Affluent Oasis Spared the Brunt

Date Published: 
Apr 6, 2009

With its tree-lined streets and mixture of handsome houses, well maintained high-rises and bustling shopping strips, Forest Hills in Queens stands as one of the few city neighborhoods that have yet to see double-digit percentage declines in housing prices.

Instead, brokers say, home prices have eased 5% to 6% to date, buttressed by the area’s solid housing stock, good schools and excellent transit links.

“Forest Hills is a good, vibrant neighborhood,” says Tom Donovan, a partner at Massey Knakal Realty Services, who heads its Queens office.

Even so, the volume of residential transactions is off steeply, and bids are coming in well below asking prices. Meanwhile, vacancies are rising along the area’s main retail strips.

“I started noticing vacancies in the early fall of last year,” says Jack Soleimani, owner of Jacklyn’s Boutique, an apparel retailer that’s been in Forest Hills for 30 years.

The asking rents for storefronts on Austin Street have plummeted to around $70 per square foot – less than half of the peak of $150 per square foot hit in 2007.

Landlords are working with tenants to provide rent relief or other lease concessions to keep more shops from falling into the “available” category, according to Cory Zelnik, founder of Zelnik & Company.

Crain's New York Business