A Less Polish Glendale

About 15 years ago, Polish immigrants started moving into Glendale, Queens. Now many are heading to Long Island or other states. (Photo by Anna Arciszewska via Nowy Dziennik)

Glendale, a Queens neighborhood with a population of slightly over 32,000 people, was once home to Italian and German immigrants. Some 15 years ago, it became popular among the Polish community. Polish Americans would not only rent apartments here but also invest in real estate.

“We found a nice house for a reasonable price,” says Ewa Stopczyk, who moved to Glendale 20 years ago. “The realtor told us then that he knew of one other Polish family living around the corner. There were no Polish stores or restaurants in Glendale yet. They came later with the Polish immigrants who had saved money for homes and started moving here from Greenpoint,” says Stopczyk, who eight years ago bought a Polish store, My Junior’s Deli, located on Myrtle Avenue, Glendale’s main artery. Four years later there were still four Polish delis here. “Now we are down to two. We [the Polish community] are shrinking, and as a result the customers are changing. The Polish-speaking ones make up some 50 percent. The rest are Americans, Italians, Romanians and Ukrainians,” says the store owner.

The Polish Americans have been leaving Glendale and moving to other states or to Long Island, where real estate is still a bit cheaper. “In the past two years, eight large families have left,” says Stopczyk.

In order to survive, business owners look for ways of gearing their services toward other customer bases living in Glendale. “One can’t cater to one ethnic group anymore,” says Robert Luc, owner of Ella Business Center. Fourteen years ago, he opened an agency specializing in shipping parcels and money to Poland. Now his agency offers comprehensive services for small businesses from setting up to filing taxes, to insurance and HR services. “Many of our clients are Polish-owned companies, mostly in the construction business, but we are open to others. If we were not, we wouldn’t have half of the clients we do,” says Luc, who chose Glendale as a location for the Business Center years ago when he was looking for an affordable place for another business not dependent on the residents of this particular neighborhood. Later he created the agency because there was a demand for it. Now his employees are helping clients from the greater New York area, including those from other states. Some of them previously lived in Glendale but have now settled in New Jersey or Connecticut.

Many immigrants, including those from Poland, are looking for apartments and rooms to rent in Glendale because prices have never been as high as [they are now] in Brooklyn and other locations. However, even Glendale is becoming expensive for both renters and buyers. “A two-bedroom apartment rents for $1,700-$2,500,” says Thomas, a realtor. An average-size two-family home in Glendale goes on the market for more than a million dollars, twice as much as 10 or 15 years ago. “I don’t know how many Poles own homes in Glendale but looking at our offers alone, every fourth home is Polish-owned,” he adds.

Realtors predict that neighborhoods like Glendale, which are clean and safe but located miles away from Manhattan, will eventually become as expensive as Greenpoint or Williamsburg. On the other hand, they will cease to be attractive to communities like Polish immigrants looking for a more affordable place to live.

The people who have already invested in Glendale now say it was worth it. “We live in Maspeth, but someone told us it is good to buy real estate in Glendale and so in 2016 we bought a rental home for $820,000 here. Now its value is estimated at close to a million,” says Monika, who rents the house to four families – one is American, one is Italian-Latino and two are Polish.

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