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Rockaway Beach housing prices on the rise as young adults move in

Rockaway Beach has long been sought out by retirees for its ocean waterfront, laid-back vibe and affordable properties.

But today, the Queens neighborhood is becoming increasingly popular among young professionals, and housing prices are rising as a result, according to experts.

“It’s hard to say that one particular group is bigger than the other here but the younger crowd is definitely moving in,” said Cathie Amato, a real estate agent for Citi Habitats who works in the area and lifelong Rockaway Beach resident.

Housing in the neighborhood ranges from private homes with front lawns and backyards, to new condo developments and beach bungalows built in the 1920s.

In the recovery from superstorm Sandy, which badly damaged the Rockaway Peninsula in 2012, new apartment buildings and eateries have popped up, which, along with the beach town-feel, are helping to attract young residents.

Home prices took a hit in the neighborhood after the storm, but have since recovered. From 2012 to 2014, Rockaway Beach’s median recorded sales price dropped by about 43%, from $285,000 to $173,000, according to StreetEasy. However, in 2015, the median sales price was back up to $236,900, the listings site found.

And although sales prices are rising, the neighborhood is still less expensive than many other areas in Queens. The median sales price in the borough as a whole was $358,000, according to StreetEasy.

The median rental price in Rockaway Beach in 2015 was $1,475, compared to $2,100 in all of Queens, the site found.

But although the housing prices are enticing, the nabe remains plagued by its distance from the city — residents face a 11/2-hour commute to midtown on the A train.

Winters on Rockaway can also be brutal as the weather can feel especially harsh near the shore. It’s common for residents to leave town during the cold months, and many of the nabe’s restaurants close for the season.

The main drags for dining are Rockaway Beach Boulevard and the boardwalk, which boasts food and clothing concessions along the waterfront.

Local favorites include Rippers, which sits on the boardwalk and is known for its burgers, and Whit’s End at 97-14 Rockaway Beach Blvd., a pizzeria that offers specialty pies and stays open year-round.

“There’s a skate park, jetties for surfers, places to go day-drinking, and we’re definitely not missing any bars,” said Marco Amaya, 22, a line cook at Tacoway Beach at 302 Beach 87th St., who grew up in the nabe. “There’s something for everybody.”

Surfing, Jet Skiing and fishing are common activities at the beach, which is free to enter and is the only legal surfing beach in the city. A few local shops, such as Boarders Surf Shop at 192 Beach 92nd St., carry surfboards for sale with rental options and also offer surf lessons, while Jet Skis can be rented by the jetty on Beach 92nd Street.

The surf scene is also evident in the local bars and restaurants, many of which have surfboards and framed photos of local surfers on their walls.

“This area so nice, it’s good because it’s possible to surf in the morning and work in the day,” said Carlos Varella, who moved to the area three months ago and is the owner and chef at Beach Bistro 96, a new restaurant at 95-19 Rockaway Beach Blvd. “In the morning I go surfing and at 11 I start to work, this is the life.”

Find it:

Rockaway Beach is bordered to the south by Shore Front Parkway and the north by Beach Channel Drive. It is bound to the east by Beach 79th Street and the west by Beach 108th Street.

Rockaway Beach restaurants

Tacoway Beach302 Beach 87th St.Formerly Rockaway Taco, this
Photo Credit: Linda Rosier

Tacoway Beach

302 Beach 87th St.

Formerly Rockaway Taco, this outdoor eatery has a surf club vibe in its garden. Locals frequent it for its famed fish tacos.


8601 Shore Front Parkway

Rippers has become popular among locals and visitors for its burgers and beers. The concession also occasionally features live DJ sets.

Whit's End

97-14 Rockaway Beach Blvd.

This pizzeria is one of the few local restaurants that stays open year-round. Whit's serves pizza out of a wood-fired brick oven, with toppings that include fresh mozzarella, truffle oil and harvested mushrooms.

Bars and nightlife

The Community House101-19 Rockaway Beach Blvd.A spacious bar
Photo Credit: Linda Rosier

The Community House

101-19 Rockaway Beach Blvd.

A spacious bar and lounge with an open deck. Patrons can play beer pong, and on some nights the venue offers live music and DJ sets.

Rockaway Beach Surf Club

302 Beach 87th St.

Next to Tacoway Beach, this bar also offers a laid-back surf scene.

Connolly's Bar

155 Cross Bay Parkway

This Irish bar, located in the basement of an old Victorian beach house, is surprisingly known for its pina coladas and other tropical cocktails.


Where to shop

Boarders Surf Shop192 Beach 92nd St.A father-and-son business
Photo Credit: Linda Rosier

Boarders Surf Shop

192 Beach 92nd St.

A father-and-son business that boasts a genuine taste of the New York surf scene. Along with a wide range of swimwear, surfboards and skate gear, Boarders offers surfing lessons and rentals.

Mello Magic

8515 Rockaway Beach Blvd.

Sneakerheads can find an impressive collection of Nike and Jordan shoes at this cozy apparel shop.


Things to do in Rockaway Beach

Rockaway Beach and BoardwalkShore Front ParkwayThe sandy waterfront
Photo Credit: Linda Rosier

Rockaway Beach and Boardwalk

Shore Front Parkway

The sandy waterfront is free to enter and is the only legal surfing beach in the city. Locals can also fish, Jet Ski or hang out on the boardwalk.

Rockaway Jet Ski

375 Beach 92nd St.

This waterfront shop, which also has a bar and restaurant, offers hourly Jet Ski and kayak rentals. It also hosts daily tours that promise spectacular views of the city's bridges and the Statue of Liberty.

Shore Front Parkway Skatepark

Shore Front Park Way at Beach 90th Street

This small skate park near the beach was recently rebuilt by the local community after it was damaged by superstorm Sandy.

Transit basics

Trains:A train connection to the shuttle train at
Photo Credit: Linda Rosier


A train connection to the shuttle train at Broad Channel station. The shuttle goes to the Beach 90th, Beach 98th and Beach 105th street train stations.


Q52, Q53, QM16, QM17

Rockaway Beach real estate data

Median sales price: $236,900 Number of units on
Photo Credit: Linda Rosier

Median sales price: $236,900

Number of units on the market: 65

Median rental price: $1,475

Number of rentals on the market: 98

(Source: StreetEasy)

The buzz

Councilman Eric Ulrich, who represents Rockaway Beach, has
Photo Credit: Linda Rosier

Councilman Eric Ulrich, who represents Rockaway Beach, has been critical of the city over the recovery from Superstorm Sandy in 2012.

During a hearing held by the City Council's committee on storm recovery and resilience this month, Ulrich criticized the city for the slow start of the Build it Back program.

The Build it Back program was launched in 2013 and offers funds to homeowners for the reconstruction of homes that were destroyed or damaged by Sandy.

According to Ulrich, many of the homes in Rockaway Beach that are part of Build it Back haven't yet been worked on, even though homeowners were removed from the properties.

"I still have constituents who are not at their homes," Ulrich told amNewYork. "It's painful to live through and my criticism was on point in terms of the city's slow progress."

A representative from Ulrich's office could not confirm how many homes on Rockaway still need reconstruction.

According to the mayor's office, 67% of homeowners in Rockaway Beach who applied for Build it Back assistance were given a reimbursement check for construction.

A spokesperson for the mayor's office said the Build it Back program is on track for completion citywide by the end of this year.

Q&A with Domenic Boero, owner of Rippers

One of the most popular restaurants and concessions
Photo Credit: Jason Shaltiel

One of the most popular restaurants and concessions on Rockaway Beach's boardwalk is Rippers, which has attracted many visitors to the area with its famed cheeseburgers since it opened six years ago. One of the restaurant's owners, Domenic Boero, 34, moved to Rockaway Beach five years ago and has since bought a home on the peninsula with his wife.

What do you like about Rockaway Beach?

It's the best of a lot of different worlds: You still feel tethered to NYC proper, you've got the A train, which is a direct lifeline to major parts of Brooklyn, Queens and Manhattan, but you also feel removed and you're right on the beach. If you go a few miles east into Long Island you don't have that same sort of convenience that you have here.

How have things been since superstorm Sandy?

As far as this business is concerned, the city helped us a lot. We were the first business on the boardwalk to be open after Sandy. We were open on Memorial Day weekend [in 2013], which was a miracle.

Are there any negative aspects to living here?

The negatives that people have are the positives that I appreciate. It's essentially still a beach town that becomes more quiet in the winter months, which me and my wife really appreciate, especially being in this business here because the summer time is [so busy] so it's great to have some quiet time.

What is it like in the winter?

The community gets a little more intimate in the winter months, the bars and the restaurants you might frequent have a smaller group of people that you become familiar with seeing on a weekly basis ... and also because the weather is not so nice so they kind of just hole up and spend their afternoon staying in.


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