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The Amazon Effect in New York Will Reach Beyond Long Island City

The Amazon Effect in New York Will Reach Beyond Long Island City

Long Island City

Getty Images/ Tony Shi Photography

Real estate agents in Long Island City have seen a burst of interest in the Queens, New York, neighborhood since Amazon’s announcement last month that it will set up a second headquarters there.

The neighborhood, just across the East River from Manhattan, has seen a host of new development in recent years, as Mansion Global reported in November. Once an industrial zone, it’s evolved into a slick residential area. Prices in northwestern Queens have jumped 80% to more than average $825,000 in the last five years, according to the third-quarter market report by Douglas Elliman and appraisal firm Miller Samuel.

In recent years, Long Island City has become a destination for buyers looking for luxury apartments outside Manhattan. The average sales price for condos there was just under $1.1 million in the third quarter, according to the Elliman report.

In nearby Astoria, the average condo price was about $526,000, while Sunnyside condos averages about $368,000, according to the report. In Queens as a whole, the average sales price for a luxury home is $1.4 million, the report stated.

Brokers all over Queens have seen increased interest, despite the protests of some New Yorkers who feel the package of about $3 billion in tax incentives Amazon received to entice it to the Long Island City was too much. Still, they said the impact of the new headquarters—which is expected to create 25,000 jobs by 2030—is likely to have a ripple effect in other neighborhoods.

“I’m not sure what’s going to happen, but I think the interest will ripple out to other neighborhoods,” said Duane Egyud, a broker with the Queens Home Team at Keller Williams Realty. “The closer you get to Long Island City, the more dense it will be.”

The northern Queens neighborhoods of Sunnyside, Astoria and Jackson Heights are sure to see some interest, Mr. Egyud said. Investors have taken note, and he has been working with clients from Washington and California with their eyes on Queens real estate.

That said, Mr. Egyud expects the rental market to be more robust than the sales market to start.

“Most people are not buying as soon as they get here,” he explained. “They usually rent for a year or two to get a feel for the neighborhoods.”

Slightly further into Queens, areas like Forest Hills and Kew Gardens offer a more suburban feel with access to the city, according to brokers Robert and Susanna Hof of Terrace Sotheby’s International Realty in Forest Hills.

These areas don’t have as much new build as Long Island City, and there are more single-, two- or three-family homes to be found. That could be appealing to some future Amazon workers who aren’t used to New York’s space constraints, brokers said.

It’s too soon to tell how Amazon’s entrance into Queens will affect prices over the long term, brokers said, although some have immediate increases. Before the announcement, prices for luxury homes had been leveling off, Ms. Hof said, and she hopes the news will jumpstart that sector.

Here are three Queens areas worth consideration for residents and investors looking beyond Long Island City.

Sunnyside/Sunnyside Gardens

Sunnyside has a “great neighborhood community,” said Amy Fitzgerald, a broker and the owner of Welcome Home Real Estate in Sunnyside, Queens.

West of Long Island City, Sunnyside is an established neighborhood without a lot of land for development. It’s a mix of apartment buildings and, in Sunnyside Gardens, freestanding homes.

Prices have generally been rising in recent years, Ms. Fitzgerald said, with more people discovering Sunnyside. Many young families are moving in, and, as older residents move on, more investors have been scooping up real estate.

“We have a number of mixed-use commercial properties and six-unit buildings and those are the ones investors have been looking at more heavily in the last few years,” she said.

Ms. Fitzgerald said recently more of those investors grew up in the area, which she said is indicative of the sense of community in Sunnyside.

Whether they are investing or just moving to the area, “people have an affinity to Sunnyside,” she said. “They love the community. That’s the common theme.”

Most of Sunnyside is zoned for smaller, shorter apartment buildings, according to Ms. Fitzgerald, but Queens Boulevard, a main thoroughfare in the borough, allows bigger projects. That strip is seeing some new development, both mixed-use and commercial.

Sunnyside Gardens is a lower density area, with about 700 homes for one-to-three families, she said. At the center is Sunnyside Gardens Park, a private park that was part of the original plan for the neighborhood. Families who live on the park and in the designated zone have access.

Homes in Sunnyside Gardens can range from just over $1 million to $1.5 million, according to recent listings. One-bedrooms in Sunnyside range from $350,000 to $595,000, with prices going up from there.

The No. 7 subway line services the area, and it’s about a 10-minute ride to the Court Square subway station in Long Island City, which services Amazon’s new headquarters. Grand Central Terminal is about another 15 minutes.

Astoria

“Everyone loves Astoria,” Mr. Egyud said.

The tree-lined and quiet streets make it seem less hectic, but Manhattan is just a subway ride away. Astoria Park is another highlight of the neighborhood, as are the neighborhood’s mom-and-pop shops and good restaurants, according to Marc Dimov, a Compass broker who works in the area.

“It’s a very diverse and eclectic neighborhood,” he said. “It’s a place that a young professionals and families gravitate toward. It’s really a neighborhood for everybody.”

Astoria is north of Long Island City, and has a “hodgepodge” of housing options, from condominiums to co-ops to single-family homes, Mr. Dimov said.

There’s a wide range of home prices, he explained, but they generally range from $1.2 million to $1.5 million for a two-family home, he said, depending on the location and quality of the property. Condo prices also vary widely, and could be anywhere from $800 to $1,000 a square foot.

Many buyers who want to live in the area are attracted to the smaller properties, but six- to 20-unit buildings “are very attractive to investors,” he said.

“There’s a big demand for people who want to live here, and that’s why you’re seeing a lot of growth,” Mr. Dimov explained.

That includes new construction, both rental buildings and condos, and Mr. Dimov also said interest from speculators has picked up since Amazon’s announcement.

“There has been increased interest in land from speculators anticipating growth three, five or 10 years down the road,” he said.

Investors are looking at sites with existing buildings that could be razed to make way for bigger developments. “It’s a chance for them to own something brand new,” Mr. Dimov explained.

The N and W subway trains run through Astoria. The Court Square subway station in Long Island City is about 15 minutes by train, and Times Square is just over 20 minutes away via train.

Forest Hills/Kew Gardens

Further west are Forest Hills and Kew Gardens, a community with more space, according to the Hofs, who both grew up in the area.

“The big difference between this area and Astoria or Long Island City is that the homes are larger, as is the space around them,” Ms. Hof said. “It’s much more like living in a suburb than it is is a city, but it has all the benefits of proximity to Manhattan or to Long Island City.”

Parks are one of the hallmarks of the area, Mr. Hof pointed out. There are pocket parks throughout the area, and Forest Park has golfing and horseback riding, as well as walking trails, over 165 acres. Flushing Meadows Corona Park is another large green space in the area.

Forest Hills Gardens is an enclave within Forest Hills, with primarily one-family homes, Mr. Hof said. Its winding streets do have pockets of two-family townhouses, as well.

“It looks like the suburbs, but has a European flavor,” Mr. Hof said. Homes are brick with tile roofs, and the character of the homes has remained the same over the years because of restrictions on architecture laid out by the original developers.

Other amenities in Forest Hills Gardens include the West Side Tennis Club with a pool, and the community house which is open to all.

The value of the houses range from smaller, single-family townhouses for about $1.3 million, to very large properties that sell for between $3 million and $5 million.

“Our sales have been very brisk in the $1 million to $1.5 million range,” Ms. Hof said, but sales for homes on the high-end have been improving in recent years.

On the north side of Queens Boulevard, known as the Cord Meyer area, homes do not have the same restrictions on building. Newer homes, many of which have gone up in the last five years, are more modern and larger. The Hofs said there have been sales there for more than $4 million.

Kew Gardens is to the south side of Queens Boulevard and east of Forest Hills, and has older, smaller houses, although many are being torn down to make way for new builds, Ms. Hof said. There are also large apartment complexes.

That neighborhood has a small-town feel as well, with a main thoroughfare running through its core and offering everything from pubs to an art-house movie theater.

Both the Long Island Rail Road and several subway lines go to Forest Hills. A trip to Grand Central station can take less than 30 minutes on public transit, while the Court Square subway station in Long Island City is just over 15 minutes away on the E train. Kew Gardens is just two stops further on E or F trains.

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