The Real Deal New York

Affordable rents boost Forest Hills’ other retail strip

August 24, 2012 09:30AM

When New Yorkers think of Forest Hills retail, Austin Street, just steps from the 71st Avenue express subway station, comes to mind. But according to the Wall Street Journal, Metropolitan Avenue, about 15 minutes away by foot, is growing into a restaurant destination while simultaneously keeping out chains.

Queens’ lone Michelin-starred restaurant, Danny Brown Wine Bar & Kitchen opened on the stretch several years ago, as have heralded restaurants Wafa’s Lebanese Cuisine, Il Poeta Ristorante Italiano and Pampas Argentinas steakhouse. They join neighborhood standbys, including Eddie’s Sweet Shop.

The draw of these restaurants, combined with entrepreneurs taking advantage of affordable rents have helped stabilize the retail strip, according to the Journal. Though several antique stores have shuttered in recent years, the $20 to $35 per square-foot rents have helped keep most mom-and-pop shops in business. Meanwhile, on Austin Street, rents that approach $100 per foot have forced local out businesses and turned the shopping strip into an urban mall.

“It came to A Point That The Rents On Austin Street were the same as some parts of Manhattan,” said My Kitchen owner Galik Ambarsom, who moved to Metropolitan Avenue.

The one notable chain that opened recently, a Trader Joe’s on Woodhaven Boulevard in 2007, has served to drive foot traffic to the quieter Metropolitan Avenue corridor. [WSJ] — Adam Fusfeld