The big question: Will Queens gentrify and become a borough of micro-nabes of coolness like Fort Greene, Clinton Hill, DUMBO, Red Hook, etc.?
Jack: Not likely for gentrification. These areas were once for the urban (upper middle class) gentry. Queens was built in more “suburban style” for the lower middle and middle class. (LIC is exceptional since it’s an industrial conversion like Dumbo and Red Hook.) “Coolness” is something else. It’s already here. It’s increasingly cool to live in an area that has convenient transportation, biking ... [and] not a price rip-off for most essentials.
QC: Not a chance. What we have in Queens is forced gentrification, and that never works in the long run.
How would you describe Queens’ DNA?
Jack: [It’s] an inheritance of small rural and suburban 19th-century nodes that grew denser and more connected in the 20th century.
QC: Watered down from what it once was.
What keeps the borough from becoming over-gentrified?
Jack: Immigrant competition and simpler quality of original structures.
QC: The fact that it is the dumping ground of City Hall.
Where are the most likely areas of gentrification and why?
Jack: Jackson Heights and Sunnyside Gardens are historic districts. Enclaves like Forest Hills Gardens, Kew Gardens, Malba ... and Bayside Gables were built for the upper middle class or wealthy and haven't changed too much in the last century or so. Classic gentrification ... is not as likely as more spillover of native-born Americans.
QC: They're trying to force-gentrify Jamaica and Rockaway. Good luck with that.
What neighborhoods are prime for development? (and I don't mean just new condos going in, but areas that are ripe for new boutiques, restaurants, etc. that change the mom & pop fabric)?
Jack: [It’s] already happened in Astoria and Forest Hills, and it could happen more in Jackson Heights, Elmhurst and Flushing.
QC: Ha, ha, ha, you're more likely to get 99 cent stores, nail salons and dive restaurants here than boutiques and classy restaurants. And that's alongside the garbage that passes for "luxury condos" here.
Here are two additional questions that were not included in the piece:
Where would you go to experience a real Queens moment? Or, alternatively, which area do you feel represents the essence of the borough?
QC: Go to the St. Saviour's site in Maspeth and see the spot that once hosted a beautiful landscape with landmark-worthy architecture and a small forest, all of which was torn down and replaced with a garbage dump. That's the essence of Queens.
Brooklyn has its own "curators"--a new layer of people changing things there, i.e. Eric Denby of Brooklyn Flea/Brownstoner, young proprietors of micro-breweries, wineries and artisanal food stores/restaurants. Any such people in Queens, and who are they?
QC: You'd have to ask those interested in that kind of thing. I buy most of my food at Stop and Shop and cook at home.