My Changing Cityscape

Urban infill is a gradual process with long-lasting results.

Diana Mosher

Some people still think Long Island City is ugly, but I was a fan long before it began to clean up its image. True, you won’t find too many trees, but who can argue with its excellent location just one subway stop away from Manhattan? Also, it boasts amazing views of the skyline and the East River. I would, however, agree that the stretch of ugly storefronts at Queens Plaza is to be avoided—but this won’t be the case forever. My daily subway trip from Queens to Manhattan is on the elevated Number 7 train that passes through Long Island City, so I have a bird’s eye view of the urban landscape below. One day I noticed that an especially ugly parking garage had been razed. Not too long after that, I saw that a high-rise office building was going up in its place.

Long Island City has been a hotbed of construction in recent years as a result of zoning changes. For this commuter, it provides a clear picture of urban infill activity as shiny new buildings replace eyesores in a gradually changing streetscape. Joining this mix, the most interesting industrial properties are being transformed into multi-housing. These changes have been gradual, but we’ve reached the tipping point at which the urban infill process is changing the personality, for the better, of this already great neighborhood. There are many changes taking place in other parts of town as well, such as Wall Street, the far West Side and Brooklyn. In this month’s Market Report, Associate Editor Mike Ratliff takes a look at New York City’s market fundamentals. With average vacancy at 2.4 percent and effective rents expected to increase 7 percent to $3,024 in 2012, New York is one of the most sought-after apartment markets, and investors like UDR and The Related Companies are taking a bite out of the Big Apple. “A lot of smart money has been aggressively buying anything they can get their hands on in terms of apartment product,” according to J.D. Parker, vice president-regional manager at Marcus & Millichap. Parker says that New York City has recovered close to two-thirds of the jobs it lost since the downturn. A diversifying economy is seeing growth in the education, healthcare, technology and transportation sectors.  New York is a work in progress. Stay up-to-date on this market and others across the country with a subscription to MHN Online Daily available at This monthly magazine is also available in a digital edition. Start your free subscription today.
Diana Mosher
Editorial Director