AMNY: How Queens is becoming king
How Queens is becoming king
By Lana Bortolot, amNY, May 2, 2012
Industrial and artistic, Long Island City seems perpetually on the edge of great things. It boasts an award-winning urban park, killer views, and world-class cultural institutions such as P.S. 1 and the Noguchi Museum. Also nearby, the newly refurbished Museum of the Moving Image, Silver Cup and Kaufman Astoria studios lend star appeal. And a new seal of approval: Prudential Douglas Elliman will open an office here, the first major residential brokerage to do so. [Read the article in amNY]
"LIC is such a unique neighborhood because it's been in transformation, yet it still has such interesting diversity," says Gayle Baron, executive director of the Long Island City Business Improvement District. "The commercial businesses have enriched the overall environment. We have a large base of artists and arts institutions, the Mom and Pops; when you put everything together, LIC is a microcosm of any large urban center."
The heart of the sprawling improvements is Vernon Boulevard, a well-established row of evolving eateries and bars poised to serve the thousands of tenants expected to populate the new waterfront towers in various stages of occupancy. TF Cornerstone is but one of several developers offering luxurious condominiums. Its View project, with one-bedroom units in the $700,000s, is 80% sold.
For retailers like Donna Drimer, owner of Matted, one of the few shops on the boulevard, it's a perfect case of "if you build it, they will come."
"In coming here, it reminded me of the East Village, where we watched it go from drugs into a really great neighborhood," she said.
Deepti Koikara, 30, moved to LIC in 2006 and bought her condominium on Jackson Avenue in 2008 just before moving to Norway. When she returned stateside last month, she said she was surprised at how much the neighborhood had changed.
"Just from what I noticed, three years ago, people would just live in LIC and commute into the city for other things," she said. "But I feel like there's a change in terms of people staying in LIC and going out-at least with the restaurants."
That's just the hope of restaurateurs such as Jeff Blath, 38, who opened the artisanal-focused Alobar five months ago to give LIC "a full restaurant experience without going into Manhattan." He credits M. Wells, the popular diner that closed last year, for proving LIC could attract foodies, but reckons "big changes will take time. People say it's like Park Slope 20 years ago, but it has to be its own thing."