Is Austin Street, the Main Drag of Forest Hills, Losing its Character?


This week, the Forest Hills/Rego Park Times wondered if the main commercial drag of Forest Hills, Austin Street, was at risk of losing its independently owned boutiques, novelty shops and restaurants. Here’s a rundown of the recent changes on the thoroughfare:

Over the past decade, the retail district has been marked by the closure of many small businesses, including Daniella Boutique, Santa Fe Steakhouse, Stoa Jewelry, Buster Brown Shoes, Homestead Gourmet Shop, and Art World. Pasta Del Giorno at 70-49 Austin Street, which opened in 1989 and offered fine Italian dining, closed in mid-February.

The closed shops made way for large corporations, including banks, chain pharmacies, clothing shops, and cell phone stores, to move in after landlords imposed hefty rent increases upon some longtime tenants.

The Times particularly wonders if the area is starting to look like “medical center row.” There are rumors that a medical business will replace the movie theater at 70-20 Austin Street, and it’s confirmed that an urgent care center will replace the former Second Time Around clothing shop and the new glass building at 71-53 Austin Street will house a ProHealth Urgent Care. It’s worth nothing that there isn’t an Austin Street BID to help incentivize and spur commercial growth in the area. Do you think Austin Street needs a BID? Do you think these changes are anything to worry about at all?

Austin Street Retail District at Risk [Forest Hills Times]

Photo via Forest Hills Times

4 Comment

  • The dreaded “medical center row”. Not only are many of these place unsightly and ruin the esthetics of a neighborhood, many of these places are questionable, usually involved in some type of fraud.

    DON’T let it happen Forest Hills. Stand up and fight.

  • I think the premise of the article has no merit. Even if all 3 medical places open, Austin Street would not even come close to becoming “medical center row”. There would be 3 medical places among many dozens of stores, bars, restaurants and food markets.
    And of course the article never even mentions the many great places that have opened on Austin Street (or right of off Austin Street) in the last few years. These include: La Boulangerie, Bareburger, Station House, Emily’s Candy Store, Jack & Nellie’s, Banter, The Flying Pig and The Grill. All of these places are independent (non-chain) and are great additions to Forest Hills. So much for the premise that Austin Street is losing its character. I think that Austin Street is more upscale and has more character than it has had at any time in the last ten years.

  • Anyone that remembers the Austin Street of the past can see that Austin Street is absolutely losing its charm although some stores that are opening are cheapy looking adding more medical offices will just make it into another typical “avenue” it’s sad that landlords across Queens are hiking up the rents for store owners no wonder that Queens is infiltrated with so many for Rent signs

  • Austin St. has been going down the drain as far as shops and restaurants for some time now. The rents demanded are simply too high to allow for what would make a charming street. Currently, the majority of the new restaurants opened are overpriced and mediocre, they will most likely not be in business within the next couple of years. The remaining clothing stores are chains, that are trying to convert to more affordable outlets like Ann Taylor recently did. Finally, a gay bar opens and they have the nerve to discriminate against straight patrons…the whole street has become laughable. That is why three urgent care centers are opening in lieu of where a movie theater, restaurant, and clothing store once was. These clinics will accommodate the large elderly population in the area, as well as children, the newly insured, and people from outside of Forest Hills who will have easy access to these centers via the adjacent subway and bus lines. This is the new, sad reality of what Forest Hills has become.