Young professionals are moving to Long Island City in droves to reside in the western Queens neighborhood’s new residential high-rises and to take advantage of its close proximity to midtown.
They are joining the artists and other creative types who have found refuge in the waterfront area for decades.
And while the nabe is known for having few amenities like stores, restaurants and even sidewalks, experts say that all will follow the real estate boom that’s going on there now.
“The buildings have to get built first, and then the retail will come,” assured David Maundrell, the executive vice president of new development in Brooklyn and Queens for Citi Habitats. “You’ll see retail coming to Long Island City soon because there’s a strong need for it. There’s so many moving out there.”
Despite the lack of retail, housing prices in LIC are rising.
In 2005, the median sales price in the area was $210,000, according to data from the listings site StreetEasy — in 2015, it was $730,000.
Rental prices rose at a slower rate, but the number of units expanded substantially. The median rent in 2006 was $2,523 and rose to $2,630 in 2015, while the number of rental units in LIC increased from 140 in 2006 to 3,672 in 2015, according to StreetEasy.
High-rise apartment buildings are popping up along the edge of the East River, offering sweeping views of Manhattan’s skyscrapers and luxury amenities like pools, gyms and doormen.
Molly Harrington, 31, and her husband, Tony Canu, 29, both personal trainers, said they moved to the new 21-story QLIC, at 41-42 24th St., in September 2015 because they were priced out of their Upper East Side studio and wanted a true one-bedroom in their budget.
At QLIC, the pair got an apartment bigger than their Manhattan digs by 200 square feet for about $400 a month less in rent but with the same ease of transportation, they said.
“We’re all over the place as independent trainers, so the access to all the different trains is really important,” Harrington said.
Their building is one of several new developments on the more industrial side of LIC, which is north of the Queensboro Bridge. Another is the 11-story Luna at 42-15 Crescent St., which opened this spring.
But the new construction can be a nuisance, some said.
“There’s no sidewalks because everything is under construction,” said 30-year-old writer Sarah Schwartz, who moved to LIC two years ago with her fiancé. “It’s a major problem.”
Sneha Basu, a 25-year-old financial analyst working in midtown, moved to LIC from Boston last month and was attracted to the area’s affordability. However, she said it could use some more nightlife.
“When I go out, it’s usually to Manhattan or Brooklyn,” Basu said, noting that she has yet to socialize much in her neighborhood. “But there’s lots of subway lines I could take, and even a cab ride to Williamsburg is manageable.”
But Long Island City Partnership President Elizabeth Lusskin, 51, said the area has plenty to offer if you look for it.
“People don’t realize that they’re actually in a very established neighborhood,” she said. “You just have to walk a couple of blocks to get to all these places.”
There are more than 30 cultural institutions in LIC, according to the partnership, from MoMA PS1 and the Noguchi Museum to the Secret Theatre performance space and the newly-opened Jessica Lang Dance Center, the eponymous school and studio of the famed ballet choreographer.
These are evidence of the days when artists were the nabe’s residential pioneers, according the local Councilman Jimmy Van Bramer.
“Long Island City in particular has always attracted artists and will always attract artists, probably for all the same reasons that it’s been attractive to everyone else — which is that it’s really close to Manhattan,” said Van Bramer, a lifelong resident of western Queens.
There are so many young families living in Long Island City that there was recently a shortage of pre-kindergarten seats, he added.
To meet demand, two elementary schools are slated for Hunters Point South, a new middle-income development next to the river.
A new middle school is also slated for construction in LIC, but its location isn’t yet disclosed, according to Van Bramer’s office.
An eight-story public library is also currently under construction at Center Boulevard and 48th Avenue.
Nicole Olver, who works at the branding firm Contently, said she likes that LIC is still quiet.
“I never go to Brooklyn and I might go to Manhattan once on the weekend, but most of the time, I’m spending most of my time in Long Island City,” said Olver, 31. “Most of the people in my building are exactly the same. Most of the people there are young professionals, so we actually hang out with our neighbors.”
Long Island City is a triangular neighborhood bordered to the west by the East River. It is bound to the north by 30th Drive from the river to 21st Street and 31st Avenue past it, according to StreetEasy. Its southeastern boundary goes from 49th Street to Skillman Avenue, down to Newtown Creek.