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Astrid Pillay

Lic. Assoc. R.E. Broker
Office:(212) 381-2262

Mentioned in this Article:
Wall Street Journal

Picturesque Private Forest Hills Gardens Has A Strong Sense Of Community

Forest Hills Gardens, a private enclave in central Queens, hasn’t changed much since it was founded in 1909, but for residents that is part of its charm.

The neighborhood has a turn-of-the century feel, with its brick-paved Station Square and Tudor and colonial homes with red tile roofs. Its curved streets and decorative lamp posts also help to set it apart from other parts of the city.

“It’s so picturesque in the Gardens,” said Kristina Gropper, who moved in 2015 from downtown Brooklyn. “I think what I love most about it is how all the houses have their own character, but the neighborhood has its own sense of cohesion.”

Ms. Gropper, who works at Pratt Institute in Brooklyn, said she and her husband, Andrew, began looking in Forest Hills Gardens after they couldn’t find an affordable place in Brooklyn with more than one bathroom.

They wanted to stay near Manhattan, where Mr. Gropper works as a lawyer. So the couple ended up looking in the Gardens, where Ms. Gropper said they purchased a semidetached townhouse with three bathrooms.

Aside from the extra space, Ms. Gropper also enjoys the ease of meeting people in the neighborhood. The mother of a 6-week-old infant, Ms. Gropper said there are a lot of moms in the area and groups that frequently meet up.

“I feel like there’s just a sense of community,” she said. “Everyone’s just so friendly.”

Forest Hills Gardens was created when the Russell Sage Foundation purchased 142 acres to create a planned community based on the garden city movement in England. The foundation then hired architect Grosvenor Atterbury and landscape architect Frederick Law Olmsted Jr. to design it, said Jeffrey Kroessler, an urban historian and associate professor at John Jay College of Criminal Justice.

Buyers must agree to abide by the covenants placed on Gardens properties, which prevent architectural changes to home and building exteriors without approval. The Forest Hills Gardens Corp. enforces the covenants, and also is responsible for maintaining roads, sidewalks and green spaces, according to its website.

Street parking is restricted to residents and the community has private security.

Residents must pay a maintenance fee that can range from several hundred dollars to a couple thousand a year, said Jacques Ambron, a broker at Madeleine Realty Ltd. But he said the restrictions and upkeep help make the area attractive to buyers.

“The homes have great features and it’s a well-maintained community,” he said. “People really care about the area.”

Buyers tend to come from Manhattan and Brooklyn, where many find they are getting priced out, Mr. Ambron said.

A majority of the homes in Forest Hills Gardens are single-family, although there are co-ops and multifamily homes, he said. The average price is about $2.3 million, and a buyer would pay about $15,000 in taxes, plus the Gardens maintenance fee.

The Gardens is mostly a residential community, although there are two restaurants and a few other businesses on Station Square. A block outside the square, in surrounding Forest Hills, is Austin Street, a commercial hub with shops and restaurants.

The neighborhood also is home to the West Side Tennis Club, site of the U.S. Open until 1977.

Richard Motto and his wife, Lucy, moved to the Gardens in May after living in Forest Hills for eight years. Mr. Motto said they had been looking for a way to get into the neighborhood when they found a center-hall colonial that needed renovation. He appreciates the general feel of the neighborhood, from seeing neighbors out walking and jogging to the way the streets are closed for trick-or-treaters on Halloween.

“That sense of community is really great,” he said.

Transportation: Residents can get the Long Island Rail Road at Station Square. Trains to Penn Station at peak times take under 20 minutes. The E, F, R and M subway lines stop at the Forest Hills station at 71st Avenue and Queens Boulevard.

Parks: There are four green spaces in the Gardens that may only be used by residents and their guests: Flag Pole Green, Hawthorne Park, Olivia Park and Carnegie Park. The 500-acre Forest Park is nearby and includes hiking trails, bridal paths, tennis courts, a golf course, playgrounds and a carousel.

Schools: The area is served by P.S. 101 and P.S. 144, which both have reading and math scores above the city average. Private schools in surrounding Forest Hills include The Kew-Forest School, Our Lady Queen of Martyrs Catholic Academy and Our Lady of Mercy Catholic Academy.

Dining: Jade Eatery & Lounge serves Asian cuisine. Dirty Pierre’s Bistro is a small gastropub.

Entertainment: Community House recreation center has a pool, exercise classes and a nursery school. The private West Side Tennis Club has tennis courts and a pool. Forest Hills Stadium is a concert venue.

If You're Browsing for a Home...

$3.9 million

70 Greenway South
This Tudor home comes with seven bedrooms, five full bathrooms and two half bathrooms. On the first floor, the step-down living room has a wood-burning fireplace. The formal dining room opens to a butler’s pantry, which adjoins the modern kitchen. The second floor has four bedrooms and two bathrooms. There also is a master bedroom with a wood-burning fireplace and an en suite bath. The third floor has an additional two bedrooms and two bathrooms. The large basement has a den and another fireplace.

Year Built: 1925
Square Footage: 4,660
Lot Size: 7,055 square feet
Property Plus: It has a two-car garage.
Property Minus: The kitchen is small and the house needs some updating.
Listing Date: Nov. 5, 2015
Listing Agent: Astrid Pillay of Halstead Property
Open House: : By appointment

Friday, November 04, 2016