Approximately 10 years ago, 47-year-old sculptor Micki Spiller and her husband purchased a 1930s auto body shop in Woodside, a diverse neighborhood in the New York City borough of Queens, and converted it into a home studio.
Little did Spiller realize that a decade later, she and her family would be in the epicenter of a massive population and demographic shift — not that she's bothered by the transition.
"People are more likely to give up their seat to a pregnant woman on the 7 train than on the 6," Spiller told CNBC in a recent interview, favorably comparing the NYC subway line that runs through Queens to its counterpart that runs through Manhattan, its neighbor to the west.
"It's better in the boroughs," she said. "Queens is not as hip as Manhattan and Brooklyn, and that's just fine by us."
Spiller's story is increasingly typical in one of NYC's fastest-growing areas — Queens, which is perhaps most famous for being home to curmudgeonly television dad Archie Bunker. In recent years, neighborhoods such as Woodside, Sunnyside and Astoria have been the chief beneficiaries of a large population boom, according to U.S. Census Bureau data. In fact, Queens is second only to ultra-hip Brooklyn in terms of its influx of residents since 2010, 2015 Census figures show.
Much like Brooklyn once did, Queens offers refuge to those who can't afford sky-high Manhattan rents and real estate. Yet anecdotal evidence suggests that status may not last long. Some observers say Queens is now in the process of becoming "Brooklynized" by young professionals — whose exodus from soaring rents and home prices has caused a wave of gentrification to crash along the borough's shores.
For city residents, it has long been an article of faith that Brooklyn was once a refuge of first resort for those who can't afford Manhattan real estate. Not so much anymore: A recent Corcoran Group real estate report paints a new reality, one typified by a booming real estate market.
The median price of a home in Brooklyn was $606,000 in the first quarter, a 15 percent increase over the same period one year earlier, with formerly rough working class areas (such as Red Hook, which now houses $4 million single family townhouses and a trendy IKEA store) now among the borough's priciest.