Tag Archives: Astoria

Real estate roundup: Flushing Commons construction woes, Costco eyeing downtown Jamaica


| lguerre@queenscourier.com

Rendering courtesy of TDC Development International

Flushing Commons Construction Causes Traffic, Pedestrian Pains

Flushing Commons will eventually bring open space, housing and retail to downtown Flushing, but right now, construction is creating a problem for pedestrians and drivers alike.” Read more [CBS]

Costco Eyes Location in Downtown Jamaica, Developers Say

“Costco, one of the largest wholesalers in the country, is actively investigating opening a store in Downtown Jamaica, according to those approached by reps for the mega-chain. Costco representatives recently spoke to at least two developers who own property in the area, the developers confirmed.” Read more [DNAinfo]

New restaurants continue to open in Ditmars– with two more opening recently

“New restaurants continue to pop up in Ditmars. Grano’s, an Italian restaurant located at 38-01 Ditmars Blvd, began its soft opening last week and will be celebrating its official grand opening in about three weeks, according to manager Jason Day.” Read more [Astoria Post]

Real estate roundup: Property Markets Group receives $130M for planned LIC rental tower


| lguerre@queenscourier.com

Photo courtesy of Property Markets Group 

Property Markets Group gets $130M financing for LIC tower

“Kevin Maloney’s Property Markets Group has locked down more than $130 million in construction financing for its planned 44-story rental tower in Long Island City, property records filed with the city today show.” Read more [The Real Deal]

New sushi restaurant to open on Vernon

“A new sushi restaurant is opening on Vernon Blvd. The restaurant will be located at 46-44 Vernon Blvd between Alobar and  Petey’s Burger.” Read more [LIC Post]

Homeless shelter sparks heated debate at Police Precinct meeting

“The Westway Motor Inn, which was converted into a full-time homeless shelter in July, was at the center of some heated discussion at this month’s 114th Police Precinct meeting on Tuesday. Several residents claimed that there had been an uptick in crime near the 71-11 Astoria Blvd. shelter and that the quality of life for nearby residents is on the decline.” Read more [Astoria Post] 

Real estate roundup: 15-story LIC hotel planned, more Queensboro Hill row house conversions


By Queens Courier Staff | editorial@queenscourier.com

THE COURIER/Photo by Liam La Guerre

Queensboro Hill nightmare continues

“In less than one year, a third oversized house is now being built on 56th Road in Queensboro Hill.” Read more [Queens Crap]

Permits for 15-Story Hotel at 41-32 27th Street in Long Island City 

“An LLC has filed applications to precede construction of a 15-story and 46-room hotel of 34,409 square feet at 41-32 27th Street, in Long Island City; an existing two-story structure was approved for demolition in September, and Arc Architecture + Design Studio is designing.” Read more [New York YIMBY]

These key players will decide the fate of Astoria Cove

“The mixed-use 2.2 million-square-foot megaproject known as Astoria Cove is widely seen as the first test of Mayor Bill de Blasio’s mandatory inclusionary zoning program. The proposal by a consortium of developers led by Alma Realty includes 345 affordable units (or 20 percent of the roughly 1,700 units), a number that affordable housing advocates and elected officials have said is too low.” Read more [The Real Deal]

In Astoria, Queens, a Youth Movement, With Souvlaki

“It can take a while for some people to get acquainted with the quieter, lower-slung section of Astoria, Queens, called Ditmars by its residents and sometimes referred to as Ditmars-Steinway by real estate agents.” Read more [The New York Times]

Glassy 77-unit Astoria condominium revealed, construction to begin next year


| lguerre@queenscourier.com

Rendering courtesy of New York Lions Group

Plans for construction on a luxury Astoria condo building blocks away from the waterfront will begin shortly as demolition of the old properties on the site is nearing completion.

Developer New York Lions Group hopes to begin working on the eight-story, 77-unit condominium called The Baron, at 14-07 Broadway in January, following approvals from the Department of Buildings. The building is expected to be completed by September 2016, according to Ramin Shirian, vice president of Lions Group.

The 73,500-square-foot building will stretch 182 feet wide from the corner of 14th Street and replace two auto mechanical shops. One was already leveled and demolition will commence shortly on the other.

The Raymond Chan Architect-designed building will feature a modern glass façade with terraces attached on each residence, offering unobstructed views of the Manhattan skyline.

The building, which will be marketed by Modern Spaces, will have a mix of one-, two- and three-bedroom units, measuring approximately 600, 1,000 and 1,550 square feet respectively.

The ground floor will have duplex apartments that mostly measure 1,000 square feet each, but there will be two duplex units with about 1,500 square feet.

The Baron will be loaded with amenities, including a garden on the second floor terrace, community common space on the roof, a children’s room and play area, a gym and bicycle racks.

There will be a doorman for the building and pets are allowed. There are also 41 parking spaces underground.

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Astoria man charged as serial tagger for graffiti acts


| aaltamirano@queenscourier.com

Photo courtesy of the Queens district attorney's office

An Astoria man was indicted Wednesday for allegedly tagging trees, traffic control boxes and more in the past year, according to the Queens district attorney’s office.

Michael Mestric was arraigned in Queens Supreme Court on 19 counts of criminal mischief and 19 counts of making graffiti.

According to Queens District Attorney Richard Brown, the 30-year-old “found a canvas for his tag at nearly every turn.”

Between May 2013 and April of this year, Mestric’s tag “AOE” was found spray painted on highway walls along the Grand Central Parkway, the Brooklyn-Queens Expressway and the Long Island Expressway, Brown said. Mestric is also being charged for tagging control boxes, a fence, tree, and a historic observation deck at Astoria Park.

“Graffiti is not art – nor is it a victimless crime. Tagging encourages lawlessness. It leads to decreased property values and is expensive to remove,” Brown said.

The damage and cost of removing the graffiti allegedly exceeded $12,500, with the observation deck at Astoria Park alone costing more than $2,500 to repair.

If convicted, Mestric faces up to seven years in prison.

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Public art project to celebrate Queens’ diversity


| aaltamirano@queenscourier.com

Photos by Fumi Nakamura

A new public art project is shining light on the diversity of the borough through stories captured in movement.

“MOVE WITH US” is a video created by artists Roshani Thakore from Elmhurst and Fumi Nakamura from Jackson Heights after they visited public spaces throughout Queens over the summer and photographed a total of 167 immigrants creating personal poses.

The final video, set to premiere next week, is a sequence of the images capturing “the most diverse borough in the nation,” according to the artists.

“We try to connect each individual with each pose and I feel like it’s kind of an archive of 2014 in Queens and the people who are making it the more diverse place in the nation,” Thakore said.

The project, funded by the Queens Council on the Arts (QCA), is scheduled to premiere on Nov. 7 at QCA located at 37-11 35th Ave. in Astoria.

Being a dance teacher of an Indian dance class at the Long Island City YMCA, Thakore felt that participants would be able to translate their personal experiences through body movements.

During the summer, Thakore and Nakamura visited public spaces, like the LIC YMCA and Corona Plaza, and spoke with residents in the spaces about living in Queens and their backgrounds. They also received help from a lot of volunteers from local groups.

Once the residents got comfortable, they would be asked to do unique poses expressing themselves and their stories and then Nakamura snapped the photos to capture the movements.

In one example, a man living in Corona shared his story on having worked on a sugar cane field in Mexico. During the conversation he started to do the movement he would do while cutting the canes and this was photographed as part of the project.

“It’s more about listening in a public space to a person’s story. Really understanding who our neighbors are, who are the community members and who makes up Queens,” Thakore said. “In terms of the project, originally it was being proud of your culture but the surprise that came out of it was being proud to be in Queens — Queens pride.”

Originally from Georgia and a daughter of immigrants from India, Thakore said there was not a lot of diversity in Georgia and not a lot of public resources. However, when she made the move to Queens, she said she was able to experience different parts and public institutions of the borough, especially through teaching dance.

“I really feel like in Queens I came home, because of the diversity and opportunities,” Thakore said.

Thakore added that, for both her and Nakamura, experiencing the diversity in Queens daily was what “fired up” the work on the project.

Although the actual video has no music, during its premiere at the Queens Council on the Arts, there will be music and food. All 167 participants of the project were invited to the event.

The premiere, which is free and open to the public, is scheduled from 6 to 9 p.m. To RSVP, click here.

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George Clinton brings funk to Astoria during book signing, talk at Museum of the Moving Image


By Queens Courier Staff | editorial@queenscourier.com

Photos by Asha Mahadevan

BY ASHA MAHADEVAN 

George Clinton proved his legendary status Monday night when more than 100 fans chanted “just funk it” at the Museum of the Moving Image.

Clinton was at the museum to sign copies of his memoir, “Brothas Be, Yo’ Like George, Ain’t That Funkin’ Kinda Hard on You?: A Memoir.”

The event was scheduled to begin at 7 p.m. but Clinton arrived 20 minutes early and seeing the long line of fans waiting to meet him, immediately started signing books.

The artist, known for the 1970s funk bands Parliament and Funkadelic (P-Funk All Stars), said it was “great to be in Queens.”

“It feels good to be here to jam in this neighborhood for people of different cultures,” Clinton said.

The fans were no less excited to see their idol in their neighborhood.

“I am really glad to see him in Astoria,” said Hye Ryu, an Astoria resident, who said she has followed his music for more than 20 years. “We are getting a chance to see him. It makes the neighborhood special.”

“He was probably the first funk musician I ever listened to in college,” said Ryu’s husband Young Yun. “To me, he is like a rockstar.”

Andre Doughty, 22, stood in line with his childhood friend, William Clyde. The two were introduced to Clinton’s music by their fathers, who were good friends and often played his songs.

“Funk keeps the energy. He gets straight to the point,” said Doughty.

Daniel and Liz Cousins grew up listening to Clinton in Virginia and California respectively. “It’s got an infectious sound,” said Daniel as Liz added, “It is sort of like cartoon characters meet music.”

The book signing was followed by a screening of “Cosmic Slop,” a three-part TV special that Clinton hosted in 1994. George Logan, who played one of the principal characters in the TV special, was at the book signing too.

“I’ve followed his music since the 60s,” said Logan. “It has stood the test of time. Lots of rappers today use his beats.”

After the screening, Clinton participated in a Q&A with his friend and Grammy-winning artist James Mtume. The discussion touched upon the first time Mtume saw Clinton (the latter was dressed in a tutu and a diaper), the funk artist’s musical influences and his decision to produce musicians at different labels at the same time.

When one of Clinton’s fans asked him life advice, he suggested she “just funk it.”

After the discussion, Clinton once again signed books for fans. A total of 180 books were sold over the course of the evening, according to a publisher’s representative.


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Suspect wanted in connection to 21 Queens, Bronx commercial break-ins


| aaltamirano@queenscourier.com

Photos courtesy of the NYPD

Police are looking for a man wanted in connection with a string of citywide commercial burglaries.

In a total of 21 incidents, starting in June in Rosedale and most recently occurring on Oct. 20 in the Bronx, at least one suspect broke into commercial establishments via the roof, side or rear doors, or ventilation ducts while the business were closed, according authorities. Money from the cash register and broken-into ATMs, as well as miscellaneous items, such as cigarettes, were taken during the thefts.

In Queens, the burglaries have occurred in Laurelton, Broad Channel, Jamaica, Astoria, Queens Village, Bayside, Hollis, Glen Oaks, College Point, Richmond Hill and Flushing. The other break-ins all happened in the Bronx.

The NYPD has released surveillance photos of the male suspect wanted in an incident on Sept. 12 in Richmond Hill. During this burglary, at about 8 p.m. the suspect entered 88-24 Van Wyck Expressway via the roof, damaged the security system but did not remove any property, police said.

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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Anti-police graffiti found on Astoria phone booths: reports


| aaltamirano@queenscourier.com

PoliceCarHC0312_L_300_C_R4-624x413

Cops are looking into anti-police graffiti that was found Thursday on two Astoria phone booths, according to published reports.

The messages, which read “Become a hero? Shoot a cop!” and “Good Cop = Dead Cop,” appeared on public phone booths on 31st Street and 36th Avenue, reports said.

Nearby surveillance video is being looked at as part of the investigation.

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Real estate roundup: The Crossing in downtown Jamaica revealed, friends return to Sandy damaged house


| lguerre@queenscourier.com

Rendering courtesy of BRP Companies

93-01 Sutphin Boulevard Revealed

“BRP Companies have released renderings of their 25- and 14-story mixed-use development project at 93-01 Sutphin Boulevard, in Downtown Jamaica. Dubbed The Crossing, the complex will contain 580 residential units and 100,000 square feet of retail space.” Read more [New York YIMBY]

After 50 years in business, Frankie’s Pizzeria has closed

“The operators of Frankie’s Pizza, which is located at 22-56 31st Street, left a note in the window that read: Dear Costumers! Thank you for your loyalty and support after 50 years of business– Frankie’s Pizza is closing!” Read more [Astoria Post]

Organic Coffee Shop with Vegetarian Menu Opens in Forest Hills

“A new coffee shop featuring organic and vegetarian menu opened this week in Forest Hills, a neighborhood that has been primarily served by coffee shop chains, including Starbucks and Dunkin’ Donuts.” Read more [DNAinfo]

Rockaway Park Friends Return To Homes Damaged In Superstorm Sandy

“Nearly two years after Superstorm Sandy, two friends in a Queens neighborhood are finally back in their own homes.” Read more [CBS]

Astoria teacher raises funds to build vegetable garden in classroom


| aaltamirano@queenscourier.com

Photo by Marlena Nadler

Students at one Astoria school will be planting the seeds for healthier eating.

The entire eighth grade class at the Young Women’s Leadership School, located at 23-15 Newton Ave., will soon be caring for a hydroponic garden that will grow on the window sills of one of the school’s classrooms.

Marlena Nadler, one of the teachers at the school, started a fundraising page two weeks ago on the site DonorsChoose.org to raise money to finish purchasing the supplies needed to set up the garden.

By Monday, the $525 goal was reached and in the next three weeks the school should be receiving water pumps, basins, nutrients, insect spray, mounts and water testers.

“It was so amazing,” Nadler said about the donations. “It was really nice to know that there are people out there supporting projects like this.”

The garden system, including the grow towers and lights, are being donated by Astoria resident Robert Nannery, who recently started the company Viable Spaces, which installs and maintains hydroponic agricultural systems for nonprofits, restaurants and other businesses.

A tower like this one will be installed inside the classroom at the Young Women’s Leadership School. (Photo courtesy of Bright Agrotech)

A tower like this one will be installed inside the classroom at the Young Women’s Leadership School. (Photo courtesy of Bright Agrotech)

Hydroponic gardens grow plants without soil, instead using mineral nutrient liquid. The garden being donated to the school will take up almost zero space, be equivalent to about 50 square feet of farm space and will be mounted to the windows.

The students will be able to grow leafy greens such as mint, kale, basil, oregano, lettuce and more.

“Technically you can’t have a farm in the city, it’s not really possible,” Nannery said. “But with what I am looking to do, anybody can farm in the city. It can be indoors or out, you can put them anywhere.”

After installing the garden, Nannery, who has a hydroponic garden growing on the roof of his Astoria home, will go to the classroom every month to talk to students and teach them about what they can grow and how to care for it.

The students will care for the garden during their advisory period of the day, which is used to “focus on the developing of the whole girl, where teachers focus on them growing academically, as well as socially and emotionally,” according to Nadler.

Along with showing the students the scientific, mathematic and social aspects of caring for a garden, the produce will hopefully be used in the school’s cafeteria to feed all students.

Before being fed to students, the vegetables will have to be approved by the Department of Education’s Garden to School Café Program.

“I just hope that they learn that sustainability is something that can occur in urban environments,” Nadler said. “We picture farms and that’s something that isn’t viable in New York City. I never thought that you could grow food in a room and have it be healthy and not genetically modified.”

As soon as the school receives the supplies, Nadler said they hope to have the garden up and running by the beginning of December with hopes to start eating the vegetables by the start of the new year.

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Astoria waterfront property sells for $57M


| lguerre@queenscourier.com

Photo courtesy of Scott Bintner/PropertyShark 

Astoria’s waterfront may get even more crowded.

Real estate investor and developer Shibber Khan bought a plot of land at 11-12 30th Dr., which has up to 460,000 buildable square feet, for $57 million, according to a published report. Vernon Realty Associates is the seller.

Currently, a one-story warehouse occupied by Bohea Associates sits on the land, but the property can have residential buildings of up to 10 stories, Crain’s reported.

The sale comes as a team of developers led by Alma Realty is trying to get approvals from the city for its Astoria Cove project and the Durst Organization paid $100 million to take over the Hallets Point development.

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Astoria composer and ‘Saw Lady’ featured in new Richard Gere movie


| aaltamirano@queenscourier.com

Photo courtesy of Michelle Nishry

Two Astoria musicians are slicing their way into Hollywood.

The musical piece titled “Lullaby for the Forgotten,” written by composer Scott Munson and performed by Natalia Paruz, also known as the “Saw Lady,” is featured in the upcoming film “Time Out of Mind” starring Richard Gere.

The film follows Gere, who plays a homeless man as he tries to reconnect with his estranged daughter, according to a description on IMDb.

According to Paruz, the director of the movie reached out to her years after having seen her perform at Grand Central Station. Paruz filmed a scene with Gere in Grand Central, but the part of the scene in which Paruz appeared was later cut from the film because of time constraints.

The song by Munson, who won the 2014 NY Innovative Theater Award for Outstanding Original Music for his piece in a play last month, is still heard in the background of the Grand Central scene that made the film.

“It was really cool, [Gere] is so sweet and the nicest, friendliest person,” Paruz said. “He is so approachable and it’s really easy to talk with him.”

For the musician, who has been playing the saw as an instrument for the past 20 years, the subject of the movie hit close to her heart after she spent a long time performing in subways and train stations and met many homeless people.

“It felt more involved than the other movies where I just go into the recording studio and then get out,” said Paruz, who performed and appeared in a scene alongside Adrian Brody in the 2002 film “Dummy.” “This movie feels more personal to me because of the subject.”

Each person involved in the film had to give a dedication that appears when the credits roll. Paruz chose to make a dedication to Joe Lumis, a homeless man she used to run into daily at the Union Square subway station.

“The aim of the movie was the focus on homeless people and for me to participate in something that is trying to make awareness of the plight was important,” she said.

Paruz’s interest in playing the saw came after an accident destroyed her dreams of one day being a professional dancer.

“All of a sudden it was taken away from me and all of a sudden I didn’t know what to do with myself,” Paruz said.

Later, after going on a trip to Europe with her parents and watching a man play the saw, Paruz returned to New York and began to teach herself how to play the tool.

“The reason why [the saw] attracted me so much is that it’s the only instrument that the entire instrument moves,” Paruz said. “It’s kind of like a dance.”

Today, Paruz teaches others to play the saw and, for the past 11 years, has been hosting the NYC Musical Saw Festival in Astoria, which started with four players and now features over 50 musicians from all over the world. The next festival will be on May 30, 2015, at Trinity Lutheran Church.

“It’s an affordable musical instrument,” Paruz said. “Anyone can afford a saw, if they don’t have it in their toolbox already.”

Paruz will be playing the saw and also the bells together with the bell choir at Trinity Lutheran Church, located at 31-18 37th St., this Sunday at 10:30 a.m.

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Real estate roundup: 5Pointz moves to new demolition phase, 22-unit mixed-use building proposed for Astoria


By Queens Courier Staff | editorial@queenscourier.com

File photo

Scaffolding up on Jackson Avenue side of former 5Pointz building

“Demolition has moved into a new phase at 45-46 Davis Street, the former home of 5Pointz. The last time we checked in, construction crews had erected fences on Davis and Crane Street. More recently, they put up the scaffolding on the Jackson Avenue side, shown in the first photo.” Read more [The Court Square Blog]

6-Story Mixed Use Building Proposed for 24th Avenue and 32nd Street

“In this new building, 19,837 square feet will be residential, 4,610 will be commercial, and the same amount will be a “community facility” at the address of 24-08 32nd Street.” Read more [We Heart Astoria]

Communitea Is Closing

“We learned yesterday that Communitea, the sweet little cafe on Vernon and 47th Avenue, is closing. October 26 will be their last day.” Read more [We Heart LIC]

Queens ‘Zombie Ride’ to encourage safe biking


| aaltamirano@queenscourier.com

Photo courtesy of Kidical Mass NYC

Wheels big and small will be going round and round this weekend through western Queens.

Advocacy organization Kidical Mass NYC will be hosting its third family bike ride and the first in Queens on Saturday, Oct. 25, through parts of Long Island City and Astoria.

The event, called “Zombie Ride,” will be a five-mile bike ride starting at the waterfront at Gantry Plaza State Park at the intersection of Center Boulevard and 47th Avenue.

The ride is open to intermediate-level bike riders or children ages 7 and up with good street-riding skills. Children in baby seats and on cargo bikes are also welcome to be a part of the event. 

“[We want to] make an opportunity to get kids to go around a city you walk, ride buses and drive in. It’s another way to get around,” said Hilda Cohen, one of the co-founders of Kidical Mass NYC.  “A lot of parents want to do this but are intimidated about it. It’s really a great way to see your city.”

The ride, which is named in the spirit of Halloween, will then continue through the Long Island City neighborhood and make its first stop at the rooftop garden Brooklyn Grange. After taking a rest stop at coffee shop COFFEED, the group will pass the Museum of the Moving Image and head back toward the waterfront to finish the ride at Socrates Sculpture Park, which will be hosting its Fall Festival. 

The young participants will also receive “spooky” treats such as zombie tattoos. 

“The name [of the event] has nothing to do with anything dangerous,” Cohen said. 

Kidical Mass NYC, which is the New York-based branch of the original Kidical Mass founded in Oregon, pays tribute to the national cycling event called Critical Mass.

Since starting in August, rides have taken place once a month in Brooklyn and Manhattan, bringing together about 40 participants, including adults and children. Now organizers have expanded the reach into Queens, hoping to attract residents from the other boroughs.

“Queens is the next big borough,” said Cristina Furlong of the organization Makes Queens Safer, who is helping Kidical Mass NYC organize the Queens event. “Queens is starting to get noticed.”

Members of the 108th and 114th precincts will also be in attendance on Saturday to provide extra security for the riders. 

“By being visible, I hope we influence some people that might be considering [cycling with their children] and show them that it’s safe,” Furlong said.

According to Cohen, although the event aims to show families that biking through their neighborhoods is a safe alternative to driving, the main goal of the day is to have fun. 

“We’re trying to make everything fun and exciting, which is exactly what biking is and it shouldn’t be something dangerous,” Cohen said. “This is just a means to enjoy our city with our kids.”

The “Zombie Ride” will begin at 10 a.m., with riders beginning to gather at 9:30 a.m. Cohen encourages those interested in participating to RSVP via the group’s Facebook page in order for every participant to receive their Halloween treats. Helmets are required for children 13 years old and under by law, and are recommended for everyone else, according to organizers. 

For more information visit www.facebook.com/kidicalmassnyc.

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