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Astoria’s Retail Vacancy Rate is Low, Although Steinway Street is Struggling: Report

Ricky’s NYC closed its 30-83 Steinway location in April (Photo: Queens Post)

Aug. 8, 2019 By Allie Griffin

According to a new report on storefront vacancy, Astoria has a healthy and robust retail economy with a 9.5 percent overall vacancy rate.

The report released by the Department of City Planning studied recent retail trends and storefront vacancies throughout the city by surveying shopping corridors in 24 neighborhoods across the five boroughs.

Fallas at 31-08 Steinway St. closed in 2018 (Photo: Queens Post)

The study focused on continuous, pedestrian-oriented shopping corridors, and studied trends from late 2017 to fall 2018.

The report, titled Assessing Storefront Vacancy in NYC, found that the vacancy rate varied widely in Astoria on a street by street basis–with Steinway Street struggling most.

The section of Steinway Street between Broadway and 30th Avenue had a whopping vacancy rate of 18.1 percent, according to the report. Meanwhile, along Steinway Street–between 35th Avenue and Broadway– it was 14.1 percent.

The report notes that the decline in “dry retail” stores that sell items like clothing, furniture and electronics has contributed to the higher number of empty storefronts on Steinway.

Meanwhile, the vacancy rate on 30th Avenue–between Crescent Street and Steinway Street– was a modest 7.5 percent. The strip has become a restaurant corridor– similar to Broadway.

Astoria’s case study illustrates the larger retail trends observed in the report citywide. New Yorkers are buying their dry goods online as opposed to at retail stores, but are frequenting restaurants, bars and local services in growing numbers.

Astoria’s 9.5 percent was the seventh lowest of the 24 neighborhoods analyzed.

Report: Assessing Storefront Vacancy in New York

Jackson Heights’ retail scene proved to be the most bustling of the neighborhoods studied, with a vacancy rate of just 5.1 percent.

The neighborhood’s shopping corridor studied in the report included Roosevelt Avenue, 37th Avenue and Junction Boulevard.

The study found that while some neighborhoods have higher concentrations of vacancies, there is no overall trend city-wide. Reasons for these vacancies also differed based on neighborhood demographics and market trends and couldn’t be attributed to a single factor, according to the report.

A 5 to 10 percent vacancy rate is generally considered to be “healthy” by the industry, according to DCP.

Jackson Heights | DCP

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52 Comments

MrWah

This has nothing to do with Astoria. Brick and mortar stores are dead. End of story.

It’s fine to pine for the “good ol’ days” but change is inevitable. In 30 years, people will be missing how it is now.

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Diane Speros

The rents on Steinway St. are obviously too high when you have several empty stores in a row. The local council or small business administration needs to help small business owners so they can open businesses (and please, no more coffee or burger places) and give them time to grow. Several of the posts here mention the stores I shopped at regularly in my youth – Robbins, Thom McCann, as well as places like Sound City, Record Scene, Woolworths. Yes, times change, companies come and go, but I don’t see anyone helping the small businesses that would benefit the local population, create jobs and bring Steinway back to what it was, but better.

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Rick

Everytime my wife and I listen to Johnny O and songs like Fantasy Girl we think of Steinway. Its where we met. Driving up and down Steinway, meeting friends, hanging out and shopping. Now it reminds me of Egypt up North and some ghetto town south of Steinway.

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Lil Moe Moe From Strong Island

I believe the problem is there are too many boater arabs. These boaters are fundamentalists and do not adapt with the changing economy. Im a traveling salesman, all you see are little arab butcher shops, restaurants, hookah lounges (that don’t open until 3pm), travel service stores, etc. They aren’t vibing with today’s culture in Astoria. It’s moving toward health, fun, and cafes or some shit.

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Giulia

There is nothing wrong with supporting business owned and/or run by people of your culture, ethnicity, religion, place of origin or whatever you want to call it. Everyone does it. As a person of Italian decent I still prefer to shop and eat at Italian owned places. The Arab population gets bigger each year in Astoria. They are all over the Ditmars area (including upper Ditmars). At least these residents are permanent and are actually raising their children here and sending them to our local schools. One family actually rented my home and they are lovely tenants. I never had to drive to Astoria unexpectedly from Whitestone because of a late monthly rent payment or an issue with my home.

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Marco Polo

Ahh yes, you’re one of those Italians that rents to “lovely”Arab families in Astoria while living in Whitestone where there are no Arab families. I gotcha, girl.

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Athena

My Grandmother would always take me to the Robbins discount store on Steinway. Astoria was so nice back then. Now when I visit, Astoria looks so dirty, loud and overcrowded with people, bikes and cars. I also notice homeless people sitting on the sidewalk, sleeping on benches and hanging out at the park. Its such a shame. Perhaps they could open up a soup kitchen, food bank and over night shelter where the homeless and poor of Astoria can rest and shower on Steinway.

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Used to live in Astoria

I grew up in Astoria . My memories of Steinway St. used to go there on Saturdays as back then stores were closed on Sundays , we look forward going to the stores especially the Wiz and if anyone can remeber before that was Stevens were they sold kitchen apiances & etc .Does anyone remembers Cookie Kingdom . Lerners was your go to store to buy clothes . Remeber Thom McAnn and Miles , so many shoe store . And that famous record store I cant think of name but it was so kool to go inside . I remeber
Wooolworth on the corner. So many nice stores .Yes it has change so much . I recently went by and could not believe empty stores .
No one shops in stores . It a thing of the past .

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Mike

Does anyone remember the club Krash across the street from the PC Richards parking lot? It was the first gay club i ever been to and the host Jessica Fox was all that! If only the LGBTQ community knew how things were like back then being gay in Astoria. It was very limited to where we can meet others and hang out. Today we are all over Astoria and proud!

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Kathy

I have pictures of me holding a boombox walking on Steinway with my friends. It was the place to be back then. Walking around listening to “Let the Music Play” by Shannon.

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Juanita

Our elected officials will probably suggest adding bike lanes on Steinway Street to help increase business ventures and make Steinway safer. Maybe turning the parking lot into a dog run also.

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Bill

Close Rikers and open community jails on Steinway! This will make Landlords and the city very happy.

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Lina

I think this has more to do with trends and what shoppers are looking for. I raised three children in Astoria and I still live here. My children were teens/young adults in the late 80’s and early 90’s. They were always into labels and asked for expensive clothes and shoes. One of my sons would spend all his allowance on sneakers. Nowadays my grandchildren walk around with 5-10 dollar t shirts, 10-20 dollar shorts and affordable shoes. I know because I shop for them at places like Target and Walmart and they do not mind. But they also walk around with 1,ooo dollar cell phones and prefer to spend all their money on tech gadgets (like video games). Also, my oldest grandson has spent more money on his cellphone and tattoos then his whole wardrobe. They do not seem to care much about clothes as far as pricing is concerned and prefer shopping on line. My granddaughter is buying her wedding dress on line!!

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Maria

Once weed is legalized in NYC, I think Steinway is a great place to open weed shops and cafes. This will definitely attract the new locals to shop and spend time there.

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Ben

I wrote about the biggest problem with Steinway street a few years ago and it is still the biggest issue. There is not enough parking . The board who controls the retail area should get together and construct a multi-level parking garage right in the middle between 28th ave and Broadway. I have tried on several occasions to get something and driven around continuously looking for a spot but just decided to leave. In addition they need to attract well known retailers to the strip.

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Moe Joe

That’s not quite true. There’s plenty of street parking. I believe a lot of it has to do with redundant little Arab shops that provide the same products and services as the Arab shops to their left and right.

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Luis

“There’s plenty of street parking..” If you consider double parking and parking by fire hydrants ok then yes there are places to park. BTW that group always does it whether its in that area or house of worship and the city traffic cops do nothing.

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Joh Fredersen

There is municipal parking between Broadway and 30th avenue and metered parking on the streets. The stores that have closed up pretty much sucked anyway. Overpriced eurotrash clothing or Fallas which smelled like the Fulton fish market in its heyday. There are only so many sneaker and hat shops the locals can support. How many Dunkin Donuts are needed on Steinway? Between 28th ave and Astoria Blvd any sane person would avoid like the plague unless they want to contract an air-borne illness. The sidewalks are filthy and the abundance of homeless occupying the benches is unappealing as well.

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Michael J. Johnson

Many retail neighborhoods are failing in New York state as well as the industrial sector the reason being we have a deadbeat governor & a senator which both do absolutely nothing for the state’s economy, They are more interested in catering to useless special right groups that vote for them every election term it’s time for a change in the upcoming elections. Cuomo the S.O.B ”said” America was never great here’s a note he is one of the two worst governors in state history the other was his father him & Schumer always try to be the heroes of public negative complaints never promoting any economic prosperity in the state. Now we occcassssiooo cortezzz she so dumb & militant she thinks that tax credits are fiscal cash!!!!

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Joe Sigi

I live in Astoria for 65 years I remember Steinway what was the center of a bustling busy Business Center whether you went up there for a slice of pizza at Rizzo’s or you went to buy some clothes to go out to a new club it was the place to go in the place to be everybody would meet on Steinway you would see people that you knew all the time we had two great movie theaters on Steinway Loews Triboro and the Astoria theater that’s where we went to the movies now whenever I ride down Steinway it is desolate many stores are closed down because the rent is too damn High for anybody to make a living Steinway we’ll go all the way of the dinosaur it’s buildings will be knocked down never to open again it will become high rises a million-dollar Condominiums in high-rise rents Steinway will be a thing of the past mark my words it’s coming nobody’s opening up new stores they can’t afford it thank you and the landlords I just waiting to rebuild the big residential buildings what a shame it’s time we has been going south along time mark my words

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Anonymous

Its so sad to see this. I use to live in Astoria for a very long time. Steinway used to be bustling and heavy foot traffic. And around Christmas time it was hard to walk. Now its so sad and dull. And now it’s not even as safe as it used to be. Now there is more crime. Thank god i left when I had the chance.

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Live in Woodside now

Why did u leave if it was so great . The neighborhood is changed . Steinway was the mecca of shopping area .
People from other areas wished they had a Steinway in their neighborhood.
Shame and sad that the feast they used to have during summer closer to 28th Ave. is gone too. Well dont have to tell you why cos its looks like Arabs town up there.

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Harry Bingham IV

I know the current rage is to bash capital and landlords but let’s not forget that Leftists are greedy too.

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Helen

Selling crap will not attract this younger generation. They can find better and cheaper things on line. They need to start opening cafes, restaurants, bars, etc in order to stay open like all the avenues around here do.

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pat macnamara

Steinway street is a haven for dirtbags and bums. At least 20 empty stores on this strip between 34th avenue and 30th Avenue. That is not healthy at all

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Aki

Stores need to attract locals in order to survive on Steinway by making it more affordable. Then, the rapidly growing North African and Middle eastern population in Astoria will rent them like they have been doing all over Northern Steinway. They managed to open shops, schools, mosques, apartments, centers and so on.

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Anonymous

I’m just an anti consumer, I’ve lived in Astoria since 2003 and worked here since 2001. I buy food, a little clothing, and not much else. My electronics are outdated (I’ll upgrade them when they cease to function. ) When I do shop I do make it locally, either around town here or else up on Northern by the strip malls there. I don’t have / don’t want a car.

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Janine Young

Totally useless uninteresting cheap merchandise being sold. How can this bring in traffic!

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DB

I find it interesting how there are so many 1 and 2 story buildings without any apartments on top. Adding extra space on top would be a great way to increase the foot traffic of shoppers and help the local businesses. I wonder if there is any way to incentivize the landlords to consider building more.

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Steinway Street

Steinway Street has become run down. Dirty, cars double park. At night it’s worse. Drunken people, fights, drugs. Rarely see the police.

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Ella

Yup but I know Stamatis resturant begged for decrease but luckily saved his money and went across the street and still making money while greedy lanlord had no one to rent the store to!!! Lmao. Happy for stamatis on 23rd Avenue a great place to dine or take out!!!

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Drita

Their food is way over priced and way to greasy for me. Its seems like everything is drenched in what tastes like cheap old oil. If it was not for the nostalgic old folks that go there on the weekends that place would shut down like many other eateries that only serve Greek (aka mostly Ottoman/Turkish) food in Astoria. On weekdays it looks so empty and all their workers sit in front of the place smoke.

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E. Ruano Melendez

People are shopping less because there not money left after paying home rent. People are learning to buy on line. Is less expensive , you do not have to be window shopping any more. Restaurants are still surviving. Eventually a few will be open.
Owner should have brough down the residential rent as well as commercial rent.
People are moving away. I spoke with a friend who has his construction company in Trento NY. and he said I never will be back to live in New York. He said you can buy a house for 100 t150 thousand and in NY. Cost minimum 500 thousand. Big rent will disappear even in NYC. He may be written.

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DB

Less money after rent, more people shopping online and less incentive to go to Steinway (why walk down Steinway when you can drive to Home Depot and get everything?).

If they want to fix Steinway, they need to make it more walkable. They tried by adding a few crosswalks but there are so many cars double parked or motorcycles popping wheelies that it’s not an enjoyable experience. They should extend the curbs to make it safer to cross and prevent cars from cutting corners. They sort of did on 30th Ave near the Bank of America with plastic barriers but they should make a more permanent solution.

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Thelonious Gant

Very true! I also have friends who moved to Virginia and say the same, they’ll never come back to NY. The retail on Steinway street is struggling big time, if you just walk a block, you’ll notice the vacancy is higher then 18%, it’s alarming. That is a result of greedy owners who are probably old school and think this is a trend and things will be back to normal sometime. It won’t. Until they realize that and cut their rents by 40-50%, those stores will remain empty.

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Martha

Its is also the developers and business people who are buying these old homes in Astoria for the expensive prices that are causing the market values and rents to go up. And most buyers for the last couple of years in Astoria purchase to update and rent and not to live here. Many home owners who stick around and do not sell are having a hard time renting if the place is not updated with amenities. There are so many vacancies. My friend who is looking for a place told me he saw 10 apts already and that he keeps getting calls from realtors to show him more in the Ditmars area.

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Dr jose

There are too many empty store fronts in this area . Greedy land lords are the reason

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Stacy

Steinway is not even a safe area to walk anymore. So rundown and dirty. Whatever shops that are left are useless! Even the street fairs are getting spotty, not as many vendors like there used to be. Bring down the ridiculous rents or just sell the buildings off already and make something useful of the area!

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Anonymous

@stacy – Do you know what caused all of this? Well, i’ll Tell you … 10-15 yrs ago the start of Gentrification in my beloved neighborhood that didn’t do anything but ruin it and ruin it in every aspect.
Astoria was never like this before as thousands of natives will agree. The neighborhood was already great to begin with. Now, look at it as a result of hipsters and yuppies moving into the neighborhood.

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Stacey

I’ve lived here for over 25 years. I’ve shopped at The Wiz, Coconuts, KB toys, Lechters… so please don’t tell me what it used to be because I know! In addition, it’s people like you that don’t want change, we don’t need grumpy old farts around here either nagging at every little thing. This is 2019… grow up and accept change! I admire the shops like the hobby shop on Grand and the fabric shop on Broadway and I know the owners very well. Appreciate that before it’s gone!

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Hiram Bingham IV

Anon: I’m a native and I am no fan of the snowflake millennial jackasses. But to be fair, there are areas now that are much better and more vibrant than years ago. Grand Avenue in the 30’s was a ghost town at night years ago. The area around Bareburger on 31 ave was sleepy and rundown 25 years ago. Yes, the snowflakes are annoying but the true culprit is that interest rates have been kept (and are still being kept) artificially low for the past 1o years. This has created an asset bubble with all this cheap capital being funneled into development. One day the music will stop and it won’t be pretty but for now it is what it is.

Harry Bingham IV

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People still say "snowflake" unironically?

I thought it was only used sarcastically to make fun of completely unoriginal Trump lovers. It’s so outdated…

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Anonymous

there are at least “50” empty stores on Steinway Street – how do the 99 cent stores survive I wonder –

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Myrna Gonzalez

It breaks my heart. I grew up in AQ back in the late 5O’S & 60’s and Steinway Street was the place to eat, shop, and window shop . Greed has taken over The AQ, and the ENTIRE New York City area. Where’s the humanity, humility and just plain caring for each other. Smh.

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Bob P.

I lived in Astoria my whole life and the only reason Steinway sucks is there are not many quality stores to buy from. Most are just 1.00 stores or overpriced junk stores and Steinway St. is not safe anymore when the sun goes down at night. I say it like I see it and I’m 64 years old.

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