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New Chamber President Expresses his Views on Sunnyside

Swain Weiner appointed president of the Sunnyside Chamber of Commerce in June (Photo: Courtesy of Sunnyside Chamber of Commerce)

Sept. 6, 2012 By Swain Weiner

Sunnyside has spent most of its history in relative obscurity—viewed for years as just another mundane, middle-income Queens neighborhood. However, in the past decade Sunnyside has shed that stereotype.

Today it is better known as being a vibrant, bustling and highly sought-after area. There has been an influx of artists and professionals, a mushrooming of upmarket restaurants, and an expansion in desirable stores.

In fact, in April 2010, New York Magazine ranked Sunnyside No. 3 of The 50 Best Places to Live In New York City, calling it a hidden gem! The ranking was based on measures such as affordability, commuting times, schools, safety and shopping experiences.

In short, Sunnyside is thriving. As a member of the Sunnyside Chamber of Commerce for the last four years, and as its current president, I can proudly say that at no time has the area been more “buzz-worthy” and poised to move ahead.

In 2011, the city rezoned Sunnyside, which brought much excitement for developers. The rezoning now permits higher-density property along the main thoroughfares of Queens Blvd and Greenpoint Ave. Meanwhile, the rezoning has preserved the charm of the residential streets, while allowing for sidewalk cafes and outdoor dining.

So it’s not surprising that the Sunnyside commercial real estate market has returned to its 2008 highs, aided by a firmer retail marketplace. Additionally, a strong residential market has helped bolster rents and keep vacancies low. Many owners have noted the quick turnaround in renting apartments when tenants leave.

Property owners who bought commercial real estate before the downturn have fared well. While other neighborhoods underwent significant declines, Sunnyside was one of the few areas in Queens that remained stable which is a true testament to the quality of the area.

Sunnyside offers the essential components that any business owner or resident seeks. It’s just a 16-minute ride to Grand Central Station, while the crime rate is low and the public schools are good.

While Sunnyside has traditionally been an Irish neighborhood, in the past decade immigrants from South America, Korea, Turkey and Romania have settled here. The town is viewed as being very open and tolerant. It’s the home of the gay-friendly “St. Pat’s for All Parade” and is represented by Jimmy Van Bramer, an openly gay councilman. Culturally, Sunnyside has its own film festival and arts groups.

The area has two main sections, both unique and desirable. On the southern side of Queens Blvd, there is Spanish theater, Irish bars and inexpensive ethnic cuisine. Meanwhile, on the northern side, there are several restaurants as well as the beautiful homes that are part of the Sunnyside Gardens district.

With the influx of new residents, many popular restaurants have opened throughout the neighborhood—from Salt & Fat, The Dog and Duck, and Takesushi, to name a few.  In the past two years, several supermarkets have expanded and two new banks have arrived. Bank of America opened its branch in 2010 and TD Bank is expected to open its doors in November.

Currently, the two main public parks are undergoing an upgrade, with one of them getting the neighborhood’s first dog run. Meanwhile, Sunnyside Gardens Park, one of the city’s two members-only parks, has seen its expansive grounds revamped and its membership reach all time highs.

With everything that this flourishing town has going for it right now, it’s fair to say that things have never looked “sunnier” for Sunnyside.”

Swain Weiner is the president/partner of Greiner Maltz Investment Properties, a New York-based commercial real estate firm. Weiner was named the president of the Sunnyside Chamber of Commerce in June.

 

email the author: news@queenspost.com

31 Comments

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Long time resident

I’m not sure why anyone thinks that the inability to find a studio rental for less than $1100/month anywhere in NYC somehow negates the point that for renters (or owners) who prefer to not spend 40-50% of their take home pay on housing costs, Sunnyside is becoming less affordable.

Also, a current listing with an asking price of $120K is not in the $100K range (it’s actually 20% more). I have no doubt there are some extremely small studios that start at $105K. Listing price is not what it sold for.

I’ve yet to meet anyone who was excited about living in the outer boroughs for a studio apartment comparable in size to Manhattan. Or thrilled to still be living with roommates at 35 years old.

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Rick Duro

Oppressed Masses: You have to be the biggest whiner I have ever read on this great site. Your ‘Yuppie Dog Run’ comments are so out of touch with what it really is. SUDS has been together for *11* years. How long have you lived here? The avg person w/ their dog in SUDS is MIDDLE CLASS. We’ve done something great for the neighborhood, helping to secure enough funding not only for a dog run, but the fix the whole park. We were the group that reported the deplorable conditions your buddies playing Soccer were leaving the park each and every night in 2004-5: hundreds of people in the park on a friday night, illegally selling food/booze/drugs, urinating everywhere except the open bathroom, defacating in the park, sleeping in the park, leaving trash everywhere, fighting, basically everything but prostitution was going on in there. But, you wouldnt know that, you’ve only lived near the park for *4* years. We were the ones cleaning up after them. We were the ones asking them to use the bathrooms (which were open) and garbage cans. We took that park under our wings and it has improved dramatically from that time period on.

Ask yourself this question OM, what have YOU done to improve life in Sunnyside? NADA. Spend more of your time DOING something, instead of just sitting there typing all your whiney little rants

RD

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43rd Street Resident

Important Note!

Mr. Swaine Weiner lives in Mamaroneck, NY.

Who’s relative is he?

Are there no intelligent local residents in our community who can fill these positions of importance to our community that we have to import someone’s relatives from New Jersey, Virginia, or Mamaroneck, NY to make decisions in our local communities? I believe there are!

No one ever inquired. Our community will always be in a sad state if this procedure continues.

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43rd Street Resident

I love Swayne Weiner’s positive comments on Sunnyside. The only problem is that he either forgot or neglected to look around the neighborhood closely.

When Nelson Rockefeller was Governor of New York, way back when, and people were constantly voicing their complaints about the Long Island Railroad’s service, Rockefeller proclaimed that by a specified date, which he announced, the LIRR would start running on time and improve its service. It never did! But Rockefeller said it did; some people believed him. He did absolutely nothing to make it improve.

Weiner’s press release is no different than Rockefeller’s.

This is just our crony community leader’s way of sticking another weiner where it shouldn’t belong.

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108 cops

who cares about high rents!!?? Property values are going up which benefits the people who care enough to invest in Sunnyside.
You care about a place buy something and invest in it
Renters come and go.

The price of oil, water, insurance, property taxes, building maintainance on 75 yr old buildings…. this stuff costs money A LOT! I know I am a board member in a coop

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Priced Out

I’ve never commented on any websites before, but this subject is a hot topic for me, and I thought I’d weigh in.

The neighborhood is changing, there’s no doubt about it. With our location so close to Manhattan it was only a matter of time that people from Manhattan and Brooklyn who used to laugh at the idea of even entering Queens, are now running around like they actually made the discovery themselves.

You’ll notice that most longtime residents do NOT want the attention. We would prefer not to be listed in the Times or the New York magazine or whatever nonsensical blog that ranks what’s “cool” We’re not cool, and we like it that way. Indeed it is a gem, and once the neighborhood changes, and it becomes another “hip” neighborhood, the value of the housing may go up, trendy over-priced restaurants and boutiques will pop up, but for those of us that were happy with the way things were, the actual quality of community and the neighborhood itself goes down.

I understand that people will be continuously moving in, and I’m sure some of the new arrivals are very nice people, who actually are interested in becoming part of the community etc. The issue is with people who are moving in and they are raising the price of everything. People who have lived here their whole lives are no longer able to afford to do so, and the newcomers must at least attempt to understand why that would make one angry.

Think if your friends and family all lived within a few blocks of each other for years. One by one people are moving out of the area because they can’t afford it, and in many..not all..cases the young transplants who are here for a good time for a few years post college, will eventually decide to move somewhere else. Once they have changed the landscape of the neighborhood we can not replace what we once had.

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Krissi

Julia J. My friend bought one last year for about $105k with less than $500/maintenance near Skillman.

Here are some current listings: http://www.laffey.com/Property/NY/11104/Sunnyside/46-01_39_Ave_1

http://www.laffey.com/Property/NY/11104/Sunnyside/46-01_39th_Ave_1

Here’s one with a maintenance of only $320! : http://www.vlshomes.com/real-estate/NY/Queens/Sunnyside/homepage.htm?in_listing=5663827

So yes, you can def buy a studio in the $100k range. Will it be luxury? No. But you can do it.

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JuliaJ.

$100,000 for a studio? You couldn’t even buy a toilet in my building at such a low price! Studios are going for almost $180,000. Swaine Weiner sounds like a made up name.

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Ruben

Psshhh, I’ll be outta Sunnyside in about 6 more years (rent going up will assure that) . You can keep this neighborhood, its a shadow of its formal glory. Paying even $900 for these tiny apartments is madness. I’ll be getting some actual land where my neighbors aren’t a family of 20 cooking what smells like FEET and the yuppies who don’t hold the doors.

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CJ

I have lived in Sunnyside for 11 years. My husband and I, both educators, rented for 6 years, saved up, and purchased our beautiful co-op. When the realtors asked us if we would expand our search to other neighborhoods, we declined. We took our time and found something lovely in our target neighborhood. We love Sunnyside very much.

The changes that I have witnessed over the past 11 years have been wonderful. Sunnyside is a gem and I am surprised it has taken so long for others to discover us, renters as well as business owners.

Now, my husband and I are both white, so you may see us walking down the streets of Sunnyside and tag us as new yuppies who have moved in to the neighborhood, but you would be incorrect. There is no correlation between being a white professional and not being appreciative of the gift that is Sunnyside.

Mr. Weiner, we look forward to seeing and participating in the changes you and the Commerce make in this hidden gem!

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Krissi

Thank you RF.

I’ve never seen such a bunch of complainers in my life. Yes, things change. Either you deal with it or you move on.

I was brought to Sunnyside in the 1990’s by a friend who grew up here and fell in love with it myself. Years later, and I am lucky enough to buy my first apartment here with the intentions of starting a family. I try to support the community by being involved in events and using my hard earned dollars at neighborhood stores. Why should I be villianized? Because I like clean streets? Because I like eating out? I’m sorry that my presence angers people on this blog, but you should be happy that young people are moving in and creating a home for themselves in what is a great community.

What’s the other option? Let the community die out?

Oshea – Those apartments for $2650 aren’t renting. I work in RE (not in Queens) and the marketing for that building is absolutely awful, they don’t know what they are doing. COULD they get that price? Possibly, but I doubt it even with the best marketing plan.

Long Time Resident – I don’t know where in Queens you can get a studio in a decent area for less than say $1100/mo to rent. It isn’t just Sunnyside but NYC as a whole. But as for purchasing, you can def purchase a NICE studio while making $50k. I’ve seen lots of studios for around $100k and 1 bedrooms for $150k. Assuming you put 20% down (which is the hard part for anyone), your mortgage and maintenance for a 1 bed would be about $1100/mo to OWN. That’s pretty amazing in a great neighborhood with great transportation options.

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Long time resident

If you already own, sure maybe things look great. If you rent, and think you may need to move, you know it’s a different story. When a new rental of tiny studios cost $1200-1300/month – and we can only expect that to increase – I don’t see that boding well for anyone. If you’re looking to buy even a small coop, the asking prices are already out of many middle-income earner’s league. Tack on maintenance, and how does someone earning $50K pay their housing costs and save for both retirement and a rainy day?

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RF

So which is it? Is the neighborhood going to hell in a hand basket with crime or is it too gentrified and white now?

I think everyone should just take a deep breath.

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Craic Dealer

AND this Swain Weiner guy of Greiner Maltz Investment Properties… I dunno guys… sounds like he and his cronies see Sunnyside as a huge profit machine.

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Oppressed Masses

Don’t worry about Sunnyside turning into a yuppie haven. Bloomberg only has about 16 months left in office and then the politicians will resume control. When that happens, the City will erode back into the cesspool it once was and yuppies will be leaving. Us normal folks will be left with the relics of the almost Yuppiedom of Sunnyside such as the Van Bramer Dog Park.

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Ruben

Backlash, nope, they wouldn’t know I’m a bitter old man. I always smile and say good morning to my neighbors and I hold the door for people I see coming toward the building. These animals have their nose in the air and will happily close the door on you even if you’re a few feet away.

When my building was full of minorities and the elderly it was great, everyone talked and we had building events and during the blackouts we pulled through together. Every single conceited pompous yuppie has been white. They look at me like I don’t belong, like I shouldn’t be in the building I’m in because CLEARLY I don’t look like I should be making the money I do.

These people are a poison to this community. Now, when I see these kinda people apartment hunting I will walk around my house in tighty whitey underwear so they decide the view isn’t worth the 2k rent.

ha! hilarious

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backslash

@Ruben

Maybe they don’t hold the door for you because you’re a jerk? Perhaps they don’t say hello because you sneer at them and carry yourself like a bitter old man?

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Ich_bin_ein_Sunnysider

Neighborhood Eye – you stole my thunder.

I was reading this and immediately thought, this isn’t a news article, it’s a press release.

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O'shea

@ruben
I can’t help but agree with you. Came off the 7 at 46.. saw a huge sign above the fresh&save: new apartments 2650 and up. I Walk into a market.. the cereal and milk i want is 5.99 and 4.99 respectively. Rent at my building is 1800. Landlord wants one of the tenants out and has refused to collect her rent for the past 5 months.
Then there is the periodical “repair” of the lift. Who lives on the top floor? Senior citizens. Who are they trying to frustrate and move out?
Yep only a matter of time.

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Ruben

ugh…move on. As a person born and raised in Sunnyside I HATE the idea that people are coming in wanting to move this neighborhood forward. We all know what that means. Never was it clearer when Vantage came in and tried kicking out a ton of rent stabilized people using scare tactics. Now I got a ton of yuppie neighbors who look at ME like I don’t belong. They don’t hold the door when they see me coming and they do nothing to get to know their neighbors.
Restaurants have catered to these people instead of things this neighborhood needs like Day cares. Try to find a day care that’s not religious or the ymca. This neighborhood has a few years of good life left in it. After that it’ll turn into a vapid emotionless money hungry “hot spot” for people too poor to live in Manhattan.

bah!

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Neighborhood Eye

What is good for real estate companies is not usually great for the bulk of people who live in Sunnyside, renters. We’ll all be moving out soon. Replaced by people who want to live in this guy’s “chic” neighborhood. I liked being a regular place. There was no artifically created pressure. The greedy own the place now.

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Oppressed Masses

Best wishes on your term of office. Your first step should be to revamp the lousy street fairs sponsored by the Chamber. Great portrait photo BTW!

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