A Tide of Change In Long Island City


Long Island City is booming. The industrial waterfront is being transformed into a residential community. Glass towers are replacing former chemical dumps.

“People are choosing to live in Long Island City, not being forced,” said Rick Rosa, vice president of Douglas Elliman, who heads the brokerage’s Long Island City office. He’s been living in the neighborhood since 1999.

It comes down to access. Many subway stations are one subway stop, or one ferry ride, from Midtown Manhattan. And the area is still cheaper than its western neighbor.

Low mortgage rates and rising rents are encouraging people to buy, and the price per square foot for condos has exceeded $1,000 per square foot, unheard of just years ago. Yet supply remains low compared to demand, since many of the projects coming online were envisioned before the 2008 crash. But the next wave spreads new buildings further. Related Companies, the big developer of Time Warner Center and Hudson Yards, is adding more housing at Hunter’s Point South. Rockrose is building up Court Square.


And perhaps nothing epitomizes the new flavor of the neighborhood than TF Cornerstone’s 4545 Center Boulevard and its resort-like rooftop amenity deck, which will have tennis and volleyball courts, grills and a park when it is completed.

The housing surge has not yet been fully matched by retail. Residents are still awaiting a full-scale grocery store. Family-owned shops continue doing business in the same spot that they’ve occupied for decades. But other institutions, like the graffiti center 5Pointz, are on the way out.

Although Williamsburg is an obvious comparison, Rosa likens Long Island City more with Battery Park City, the planned community on Manhattan’s West Side that was formed by man, not nature. “It’s more family driven, less bar-driven,” says Rosa of Long Island City. “It’s forming its own identity.”

Photos: Roland Li

6 Comment

  • Long Island City may be booming, but it is already out of reach for middle-class New Yorkers (and has been for some time). No middle-class New Yorker can afford $1,000 per square foot for an apartment. And for all of that money, there is still very little that LIC offers in terms of neighborhood amenities. LIC not only lacks a supermarket, I think it also lacks a cohesive neighborhood feel that is often provided by a central business/shopping district.
    For those middle-class New Yorkers who are looking for good value in Queens, they should check out Forest Hills. Forest Hills apartments are very affordable (around $300 to $400 per square foot). And Forest Hills is a real neighborhood (with supermarkets!) and is only 25-30 minutes to midtown Manhattan on the E or F train.

    • While I agree that most, if not all, of LIC is out of reach for middle-class new yorkers, that will not be the case in a few years when the Hunters Point South project opens with 5000 new units, 60% of which will be middle and low income housing. Regarding the supermarkets, there is a Key Food on 21st St. between 44th and 45th, as well as Food Cellar & Co. on 47th, Natural Frontier Market on Jackson & 11th, a supermarket opening in linc LIC on Crescent when the building opens later this year, and there is also another market opening in a new rental building on 50th, directly across from the aforementioned project.

      However, you would be hard pressed to find a store that sells a decent amount of adult clothing around these parts.

    • FHGuy- You could not be more off base. You are trying to shill Forrest Hills in an article about LIC. I have lived in this area 6 years, and I own a business there. People that live in LIC LOVE THEIR NEIGHBORHOOD. Over and over again when I talk to my customers the one thing they love the most is how it feels like a real community. You have no idea. Amazing Michelin rated restaurants, one stop from Grand Central, beautiful parks, world class museums, ect, ect. But the biggest thing is the sense of neighborhood. So when you talk about a lack of a”cohesive neighborhood feel ” you are dead wrong. Besides I worked in Forrest Hills for 3 years, I didn’t think it had that feeling at all. Its more than 25-30 minutes away, there were many days it took me 1 hour and 15 minutes to get into Manhattan. 25-30 is a GOOD day, not the average.

  • LICGuy, I’ve spent a decent amount of time recently in LIC and that is my opinion of the area–I think it has no neighborhood feel, partly because there is no central business/shopping district.
    And you are totally wrong about the commuting time from Forest Hills to midtown. I take the subway into Manhattan every day and the ride on the E or F train to Lex/53rd or Lex/63rd takes about 25 minutes on an average day.

  • LIC Joe, the Hunters Point South buildings will be a welcome addition to LIC because of the affordable housing component. But I have a feeling it won’t be that easy to get one of those affordable apartments–these types of apartments are usually given out by lottery.
    And, by the way, if you’re in need of adult clothing, you should come check out Forest Hills. We have the Gap, Banana Republic, Eddie Bauer, Ann Taylor and Men’s Warehouse, as well as some specialty clothing stores. And all of these stores are on Austin Street (the main Forest Hills shopping district) and are within walking distance of the subway at 71st/Continental Avenue.

  • The Rockrose buildings in Court Square are ugly!