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City Living: Rego Park is as Queens as it gets

Rego Park is as Queens as it gets.

The neighborhood is characterized by its main arteries of Queens Boulevard, Junction Boulevard, 63rd Drive and Woodhaven Boulevard pulsing with retail and culinary activity -- juxtaposed with quiet residential streets featuring picturesque Tudor homes.

Located 45 minutes out of midtown Manhattan by train and close to Flushing Meadows-Corona Park and the Queens Center Mall, Rego Park is popular for those raising a family.

Weve had a good experience raising our children here, said Peter Beadle, a resident of 16 years and member of Community Board 6. His kids went to P.S. 139.

It feels sometimes like a village. When I walk the streets, neighbors and shopkeepers know me.

The sense of community and the neighborhoods diversity is whats kept him, his wife Rachel and their two kids here. The family recently bought a co-op and plan to stay for good.

We enjoyed raising our children in an environment where the first language you hear outside the door is something other than English, he said.

According to the book, Queens: What to Do, Where to Go (and How Not to Get Lost) in New Yorks Undiscovered Borough, by Ellen Freudenheim, Rego Park is a melting pot of cultures ranging from Jewish and Bukharan Russian to Asian, South Asian and Latino.

When I first moved here in 85 it was different, now its a lot more diverse, said Dennis Cohen, an adjunct professor at Queensborough Community College. He grew up in Rego Park but left for college and returned in 1993. I love it here. Its been good to me.

This middle-class neighborhood is named after the Real Good construction company, which built many of the homes in the area in the 1920s.

Much of the areas housing stock is comprised of quaint Tudor homes, attached two and multi-family homes, detached wood-frame houses and apartment buildings like The Carol House, Savoy Gardens, Jupiter Court and The Brussels. The Crescents, semi-circular streets named for their crescent-moon shape, showcase well-kept Tudor and single-family homes sporting manicured lawns and shady trees.

For many years Rego Park lay in the shadow of its more popular neighbor, Forest Hills. But recently developers have shown a renewed interest in the neighborhood. High-rises such as the Millennium 99 at 63-36 99th St. and The Contour at 97-45 Queens Blvd. have ushered in upscale housing. And its not stopping there: A new 24-story building at 62nd Drive and Junction Boulevard, being developed by Vornado Realty, is gradually rising.

The area boasts what is arguably the best shopping in Queens.The Rego Center I and II shopping complexes feature stores like Costco, Century 21, Bed, Bath and Beyond, Aldi Supermarket and Burlington Coat Factory. Small businesses, many family-run, dot its main streets, like Creative Florist and Marks Dry Cleaner on 63rd Drive, the Mende School of Dance on Woodhaven Boulevard, and Metropolis Bicycles on Queens Boulevard.

The eateries reflect its blend of cultures with Peruvian cuisine at Pio Pio on Woodhaven Boulevard, old-fashioned diner food at Shalimar Diner on Austin Street, Uzbek food at Cheburechnaya on 63rd Drive and seafood dishes at Black Sea Fish & Grill on Queens Boulevard.

For Yvonne Shortt, executive director of the Rego Park Green Alliance, it was the areas laid-back, family-friendly vibe that attracted her 10 years ago.

I wanted a neighborhood where people lived in the community much longer, the mother of two said. I wanted a place where people knew each other and really have conversations. And thats something we got here.

She appreciates not just Rego Parks ethnic diversity but also its varied incomes.

You get a range, from the livery cab driver to someone who works in finance, she said. That diversity of income is very important; we wanted that and Rego Park has given that to us.

Beadle said the perception of Rego Park a little too sleepy is changing as young families and professionals move in.

People found our secret. Theyre realizing they dont have to go far away from Manhattan to start a life and have it be affordable, he said.

Its in the middle of it all and its a neighborhood with long-term roots and families.