Tag Archives: Astoria

Astoria waterfront warehouse listed for $18M, could become residential building


| lguerre@queenscourier.com

Photo courtesy of Cushman & Wakefield 

Another Astoria waterfront industrial site recently hit the market and could be sold to an investor looking to develop the property into a residential mixed-use structure, which has become a trend in the area.

The owner of the vacant, one-story warehouse located at 30-05 Vernon Blvd., bought the property last year for $3 million, according to city records, and was hoping to transform it into a mixed-use condo, office and ground-floor retail building. Construction permits were never filed with the Buildings Department, but renderings were created for the potential seven-story structure.

3005 Vernon Boulevard Joint Venture, which is listed as the owner, pulled the plug on its own project and is now selling the development site for more than six times what it sold for last year.

The asking price is $18.24 million, according to Cushman & Wakefield, which is marketing the site. The site has up to 96,000 buildable square feet for a mixed-use development, and its price breaks down to about $190 per square foot, which isn’t topping premium levels for sites in the neighborhood.

The property has only been on the market for about a week, but more than 50 investors have called to learn more about it, according to Stephen Preuss of Cushman & Wakefield. Preuss said he expects it to sell soon.

Photo courtesy of Scott Bintner/PropertyShark

Photo courtesy of Scott Bintner/PropertyShark

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Suspect tries to steal from 11-year-girl on way to school in Astoria: NYPD


| ctumola@queenscourier.com

Sketch and video courtesy of NYPD

Police are looking for a man who they say tried to grab a cellphone from a young girl as she was heading to school in Astoria last week.

The 11-year-old student was walking near Ditmars Boulevard and 28th Street about 7:30 a.m. on Jan. 20 when the suspect attempted to snatch her phone, but she grabbed it back, police said. She then screamed and ran away.

Authorities have released video footage and a sketch of the suspect, and describe him as black, 30 years old and 5 feet 9 inches tall.

Anyone with information is asked to call Crime Stoppers at 800-577-TIPS (8477). The public can also submit their tips by logging onto the Crime Stoppers website or can text their tips to CRIMES (274637), then enter TIP577. All calls are strictly confidential.

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Astoria volunteer turns to online fundraiser to release first album of ‘positive music’


| aaltamirano@queenscourier.com

Photo by Ben Trivett

One Astoria singer is hoping her lyrics will fill listeners with enough positive energy that they in turn will contribute to an online campaign to help her release her first album.

Mary Walker has always had a passion and love for music. Growing up in Kansas she would listen to her mother and brother practice musical instruments throughout the house. She sang at her church’s youth choir, and in college she was the lead singer of her own rock band.

“Typically when I was growing up the house would be filled with music. Everyone was practicing their instruments,” Walker said. “I come from a strong gospel and blues background.”

When she made the move to New York in 2001 she started another band. But after the terror attacks on Sept. 11 of that year, she said she felt her life became filled with stress and she needed to find a way to relax.

She then encountered the nonprofit educational and humanitarian organization The Art of Living, which would send teachers to New York City to teach people meditation. Walker began taking classes and attending chanting sessions with the organization.

“It really changed my life,” she said.

Through her experience with the sessions she got together with other members of the meditation group and started a chanting band, which later morphed into the band Butterthief. The band plays “sit-down, traditional chanting music with a pop spin to it,” she said.

Butterthief (Photo by Ben Trivett)

Although she is still rocking out with Butterthief, after the business she owned folded last year, she decided it would be time to focus on her music career and work on her solo album. In order to fund the album release, she started a campaign on gofundme.com.

“My focus is creating a movement. Change starts with the individual,” Walker said. “For people to make a change, it first has to start with you.”

The funds gathered by the campaign will pay for the studio time, recording software, music publishing and other aspects that go into producing the album. She plans to work with guitarist Aram Bajakian, who played on tour with Lou Reed.

The album, which has a release date slated for April, will be filled with rock, alternative and soulful “happy” songs, all written by Walker.

“I want to create a fan base of people who like to listen to positive, uplifting music,” Walker said. “My focus is to have uplifting and passionate music.”

To contribute to Walker’s campaign, visit www.gofundme.com/marywalker.

Along with singing in the band and working on her solo album, Walker also helps to host “Yoga Remix Parties” where partygoers, specifically in colleges and universities, listen to Sanskrit chants set to electronic music and rock beats. The parties are substance free and include organic juices and food.

“People go away feeling free and partying without drugs and alcohol,” Walker said. “You don’t really need anything to have fun and have a good time.”

When she is not singing or hosting the parties, Walker can also be found volunteering for The Art of Living, going to prisons with a colleague where they teach meditation and breathing techniques to groups of teenage boys.

“Not even at home or school are you taught to deal with negative emotions,” Walker said. “They’ve been so grateful.”

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Meeting held to strengthen relationship between western Queens NYCHA residents and NYPD


By Queens Courier Staff | editorial@queenscourier.com

THE COURIER/Photo by Angy Altamirano

Residents of NYCHA developments in western Queens came together Saturday afternoon to discuss strengthening relationships with the police officers assigned to protect them.

The community gathered during a meeting organized by Congresswoman Carolyn Maloney and Victoria Schneps, publisher of The Queens Courier, with members of the NYPD to go over resident concerns and ways to build communication between community members and police.

“If we work together we’re going to be so much stronger,” Maloney said. “I think it’s important we come together and we try to figure out how we can make this city stronger because we’re only stronger when we’re together.”

During the meeting, residents voiced problems such as more lighting, more community engagement and communication by police officers who patrol the areas, and also support within the actual community between the older and younger generations.

“We are thrilled to be able to participate in bringing people in the community together,” Schneps said. “That’s what we are about, that’s what community journalism is about. Making sure we are talking to each other, many times through the pages of our papers, but also in person.”

Those present at the meeting at the Jacob Riis Settlement House, located at 10-25 41st Ave., within the Queensbridge Houses, included leaders from the Queensbridge, Ravenswood, Astoria and Woodside NYCHA houses.

NYPD representatives included Captain Mark A. Simmons, the commanding officer of Police Service Area (PSA) 9, which patrols the Queensbridge Houses, and members of the 114th Precinct.

“One of the things we have to do is when you see a police officer, thank them for their job, thank them for putting their lives on the line, thank them for going out on the streets to protect them,” Maloney said. “We have to show them that they are respected by people.

One resident of the Queensbridge Houses for 28 years, who goes by the name Sugaray, asked the officers available to show residents that they are more than just officers by coming by the neighborhood without uniforms.

“Come out and just be part of the community, show that you are human,” he said. “When we can see that the people in uniform are human and we can connect on a human-to-human level, that’s what builds relationships, that’s how you can build unity in the community.”

Simmons thanked the community for their support and said that by working together they will be able to get crime down.

“The greatest thing for you guys to know is that we support you and you support us and that’s the bond that we have here in PSA9,” Simmons added. “I am very proud to be here and I am very grateful that we are working together in the manner in which we are.”

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Astoria clubgoer arrested for firing at bouncers after being denied re-entry: NYPD


| slicata@queenscourier.com

Photos courtesy of the NYPD

It was a short night for one Astoria club patron when he was kicked out of the establishment for acting belligerently, according to police. But before he called it a night he wanted the last word.

In the early morning hours of Jan. 21, the clubgoer, Aaron Dockery, 29, walked to his car parked near Club Lit, located on Steinway Street near 36th Avenue, and grabbed a gun. Dockery had just been escorted out of the club and fired at the bouncers who were standing outside.

NYPD officers were on scene patrolling the club when they heard the shooting and chased down Dockery. They caught him and recovered a loaded weapon, stacks of cash, nearly five pounds of cocaine, crack, crystal methamphetamine and thousands of Xanax pills, according to police.

The shooting happened around 2:30 a.m. after Dockery asked to be allowed back in if his friend, who was also reportedly acting belligerently, stayed outside. But, when the bouncer denied his claim, Dockery started screaming that he would “shoot up the club,” according to police.

He ran across the street to his car, grabbed his gun and fired one round with his semi-automatic handgun in the air. He then sprinted back to his car with his weapon in his sweatshirt pocket only to find two cops waiting for him, police said.

A Taurus 9mm semiautomatic handgun that was also obtained.

A Taurus 9mm semiautomatic handgun that was also obtained.

Dockery took off on foot, along with the firearm, which was already loaded with another round, but was chased down moments later by the officers.

He was charged with criminal possession of a controlled substance, criminal possession of a loaded firearm, reckless endangerment, resisting arrest, menacing and obstructing governmental administration.

An apparent friend of Dockery, David Torres, 38, of Hempstead, was apprehended after attempting to enter Dockery’s Dodge Charger that was being safeguarded by police. He was charged with hindering prosecution, tampering with physical evidence, obstructing governmental administration and unlawful possession of marijuana.

Investigators are continuing to search for a third suspect, a 24-year-old Hempstead man who was sitting in Dockery’s car when he retrieved the firearm, but who fled on foot as police chased down the gunman.

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First look at 13-story mixed-use development near Astoria Cove


| lguerre@queenscourier.com

Rendering courtesy of HCD Architect

Plans for a mixed-use development that would include apartments and medical offices across the street from the huge Astoria Cove project are progressing. Drawings for the project were provided to The Courier.

Ming & Garden Realty LLC, which owns the land at 26-01 4th Ave. near the Astoria waterfront, filed plans to demolish the current two-story building on the site last July, and then filed in December to construct the tall mixed-use project.

The ground floor and second floor will be used for the medical office, while the third to the 30th floors will include 118 apartments in 122,510 square feet of space, according to veteran Bayside-based architect Tim Hao of HCD Architect, who is designing the building.

Ming & Garden Realty purchased the site in 2012 for nearly $7 million, according to city records.

The site is also several blocks away from the Hallets Point mega project that the Durst Organization is working on.

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Parents of Astoria Catholic school slated to close tell church officials: ‘Give us a chance’


| aaltamirano@queenscourier.com

THE COURIER/Photo by Angy Altamirano

Almost two weeks after learning that Most Precious Blood Catholic School in Astoria will be shuttered at the end of the school year, parents of the students are begging for one last chance to raise enough money to fix the building and keep it open.

Students and parents at Most Precious Blood School, located at 35-32 37th St., found out Jan. 9, through a letter written by Reverend William Krlis, pastor at Most Precious Blood Church, that the 58-year-old school would be closing due to drops in enrollment and the need for costly structural repairs.

“These essential building repairs, combined with declining enrollment, will not allow us to continue,” Krlis said in the letter. “This decision was not made easily. After much dialogue with all relevant parties, including officials from the Diocese of Brooklyn and local Catholic schools, as well as consulting with engineering firms regarding the state of these necessary repairs, I presented these facts to the Most Reverend Nicholas DiMarzio, Bishop of Brooklyn. With his support, I made this painful decision in the best interest of the parish community.”

Krlis added that an estimated $5.5 million in structural repairs are needed for both the school and church. The school building needs about $2.55 million in repairs and work cannot be done at the site while being used full time.

Since receiving the news, parents have come together to try to figure out ways to fund the repairs. Members of the Home School Association (HSA), which includes parents, met with school officials Tuesday night to present their ideas but were turned down.

“It was a really really disappointing meeting,” said Lissette Paz, an HSA member who has two sons who attend Most Precious Blood. “They came in with the agenda to tell us how to move forward and how to transition to the new school and here we are giving suggestions on how we can keep both the school and parish open.”

Among the suggestions were ideas of raising funds for repairs, coming up with a three- to five-year budget for the school, and informing the school that a contracting company was willing to do pro bono work to repair the sites.

“I don’t understand. There is so much here that we have,” Paz said. “We’re basically trying to show them that we have so many solutions to their problems.”

According to Paz, the next and last step they will have to take is to present their ideas and plan to the Bishop Nicholas DiMarzio after he returns from a retreat this Sunday. Paz plans to personally hand an invitation to DiMarzio to come to the school.

She added that the only progress made was that the neighboring Catholic schools have all agreed that if the school “miraculously stays open” they would refund registration fees to parents that might have enrolled their children in fear of losing a spot.

“All the other schools are given opportunities, why have we not been given the opportunity? Give us a chance. That’s all we ask you for,” Paz said. “Our school is in wonderful condition. We do need some repairs but nothing that our children would be in danger.”

Paz, whose husband is an alum of the school and who was married at Most Precious Blood Church, said she doesn’t see the repairs needed as sufficient reason to close the school, which last year received new computers and smartboards in all the rooms.

She mentioned that the only crucial problem is one church wall that is being supported by a beam from the outside. Many parents have sent letters to teachers at the school stating that they don’t want their children attending mass at the church because of the “danger” referred to by school officials as one of the reasons to close.

“I would not send my kids to a school that is in any kind of disarray. If we knew that there was a bigger problem, we would fix it,” Paz said.

Most Precious Blood will host an open house on Sunday from 10 a.m. to 1 p.m. for Catholic Schools Week and Paz hopes a lot of people show up to see how great the school actually is.

“We want to shout from the rooftops, ‘Come and see our school,’” Paz said. “We invite everyone to come in and see our beautiful school.”

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Ridgewood rents skyrocketing since end of recession


| lguerre@queenscourier.com

Charts and photos courtesy of StreetEasy.com

“Quooklyn,” “Ridgewick,” “Ridgebetween,” whatever you want to call it, rents in Ridgewood have exploded in the city’s newest hot neighborhood since the end of the recession.

Rents in Ridgewood last year increased about 63 percent since 2009, according to data compiled by real estate website StreetEasy.com at the request of The Courier, as more luxury rental buildings moved down the L and M train lines from Bushwick and Williamsburg.

The data finds the median price of rents in Ridgewood last year increased to $2,182 from $1,340 in 2009, good for first place in rents charged in Queens. Even when comparing year-to-date numbers between last year and 2013, Ridgewood experienced median rent increases of more than $382, while Astoria saw only a $50 increase and Long Island City actually had a decline.

“While rents remained flat in Queens between 2013 and 2014, some neighborhoods experienced a surge in prices,” said Alan Lightfeldt, a StreetEasy data scientist. “Ridgewood — also known as ‘Ridgebetween’ because of its new found status as an ‘in-between’ neighborhood of Brooklyn and Queens — saw prices increase by just over 21 percent as demand for the neighborhood has surged in recent years.”

This “new-found status” has helped businesses and created a buzz about Ridgewood that excites some longtime locals, and makes former residents want to come back, but renters are paying for it.

 

09-14 Rents

Another interesting find from the data suggests rising prices will continue in the Rockaways, which had previously recorded a drop due to effects from Superstorm Sandy.

“As this neighborhood continues its recovery from the destruction of Superstorm Sandy, rents have increased rapidly but still remain lower than they were five years ago — a sign that the rental market in Rockaways still has room for further recovery in the months and years ahead,“ Lightfeldt said.

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Mother-and-daughter-owned Astoria creperie looks to become neighborhood spot


| aaltamirano@queenscourier.com

THE COURIER/Photo by Angy Altamirano

A new Astoria coffee shop is looking to be the neighborhood spot and unofficial art gallery where people from all walks of life can get together.

Dina Kowalczyk and Christina Canon, a mother and daughter duo, are the owners behind the new shop, Locus, located at 23-14 Ditmars Blvd.

Having worked in the restaurant industry for years, including a stint as owners of a coffee shop business in California, Kowalcyzk and Canon decided they wanted to open a new shop after making the move to Astoria a few years ago.

However, Canon said that having noticed she was often treated oddly because of her tattoos and hair, she wanted to make sure her business was friendly to all — employees and customers.

“I want to be able to say that anybody is welcome here,” Canon said. “Setting a different idea of a store owner. It’s your attitude that determines your success no matter what you look like.”

One of the main goals behind the new shop is to make a connection with customers and provide a cozy and inviting environment, Canon said. While enjoying their treats, visitors can play with complimentary board games, crossword puzzles or books found on shelves at the shop. There is also free Wi-Fi.

“People can come and relax,” she added. “That’s the California style.”

The shop’s menu includes coffees, teas, savory and sweet crepes made from scratch, and other baked goods.

Along with a menu full of treats, starting in March, Locus will begin showcasing artists’ works every month. The plan is to have one artist, presenting any form of art, each month. The last weekend of every month there will be an exhibition where guests will be able to purchase art pieces and interact with the artists.

“I want people to depict different forms of beauty in my shop,” Canon said. “I was always the weird one and I wanted to embrace people that really stand out from the norm.”

The shop had a soft opening on Jan. 2, and Canon said they have since been checking out how the community is responding to Locus and have only received positive feedback. 

Locus will hold a grand opening on Valentine’s Day with a special event from 5 to 11 p.m. There will be specialty crepes on the menu on Feb. 14, and beer and wine will be on sale. All dine-in guests will also receive complimentary fondue.

Locus is open Tuesday through Friday from 6 a.m. to 9 p.m., and Saturday and Sunday from 7 a.m. to 9 p.m.  The shop will be closed Mondays until the weather gets warmer. For more information visit www.locuscafe.com.

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Teens robbed at Astoria McDonald’s: NYPD


| ctumola@queenscourier.com

Video courtesy of NYPD

Two young robbers, still hungry for more money, returned to an Astoria McDonald’s just after robbing one teen so they could steal from another customer, police said.

The victims, a pair of 17-year-old boys, were inside the 22-50 31st St. fast-food restaurant about 3:55 p.m. on Monday when the two suspects came up to them, cops said.

The suspects, who are also believed to be teenage boys, told one of the victims to empty his pockets, police said. He did what he was told and handed them an undetermined amount of money.

Immediately after leaving the McDonald’s the two suspects returned to rob the other 17-year-old. They ordered the boy to empty his pockets and he handed over an undetermined amount of money and his iPhone 5, police said. The suspects then left the eatery, with the victim chasing after them.

When he caught up with the two robbers and asked for his property back, they threatened to beat him with a brick and the victim fled.

Police have released a video of the suspects leaving the McDonald’s. The first suspect is described as white, 16 years old, 5 feet 6 inches tall, 145 pounds and was wearing a mask. The second suspect is black, 16 years old, 5 feet 5 inches tall and 135 pounds.

Anyone with information is asked to call Crime Stoppers at 800-577-TIPS (8477). The public can also submit their tips by logging onto the Crime Stoppers website or can text their tips to CRIMES (274637), then enter TIP577. All calls are strictly confidential.

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Popular Mechanics features Queens in ‘best startup cities in America’ list


| ctumola@queenscourier.com

THE COURIER/Photo by Liam La Guerre

Queens has not only been named the number one destination to visit in the U.S. but, according to one magazine, it’s also among the top places in the country to start a business.

In its February issue, currently on newsstands, Popular Mechanics has selected Queens as one of the “14 best startup cities in America.”

“No disrespect to San Francisco or Brooklyn, but we wanted to identify the next wave of cities building an ecosystem to turn innovators into entrepreneurs,” the magazine’s editors wrote.

Coming in at number 12, Queens was selected for offering lower rents than its outer-borough neighbor to the south, which often overshadows it.

The publication highlights QNS Collective, a co-working space that opened in Astoria in 2013, and nonprofit Coalition for Queens for supporting local tech startups. It also mentions Long Island City’s renovated Falchi Building, home to Coalition for Queens, The Food Box, Lyft’s New York City operations and other businesses with room for more tenants.

The Falchi Building (Image courtesy of Jamestown)

One new business that kicked off in the last year took advantage of the co-working spaces in the area.

Long Island City resident Alex Jae Mitchell founded Audiokite.com nine months ago and a month later launched out of a co-working space in Astoria, Create NY Space. His website offers independent musicians feedback on their songs from the public.

Mitchell, speaking to The Courier last year about why he decided to launch his business in Queens, said cheaper rent was a motivating factor.

“The low rent costs help me put everything I have into my business,” he said.

Other locations on Popular Mechanics’ list include St. Louis, Mo.; Asheville, N.C.; Oakland, Calif.; Portland, Maine; Baltimore, Md.; Holyoke, Mass.; Boulder, Colo.; Reno, Nev.; Des Moines, Iowa; Cleveland, Ohio; Urbana, Ill.; Detroit, Mich.; and Austin, Texas.

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Astoria parking lot with major development plans sells for $17M


| lguerre@queenscourier.com

Photo courtesy of Gratiela Ilis/PropertyShark 

An Astoria parking lot with plans for development has been sold for $17.35 million, according to property records filed with the city on Tuesday.

The buyer, Astoria 31st Street Developers LLC, bought the property, which is located at 31-51 31st St., from a group of owners under the name 1st Carico LLC.

Files to demolish the parking booth and construct a seven-story, mixed use commercial, residential and community facility building, were placed with the  Buildings Department last year.

SLCE Architects are designing the new building, which will have 114 residential units and nearly 20,000 square feet of commercial space as well as a 4,155-square-foot community facility,  according to city records.

There will also be 127 parking spots at the site.

 

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Beware of ads in the ‘by owner’ section


By Queens Courier Staff | editorial@queenscourier.com

Photo courtesy of Minas Styponias

BY MINAS STYPONIAS

As a real estate agent I, just like many prospective renters, scour the Internet on a daily basis looking for ads in the “by owner” section with the hopes of securing a listing to increase my inventory and hopefully build a relationship with the landlord of the property.

However, I find that the majority of the ads that I click on have been fraudulently created by another real estate agent in order to entice prospective renters into calling their number. Often times these ads are being placed without the owner’s consent. And the ads are often for an apartment that has long since been rented and is unavailable to be seen anyway.

Other agents have taken a listing from an owner they have found on a website and then gone back and flagged that owner’s listing so that they can have their ad show up in the “by owner” section instead of the one created by the actual owners. This is an act I like to call “ice fishing.” The agent fishes the listing by appropriate means but then ices the owner out of the competition by having their ad removed by filing a false complaint with that website.

Unsuspecting renters who call these ads are often greeted with a cursory hello and then almost immediately hit with the words, “There is a fee associated with this listing, okay?” No. Not okay! This is not only illegal but also completely unethical in the world of real estate rentals. While this practice most certainly does increase the number of views a real estate agent might obtain for their listings, it also helps to bolster the negative stereotypes that honest real estate agents like me have had to fight against throughout their careers, such as the stereotype that real estate agents are unethical, short sighted and indifferent to their individual customers.

A person perusing the “by owner” listing is most likely not interested in paying a fee to begin with. Why waste their time and your own by conducting this type of chicanery? It’s a desperate and somewhat telling ploy to the type of real estate professional you are possibly going to be dealing with so you should pay attention to that first impression when you come across this type of advertising sleight of hand. Shell games aren’t just for street vendors any more. Make sure you are informed and educated when seeking your next rental apartment or listing one for rent.

Minas Styponias is a licensed real estate broker for BuySell Real Estate in Astoria, where he was born and raised. He has had a career as a luxury rental property manager in New Jersey and Manhattan. Styponias speaks English, and is conversational in Greek and Spanish.

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Community rallies to stop closing of Astoria Catholic school


| aaltamirano@queenscourier.com

THE COURIER/Photo by Angy Altamirano

An Astoria community is speaking out after finding out that one of its Catholic schools, which has served the community since 1957, will be shutting its doors this June.

Parents and students at Most Precious Blood School, located at 35-32 37th St., found out Friday, through a letter written by Reverend William Krlis, pastor at Most Precious Blood Church, that the 58-year-old school would be closing due to drops in enrollment and the need for costly structural repairs.

Over the past five years enrollment has dropped “precipitously,” Krlis said in the letter, adding that enrollment from kindergarten through eighth grade this year is 191 students, compared to 303 students in September 2008 and 20 students less than last year.

Krlis also said that an estimated $5.5 million in structural repairs are needed for both the school and church. The school building needs about $2.55 million in repairs and work cannot be done at the site while being used full time.

“These essential building repairs, combined with declining enrollment, will not allow us to continue,” Krlis said. “This decision was not made easily. After much dialogue with all relevant parties, including officials from the Diocese of Brooklyn and local Catholic schools, as well as consulting with engineering firms regarding the state of these necessary repairs, I presented these facts to the Most Reverend Nicholas DiMarzio, Bishop of Brooklyn. With his support, I made this painful decision in the best interest of the parish community.”

However, for parents, who started an online petition Saturday against the closing, the reasons that lead to the decision aren’t enough to close the doors at the school.

“We do not want our children and beloved teachers and staff displaced! Quality Catholic Education is almost nonexistent and we cannot afford to close yet another school,” wrote Jennifer Masterson, who started the petition. “Schools in this area are already overcrowded, this will only add to the problem.”

Parents signing the petition also said the timing of the announcement did not leave them enough time to find another school for their children or give them an opportunity to attempt to raise the money needed for repairs.

Since Tuesday, the petition, which has a goal of 2,500 signatures, has garnered 2,104 supporters, including parents, residents and alumni.

According to the Diocese of Brooklyn, help will be provided for parents, and the neighboring Catholic schools will have seats to accommodate Most Precious Blood students and provide information on upcoming open houses.

Local politicians have also decided to speak out against the school closing. State Senator Michael Gianaris, Assemblywoman Aravella Simotas, and Councilman Costa Constantinides have written a letter to the Diocese expressing their concern and asking to reconsider the decision and explore all possible options to keep the school open.

“The outpouring of support from the community and the fear parents are now experiencing over the planned closure of the Most Precious Blood School demonstrate just how much this institution means to our neighbors,” Gianaris said. “I sincerely hope that the Diocese listens to the voices of our community and recommits itself to trying to find a way to keep this beloved school open.”

A meeting with parents has been scheduled for Wednesday at 7 p.m. in the school’s auditorium to review what led to the decision to close the school.

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Man beats roommate to death with hammer inside luxury Astoria apartment: NYPD


By Queens Courier Staff | editorial@queenscourier.com

THE COURIER/Photo by Angy Altamirano

Updated Wednesday, Jan.14, 4:28 p.m.

An Astoria man claimed he had to kill his roommate after the lawyer tied him up and tried to force him at gunpoint to liquidate his stocks, according to published reports.

Quentin Capobianco, 18, told police that Jesse Smith, 29, restrained him with zip ties on Jan. 12 and ordered him to liquidate the stocks with a shotgun pointed to his head, reports said.

According to the New York Post, Capobianco was confronting Smith over money he owed him for apartment damages.

Capobianco managed to escape from his ties, and grab a hammer and use it to strike Smith repeatedly in the head, reports said.

Police found the victim, Jesse Smith, at his home inside the Exo Apartments, a luxury building on 21st Street near Astoria Boulevard, about 3:30 p.m. with severe trauma to his head, authorities said. Smith was taken to Elmhurst Hospital Center, where he died.

Capobianco was arrested and charged with second-degree murder and criminal possession of a weapon with intent to use, police said. The hammer, as well as a shotgun, were recovered at the scene.

Smith, a lawyer, worked at the Forest Hills firm Morton Povman, PC, according to published reports, and a LinkedIn account for Capobianco lists him as paralegal for the attorney.

He was also in business with Smith, running a currency exchange operation involving Bitcoin, a form of digital money, according to DNAinfo.

Capobianco was arraigned on Jan. 13 in Queens Criminal Court, where was held on $250,000 bond, the district attorney’s office said. His next court date is Jan. 30.

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