The Queens community of Jamaica, which gave us Donald Trump, Mario Cuomo, the rapper 50 Cent, and uber-chef Rocco DiSpirito, is a transportation and governmental center with a vibrant atmosphere.
The neighborhood, is home to JFK International Airport and a cluster of courthouses serving the borough.
In this week’s Buy Curious, John McSherry, an associate real estate broker with Douglas Elliman, and Virginia Rallis, owner/broker of Virginia Rallis Realty, give us the inside story on Jamaica.
I’ve heard that there are exciting things going on in Jamaica. What’s happening there?
“There’s a lot of new development, and it’s a major transportation hub—you can get to Manhattan, the Bronx and Long Island easily,” Rallis says. “You also have access to the beaches in the Rockaways and Long Island, which is a big plus.”
Where is it?
Jamaica is bounded by Kew Gardens Hills on the north, St. Albans on the south, Hollis on the east, and Richmond Hill and Ozone Park on the west.
Why would NYers want to move to Jamaica?
With easy access to transit, Jamaica attracts people who have jobs not only in the community but also in other parts of New York City, McSherry says, adding that the lively downtown and new commercial and residential development are other draws.
Where in Jamaica should you live?
There are three major residential neighborhoods in the community.
Jamaica Estates, the most exclusive section, has bigger properties and residences. “It has nice architecture, and it feels like a real neighborhood because there are trees and backyards,” McSherry says. “It feels like a suburb of Long Island.”
Jamaica Hills is similar to Jamaica Estates, but the lots and houses are somewhat smaller.
South Jamaica, which is a more middle-class section, has a variety of housing styles.
What are housing and pricing like?
In this transitioning market, where some buyers are waiting for mortgage interest rates to fall, scarce inventory continues to prop up prices.
There are only 17 single-family houses, co-ops, and condos on the market, according to StreetEasy.
“There has been a small decrease in price, perhaps 5 percent, but properties that are priced well and are in good condition are selling quickly,” McSherry says.
Most of the housing stock is single family and multi family, with some co-ops and condos. Single-family houses, depending on size, condition, and location, range from about $650,000 to $2 million, he says.
Co-op prices typically are $150,000 to $200,000 for one-bedroom units, $250,000 to $300,000 for two bedrooms, and $400,000 to $500,000 for three bedrooms.
Condos, which are higher priced, are around $500,000 for two-bedroom units.
Rental apartments generally are in multi-family houses and run about $2,200 to $3,500 for two-bedroom units.
Is there a lot of new development?
Over the last 15 years, there has been significant residential and commercial development in the community.
“This is happening because much of the area has been rezoned for higher buildings,” McSherry says. “The idea is to redevelop it like Flushing, Downtown Brooklyn, and Long Island City.”
He notes that there are lots of new stores, restaurants, and offices and that new rental buildings are being built near the Long Island Rail Road station. “These new apartments cost significantly more because they are so close to the train and because they are new,” he says.
What’s the transportation situation?
The E, F, J, and Z trains and LIRR stop here. Nearly three dozen bus lines also serve the community. In addition, the AirTrain JFK, which operates 24/7, goes directly from Jamaica to the airport.
What is there to do?
Baisley Pond Park offers tennis, handball, and basketball courts, cricket fields, and playgrounds as well as green space for jogging, picnicking, cycling, and/or Rollerblading.
Flushing Meadows Corona Park, the borough’s largest public green space, is easily accessible to Jamaica residents. Attractions include the Queens Museum, New York Hall of Science, Queens Zoo, USTA Billie Jean King National Tennis Center (home to the U.S. Open), and Citi Field, where the Mets play home games.
What’s the restaurant/nightlife situation?
“What I really love about Jamaica are all the mom-and-pop restaurants that serve foods from different countries,” McSherry says. “They really make the community special.”
Popular spots include Sagar Restaurant (Halal Bengali and Desi food), Halal Diner (Afgan/ Bangladeshi Indian food), The Dart Inn (a neighborhood bar), Margherita Pizza (slices and whole pies served from a takeout window), Sybil’s Bakery & Restaurant (renowned for its roti), Smile of the Beyond (vegetarian diner), Annam Brahma (vegetarian café), and The Panorama of My Silence-Heart (sandwiches, salads, smoothies), as well as John’s Pizzeria Restaurant, and Avenida Coffee Shop,
How about grocery stores?
Besides Ideal and Food Town, the main grocery stores, Jamaica also has bodegas and specialty shops, including Guru Health Foods.
“With all the smaller markets, which offer unique foods from all over the world, you can pretty much find anything you want,” McSherry says.
Check out these listings in Jamaica.
Built in 1930, this single-family detached house has been completely renovated with new oak floors as well as electrical, heating, and plumbing systems; the kitchen has custom cabinets, granite countertops, and stainless steel appliances. Other features include a finished basement, backyard, and private drive. It is listed for $749,000.
Originally listed for $949,000, this 4,108-square-foot, two-family house is now reduced to $899,999. Completely renovated, this five-bedroom, four-bath house on a corner lot, has a balcony, two-car garage, and a kitchen with stainless steel appliances.
This detached, three-story single-family house, which was built in 1915, is listed for $609,000. The 1,024-square-foot residence has four bedrooms, two baths, hardwood floors, and a backyard with a patio.
Listed for $1.079 million, this 1,800-square-foot, two-family detached house has six bedrooms, four baths, a finished basement with high ceilings, and a private, fenced-in yard. It was built in 2004 and sits on a 3,000-square-foot lot.
This circa-1920, detached two-family house is on the market for $848,888. The 2,912-square-foot house has five bedrooms, two baths, a finished basement, and private parking. It is on a 2,900-square-foot lot.
Nancy A. Ruhling is a freelance writer based in New York City.