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Real EstateCity LivingQueens

City Living: Middle Village offers privacy and a beautiful park

The close-knit Middle Village neighborhood in Queens is one that's meant for the long-haul: Talk to any resident and chances are they've lived here for years.

"It's not a turnover community," said Sal Crifasi, the broker and owner of Crifasi Real Estate, which has a local office on Metropolitan Avenue. "Most of the people here have been living here for over 20 years, from generation to generation. We have people whose grandparents may have bought a house in the 1920s and turned it over to their daughter, son or other family member."

Bob Holden, who has lived here all his life and is now the president of the resident Juniper Park Civic Association, has a family history etched in Middle Village from the time his grandparents bought a farm here.

"My mother was born in the house around the corner from where we now live and I grew up in that house," he said. "I still know a lot of people in the area who I grew up with. That's really the charm of Middle Village; it's like a small town in a big city."

Residents say that part of living in this area is having a commitment to making it a welcoming place for families and to maintaining a high quality of life. Whether it's pushing to keep the area's gem - the 55-acre Juniper Valley Park - a haven for residents or to ensure that high-density zoning doesn't alter the neighborhood's aesthetic and feel, this Central Queens nabe's proud residents know how to put up a fight.

Families, old-timers and kids congregate at the park to play on the ball, bocce and shuffleboard courts and baseball fields.

Over the years the civic association has butted heads with Parks Department commissioners who wanted to develop the park or make additions for things local residents didn't want, like BBQ grills. Locals have so far successfully advocated in their favor.

"The transition of the park is one of the biggest changes I've seen," said Gary Colter, a DJ who grew up in Middle Village and is raising his two teenagers here. "When I grew up the ball fields were just full of weeds and broken glass, but thanks to a lot of dedicated people the park has become a real jewel."

Surrounding the pretty park, Middle Village's population is low-density compared to nearby areas like Ridgewood and Rego Park. Detached and attached Tudor homes with American Flags swaying over windows and doorways line its quiet streets along with mostly private homes.

The area was completely rezoned by the Department of City Planning in 2009 to exclude any multi-family homes on the side streets. Only one and two-family detached homes between 24-35 feet high are allowed.

Three-bedroom, single-family homes typically sell for $600,000 to $700,000, Crifasi said, but prices near the park, like along Dry Harbor Road or Juniper Boulevard north and south, are higher.

The area is mostly a sales market, Crifasi said, but one-bedrooms in the area rent for around $1,200 to $1,300 a month, and three-bedrooms go for around $2,000 to $2,200.

Many of the homes have driveways and by car the area is roughly 25 minutes from Manhattan with no traffic. But if you don't feel like leaving, shopping can be done within Middle Village.

On Metropolitan Avenue you'll find butchers, hardware stores and fruit markets along with Italian and Spanish eateries and Polish delis. Eliot Avenue has a Met Food and Andy's Delicatessen. The Silver Barn Farms on Caldwell Avenue offers dairy products and fresh produce.

And while you're shopping, you'll most likely bump into a neighbor or local school faculty member.

"In a lot of neighborhoods around New York nobody knows one another, but here we still have that old-time feel," Holden said.