QueensWay could transform area’s retail scene: brokers

But elevated park unlikely to have same impact as High Line on surrounding resi

Michael Tortorici and a rendering of the QueensWay
Michael Tortorici and a rendering of the QueensWay

A High Line-esque development in Queens could transform an area of abandoned train tracks and replace auto body shops with commercial tenants, according to brokers and experts with knowledge of the area. It is, however, unlikely to have a major impact on the area’s residential makeup. Whether the proposed park, which could cost up to $122 million to build, comes to fruition is still unclear. The Trust for Public Land, a nonprofit that focuses on park development, has raised $1.2 million for the project so far, according to the New York Times. Adrian Benepe, the Trust’s director, likened QueensWay to “the High Line on steroids.”

Some experts told The Real Deal that while the park would be an improvement to the area, it would not have the same effect as its Manhattan counterpart.

Manhattan’s High Line already had some other local attractions – such as galleries located under the elevated tracks as well as Hudson River Park – that Ozone Park and Rego Park do not.

“It’s going to be an attraction,” said Eric Benaim, CEO and president and founder of Modern Spaces. “The waterfront park (in Long Island City) is a big draw to people throughout Queens,” Benaim said, “maybe this’ll have the same effect.”

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The QueensWay will not spur residential development in such a way as the High Line did in Manhattan, Benaim added, because there are a lot of single-family homes in the area, rather than lots that are available for large-scale, luxury residential developments. It could, however, have an effect on the neighborhood’s retail and commercial market.

“The abandoned railway is a blight,” said Massey Knakal’s Stephen Preuss. “No money has been spent on the upkeep.” The result is that the area is not desirable for retail at the moment, and much of the space near the elevated tracks has been rented to auto shops. The area also has its fair share of industrial development, which could be turned into retail if the park develops, Preuss said. If the park comes to fruition, Preuss said, the neighborhood could attract “a better grade of potential (commercial) tenants.” Added Preuss, “It would certainly help the surrounding neighborhood.”

An elevated park would serve as a destination to the area for both locals and visitors.

“You already have a nice amount of investors exploring Queens,” said Mike Tortorici, vice president at Ariel Property Advisors, “a neighborhood amenity of this scale is encouraging.”