Outer boroughs on the rise: Is this one neighborhood in Queens really more expensive than the Flatiron district?

By Alanna Schubach  | October 12, 2016 - 12:59PM

There are those Manhattan neighborhoods that have long been known as the city’s glitziest. TriBeCa and SoHo, for instance, were “discovered” by artists in the 1970s, who drew developers’ attention to the untapped potential in area warehouses—and the rest, as the New York Post describes, is history.

According to a new report from PropertyShark, the two downtown neighborhoods top the list of the city’s priciest—no surprise, given that they’re also among the most expensive zip codes to live in nationwide. But what's particularly notable is the presence of a few outer borough interlopers, revealing that Brooklyn and Queens may be offering far fewer bargains these days.

DUMBO has made major gains, landing in fourth place on the list with a median home sales price of $2.4 million, outranking such moneyed enclaves as NoMad, Greenwich Village, and Carnegie Hill. This is a significant jump for the Brooklyn neighborhood, which last year was only NYC’s 13th most expensive, writes Brownstoner.

PropertyShark attributes DUMBO’s climb up the ranks to 1 John Street, a new, 12-story luxury development—and, as Curbed reports, the most expensive condo building in the borough. A number of the property’s loft units—which includes a four-bedroom penthouse priced at over $7 million—have already sold, driving up DUMBO’s median price.

Constantine Valhouli, founder of data site NeighborhoodX, notes that 1 John Street has distorted DUMBO’s median sales price, and in fact, the neighborhood’s overall prices have not skyrocketed. “Year over year, DUMBO’s prices didn't rise so dramatically. However, in a small neighborhood like DUMBO, a single development where the unit sizes skew larger can affect the median listing price for an entire sub-market, which is what appears to be happening here,” he says.

Another surprising presence on the list is Forest Hills Gardens, with a median sales price of $1.56 million. This places it at number 11, ahead of such perennially in-demand neighborhoods as the Theatre District, the Flatiron, and the Upper West Side.

Why is this sleepy town in central Queens so hot? A planned community, Forest Hills Gardens is a micro-neighborhood within Forest Hills, known for its Tudor-style homes and plentiful greenspace. According to the New York Times, it was a planned community of sorts, meant to recall leafy “garden cities" in England. Today, Forest Hills Gardens retains its sedate, suburban vibe, as well as offers proximity to plentiful retail and dining options in the busy downtown of Forest Hills. The homes, too, remain sprawling by city standards—which helps to explain the neighborhood’s high standing on the most expensive list.

Valhouli observes that the metrics used in the report don’t take into account home prices per square foot. “According to PropertyShark's report, Forest Hills Gardens has a median listing price of $1.56 million, more than Carroll Gardens ($1.4M) or Cobble Hill ($1.3M),” Valhouli says. “However, when we compare these on a price-per-square foot basis, Cobble Hill ($1,008/sq.ft. in August) and Carroll Gardens ($1,137/sq.ft. in August) are much more expensive than Forest Hills Gardens (average of $581/sq.ft)."

He adds that the same goes for DUMBO—which means that while these high-ranking neighborhoods aren’t exactly offering bargains, buyers do get significantly more space for what they’re paying than they would in Manhattan’s priciest enclaves. It's worth noting, however, that buyers are also more likely to enjoy access to high-end amenities in Manhattan developments than they are in detached homes in Queens. 

A listings search reveals what you can expect to find at the median price in several top-ranking neighborhoods: 


This two-bedroom, two-and-a-half-bath condo is priced just below TriBeCa’s median, at $4.35 million; the 1,714-square foot space includes an open kitchen with luxe appliances, a master bedroom with views of the Empire State Building, and a large balcony. The building offers residents free parking, as well as access to concierge and doorman service, a sun deck, gym, and outdoor heated pool.


In DUMBO, this two-bedroom, 1,614-square foot condo loft—listed just above the area median at $2.5 million—features custom design features courtesy of a celebrated architecture firm; you’ll find marble countertops, an open kitchen outfitted with dark wood cabinetry, and bathrooms with stylish wet rooms. The building boasts a rooftop terrace and private courtyard, as well as a fitness center and children’s playroom.

Meanwhile, in Forest Hills Gardens, you’ll find a four-bedroom home in the Tudor style for which the area is renowned. Sprawling over 2,028-square feet and listed for slightly above the median at $1.6 million, the property includes an updated chef’s kitchen, wood-burning fireplace, massive bedrooms, finished basement, and a private backyard. 


Alanna Schubach

Contributing writer

Contributing editor Alanna Schubach has over a decade of experience as a New York City-based freelance journalist.

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