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Curbed Cup 1st round: (5) Long Island City vs. (12) Ridgewood

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Which neighborhood should advance? Cast your vote now!

Scott Lynch

Long Island City

In today’s battle of Queens neighborhoods, we’re starting with Long Island City, an area that’s a perennial Curbed Cup favorite—so much so that it reached the finals in 2014. Thousands of new apartments have been added to the area in the past few years, and the units just keep on coming (Jackson Avenue is a particularly robust thoroughfare).

A short list: ODA’s blocky rentals at 22-22 Jackson Avenue (where just one apartment, a $2,250 studio, is available on StreetEasy); Rockrose’s development at 43-25 Hunter Street (which launched its affordable housing lottery in November); the Aurora, a collection of 132 units atop a new Marriott hotel; and two huge rental towers by G&M Realty, currently under construction on the former site of 5Pointz (pour one out). And that’s not even getting into the pricey condos that are rising throughout the neighborhood.

It’s also been a banner year in the non-real estate realm. The neighborhood held onto its Michelin star (for Casa Enrique, Cosme Aguilar’s Mexican restaurant) and welcomed a few buzzy newcomers, including Ramen Shack, from the creator of the Ramen Burger. (Mu Ramen, meanwhile, is still going strong.) Socrates Sculpture Park celebrated its 30th anniversary, and MoMA PS1 was as delightful as ever. And more hoteliers are banking on those offerings, opening boutique hotels throughout the neighborhood. Simply put, the LIC boom is showing no signs of stopping.

Ridgewood

Two years after the New York Times infamously bestowed this sleepy Queens neighborhood with the awful nickname “Quooklyn,” it re-discovered the neighborhood all over again, finding that it remains an “affordable alternative” to nearby neighborhoods like Bushwick and Williamsburg.

That, of course, is a bit of a “duh” statement—but it’s also a good reason to revisit the area for the Curbed Cup. Amid the rapid growth experienced by other neighborhoods, Ridgewood is still a pocket of relative affordability, with a median home price that’s well under $1 million and a median rent of around $2,300. Those are both up from last year—home prices jumped by about seven percent, according to Trulia—but compared to, say, Williamsburg, it’s still pretty good. There are plenty of new developments still in the works, though, which could change all of that in a year or two’s time.

That affordability, of course, is attracting restaurateurs and nightlife denizens: the neighborhood is home to a slew of clubs (Trans-Pecos, the Footlight) and hip “multi-use spaces,” including the perennially popular Nowadays. Other entrepreneurs are also looking to the area: the former owner of Hoboken’s Maxwells wants to put a venue there, and Evil Twin Brewing will soon open its first permanent U.S. brewery on George Street.

So sure, it’s not as buzzy or as development-rich as some of the other areas in this year’s Cup, but Ridgewood definitely has staying power going for it. But will that be enough to vault it over its Queens neighbor to the west? Now’s your time to decide: