BY LUIS GRONDA
Although it was always known as an area for nice restaurants and a variety of clothing stories, Austin Street has become a more hip and trendy place to hang out in recent years.
The popular Forest Hills shopping and restaurant corridor has seen its fair share of bars and restaurants that cater to a younger audience open its doors in the last few years, creating a night scene that gives Astoria and Williamsburg a run for its money.
Places like Bareburger, Forest Hills Station House, Austin Public and Jack & Nellie’s offer food and craft beer that you would often find in the trendier parts of the City.
Community leaders and local bloggers say there are multiple reasons for the influx of bars and restaurants, and by association more people in their 20s and 30s, on Austin Street.
Leslie Brown, who runs the Forest Hills Chamber of Commerce, said that while Forest Hills has always been an area attraction, it focused more on older people in the past. With an increase of younger families and young professionals choosing to live in Forest Hills, it has people spending even more money in the area.
“Somebody once said ‘why are there so many banks in Forest Hills?’ Because there’s a lot of money here,” she said.
Jon Parker, who writes food reviews of Forest Hills restaurants on his blog eateryROWforesthills.com, said that when he moved to the neighborhood in 2004, most of what Forest Hills had to offer were mom-and-pop-type restaurants that are well-established in the area.
Back then, if you wanted to eat what he called “a more impressive meal,” you would have to go to Manhattan, but that is not necessarily the case anymore.
“You feel less of a desire to get on a subway,” he said.
Another blogger, Drake Michell, said what has helped Forest Hills attract new business is there is not much competition in that part of the Borough if you want to eat at a good restaurant or drink craft beer. Michell first moved to Forest Hills from Brooklyn about 15 years ago.
“Unlike in Manhattan or Brooklyn, there aren’t many adjacent neighborhoods to walk to from Forest Hills that have really good dining. You need a car to get to them, or the subway. So Forest Hills has a captive audience unless they want to travel by car, bus or subway to other parts of the City to dine or go out,” said Michell, who writes a blog called Edge of the City, a site focusing on Forest Hills-related news and events.
Local real estate agents have also seen the affects of the younger demographic increasingly calling Forest Hills their home.
Jacques Ambron, a broker at the Forest Hills-based Madeleine Realty, said he has noticed apartments and houses becoming more in demand in recent years because it is currently still affordable, at least compared to other parts of the City, and many people that used to live in Manhattan, Brooklyn or Long Island are moving to Forest Hills.
“The more the town has to offer, the more attractive it becomes,” he said.
According to Ambron, renting an apartment with two bedrooms and two bathrooms in Forest Hills costs about $2,100 to $2,200. An apartment with the same setup in Astoria would cost about $2,700, according to Chris Chames, a broker at Astoria Realty.
Reach Luis Gronda at (718) 357-7400, Ext. 127, firstname.lastname@example.org, or @luisgronda.