Downtown Flushing: A changing nabe boasting a thriving business district
Flushing is a bustling neighborhood with a downtown area home to businesses predominantly owned and operated by the community’s growing Asian population.
Signs in English are a rarity in downtown Flushing, which makes visitors feel like they have been transplanted to a foreign shore.
The mix of ethnicities has helped Queens become one of the most diverse counties in America.
“You come out of the 7 train and you almost feel like you’re in a different world,” said Ellen Kodadek, executive director for Flushing Town Hall, an arts and culture nonprofit. “I feel as though Flushing is really reflective of this country as a melting pot.”
The Asian community is deeply embedded in the area and nearly 80% of businesses have either Chinese or Korean owners.
A diverse array of authentic cuisines, products and services are available in the area. And lots of food.
“You’ll never go hungry,” Kodadek said.
While downtown Flushing is known as a Mecca of multiculturalism that is heavily urbanized, there are also suburban streets lined with trees that echo the neighborhood’s past.
Preservationists for years have tried to save some of the expansive houses and estates developed here between 1875 and 1925. These residences sit blocks away from modern high-rise buildings and shopping malls.
Flushing’s embrace of multiculturalism has roots in the neighborhood’s founding in 1645 by English settlers as a beacon of religious freedom. One settler, John Bowne, allowed Quakers to practice in his home, defying laws of the time. His house still stands, as well as the Old Quaker Meeting House on Northern Boulevard, which is New York City’s oldest house of worship.
(with Dan Rivoli)
Find it: The four borders of downtown Flushing are Willets Point Boulevard, College Point Boulevard, Northern Boulevard and The Long Island Expressway ( or Booth Memorial, if you want to take it a bit farther).
Local business owner on the bustling nabe
Stuart Schneiderman owns Flushing Lighting Fixtures and Supply Co Inc., one of the largest suppliers of specialty lighting in New York, which was established in 1927. The third-generation business was started by his grandfather.
Stuart, a Flushing resident and married father of two, grew up in Queens and attended Flushing High School, where he graduated in 1974 before attending Queens College.
Are you happy running a business in Flushing?
While I was very excited to take over and run this business 35 years ago, the community has changed to the point that continuing at this location is questionable.
Based on your experience, what do you think is the future for Flushing?
Flushing Lighting has been at this location for 85 years. Flushing has changed so much in the last 12 years. I think that in a few more years none of the legacy Flushing retail merchants will remain.
What has been happening in the area?
As with any community that has a large growth spurt, you have changes both good and bad. I deal with many wonderful people and can embrace new cultures. Many large, older homes and buildings are being torn down and multifamily dwellings are shoehorned onto the same footprint. Today, you also see a Manhattan-like skyline rising in Flushing. This is becoming a very crowded town. Traffic both auto and pedestrian is also reaching Manhattan-like proportions. Many new restaurants offer new and delicious foods from China, Japan and Korea, which truly supply a taste of foreign lands.
Sky View Parc Luxury Condominiums, 40-28 College Point Blvd., newly designed 575-square-foot studios for $375,000 and 1,765-square-foot three-bedrooms for $835,000.
The stylish apartments were fashioned by Milc Design. Amenities include a rooftop garden, health club and spa, outdoor sports, entertainment lounges and child playrooms.
41st Ave. and Main St., a 900-square-foot condo for $438,000. This two-bedroom, two-bath condo is right in the heart of downtown Flushing.
3511 Leavitt St., a two-story house with six bedrooms and three bathrooms on a 2,439-square-foot lot. Nice gated Victorian style home dating back to 1920. Available for $1,050,000.
41-40 Union St., beautiful brick building and lobby with two-bedroom, two-bath apartments that include living rooms, kitchens and terraces with views of downtown Flushing and the Manhattan skyline. $1,750 with heat and gas included.
North Main Towers, 137-102 Northern Blvd. Apartment homes at North Main Towers feature an array of modern amenities and many extras for convenience. There are a variety of sunlit living spaces available in the midst of a convenient, cosmopolitan neighborhood. Studios start at $1,250 and two-bedrooms run for around $2,100 a month.
Sanford Avenue and Main Street, two-bedroom, two-bathroom brick building has apartments with modern kitchens and lots of natural light. With laundry in the building and tons of shopping and transit nearby, an apartment here will cost $1,700 a month.
Downtown Flushing is a transportation hub with 24 MTA bus routes that transport around 70 million passengers annually. The No. 7 train from Times Square has its terminus at the Flushing/Main Street station. Major highways run through downtown Flushing as well, including the Van Wyck Expressway and Grand Central Parkway. The LIRR has a station here.
The Queens Library at 41-17 Main St. serves more than 2.3 million people a year and circulates among the highest number of books and other library materials of any branch in the country.
Queens College, Flushing High School, East-West School of International Studies, Queens Academy, Townsend Harris High School, John Bowne High School, P.S. 242, P.S. 21, I.S. 237
The 109th precinct station house is located at 37-05 Union St. and the Queens North Task Force is housed at the Flushing Armory, 137-158 Northern Blvd. According to the NYPD CompStat report, murders have decreased by 20% since 2001. Robberies dropped 31.2%. In 2001, there were 22 rapes reported — in 2012 there were 11.
41-65 Main St. is the U.S. Post Office in downtown Flushing. The building is historic, with its Roman Imperial architecture and Corinthian columns.
Xi’an Famous Foods, 41-28 Main St., 718-888-7713; Featured on Anthony Bourdain’s cable show, this shop makes its own hand-pulled noodles from scratch. It specializes in dishes from the western Chinese city of Xi’an, which sits along the ancient Silk Road. The food is a fusion of Middle Eastern and Chinese dishes, resulting in tastes that are both unique and delightfully spicy. Some choice options are Liang Pi “Cold Skin” Noodles, the cumin lamb burger and wide hand-pulled “Biang Biang” noodles.
Zhu Ji Guo Tie, 40-52 Main St., 718-353-6265; $1.25 buys a plate of four pork and chive fried dumplings in the shape of crescents moons. This small establishment has been refining their recipes and techniques since 1974. Located right on Main Street, the small service window and shop specializes in dumplings and pork buns.
Corner 28, 40-28 Main St., 718-886-6628; Outside one can grab stellar Peking duck buns to go or come inside for a truly epic dining experience. Popular dishes include the roast pig: 1 lb for $8.50. Or, the honey roast duck: half $9.95, whole $18.50.
White Bear, 135-02 Roosevelt Ave., 718-961-2322; Wontons in hot oil and dan dan noodles make this spot run by a husband-wife team truly great.
Zebra Lounge 35-06 Farrington St. 718-886-3026; A sleek and contemporary hangout spot just a quick jaunt away from Flushing’s main central downtown area. Also a great place to grab a drink and watch a game with friends or meet new people out on the town.
The One KTV Lounge @ New World Mall 136-20 Roosevelt Ave., third floor, 718-353-0551; 28 luxury private karaoke rooms, including VIP suites that can fit up to 30 guests. State of the art sound systems and good service make this place great for group events
All of downtown Flushing is a long walking mall, with tons of shops and food at every turn. A bustling zone of retail and commercial space near the transportation center makes for a unique experience at rush hour, since Main Street and Roosevelt Avenue is the third busiest intersection in New York City.
Shun An Tong Health Herbal Co., 135-24 Roosevelt Ave., 718-445-9358; Just off Main Street, this is one of the longest established herbalists in Flushing. You can watch as the herbalists prepare remedies from mushrooms, ginseng, shark fin, animal teeth and other traditional medicines.
Skyview Center, 40-24 College Point Blvd.; The 800,000-square-foot shopping mall contains an Applebee’s, Bed Bath and Beyond, Best Buy, BJ’s Wholesale Club, Bob’s Discount Furniture, Chase Bank, Chuck E. Cheese, Coco Fresh Tea and Juice, Famous Footwear, Five Guys Burgers and Fries, Fay Da Bakery, Hershey’s Ice Cream, Marshall’s, Old Navy, Payless Shoe Source, Sky Foods, Subway, and Target.
Queens Crossing Mall, 136-17 39th Ave.; A small, urban mall with upscale, modern design that mixes retail, dining and office spaces. Stores in this building include TD Bank, Irresistible Home Decor, Liuligongfang, Mango, Belle Beauty Lab, Crossing Art, Sbarro, Paris Baguette, Mulan Restaurant, Mudan Banquet Hall and the Rose House.
Flushing Lighting Fixture and Electrical Supply Co., 134-23 Northern Blvd., 718-353-2894; Flushing Lighting has been servicing the tri-state area since 1927. One of the largest specialty lighting stores in New York, it carries a wide variety of commercial, functional and decorative indoor and outdoor lighting supplies and electrical supplies.
Flushing Meadows-Corona Park A public park that contains the USTA Billie Jean King National Tennis Center, the current U.S. Open tennis tournament venue. You can catch the Mets, of course, at nearby Citi Field. The park also contains the New York Hall of Science, the Queens Museum of Art, the Queens Theatre in the Park, Queens Wildlife Center, Queens Zoo, an ice-skating rink and a newly built skate park. The 1939 and 1964 World’s Fairs were held at the park and the remnants, such as the Unisphere and the New York State Pavilion, have become famous landmarks.
Queens Botanical Garden 43-50 Main St. Created as an exhibit for the 1939 World Fair. Check out rose gardens, bee hives, herb gardens and perennials. The ever-changing garden displays and exotic flora make this 39 acres of beauty and serenity in the city.
Flushing Town Hall 137-35 Northern Blvd., 718-463-7700; A 308-seat concert/theater, art gallery and classroom that hosts classical, jazz and world music concerts, theater and dance performances, art exhibitions and other educational experiences. Originally built in 1862, the Romanesque Revival style building started as a civic building. (The Flushing Council on Culture and the Arts sponsors the music and dance performances.)
Plans are currently being batted around to create a stadium in Flushing Meadows-Corona Park to house a major league soccer expansion team.
MLS shelled out $1.7 million lobbying city officials in 2012 for the proposed stadium that would cost $300 million.
The stadium has the support of some city officials and Mayor Michael Bloomberg. However, the proposed stadium is controversial, because the 25,000-seat structure would occupy 13 acres of park land.
The residents of Flushing generate nearly 40% of their wages from the health care sector, according to a study by the New York State comptroller a year ago.
In 2010, about one-third of the neighborhood was employed in health care or another form of social assistance.
Big money is being poured into development projects to fix up the area and make it even more cosmopolitan and livable.
One of them is the Flushing Commons Project on 5.5 acres of city-owned land.
The project will include a town square, central fountain, 620 residential units, a YMCA facility, parking for more than 1,600 cars and thousands of square-feet that will be available for use by commercial and real estate properties.
The Rockefeller Development Corporation of Manhattan and TDC Development and Construction Corporation, a local Flushing developer, are joining forces to create the area.
Construction is set to start this fall.