Rego Park, Queens: Finding Value in a Melting Pot
Much of Rego Park retains the character of a classic New York immigrant neighborhood. Imported goods from Russia and other countries line shelves at the NetCost Market on Queens Boulevard, and Uzbeki fare like chebureki, meat-filled turnovers, and shish kebab is on the menu at Cheburechnaya on 63rd Drive.
But in recent years, Rego Park has also drawn people from other parts of the metropolitan area looking for housing value. Onnie Pang, 36, who works in investor services at a hedge fund, bought a two-bedroom condominium in Rego Park in January 2014 when she left Long Island to be closer to her job in Manhattan. While visiting a cousin in neighboring Forest Hills, she stumbled on a small 2008 development where she ended up buying her apartment for $620,000.
“I randomly walked by an open house and went in,” Ms. Pang said. “I loved the space, the windows, the sun coming in.” She added, “The neighborhood was great.”
Rego Park, an easy subway commute to Manhattan, close to highways and full of shops and restaurants, offers amenities similar to those found in more expensive Queens neighborhoods like Astoria.
Ms. Pang likes its homey feel; shopkeepers greet her warmly and she feels safe walking her dog in the evenings.
That quality and the amenities in her building (a parking spot and storage in the basement) make up for some of the neighborhood’s shortcomings, such as limited parking and a dearth of nightlife, she said.
Rabbi Romiel Daniel, the president of the Rego Park Jewish Center, has lived in the area for 21 years, and has witnessed changes in its large Jewish population.
He said his congregation of 400, made up of residents from countries like Poland, Hungary, Romania and Germany, is aging. Newer arrivals to Rego Park are Bukharan Jews from Uzbekistan and other Central Asian countries, who have started their own congregations, he said.
A 2013 Department of City Planning report on immigration, “The Newest New Yorkers,” said 15,798 of Rego Park’s 28,237 residents were foreign born in 2007-2011. Among them, 17 percent were from China, 12 percent were Russian, 11 percent Indian and 6.9 percent from Uzbekistan.
Joining the mix are the New Yorkers willing to move for lower housing costs, a group that developers of the Alexander at Rego Center, a 27-story, 312-unit luxury rental building had in mind when they began leasing units in July, according to Barry Langer, executive vice president for development of Vornado Realty Trust, the Alexander’s developer.
Connie Winder and her husband, Parry Winder, a commercial pilot who is known as Pee Wee, moved into a one-bedroom in the Alexander at Rego Center in September. Their new rent, $2,500 a month, is $1,000 less than what they had paid for a similar apartment in Long Island City.
Proximity to the airports, indoor parking, city views and access to Rego Park Center, a shopping mall at the base of their building, has made the move a good one, Ms. Winder said.
She said the couple, who are both in their mid-50s, found their new home quieter than Long Island City. “I do hear planes going to La Guardia, but I’m a pilot’s wife and I love the sound of planes.”
What You’ll Find
Rego Park, bordered to the north by the Long Island Expressway, is nestled among Elmhurst, Corona, Forest Hills and Middle Village. It has a mix of commercial avenues — Queens Boulevard cuts a swath through the neighborhood — and quiet residential streets. Housing is dominated by brick apartment buildings from the 1920s and 1930s, but there are also single-family colonials and townhouses.
A sought-after area of the neighborhood is the Crescents, a series of crescent-shaped streets with single-family homes, many of them in a Tudor style. Homes in the Crescents have small front yards on tree-lined streets, giving the area a suburban feel.
What You’ll Pay
A search early this month of the Multiple Listing Service of Long Island, which includes Queens, showed 105 properties for sale in Rego Park’s 11374 ZIP code, ranging from a one-bedroom co-op listed at $129,000 to a four-bedroom, single-family Tudor-style home at $2.925 million.
According to Jonathan J. Miller, president of the appraisal firm Miller Samuel, the median sales price of homes in Rego Park for the third quarter of this year — including one- to three-family houses, condos and co-ops — was $286,500, an increase of 5.4 percent from the third quarter of 2014.
A search of available rentals in Rego Park on StreetEasy.com showed 100 properties, including a one-bedroom unit in a 1936 building for $1,675 a month and a two-bedroom in a similar building for $2,150. At the Alexander at Rego Center, studios start from $1,995, one-bedrooms from $2,295 and two-bedroom units from $2,935, factoring in one month’s free rent on a 12-month lease.
What to Do
Shopping is abundant. The Rego Park Center has many national retailers and big-box stores, including Bed Bath & Beyond, Sears, Old Navy and Century 21. Options for grocery shopping include Costco, also at the Rego Park Center, and several food markets on 63rd Drive, where fruits and vegetables are colorfully displayed along the sidewalk. Nearby shopping includes the Queens Center mall, in Elmhurst, and the Austin Street commercial area in Forest Hills.
Green space is limited. Rego Park has no large parks, though there are several playgrounds. Residents are within striking distance of two of Queens’s larger parks — Flushing Meadows-Corona Park and Forest Park.
Community offerings include regular bingo nights, dances and cultural events at the Rego Park Jewish Center, and a children’s story time at the Rego Park branch of the Queens Library.
Real estate professionals say the neighborhood’s public elementary schools, whose students perform above city averages on statewide tests, are an attraction for families with young children. Public School 174 William Sidney Mount, on Dieterle Crescent, has about 700 students in prekindergarten through fifth grade. According to the Department of Education’s 2014-2015 School Quality Snapshot, 53 percent of its students met state standards in English, compared with 30 percent citywide; 66 percent met standards in math, compared with 39 percent.
The neighborhood’s other elementary school is P.S. 139 the Rego Park School, with about 850 students in kindergarten through fifth grade. There 41 percent of students met state standards in English, and 58 percent met standards in math.
Rego Park is well situated for getting into Manhattan or to La Guardia or Kennedy International Airports. It has easy access to highways in Queens — the Long Island Expressway, the Grand Central Parkway and the Van Wyck Expressway. It also has a subway stop at the 63rd Drive – Rego Park station; a ride on the R train to Times Square in the morning rush hour takes about half an hour.
The neighborhood also is served by the Q72 bus to La Guardia Airport and the QM10 express bus (weekdays only), which takes riders to Midtown Manhattan in just over half an hour, according to the schedule.
Rego Park gets its name from the Real Good Construction Company, which began residential development in the area in the 1920s, combining the first two letters of “Real” and “Good.” The company built 525 single-family homes in the area that originally sold for $8,000 each, according to the Encyclopedia of New York City by Kenneth T. Jackson.
Courtesy of: The New York Times.com