What people think about Queens has shifted in recent years as evidenced by the boom in construction. Developers are bringing their vision to the vibrant neighborhoods of the largest borough, making it a “hip” destination for tourists and local New Yorkers alike. Places like Ridgewood, Long Island City and Flushing already boast diverse shopping and foodie scenes, and developers and real-estate investors are betting that the trend will continue to fuel the upscale retail and residential markets.
“Flushing is coming of age,” said Michael Meyer, the president of F & T Group, which is developing the $1 billion project with the Rockefeller Group and Aecom Capital.
One of the largest endeavors to bring a commercial buzz and create a bustling demographic to Flushing is a 1.8 million-square-foot project slated for completion in 2 years. Flushing Commons as it will be called will be delivering 148 residential and retail condos. Says Peter Koo, who represents Flushing on the New York City Council, “This is an exciting development in our area,” he said. “It will create a lot of jobs and a lot of tax revenue for the city.”
It is becoming clear that Queens residents aren’t the only ones who think their misinterpreted borough deserves more attention. Lonely Planet stunned critics and naysayers by naming Queens the No. 1 travel destination in the United States for 2015. The designation by Lonely Planet has spurned a revitalization by promoters and developers, who claim Queens is finally getting the world-class recognition it deserves as being more than just a flyover for Manhattan (or even Brooklyn).
José Barreiro, the Lonely Planet advertising executive who participated in the tourism panel in Queens, stated that they’re always “trying to get ahead of those places that are hip and cool” by baptizing destinations that “are untouched by tourists.”
Not surprisingly, the borough is currently witnessing a major hotel building boom. Five new hotels opened there last year, further adding to the 47 hotels in Queens already in some stage of planning or construction, according to STR, a leading hotel research company.
“The hotel pipeline is not showing any signs of slowing down,” said Fred Dixon, chief executive of NYC & Company. The city’s hotels sold 29 million room nights in 2012 and 30 million last year, and are on track to increase by another million this year, Mr. Dixon said.
The influx of tourists and residents moving into the area will surely continue as Lonely Planet is seldom wrong about its picks. It should be noted that Lonely Planet gave Brooklyn a similar designation in 2007, so they know a little of what they speak.