City Living: Long Island City
The waterfront western Queens neighborhood of Long Island City is undergoing a massive facelift. Once populated with factories and other industrial buildings, it is now burgeoning with high-rise luxury condo buildings, trendy restaurants and a vibrant arts scene.
The changes are making it a hot destination spot in Queens: The waterfront is taking on a swanky look, the buildings are bringing in new residents, and the culinary and artistic endeavors of locals are attracting visitors from all parts of Queens, Manhattan and elsewhere.
Its a beehive of activity thats incredibly diverse, said Elizabeth Lusskin, president of the LIC Partnership, an organization that advocates for economic development of the area.
Its a great vibe and its welcoming, she added. There are great restaurants tucked all over the place and youre not waiting on line for everything.
Long Island City boasts many artistic establishments ranging from galleries like the Jeffrey Leder Gallery, located in a brownstone on 45th Road, the SPACEWOMb Gallery on Stanton Street, the SculptureCenter on Purves Street, and Socrates Sculpture Park on Vernon Boulevard.
For theater lovers, it is home to spaces like Ten10 studios on 47th Road, which serves as an art and performance space, the Chocolate Factory Theater on 49th Avenue, the Green Space on 24th Street, an incubator of dance performance art, and the New York Irish Center on Jackson Avenue.
The area also attracts many entrepreneurs working in creative, tech, food manufacturing and industrial sectors, working together in places like The Entrepreneurs Space business incubator on 37th Street. The whole ecosystem and the tenant mix in some buildings is amazing, Lusskin said, noting that the companies support the larger NYC area.
Some entrepreneurial names include Brooklyn Grange, a massive rooftop farm that sits atop the Standard Motor Products building on Northern Boulevard, Kaufman Astoria Studios, Rockaway Brewing Company, and Shapeways, one of the largest 3D printing/manufacturing facilities in the world.
Lusskin noted that the area is currently attracting all kinds of residents, from young families to professionals and older adults. Some are moving into the new buildings, while others opt for the old brownstones or row houses that still populate much of the areas quiet streets.
The neighborhood is also home to the Queensbridge Houses, the largest public housing development in North America, which cranked out famous names like Nas and Mobb Deep.
Ive seen [LIC] transform, said Eric Benaim, the CEO and president of the Modern Spaces NYC real estate company who has lived in Long Island City since 2005. For years it has been an up and coming area, but I feel its not up and coming anymore. Its here.
Benaim said LIC has something for everyone from a low-rise building to one and two family walk-up townhouse or a 45-story tower with full amenities.
A lot of people when first come here, they say its all industrial. We do have it; some industrial buildings are spread out throughout the neighborhood and some have been converted to artists lofts and creative spaces, he said. So when people come here who are not really familiar with how LIC has changed, theyre amazed.
In his experience as an agent and resident, LIC doesnt have trouble attracting new residents and visitors.
A lot of people come for places like PS1 and all the different cultural institutions. The waterfront on a hot day is like Central Park, he said. It feels like a neighborhood. After a month or two you know everyones name here. A lot of people move in and become a little bit of a LIC snob they dont want to live anywhere else.
For a weekend, you can come down and go to the LIC Flea, walk up the block to Gantry State Park, go on the piers and have a beautiful view of the city, visit PS1, he said. Its a beautiful place to walk around and enjoy.
By LISA FRASER
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