Kew Gardens: Tucked Away Yet Central With A Young, Laid-Back Vibe
Kew Gardens is a neighborhood that knows how to blend and balance. It mixes the old with the new, is quiet despite its location in central Queens, and has an old village vibe juxtaposed with a young crowd.
Tidy, well-kept lawns, storybook-style homes and quiet leafy blocks give the area charm. A stroll around the neighborhood will offer winding roads and hilly blocks where Victorians, Tudors and wood-frame homes are nestled. Even its main commercial corridors Lefferts Boulevard and Metropolitan Avenue exude a village-like aura in their architecture and friendly mom-and-pop establishments and chain stores, where the staff knows the regulars names.
But this picturesque community offers more than quiet streets and quaint homes. Ripe with transit options, it is a commuter area not far removed from Manhattan, Long Island and other Queens’s neighborhoods. Three MTA train lines, which get residents to the city in under an hour, the LIRR and a range of buses, run through the area. It is conveniently located between JFK International and La Guardia airports and is close to the Grand Central Parkway and the Long Island Expressway.
The accessibility is one of the reasons why I moved here, said Andrea Crawford, a resident of almost 20 years. It’s super convenient. It’s easy to get anywhere from here and it’s not an overcrowded neighborhood.
Carol Berger, a long-time resident of 58 years, loves it because; It’s in the center of everything.
Her husband, Murray, noted that the transportation is why they’ve stayed, along with the laid back-feel. Over the years they used to call it an oasis in the city, though it’s changed somewhat it’s still a neighborhood you could walk through, he said.
There is a slower pace here. On a Saturday afternoon old-timers hang out on benches reading newspapers or catching up with neighbors, families take leisurely strolls and residents head to Lefferts Boulevard to catch a flick at the local independent theater, Kew Gardens Cinemas.
But an upbeat vibe is also palpable. In recent years young families and professionals have been moving in, taking advantage of Kew Gardens relatively lower real estate prices compared to more trendy Queens and Brooklyn nabes.
This was the case for Kate Hollenbeck and her husband, Paul Forrester, who’ve raised two sons here, a 7 and 10-year-old.
We were priced out of many parts of the city including Astoria, said Hollenbeck, whose now lived here for 10 years. We were looking for an apartment and we wanted to be near a park. We found the apartments affordable here.
Many of the large Victorians and Tudor homes will run buyers more than $1 million, while the more moderate housing stock ranges between $500,000-600,000.
A one-bedroom co-op can start in the $150,000-210,000 range while a two-bedroom is between $285-375,000 depending on square footage and amenities offered.
The neighborhood has become extremely diverse in many ways, ethnically as well as age-wise.
As new residents converge with the old, it’s not uncommon to see long-time neighbors bellied up at the counter of The Village Diner on Lefferts Boulevard catching up or reading a newspaper while a young couple eats breakfast in a nearby booth. Meanwhile over at Odradeks Coffee on Austin Street, 30-something professionals, college students, new parents and long-time residents rub shoulders.
You’ll find a laid back, after-work crowd at Hangar 11 on Metropolitan Avenue, where many airline industry professionals, who live around here because of its proximity to both airports, unwind. At night and on weekends places like Austin’s Ale House on Austin Street fill up with regulars taking advantage of the daily happy hour or weekend brunch.
Trendy hotspots are also popping up, including the popular restaurants, Venue and Tu Casa on Metropolitan Avenue and Katarina Bar & Grill on Queens Boulevard.
It isn’t Bushwick or Williamsburg and these residents don’t want it to be; but some say more diverse dining and partying options are still needed. Both Crawford and Hollenbeck often head to nearby Forest Hills to get more of a range.
But on the flip side that’s what keeps the neighborhood quiet, Crawford said. Its not inundated with bars and restaurants.
Courtesy of: AM New York / LISA FRASER