Sunday, September 30, 2018

Forest Hills is a ghost town


From the Queens Chronicle:

The recent disappearance of several Forest Hills fixtures continues an apparent trend in the neighborhood: the closing of businesses that its residents depend on.

Yellowstone Hardware & Supply Corp., founded in 1954, sold its last nuts and bolts back in November. As of Aug. 28, the venerable branch of Sterling National Bank, a cornerstone of the intersection of Continental Avenue and 108th Street, would offer no more interest or loans. This past spring, Key Food, which for decades stood at the corner of Queens and Yellowstone boulevards, closed its automatic doors forever.

A one-block stretch on Austin Street between 71st Road and 72nd Avenue reveals five deserted retail spaces, including those formerly occupied by New York & Company, a women’s clothing retailer, and a grocery store. A bridal shop is gone, too, along with the building that housed it. According to a hairdresser who declined to give his name but who indicated he has worked in the salon across the street for the past 14 years, the building was demolished about six years ago. The space remains an abandoned construction site.

Even a casual walk through the neighborhood offers plenty of other examples of properties that remain vacant. Continuing down Austin Street, one finds the window-covered remains of Sky Cafe, which served up tasty treats at the corner of 70th Road. A nearby AT&T Authorized Retailer is out of business, too, as is Barnes and Noble, one of the last remaining bookstores in the borough.

Toward the end of the street, where it meets Yellowstone Boulevard, Austin Wellness Pharmacy is but an empty shell behind a gated door.

The S&B Clothing Showroom for Men, which adjoined Key Food on Yellowstone, has been gone for years, perhaps a decade, some speculate. It was recently joined by the shuttered Aron’s Bakery, on the far side of the Long Island Rail Road trestle.

On the service road of Queens Boulevard, opposite MacDonald Park, an entire row of mom-and-pop businesses is gone: Party World, Urban Cuts & Color Salon & Spa, Yuriy’s Shoe Repair, Liz Cleaners, Worldwide Postal & Parcel Services and the corner Piu Bella restaurant.

31 comments:

Anonymous said...

The rent is too damn high. Also, most people shop online anymore. Soon they will put up unaffordable housing. Itll come soon then there will once again be more people on the block.

faster340 said...

Oh wow santa fe is gone?! My wife and i used to go there. But a couple years ago i went in to get a burger with a friend. Looked at the menu and realized it was gonna be like $40-50 for burgers and soda. Thats crazy. The rents must be too damn high..

Anonymous said...

I was in Forest Hills this Saturday. Earth to Querns Chronicle: Forest Hills is far from being a ghost town. Every single site mentioned is already or will become another retail establishment/eatery. Every neighborhood in NYC goes through cyclical turnover. It's no always bad. If anything it freshens the look and brings in more business to the entire commercial district. The QC should revisit next year and report on the positive changes taking place.

Anonymous said...

I live in Forest Hills and walk by these places all the time. I agree somewhat with the article. There have been many closures but most of the places mentioned (except Barnes & Noble) were kind of dumpy. The Key Food was not very good and there is another one a few blocks away. The hardware store is sad since I love old school places like that, but we can thank Home Depot and big box retail for that, it's happening all over. The closed Santa Fe restaurant has been turned into Curaleaf, a medical marijuana dispensary (I know, crazy). The Barnes & Noble is now a Target Express, I hate it but it's not vacant at least. So I would say that the area is in transition. There are still a lot of mom and pop type of shops with For Rent signs along Austin and that I would blame on the landlords and online shopping to a degree. In general, the food establishments and cafes seem to do well, so maybe Austin St could at least become a foodie destination with some retail mixed in but the area isn't quite as doom and gloom as the article sounds.

Anonymous said...

Uh oh, this means more mixed use and part sec 8 towers will no doubt be coming
R.I.P Forest Hills.
This mayor is running everybody out of business with these bike lanes, bus lanes and war on private cars.
--Jeez what a shame

Does this asshole really believe people are gonna walk 10+ blocks, spend $6 on subway or bicycle to buy doughnuts, hardware etc ?

Anonymous said...

Queens, for the most part, is a Borough in which people need to drive, to get their kids to sport classes and games, to get to places like Costco, Target and to buy the goods and services they need and use. Taking away parking will directly hurt these business. The anti-car, taxpayer funded DOT, is so determined in their prime role to make driving as difficult as possible, they are oblivious to the detrimental consequences of their policies.

Anonymous said...

"The QC should revisit next year and report on the positive changes taking place"

Oh bullshit, the only dam change I seen has been CHANGE for the worse! (only democrats supporting these tributes to themselves call it progress)
For example: I couldn't find the Queensboro and Triborough bridges when in New York, they changed both the names and roadway signs. Yeah, fun city as in get everybody lost in the f_ ing Bronx.
Robert F. Kennedy Bridge?
Why was a New York bridge, and airport and a state town hamlet re-named after a democrats from Massachusetts?
Crap like that is positive change? add a drug addict mayor and a pack of crooked lunatics running every branch of city government is progress?
Allow me to I reiterate, as in OH BULLSHIT !!

Anonymous said...

Ghost Town? It's impossible to find parking anywhere on Austin Street, which is why I favor Metropolitan Avenue for dining out. Who writes these articles?

Deke DaSilva said...

Kramer: Jerry, you know that shoe repair place at the end of the block? If they don't get business, they'll shut down and make way for one of those gourmet coffee or cookie stores.
Jerry: - I like coffee. - I like cookies.
Kramer: Well, of course you do. And you know why? Because you're a bunch of yuppies. It's your "go, go" corporate-takeover lifestyles that are driving out these mom-and-pop stores and destroying the fabric of this neighborhood.
Jerry: Well, what's so great about a mom-and-pop store? If my mom and pop ran a store, I wouldn't shop there.

Anonymous said...

Property taxes are very high, owners pass them on to the store renters.

Anonymous said...

It may not have the mom & pop shops that made it a unique place but a ghost town it is not. I went to the annual austin street festival and it was shoulder to shoulder foot traffic. It is still alive and kicking !!

Anonymous said...

The real estate shill notwithstanding, there are only two markets in Queens in the future: stuff that you would find in East New York and South Jamaica (tailored for the specific EMG (exotic minority group) or money laundering bars catering to socialist airheads like they have over in Astoria.

Those blocks of empty stores are going to be 'affordable housing' (and we know when we see those words we know its a press release right off a developer/politician's desk).

Anonymous said...

They want us out of our cars but public transportation is at capacity and can never be fixed. New York City will soon be New Delhi.

Anonymous said...

Miles Mullin

This place is sooo educational.

JQ LLC said...

It was George Costanza that was replying to Kramer. And as everyone knows, George is a jackass who eats garbage and committed involuntary manslaughter on his fiance.

Anonymous said...

You want to see an empty retail ghost town? East side of Manhattan. Worse every year.

Anonymous said...

FoHi is booming. Especially after the stadium opened again. All the places that closed down were old and dumpy. New and better stuff is coming just like every other gentrified neighborhood.

Anonymous said...

Wait until Whole Foods 365 moves in where Key Food used to be. And Amazon is scouting Queens too.

Anonymous said...

This is good, it makes room for more Payday Loan shops, nail salons and rub and tug massage parlors. THAT is real progress, friends.

Anonymous said...

I'm sure these places are empty because the landlords are waiting for other leases to expire so they can then built the towers that Forest Hills has become.

Anonymous said...

That would be a sight to see, pawn shops and massage parlors on Austin Street, Forest Hills is one of the most gentrified and affluent areas of New York, and also heavily liberal and Democrat leaning. Despite the progressives living there, they always made their little enclave "exclusive", in other words they kept out the people they wanted to "welcome" elsewhere in New York, you see places like Forest Hills all over NYC, little areas that are gentrified and the residents normally do not deal with the constant shit of the rest of the city's residents who have smaller bank accounts.

Anonymous said...

Wait until Whole Foods 365 moves in where Key Food used to be. And Amazon is scouting Queens too.
What would you prefer, dirty bodegas and more 99¢ shops? Those newcomers will be much welcomed!

Anonymous said...

Nice how some comments are blaming bike lanes and lack of parking although there are no bike lanes in FH. They have all the parking that can fit now. More cars in FH will not save those businesses. So why can't they survive? This is just capitalism. Those closed businesses either did not meet the communities needs or the landlords have overpriced the rents. One or the other will have to change. Nothing stays the same forever. You can't blame this on parking and bike lanes though.

Anonymous said...

That happened in Great Neck until they woke up and elected Republicans

Tommy Efreeti said...

>towers that FH has become

It was ALWAYS Towers, back to when Cord Meyer decided that was "modern". The privatized mansion enclave was a separate development that stood apart from what he built up along the Queens boulevard corridor.

The neighborhood is changing to cater to new money, that's all. FH is still solidly middle-class and mostly the same as it ever was down by Metropolitan. Stop fretting over the mediocre, over-hyped commercial corridor that was Austin, and hope better things replace the stuff that's on its way out.

Anonymous said...

@Anonymous - Sec 8 must already be here, somewhere. I have noticed a huge shift in the on-street population of Forest Hills' commercial district. Especially Target! And that's all I'm gonna say.

Anonymous said...

@Anonymous - Sec 8 must already be here, somewhere.

or the crowd that buffalo wild wings brings into the neighboorhood.

Tommy Efreeti said...

^Anon, Sec8, Seriously? Not really. I have observed the hood's changes for 20 years.
There's little to no sec8's in FH - you gotta go further down QB for that. You're just noticing homeless pop. spreading themselves out b/c of the "convenience" of the 71st station having multiple lines that allow vagrants to congregate easily there.

That low-end home-goods store on 71st is next because it was actually useful and affordable, but the adjacent little alley way with a psychic at the end of it, and questionable "vitamin supplement" shops, and awful old-people shitty food-stores that hung around for 20+ years weren't suspect to you at ALL? The Target is laughable, if anything it needs to be bigger by a third story and sell ACTUAL housewares, not knick-knacks. Now you're stuck with lousy, over-priced restaurants and weird clearance clothing stores for the ever growing population of stay-at-home rich-mommy-shoppers.


FH's appeal was that it was OVER-looked - now you're stuck between scummy rich foreigners of one type or another - either you'll get more ugly giant Bukhara mansions along Jewel, or more towers (Cord Meyer is grinning in his grave), or both (the ones building the mansions are also building the towers, I suspect). And it's been happening since the late NINETIES, wake up.

https://www.nytimes.com/2001/11/16/arts/central-asian-jews-create-queensistan.html

FH along the boulevard AKA WHITEPOT isn't real: it has neither history nor roots worth preserving for most newcomers. Its evolution didn't parallel the natural course actual towns like MV and Maspeth took. It was and has always been a constructed fantasy that lives mostly in its residents' heads as a collective delusion. At least in the case of towns elsewhere when house-dwelling residents recognized it they take action to curb over-development and speculation. But in modern high-rise towers full of stacked-box dwellers, residents of these self-contained "vertical 'hoods" do not naturally care what happens outside their buildings, it's a hard thing for them to engage with.

The private streets core won't change - everyone desperately claiming residency on the margins are actually the "buffer" between to actual old-money living there and the encroachment from the north.

If you want to live a nice middle-class life in FH, you should be looking for single family homes along the unused Rockaway Beach Branch LIRR tracks that separate FH from Glendale and the home-depot complex. You could do worse than living and shopping in Glendale, Woodhaven, Kew Gardens, or even south towards Richmond Hill. Even if you aren't a fan of Southeast Queens' culture, West Indians who've settled there seem pretty content to stay in and maintain their leafy, low-rise streets. Of course the City will eventually find a reason to destroy a perfectly good natural barrier by converting it into a Queens "Highline". Barriers bar development, this is why neighborhoods surrounded by Moses' works stay the same the longest.

Anonymous said...

The Mayor's plan is working exactly as intended.

Anonymous said...

>Why was a New York bridge, and airport and a state town hamlet re-named after a democrats from Massachusetts?

I've been wondering that myself. Doubly so with the Triborough, which is a nice descriptive name replaced with a non-descriptive one. Why could they just add Kennedy's name to the bridge instead of replacing the original name, like they did with Koch and the Queensboro Bridge?

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