Is Austin Street, the Main Drag of Forest Hills, Losing its Character?

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    This week, the Forest Hills/Rego Park Times wondered if the main commercial drag of Forest Hills, Austin Street, was at risk of losing its independently owned boutiques, novelty shops and restaurants. Here’s a rundown of the recent changes on the thoroughfare:

    Over the past decade, the retail district has been marked by the closure of many small businesses, including Daniella Boutique, Santa Fe Steakhouse, Stoa Jewelry, Buster Brown Shoes, Homestead Gourmet Shop, and Art World. Pasta Del Giorno at 70-49 Austin Street, which opened in 1989 and offered fine Italian dining, closed in mid-February.

    The closed shops made way for large corporations, including banks, chain pharmacies, clothing shops, and cell phone stores, to move in after landlords imposed hefty rent increases upon some longtime tenants.

    The Times particularly wonders if the area is starting to look like “medical center row.” There are rumors that a medical business will replace the movie theater at 70-20 Austin Street, and it’s confirmed that an urgent care center will replace the former Second Time Around clothing shop and the new glass building at 71-53 Austin Street will house a ProHealth Urgent Care. It’s worth nothing that there isn’t an Austin Street BID to help incentivize and spur commercial growth in the area. Do you think Austin Street needs a BID? Do you think these changes are anything to worry about at all?

    Austin Street Retail District at Risk [Forest Hills Times]

    Photo via Forest Hills Times

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