Sunnyside, Queens: The Lure of Greenery in a Pandemic

Sunnyside, Queens: The Lure of Greenery in a Pandemic

Like many New Yorkers, Geoff Dyck and Casey Wang wanted to be closer to nature during the pandemic. The couple, who rented a one-bedroom apartment in Williamsburg, Brooklyn, were expecting their first child in August. As the due date approached, they looked for a starter home near Manhattan, but it was surrounded by greenery.

They looked around the outside edges of Prospect Park but couldn't find a place that felt right. While on a bike ride home from Jackson Heights, Queens, Mr. Dyck came one night onto Skillman Avenue in Sunnyside – a lush, tree-lined residential and commercial street.

"It felt like a secret garden," said 34-year-old urban designer Dyck, who had never heard of the western Queens area. "It's different from any other neighborhood I've been to."

Within days of their baby's arrival, he and Ms. Wang, 36, a city planner, moved to a two-bedroom, three-bathroom townhouse near 39th Avenue and 48th Street, which they bought for $ 1.15 million . Your new home is in the northern part of the neighborhood, in the historic Sunnyside Gardens neighborhood, one of the first planned parishes in the country, built in the 1920s. Popular with growing families, it offers homeowners green backyards and exclusive use of a three and a half acre park.

Amy FitzGerald, the couple's real estate agent and owner of Welcome Home Real Estate in Sunnyside, said about half of their clients this year were transplants from other boroughs or neighborhoods in Queens. The pandemic has boosted sales in particular of properties with terraces or gardens, she said.

Properties in South Sunnyside, just below Queens Boulevard, are typically cheaper than properties in Sunnyside Gardens.

44-year-old Sofia Moncayo has lived most of her life in the same two-bedroom, one-bathroom apartment on 47th Street and 48th Avenue. "The joke is you live on the wrong side of the track," she said, noting the socio-economic differences between the two areas.

Ms. Moncayo, a native of Colombia, now shares the room with her husband Michael Kim (39) and two of their three children. The couple, who own Glory Mixed Martial Arts in neighboring Woodside, have watched young families move to Sunnyside and gradually change the dynamic.

"I don't know if we're viewing the changes as gentrification," said Ms. Moncayo, who through Mosaic Church organized the bi-weekly distribution of food to those in need during the pandemic. "For us it was an improvement in the community."

While there aren't many new developments in Sunnyside, some residents fear that the redevelopment of Sunnyside Yard, a 180-acre freight yard that cuts through western Queens and buffers the northern edge of the neighborhood, will bring unsuitable architecture, increase rents and much-needed Take resources from other public initiatives. The plan, released earlier this year by the city's Economic Development Corporation and Amtrak, calls for 12,000 affordable housing units, 60 acres of open public space, new schools and libraries.

"I don't know what the right path to go for development there, but both I and my friends hope the community will get involved in what it looks like," said Charley Mills, 42, operations specialist at L.G.T.B.Q. Startups who bought a three-bedroom cooperative on Greenpoint Avenue and 39th Square in 2017 with his husband, Craig Chu, 38, an actuary in pension insurance. "A lot of people here look at Long Island City and think that with all the glass and steel condos it becomes a cookie cutter."

Sunnyside has a small footprint in west Queens bounded by the Sunnyside Yard site to the north and the Queens-Midtown Expressway to the south and bisected by Queens Boulevard. This small footprint means a lack of housing inventory.

"Sunnyside is really a niche residential real estate market with little movement," said Jonathan Miller, appraiser and advisor to Miller Samuel, Inc. "It has always been seen as an emerging market alongside Long Island City and Astoria." where the market is heavily dependent on rents. "

There's a huge difference between what you can find north of Queens Boulevard and what is available south. At Sunnyside Gardens on the north side, the single-family and apartment buildings are gorgeous but tend to be smaller, some with 18-foot-wide lots. South of Queens Boulevard, homes can be twice as big for much less money, said David Eisenberg, broker with Compass' Sukenik Glazer team.

These spacious rental apartments often attract new people to the neighborhood, Eisenberg said, and some of those tenants become buyers who don't want to leave. It's not hard to find a one-bedroom apartment for less than $ 400,000 in Art Deco cooperative buildings across the neighborhood.

Over the past decade, increasing demand from Manhattan and Brooklyn buyers has pushed prices up in Sunnyside, Ms. FitzGerald said, but still not anywhere near those other boroughs.

"Although the houses here are now over $ 1 million, the price in Brooklyn would be almost twice that or more," she said. "You just get better value in Sunnyside."

Of the 95 homes that went up for sale in mid-November, the average price was $ 666,600, according to Mr. Eisenberg. The cheapest studio on the fifth floor of a cooperative from 1961 was listed for $ 199,000. The most expensive pre-war three-story, 10-unit building was listed for $ 2.4 million.

In the third quarter of 2020, four single-family homes sold for an average of $ 1,032,500, Eisenberg said. During the same period in 2019, 10 were sold for an average of $ 1,064,100. One cooperative unit sold for $ 395,000 in the third quarter of this year, compared to 15 cooperatives that sold for an average of $ 448,796 in the same period last year. Three condos sold for an average of $ 452,164 in the third quarter of the year, compared to two sales for an average of $ 472,650 in the third quarter of 2019.

For the third quarter of this year, the median monthly rent was $ 2,000.

Sunnyside is a diverse neighborhood with an active arts scene and deep progressive roots. It is best known for hosting the first St. Pat & # 39; s for All Parade in 2000, in which the Irish and L.G.B.T.Q. Communities.

"It really feels like an incredibly cosmopolitan yet suburban community," said Lauren R. Bennett, 33, a Corcoran Group realtor who bought her first home in Sunnyside in 2018 and paid $ 525,000 for a two-bedroom condo an apartment paid 300 square feet deck on 49th Street and 43rd Avenue. "It has this small town atmosphere, where everyone is so friendly and you meet friends on the street."

Malli Kamimura, 46, and her husband Jacob Small, 46, moved from a two-bedroom apartment in Williamsburg to a two-family home they bought in Sunnyside in 2015 for $ 1.135 million. After taking their daughter to the front yard, their circle of friends began to grow, Ms. Kamimura said, noting that the Facebook group, where local mothers connect, has more than 3,000 active members.

"There is a lot of mobilization going on here," she said, pointing out that Alexandria Ocasio-Cortez is the local representative. "Everyone we know is partially involved in politics."

Guests will find a number of restaurants including the Mexican Restaurant de Mole; The Firefly Petite Cafe Bistro serves artisanal pizza and wine. the Skillman, an American gastro pub; Dawa & # 39; s, an American and Himalayan restaurant; Cemitas El Tigre, a Mexican sandwich shop; and the Niche, a popular tapas bar.

Crafts fairs and drag shows are held monthly at Sanger Hall, a bar and cultural venue.

P.S. One of the largest public schools in Sunnyside, 150 Queens, has 977 preschoolers through sixth grade enrolled (48 percent Hispanic, 26 percent Asian, 21 percent white, and 1 percent black). According to the Department of Education's School Quality Snapshot 2018-19, 65 percent of students passed the standards in English on state tests, compared with 48 percent in the city and 69 percent in math, compared with 50 percent in the city.

P.S. 199 The Maurice A. Fitzgerald School, a kindergarten and elementary school, has 718 students (58 percent Hispanic, 32 percent Asian, 6 percent white, and 2 percent black). In the 2018-19 tests, 51 percent met the standards in English and 49 percent met the standards in math.

P.S. 343 The Children's Laboratory School has 405 preschoolers and elementary school students (58 percent Hispanic, 28 percent Asian, and 14 percent white). In the 2018-19 tests, 54 percent met the standards in English and 50 percent met the standards in math.

I.S. 125 Thom J. McCann Woodside enrolls 1,509 students in sixth through eighth grades (53 percent Hispanic, 39 percent Asian, 5 percent white, and 2 percent black). In the 2018-19 state tests, 52 percent met the standards in English, compared to 47 percent in the city, while 56 percent met the standards in math, compared to 41 percent in the city.

Queens Technical High School, which offers entry-level preparation and technical courses, has 1,522 students in grades 9 through 12 (80 percent Hispanic, 10 percent Asian, 5 percent black, and 5 percent white). On the 2018-19 SAT tests, the average score was 943, compared to 987 across the city.

The number 7 train, which stops three stops along Queens Boulevard, divides the neighborhood into northern and southern sections, with the farthest areas about a 10-minute walk from the train.

Several bus routes run through Sunnyside, including the Q60, Q104 and B24, which connect the neighborhood to Greenpoint and Williamsburg in Brooklyn. The Q32 bus follows Queens Boulevard from Jackson Heights to Penn Station, while the Q39 bus connects Ridgewood to Long Island City and stops along 48th Avenue in Sunnyside.

The impetus for the development of Sunnyside was the completion of the Queensboro Bridge (today Ed Koch Queensboro Bridge), which connected Manhattan with Queens and Long Island in 1909. The IRT Flushing Line, now the number 7 train, ran from Grand Central Terminal in 1917 through Sunnyside and Queens Boulevard, the sprawling street that runs through the district was built in sections from the 1910s to the 1920s.

"This has really enabled large-scale settlement and the conversion of farmland to suburbs," said Hayes Peter Mauro, associate professor at Queensborough Community College and a member of the Sunnyside Chamber of Commerce.

Some of Sunnyside's most iconic buildings were constructed along and near Queens Boulevard in the 20th century, including the 2,000-seat Bliss Theater, which showed films from the 1930s to 1960s on Greenpoint Avenue. Sunnyside Garden Arena, a boxing and wrestling club on 45th Street and Queens Boulevard, attracted thousands of spectators from 1945 to 1977, and the hopeful President John F. Kennedy held a rally there in 1960.

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