, but probably a disappointment to anyone who isn’t a McDonald’s loitering, I-pod listening, cell phone texting teenager. With 5 Burros and Garcias covering the sit down, table service diners at opposite ends of Austin St., I don’t see this as another local mom & pop establishment. The only logical choice is one of the larger Mexican chains – Chipotle, Qdoba, Moe’s Southwest Grill, or Baja Fresh.

First, I went to their respective websites to confirm they could operate out of 2000 square feet – all four can. Second, I went to their company news section to see if they were announcing any new Queen’s locations – no insight available here. Third, I wanted to see what presence, if any, did these restaurants have in New York City. I thought any restaurant without a Manhattan location is less likely to open their first one in Queens. All four chains are new to the City with Chipotle arriving first in the early 2000’s and Baja Fresh only opening in May 2009.

From their respective websites:

Chipotle locations: Manhattan (28), Brooklyn Heights (1)
Qdoba Mexican Grill locations: Manhattan (7), Fresh Meadow, Queens (1)
Moe’s Southwest Grill locations: Manhattan (3, but 2 are in Penn Station), Rego Park, Queens (1) – coming soon
Baja Fresh Mexican Grill locations: Manhattan (2)

I must confess that I have never eaten at any of these establishments and my opinion is only based on visits to their websites. While all four would be a welcome addition, only one would move the needle significantly on the Forest Hills’ hipness quotient meter. Can one Mexican restaurant take us from Forest Hills hip replacement to Williamsburg hip? With a corporate philosophy of community building, earth-friendliness, sustainable building design, and vegan burrito options – Chipotle is the one!

Only time will tell. Let the chips (and salsa) fall where they may, and thankfully it’s not another bank or cell phone store.


August 25, 2010 Leave a comment

The City Council has just given its final ok for the new 15 Penn Plaza skyscraper. I’m sorry, but this brings out the little boy in me. Another skyscraper to rival the Empire State Building. I think that is really neat, especially with all the dreary news these days. I can understand people’s concerns about it blocking the view of the Empire State Building from some parts of Jersey, but to tell you the truth, I always thought the Empire State Building looked a little lonely from New Jersey standing up there all by itself!

More to read in The Times here:

Published: August 25, 2010
A City Council vote clears the way for another 1,200-foot edifice at the doorstep of the city’s revered landmark.

Empty Stores? Just You Wait… and Wait

August 20, 2010 1 comment

There’s a good article on about all the store vacancies on shopping strips like Austin. Basically, the article brings out that we will most likely be waiting a long time for those empty store fronts to fill up.

As Congressman Anthony Weiner tells the business owners about the landlords: “They think four lean years are better than getting into a rent they’ll regret in five years.”

There’s logic in that, but only if you believe that this Recession is nothing more than a typical one, like the cyclical one’s we have experienced in the past. The other point of view on that, of course, is that it isn’t: that we have just experienced a fundamental shift in our economy and must all now adjust to a different world. In other words, we may not be emerging from the “lean years,” as Weiner put it, for a long time. And these “lean years” might be the new normal.

I tend to agree with this latter, rather pessimistic view, for a variety of reasons which I won’t get into here. (If you are really interested email me or tell me below and I will go into it.) So, what I take away from the article is that these landlords are most likely deluding themselves. They will be waiting a long, long time before they get the rents they seem to think they can from these Austin St. stores. Times have changed, and we all must adjust.

At the same time, I think new businesses will still be coming into Forest Hills and the very desirable Austin St. We see new places opening all around us: NY Falafel Bar, the new Mediterranean Seafood restaurant where Piu Bello used to be, just to name a few. But few of the empty storefronts will be filled unless rents come down.

This is a big part of the reason why I support landmarking the Tennis Stadium and then finding new uses for it such as new tennis tournaments, concerts, a museum, etc. Anything that will take advantage of a well-known landmark in New York City and draw tourists here after their stops at Flushing and Jackson Heights. A visit to the Stadium followed by lunch or dinner or some shopping on Austin St. — what’s not to like about that?

More on Alleged Co-Op Theft

July 22, 2010 Leave a comment

Another good article about the case of the local co-op manager charged with embezzlement and grand larceny: Forest Hills TimesManaging Agent Charged in $950,000 Queens Co-Op Scandal

Local Co-Op Manager Arrested

July 21, 2010 Leave a comment

The article, from Habitat, says Michael Richter of Charter Management Realty, who managed The Majestic Tenants Corporation located at 110-20 71st Avenue in Forest Hills among other buildings, has been charged with grand larceny and embezzlement.

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