New Building, New Neighborhood?

Chinatown’s shops are being taken down and replaced, Midtown’s buildings are being upgraded, Washington Heights rent prices are soaring, and Astoria’s expensive new apartments are pushing some people out of their homes, according to local residents.


Rego Park isn’t too far behind.


Construction of a 23-story building on Queens Boulevard — the tallest one in the area — is underway as of late July. There used to be “several small businesses, including a bodega and a pharmacy” on the site, the Forest Hills Post reports.


The Forest Hills Post claims the building will have 116 apartments, 411 parking spaces, 25,000 square feet of commercial space and 30,000 square feet of community facility space. Residents will have access to a yoga studio, a teen room, a children’s room, and a rooftop terrace.


Also in Rego Park, a house on 64-53 Ellwell Crescent received a demolition permit on July 27, according to the NYC Department of Buildings. The site is across the street from a new elaborate house the Forest Hills Post describes as having “large Greek columns and a concrete yard.” People are concerned that the replacement house may look similar. These thoughts are stirring up controversy — especially among long-time residents — over how the neighborhood may look or feel.


The face of this community is evolving along with so many others across New York City, and Queens residents have a lot to say about it.


“It’s where the world is heading,” says Yuriy, a resident of the area for over 20 years.


Locals see new types of people coming into the area with more convenient living, and some see a promising outlook for the community.


Daniel, 22, lives in nearby Fresh Meadows, but has a lot of family and friends in the area around where the 23-story building will be built. He sees the neighborhood changing demographically, reporting “more Bukharians and Kosher stores.” 14-year-old Emily Murdakhayeva reports the neighborhood around her has been growing more crowded as it becomes more diverse.


Daniel explains that the older generations have started to be replaced by younger generations, as even “71st Avenue [Forest Hills] is starting to get more young people.” Yuriy thinks the new housing will bring more “young professionals” and “people who used to live in the city.” He says buildings such as the 23-story one foster an “ongoing pattern of migration from the inner city to outer boroughs.”


While the areas’ futures are still disputed, Rego Park and Forest Hills are becoming home to more — and more diverse — people. The NYU Furman Center reports that the racial and economic diversity has increased.


Some locals see other positive changes with the new mixed-use 23-story building.


Though both Daniel and Emily expect the value of homes to increase and rent to go up, Daniel thinks the new mixed-use building will “cause more traffic.” Yuriy describes the shops in the building as a “plus” for residents who “can do grocery shopping in the lobby of the building.”


More residences help people stay in the area, as Daniel mentions how he could see his brother moving into such a home after getting married. He says that with the train station nearby, a new building with plenty of apartments seems to be a good reason for families like his to stay and continue growing.


To add to the list of changes, Yuriy brings up the end of a old establishment. He reports that as the Flagship Diner in Briarwood, a neighborhood in Queens, sees its 50-year lease coming to a close, a developer who bought the site will very likely build a residential building in its place.

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