If Manhattan is the black-Amex-carrying Wall Streeter of the New York City real estate scene and Brooklyn is the too-hip-to-care rock star, then Queens is the hardworking third sibling, eschewing the spotlight while slowly-but-surely amassing both a fortune and a loyal following. For years now, Brooklyn and Manhattan have dominated the New York co-op and condo market, but now the borough to the east is making waves, building its own housing momentum and creating an appealing alternative for those in search of an affordable, safe and welcoming place to call home.
The largest of New York’s five boroughs, Queens boasts a growing population of more than 2.2 million people. Developers have looked at those expanding numbers and launched an enormous number of new development projects, both high-profile and more affordable. This current spate of building is seen in part as a rebound from the stagnant days of the 1970s and 1980s when crime posed a problem, slowing the influx of new residents into the community.
Today, New Yorkers have developed a renewed interest in the borough, an interest inspired by Queens’ unbeatable amalgam of qualities, from location to price. “The number-one reason for the popularity of Queens is price,” says Norman Ellis, president of Ellis Group Ltd., a real estate mortgage company based in Bayside. “Whereas in Manhattan, a million dollars will buy you a high-end one-bedroom condo, in Queens it will get you a beautiful four- or five-bedroom home.”
The variety of properties available also draws buyers. “You can still get one-acre pieces of waterfront property in Queens,” Ellis says. Throughout the borough, potential homeowners will find a full range of dwellings, from three story walk-ups to new co-op and condo developments to single family homes, beach homes, garden apartments and much more—all for less money than the average Manhattan or even Brooklyn property.
“Queens is a great place,” says Tony Avella, a city councilman from Bayside. “It’s like living in suburbia. There’s good schools, access to parks, nice streets. People can live a quiet lifestyle, but still be in New York City.”