Tag Archives: Astoria Houses

Real estate roundup: Residential support for Astoria Cove, Saving murals for Cornell’s Roosevelt Island tech campus


By Queens Courier Staff | editorial@queenscourier.com

Rendering courtesy of STUDIO V Architecture

NYCHA residents wants Astoria Cove

“There has been a lot of debate about this 1.7 million square-foot waterfront development. We’ve heard opinions coming from The Bronx, Brooklyn and Manhattan — but take it from neighbors who live down the street in the NYCHA Astoria Houses, one for the past 61 years and the other for 60 years: This project can help move our community in the right direction.” Read more [The New York Post]

At Future Cornell Campus, the First Step in Restoring Murals Is Finding Them

“Cornell University and its conservators faced a lot of challenges rescuing three rare 7-by-50-foot murals from the Goldwater Memorial Hospital on Roosevelt Island. The first challenge was finding two of them.” Read more [New York Times]

Douglas Durst Talks Queens, Midtown and WTC

“While the Durst Organization was known for developing Manhattan commercial spaces — Seymour Durst once said he “would never buy anything he couldn’t walk to” from his Manhattan office — Mr. Durst has become a residential developer of late, with two Manhattan rental projects nearing completion and negotiations underway to build a massive mixed-use project in Hallets Point, Queens.” Read more [Commercial Observer]

Radiology Center Opens in Long-Vacant Northern Boulevard Building

“Main Street Radiology at 72-06 Northern Blvd. opened with limited services on Oct. 6, but has since expanded its offerings — modern ultrasounds, mammograms and stress tests, according to assistant director Todd DiLeonardo.” Read more [DNAinfo]

Man arrested in Astoria shooting of teen, second person


| ctumola@queenscourier.com

Photo courtesy of NYPD

Updated 2:10 p.m.

Two people, including a teenage boy, were shot in Astoria Thursday afternoon, police said.

The shooting happened in front of the Astoria Houses on 8th Street around 4:30 p.m., cops said.

A 15-year-old boy suffered a gunshot wound to the shoulder and a 30-year old man was struck in the torso and leg, according to officials. They were taken to Elmhurst Hospital where the teen is listed in stable condition and the man is listed in critical but stable condition, cops said. Both are likely to survive.

Following the gunfire, officers saw a man fleeing from the scene and jump into the passenger side of a black Acura at the corner of 27th Avenue and 8th Street, police said. The car then sped off before crashing into another vehicle at 26th Avenue and 21st Street.

The passenger and the driver both tried to flee on foot following the collision. But cops were able to nab the passenger, 34-year-old Shannon Smith, of Valley Stream, Long Island, and place him under arrest and recover a handgun at the scene, officials said.

Smith faces attempted murder, assault, criminal possession of a weapon, reckless endangerment, criminal possession of stolen property and resisting arrest charges, according to police.

 

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Woman to give free manicures at Socrates Sculpture Park


| aaltamirano@queenscourier.com

Photo by Mikel Durlam

Breanne Trammell is taking her revamped 1968 compact trailer back out on the road to help polish the lives of local western Queens moms in need of a well-deserved pampering.

Last year, Trammell, a Wassaic, N.Y. resident, professional manicurist and core member of the nonprofit The Wassaic Project, embarked on a cross-country road trip she called Nails Across America.

During the trip she visited 20 different states as part of her experimental art project known as “Nails in the Key of Life,” where she uses manicures as the way to exchange ideas, start conversations and collect people’s stories. During her road trip, she would give women, men and children free manicures inside a 1968 Shasta compact trailer she transformed into a mobile nail salon.


                                   Photo by Mikel Durlam

Each person who sported one of Trammell’s manicures would receive a signed and numbered letter-pressed certificate to celebrate his or her involvement in the project.

“The idea is to reach out to as many kinds of people, from all walks of life, and use it as a way to honor them and their experiences, and share their experiences and stories,” Trammell said. “Manicures are usually expensive. It’s been my intention from the very beginning, this is totally accessible for anyone.”

Now, months after returning from her trip, Trammell will take the trailer back out and make a trip to Long Island City’s Socrates Sculpture Park for its spring/summer season opening on Mother’s Day on May 11.

During the event, which will feature the opening of three brand new exhibitions, Trammell will be giving free manicures by the park’s new 50-foot-long, 18-foot-high “Queen Mother of Reality” sculpture by Polish artist Pawel Althamer.

Although the manicures will be available on a first-come, first-served basis, most of the appointments will be filled by mothers from the nearby NYCHA housing development Astoria Houses.


                        Photo by Chuka Chukuma

“We are making sure the people that deserve it are getting it,” said Elissa Goldstone, exhibition program manager at Socrates Sculpture Park. “We are giving women a moment to be praised and to be focused on.”

While the mothers get pampered by Trammell, their children will also be able to take part in workshops conducted by the grass-roots nonprofit Minor Miracles Foundation.

Goldstone said Trammell’s trailer and free manicures pair nicely with the sculpture that was dedicated to Queen Mother Dr. Delois Blakely, who has served as Community Mayor of Harlem since being sworn in by former Mayor Rudolph Giuliani in 1995.

Visitors will be allowed to enter the sculpture and get a view of the Manhattan skyline, and, later, get a tour of Trammell’s trailer.

“Breanne’s trailer has similar reclaimed, handmade, but also sacred and secured interior in this larger setting,” Goldstone said. “It’s that privateness that brings out these intimate moments.”

During that weekend, Socrates Sculpture Park will also debut the LIC Art Bus which will offer free weekend door-to-door service from noon to 6 p.m. between Socrates, SculptureCenter, The Noguchi Museum and MoMA PS1.

 

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Astoria Houses kids now have ‘Promise’


| mpantelidis@queenscourier.com

DSC_0042w

More than 1,600 underprivileged children have been “granted” the opportunity to pursue their dreams.

Local elected officials and community leaders gathered on January 13 to announce that a $500,000 Promise Neighborhood planning grant from the U.S. Department of Education (DOE) had been procured for the children of the Astoria Houses.

The grant, which was secured by Zone 126, an organization aiming to increase the number of low-income children in Long Island City and Astoria who complete high school, will be used to create “cradle to career” educational support for the young residents of the housing development and the surrounding community. The funding – presented to only 20 organizations nationwide – is being combined with a $350,000 contribution by the Elmezzi Foundation, which created Zone 126, and $400,000 in private donations.

Zone 126 also plans to apply for a federal implementation grant from the U.S. DOE, which could acquire $4 to $6 million in further federal funding.

“This grant is an exciting milestone for all of us; our staff, our partners – the residents, schools, nonprofits, public officials and funders who invest in education in Astoria,” said Chris Cutter, executive director of Zone 126. “We have been working together on this initiative for the past four years and now have the backing we need to plan a cradle to career continuum of supports for children in our community.”

The Promise Neighborhoods program, which was launched by President Barack Obama in 2010, aims to address the difficulties faced by students in impoverished communities by providing a wide range of services, including improving an area’s health safety, and stability, expanding access to learning technology and Internet connectivity and boosting family engagement in student learning.

“I’m absolutely thrilled because of the possibility of giving so much aid and support to 1,600 of our young people here in western Queens,” said Congressmember Carolyn Maloney, who strongly campaigned for the grant. “It will help bring the American Dream to so many young people. [This program] is very comprehensive. It is about screening their eyes and hearing; giving them the tools they need, whether it be computers or learning aids to help them compete; providing support from their families and their community in after school program and tutoring; helping them plan and finance their college education; and helping them move forward to become leaders in our great country.”

During the next year, Zone 126 will determine what services are most needed in the community, after which the organization will develop a detailed plan to address them.

According to Claudia Coger, the president of the Astoria Houses Residents Association, the grant is essential for the children of the housing development, who she believes have been prevented from fully reaching their potential.

“This is so important to us, because in this district, our children are rating very low, and they are unable to compete when they get to middle school and high school,” said Coger. “This grant will plant the seeds in this community that our children will be competitive from Kindergarten through the rest of their lives. This will empower the lives of so many children, that they will have a jump start from the crib.”

Parents of Astoria Houses were also enthusiastic about the grant, which has increased their aspirations for their children.

“This grant will be important for my kids,” said Kevin Harris, a resident of Astoria Houses who has a 14-year-old son and 20-year-old daughter. “This is about having the right kinds of programs for our kids. Hopefully the after school programs will help my son advance in science and math. If they can help him build his self esteem it will be great for him going forward to college. Maybe it can help him be a doctor.”

More housing coming to Astoria?


| mpantelidis@queenscourier.com

Halletts Point - Waterfront Park - by James Corner Field Operations

The proposed development of a rarely traversed section of Astoria may “point” to significant upgrades in amenities for the neighborhood.

The Lincoln Equities Group, a real estate company based in New Jersey, hopes to build seven residential towers, dubbed Hallets Point, a supermarket and a waterfront park along the East River.

Hallets Point, which would be near the Astoria Houses, would create roughly 2,200 units of housing. Approximately 1,800 of the units would be market rate, with 400 to 500 – or 20 percent – reserved for affordable housing.

The privately-financed project, which is expected to create 1,400 construction jobs and 300 permanent jobs, has an estimated cost of over $1 billion.

“This project will bring much-needed economic development to a section of Queens that badly needs it and will incorporate things like a supermarket, affordable housing and new parkland to greatly improve the Hallets Point community,” said Andrew Moesel, a representative of the project. “Astoria Houses is a large development, but the peninsula itself is a collection of rundown warehouses and mechanical shops. There aren’t many things adding to the community, but this development, along with bringing new residents to the area, will bring the much needed amenities this community has not had for many years.”

The public review process for the project is expected to begin next year; however Hallets Point, which will offer panoramic views of northern Manhattan, has reportedly received mostly favorable reactions.

“I’m excited about the development, because I think it is long overdue and the area is most definitely in need of redressing,” said Claudia Coger, president of the Astoria Houses Residents Association. “This development will create a state of connection between the waterfront and the rest of western Queens. But I am most excited about the supermarket, because that has been an absentee in our community for over 25 years.”

Senator Michael Gianaris, who is “cautiously optimistic” about Hallets point, says his main concern is ensuring the transportation infrastructure of the neighborhood is able to sustain the additional residents.

According to the senator, shuttle bus service to the Astoria Boulevard subway station is among the proposed solutions to the increase in traffic.

“If done properly, this can be a development that benefits the entire community, while creating affordable housing, which is in desperate need,” said Gianaris. “But the devil is in the details, so I want make sure that as we go forward, all [the developer’s] promises are kept.”

Councilmember Peter Vallone Jr., whose father’s law firm is acting as a consultant to the developers, says the potential strain the buildings could place on community services has prevented him from fully committing to the project.

“I’m undecided at the moment,” said the councilmember, who claims every other elected official and community group has supported the project. “It has a lot of pros and a lot of cons. The pros are that it will bring needed development to an underserved area and will provide amenities, like a beautiful waterfront park. The cons are that there will be a very large series of buildings that will place a strain on the services to the community, like transportation and schools. It’s going to be such a neighborhood changer. Whatever ends up happening, a lot of people are going to be happy and almost as many people are going to be upset.”

Vallone hosts holiday fair


| mpantelidis@queenscourier.com

Councilmember Peter Vallone Jr. and the East River Development Alliance (ERDA) hosted a holiday fair on December 15, during which over 200 underprivileged children from the western Queens housing development received toys, posed for pictures with Santa Claus, socialized with elves and participated in arts and crafts and other family activities.

“We are so glad to share the holidays with community members in western Queens and to provide gifts courtesy of Councilmember Peter Vallone Jr.,” said Bishop Mitchell Taylor, president and founder of ERDA. “There is no better way to celebrate the end of the year than gathering together with the families that make our community in western Queens so strong.”

ERDA, a Long Island City non-profit organization working to improve public housing neighborhoods across the city, organizes the toy drive each year with the cooperation of a sponsor. When the organization’s sponsor rescinded, Vallone urged the Astoria community to donate to the local cause, using his office as a drop-off location. After numerous generous submissions from the neighborhood, the drive’s goal was exceeded, and the toys were ready for the fair at the Astoria Houses, located at 4-25 Astoria Boulevard.

“The generosity of the people of Astoria never ceases to amaze me,” said Vallone. “In a few short days a simple request to collect toys for some of our kids who needed them most was not only met but exceeded. I want to thank ERDA, Quontic [Bank], and all who participated in our successful toy drive. As we learned from Cindy-Lou Who, Christmas is not about toys, but it’s always nice to see the look of joy on kids’ faces. Astoria is truly blessed.”

 

Queens’ Morning Roundup – 11/09/2011: Queens Landlord Kills Tenant Before Committing Suicide


| jlane@queenscourier.com

morning roundup

No parole again for killer of NYC’s Kitty Genovese

The man who killed Kitty Genovese has been denied parole for the 15th time in a case that became notorious after reports that neighbors in her quiet New York City neighborhood failed to act as they heard the victim’s screams. Read More: Wall Street Journal

 

Queens Landlord Kills Tenant Before Committing Suicide

Neighbors widely knew that the owner of 111-11 143rd Street in South Jamaica, Queens wanted the tenants on the top floor and basement out of his house, due to a long-running dispute over rent. But on Tuesday, it became bloody in an apparent murder-suicide. Police said the home owner, 62-year-old Eulith Reid, chopped his 48-year-old basement tenant Hettie Patterson in the head with a machete, killing her. He then stabbed himself in the neck and also died. They were pronounced dead in Jamaica Hospital. Read More: NY1

 

Aqueduct Racino Pulls In $15M During First Stretch

The new casino at Aqueduct Racetrack is on a big winning streak, but not without some small bumps along the way. Watch the video: NY1

 

Queens group builds housing and new lives for former inmates  

For women leaving prison, one of the greatest challenges is finding a stable place to live. That’s why nonprofit group Hour Children is creating affordable housing in Long Island City for formerly incarcerated women trying to rebuild their lives. Read More: Daily News

 

Long Island City housing complex plagued by shootings

Constant fear caused by frequent shootings has left the residents of Astoria Houses in a frenzy. The housing development, located at 4-20 Astoria Boulevard in Long Island City, has been plagued by gun violence for years, according to the people who call the houses home. Read More: Queens Courier

Long Island City housing complex plagued by shootings


| mpantelidis@queenscourier.com

THE COURIER/Photo by Nargas Karimi

Constant fear caused by frequent shootings has left the residents of Astoria Houses in a frenzy.

The housing development, located at 4-20 Astoria Boulevard in Long Island City, has been plagued by gun violence for years, according to the people who call the houses home.

“I hear the shootings every time and it’s routine,” said Millie Santana, a resident of Astoria Houses. “It happens all the time.”

Recently, the frequency of the shootings has escalated to an alarming rate.

According to police, during the month of October, there were five incidents of gun violence at Astoria Houses – three on the 21, one on the 22 and one on the 24.

“It has been very devastating,” said Claudia Coger, the president of the Astoria Houses tenant’s association. “There have been gun incidents sporadically, and it has been devastating and frightening for the community. People have become homebodies. But this has also brought a community-wide awakening that we have to do more to keep one another safe.”

Two of the incidents, which involved gun shots causing property damage, have been classified as criminal mischief and reckless endangerment.
During another shooting, categorized as reckless endangerment, a round was fired through a wall, entering an apartment; no one was injured

“I’m absolutely scared,” said a 24-year-old female resident of the complex. “I’m just trying to keep my daughters safe. We don’t know how long the cops will be here. The truth is that to live here you have to be wise and mind your own business. That’s all you can do.”

The two remaining shootings have both been classified as assaults.

The first stemmed from an argument that ensued at 2-10 27th Avenue on October 22 at 9:30 p.m. The dispute led to the discharging of shots, and an innocent, 16-year-old female was struck by a stray bullet while standing near the complex’s basketball courts.

The second shooting occurred on October 24 at 7:48 p.m., when an attempted robbery turned violent, say police. While a 26-year-old, male resident of Astoria Houses was walking to his apartment, two black males attempted to hold him up. When the victim fled, the suspects opened fire, striking him once in the left foot and again in the right calf.

The two assaults are the only gun-related injuries to occur at the houses this year, compared to one in 2010, during which 22-year-old Kalis Canady was shot in the head and killed.

“I stopped my grandkids from coming out here, just until all of this gets together,” said another female resident of Astoria Houses. “I don’t want them to walk around here because you never know when there can be shootings. It’s very ugly.”

Living at the houses has become work for some, with rules and regulations dictating how residents can behave.

“It’s best to try and avoid situations and come outside only when you have to. Other than that stay inside,” Santana said. “I’ve never really let my son come outside, but it all comes with living in the projects. I just want to get out of here and give my kids something better.”

No arrests have been made in connection with the incidents, and the investigations are ongoing.

In response to the recent rise in gun violence, the police have stationed a temporary headquarters vehicle (THV) at the complex. The NYPD has also implemented a tower with video surveillance, assigned additional plainclothes officers to the area and increased patrols, particularly late at night.

Confidential informants are being contacted by the police as well.

The Courier witnessed an NYPD mobile command truck parked on Astoria Boulevard and 8th Street on October 31, and noticed squad cars driving past the complex every five to 10 minutes.

Although police say there is no evidence of gang activity in connection with the shootings, groups of individuals have been seen congregating in the vicinity of the basketball courts.

Despite the increase in police presence, many residents remain unconvinced a significant change will occur.

“The cops here aren’t going to do anything,” Santana said. “Once they leave it will go back to the same thing. I remember during a shooting a while ago, the police didn’t even show up. They don’t care. They get on the news and make their big speeches saying ‘We’re on it,’ but really, they don’t care. In these projects, the majority of the people are the minority.”