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Real EstateCity LivingQueens

City Living: Rockaway Beach

Once known as New Yorks Playground, Rockaway Beach is on track to reclaim that title but in a new way.

The Queens neighborhood that housed the former, famous Rockaways Playland amusement park might be without a Coney Island-like scene, but a different one is taking hold where trendy restaurants, beach-side bungalows and boutique motels add vibrancy to the seaside community.

Many of the waterfront homes and businesses that were destroyed by Superstorm Sandy reopened for the summer. And the Parks Department is working overtime to rebuild portions of the boardwalk that were completely washed away. Construction has resumed on new town house and condo developments that are aiming to attract more residents.

After Sandy, the area is surprisingly hot again after [nine] months, said Community Board 14 District Manager Jonathan Gaska.

Rockaway Beach takes its name from the largest urban beach in the United States, a seven-mile stretch of sand that extends the entire length of Rockaway Peninsula.

The neighborhood has always attracted surfers because it has the citys only legal surfing beach, but in the past few years, it has also reeled in young entrepreneurs, artists and families. Gaska says the influx of new residents and visitors some of whom rent out bungalows for the summer is a positive force.

In the 1800s and early 1900s, Rockaway Beach was home mainly to Irish immigrants whose descendants remain there today, but now the nabe is just as diverse as the rest of the city. A largely working- and middle-class community, residents take pride in its welcoming ambience, which bodes well with the grand ocean view.

Its very community oriented, and it almost has a California-type culture, Colin OLeary, an avid surfer and resident who moved to the area last year, said. You feel like youre not in New York.

OLeary, who is also a real estate agent with Manhattan Residential Group, says a range of people are opting for Rockaway Beach, from folks in their mid-20s and new families to seniors and retirees.

As the influx of establishments promises a trendier place for New Yorkers to play, Rockaway Beachs residential charm remains. It is captured in its bungalow homes, oceanfront town houses and colonial single-family houses where, on a typical weekend afternoon, residents recline on their balconies and porches, conversing with neighbors or giving directions to visitors.