Tag Archives: Astoria

Volunteers create new classrooms for Astoria school

| lguerre@queenscourier.com

Photos by Liam La Guerre and Dimension Data

One lucky Astoria school is benefiting with new class space from a community outreach program by an international company.

As part of its Heads, Hearts and Hands program, workers from information technology services company Dimension Data volunteered to beautify I.S. 126Q on May 21 and convert storage space into new classrooms, allowing the school to serve an additional 120 students.

Employees from the company also painted murals and classrooms, and created a teacher’s lounge in the school, named Albert Shanker School for Visual and Performing Arts at 31-51 21 St.

The Astoria school with 531 students was just one of 11 around the country that was selected by Dimension Data for its outreach initiative, which was partly to promote learning and giving back.

“Our corporate social responsibility program, Heads, Hearts and Hands, spans the breadth of our global business, involving 58 countries in five regions,” said Mark Slaga, CEO of Dimension Data Americas. “Our corporate values define who we are as an organization, and in 2014, more than 25,000 Dimension Data employees got involved in a variety of causes that made a tremendous difference and we are looking to do even better this year.”



Pols propose $682M education package to help alleviate overcrowding

| aaltamirano@queenscourier.com

THE COURIER/Photo by Angy Altamirano

Elected officials in the state Senate have put forth a new plan that hopes to bring some relief to the overcrowded school districts throughout the city including western Queens.

State Sen. Michael Gianaris and Senate Democrats announced the proposal of a $682 million investment into an education infrastructure bank. The funds would go into helping schools deal with issues surrounding physical capacity and school construction, allowing them to rebuild and renew facilities to accommodate growing populations.

Gianaris, who represents Long Island City, Astoria and parts of Woodside, said this funding could help local western Queens schools in Districts 24 and 30, two of the most overcrowded in the city.

“School overcrowding is a crisis directly affecting the lives of teachers, students and parents in western Queens every day and it must be dealt with immediately,” Gianaris said. “Our neighborhoods are growing and more needs to be done to ensure infrastructure keeps pace.”

Gianaris added that such funding would help a school like P.S./I.S. 78 in Long Island City deal with its overcrowding issues, which have left some parents fearing for the truncation of the beloved middle school classes.

“I will never stop fighting to provide our kids with the resources they deserve, and I will work to make this education infrastructure bank a reality quickly enough to solve the problems plaguing P.S./I.S. 78 and so many other schools in western Queens,” he said.

The $682 million investment, which will be funded from the state’s projected surplus and settlement funds, is also expected to provide support for teachers, fund community schools that offer holistic social service, and also begin a study to analyze the cost-effectiveness of state testing.


Deals in Astoria for homebuyers

| lguerre@queenscourier.com

Photo courtesy StreetEasy, Bouklis Group and MLSLI

Demand for homes in Astoria is high as more buyers are pushed away from skyrocketing prices in nearby Long Island City, and attracted by easy access to transportation, established commercial strips, and diverse restaurants and entertainment venues.

Residents can enjoy Astoria Park’s waterfront view, visit the Museum of the Moving Image or grab a drink at the Bohemian Hall and Beer Garden, to name a few popular activities.

But the surging demand to live in Astoria has caused land values to spike there as well, resulting in rising rents and home prices.

However, prospective Astoria renters and homebuyers need not fear; the neighborhood still has some deals to be found. Recently, Astoria was named one of the top areas for recent college graduates looking to rent in the city, according to a report by real estate website StreetEasy.

StreetEasy has also put together a list of deals to beat the heated Astoria market, and indicated that there are more below market price homes waiting to be purchased.

22-60 79th St. #3B

Price: $295,000
Size: One bedroom, one bathroom
Type: Condo
Broker: Laura Copersino, Douglas Elliman

What StreetEasy said: “Astoria is known for its bucolic complexes of small apartment buildings and gardens. This one-bedroom is in one of these complexes and offers lots of closet space, a renovated kitchen and a washer-dryer.”

21-37 33rd St. #05H

Price: $475,000
Size: Three bedrooms, one bathroom
Type: Co-op
Broker: Frank Bouklis, Bouklis Group

What StreetEasy said: “Proximity to transportation is everything in Astoria. This three-bedroom is three blocks from the Ditmars N/Q stop in one of Astoria’s most residential and family-oriented pockets. Plus it’s got a new kitchen and bath.”

30-10 48th St.

Price: $849,000
Size: Five bedrooms, two bathrooms
Type: Townhouse
Broker: Nancy Suric, Laffey Fine Homes

What StreetEasy said: “The townhouse market in other parts of the city is very tiny and very pricey, but single-family homes dominate the housing stock in Astoria. This one just got a gut renovation and has its own garage.”




Experience a world of fun at Astoria Park international fest

By Queens Courier Staff | editorial@queenscourier.com

Photo via Wikimedia Commons

One of the most diverse neighborhoods in the “World’s Borough” will celebrate later this month the cultural traditions of its residents.

The Central Astoria Local Development Corporation (LDC) will hold the first Celebrate Astoria! International Cultural Fest on May 30 from noon to 5 p.m. on Astoria Park’s Great Lawn. It is free and open to the public, though guests are asked to bring their own lawn chairs.

The lineup features song, music and dance reflecting the many different ethnicities of Astoria residents, such as Dahdoo-Music of North Africa and the Middle East; the Bangladeshi Dance Troupe; Spanish Flamenco dance from the American Bolero Company; the Calpulli Mexican Dance Company;  Pontion Society Komninoi Dancers; Ayazamana Cultural Center’s Ecuadorian Dance; Issa Cabrera songs from Brazil; the Japanese Folk Dance Institute;  Niall O’Leary Irish Step Dancers; Banatual Romanian Folklore Dance; and Filippo with the Songs of Italy.

“We are excited to be the recipient of this grant. We thank Council member Constantinides for his vision in bringing an International Cultural Fest to Astoria, the personification of an immigrant community with its kaleidoscope of people from every part of the world,” said Central Astoria LDC Executive Director Marie Torniali. “Presenting so many cultural traditions on one stage in Astoria Park, celebrating Astoria, is an opportunity to showcase traditions of many different ethnic groups. This event also complements our 30-plus-year tradition of bringing the American music tradition to multicultural audiences. We hope to make this an annual event.”

The Central Astoria LDC holds many other events in Astoria Park, including the Astoria Park Carnival, Independence Celebration, Waterfront Concerts and Movies on the Waterfront.

Constantinides provided funding for the Celebrate Astoria! event through the city’s Department of Cultural Affairs Immigrant Initiative, which aims to provide cultural programs across the five boroughs.

For more information, call 718-728-7820 or click here.


Astoria Park Alliance hosts It’s My Park Day

| asuriel@queenscourier.com

THE COURIER/Photos by Alina Suriel

The Astoria Park Alliance hosted their community’s It’s My Park Day on Sunday, and talked to local parents about what upgrades they would like to see in Charybdis Playground.

One of the biggest focuses of this year’s It’s My Park Day at Astoria Park was increasing support for a possible expansion of the playground and ascertaining which aspects of the park are most in need of upgrading. Parents were invited to rank their choices for possible upgrades on a vision board with multiple categories that had options for park activities and programming, playground equipment, safety features and amenities.

Many parents expressed specific concerns about the restrooms at Charybdis Playground, saying that they can usually be found locked or too dirty to use.

Anthony Liberatoscioli, a volunteer with the Astoria Park Alliance who uses the park with his 4-year-old daughter, said that he wants to see the playground grow as Astoria becomes more and more popular for growing families.

“More and more families are coming to Astoria. They really need a place to come,” said Liberatoscioli.

Martha Lopez-Gilpin, co-chair of the Astoria Park Alliance, stressed that it was especially important to educate parents on the capital budgeting process through which city projects get funded, and how this affects the advocated park expansion. According to Lopez-Gilpin, it could take anywhere from three to five years for the project to see fruition, and several million dollars.

“It is hard to be patient, but it’s important that we go through this process well because we want to have the best playground possible,” said Gilpin.

Educational activities were also provided for children during It’s My Park Day, and each proved to be a hit with local tykes of all ages. A large group continuously colored and scribbled on an outline drawing provided by Charles Basman of Arthouse Astoria, a local conservatory that offers music and painting classes at an affordable rate. Volunteers also were teaching how to transplant and care for small flowering plants which the children were able to take home to keep.

Councilman Costa Constantinides said that the event was an important outlet for residents to share their input on their experiences with the park and what improvements need to be made.

“Having days like this is so important,” Constantinides said. “It’s giving residents of this neighborhood an opportunity to talk about what they want for their park.”

The It’s My Park program is a citywide, year-round initiative organized by the City Parks Foundation, a nonprofit that creates programs in parks throughout all five boroughs of New York City. The “It’s My Park” program engages over 400 groups annually in hands-on service projects and events, including cleaning up litter in parks, raking leaves and painting benches. Service projects also often feature free, family-oriented activities such as tennis lessons, face painting and historic house tours.


Jackson Heights rents jump in April, borough sees overall decline: report

| lguerre@queenscourier.com

Photo courtesy StreetEasy/ Charts courtesy MNS Real Estate

Many Queens renters probably didn’t realize it, but average rents in the borough fell in most neighborhoods, according to the April MNS Real Estate Queens Rental Market Report.

Renters were likely to pay an average of $2,074.17 per month in April, which was down .41 percent from March, the report found. However, while most neighborhoods saw decreases, overall rents in Jackson Heights saw an average rental price increase of 7.45 percent from March to April.

Jackson Heights two-bedroom apartment prices saw the borough’s largest increase of 17.44 percent over the month, or $356 more, to $2,395 per month. The report indicated that the price jump is a result of very low inventory in Jackson Heights, which had just six two-bedroom rental apartments in April.

To compare, Astoria had the most available two-bedroom units in the borough in April with 115 apartments, according to the report.

Astoria was the only other neighborhood in the survey that saw an increase in average rents, although it was just .2 percent more. The increase was due to rising prices in one- and two-bedroom apartments in the neighborhood caused by high demand.

But despite the overall increase, studio rents in Astoria actually dropped nearly six percent to an average of $1,748 per month.

To view the full report, click here.



Watch Astoria ‘Wheel of Fortune’ fan compete on this Friday’s episode

| ctumola@queenscourier.com

Photo courtesy of Sony Pictures Television, Wheel of Fortune

Tune in Friday night to see if a guidance counselor and longtime “Wheel of Fortune” viewer from Astoria can solve the puzzle and win big on the popular game show.

Lizzette Colon, 42, has been watching “Wheel of Fortune” for more than 30 years, since its early days when contestants could still shop for prizes with their winnings.

But it wasn’t until a seemingly fake email landed in Colon’s inbox inviting her to audition for the program this summer that she decided to try out for the live version.

“Working in a school, you have to have a pretty big personality as it is and I thought, ‘Why not?’” the high school guidance counselor at SoHo’s NYC iSchool said.

“One thing I talk about with my students is going for it and taking risks,” she added.

After first believing the email from “Wheel a Fortune” inviting her to audition was spam, she submitted a video, taped at the Brooklyn Botanic Gardens, showcasing her desire to be on the show. Colon then got a chance to audition in July at a Brooklyn hotel, where she had to do several simulated games and puzzle tests and talk about herself as if the show’s host, Pat Sajak, was in front of her.


Longtime co-hosts Vanna White and Pat Sajak (Photo by Carol Kaelson)

Two weeks later, and still no letter saying that she had made the game show, Colon started to lose hope. It was the same devastating feeling she had when she tried out for the show “Don’t Forget the Lyrics!” and got cut in the final round.

But after one more week, the letter finally came.

Colon flew out to Los Angeles, along with her husband and 9-year-old daughter, the following winter and on Feb. 27 taped the episode.

Though she said the studio seemed smaller than it does on television, the experience “felt larger than life.”

“You see it on TV but now it’s actually happening to you,” she said.

The wheel was also not quite what it seemed from watching at home, Colon added: “It’s super heavy. It’s ridiculous. They have us practice and now I understand why.”

And when it came to playing the game, nerves got the best of her at times, Colon admitted.

“Coming from someone who is so confident, you get up there and then you realize how hard it is,” she said.

Photo by Carol Kaelson

Photo by Carol Kaelson

But what Colon said she actually likes about the show and her experience as a contestant is that “everybody wins something.”

“If you don’t win, you still win with $1,000. I think that takes the edge off the competitors,” she said.

Colon plans on holding a viewing party at Katch Astoria for the 7:30 p.m. airing of the show this Friday for about 49 friends, family and co-workers so far, where she also plans on donning the same outfit she wore on the episode. The bar’s manager has agreed to show the program on two of its large-screen TVs. Her school has also sent out a reminder, so her students will be watching from home.

“I’m glad that I went for it. I could have passed that email,” Colon said. “You have nothing to lose. Just go for it, see what happens.”

“Wheel of Fortune” airs on WABC. 


Jackson Heights elementary school celebrates planting of Peace Poles

| aaltamirano@queenscourier.com

Photos courtesy of Danielle Mahoney

Students at P.S. 212 in Jackson Heights are looking to spread the idea of peace throughout their community.

Danielle Mahoney, a literacy coach at the elementary school located at 34-25 82nd St., has been teaching students about practicing mindfulness and gratitude for the past year.

While attending a weeklong training conference on mindfulness for kids and adolescents in California, Mahoney noticed a “Peace Pole” in a field and thought it would be a good idea to bring the concept back home.

Peace Poles, which have been planted throughout the world, are handcrafted structures that have the message and prayer “May peace prevail on Earth” on each of its four to six sides.

Mahoney decided to work with one of the third-grade classes she instructs, Jennifer Bayer’s 3-317 class, to have two poles erected outside of P.S. 212 and allow the students to share with the community what they have been learning throughout the year.

“Having these Peace Poles is having to share in the community that regardless of the differences, we can live together and share all the wonderful things about our culture and embrace things and live in a peaceful way,” Mahoney said.

The poles, which are 7 feet tall and from the company The Peace Pole Project, each feature the message “May peace prevail on Earth” in English, Urdu, Bengali, Mandarin, Spanish and Arabic. They also include two other messages in English: “May peace be in our communities” and “May peace be in our schools.”

Although the students had a ceremony celebrating the poles on Wednesday, the structures will not actually be permanently planted until next week. They will be located outside the main entrance of the school, one on each side in small gardens.

“Words are very powerful and as a literacy coach this is not so far away from our core work,” Mahoney said. “When you read it, hopefully the next step is to have action with your words and thoughts will be in a positive way.”

During the Wednesday night ceremony, students, who ranged between 8 to 9 years old, also explained to parents and faculty what the Peace Poles are, why they were being planted and what mindfulness is.

“We hope that when people pass they will take a moment to send kind thoughts to all beings on this planet, [and] focus on the good and peaceful parts of life,” Mahoney said.

Mahoney added that she has seen that teaching the practice of mindfulness to students has helped them relax more, often using breathing as a tool to cope with difficult times, and also teaches the children how to pay attention to the present moment.

Some students have even tried teaching their parents how taking the time to relax and breathe will help them move forward in their days, according to Mahoney.

“Mindfulness allows us to take the time to respond to situations,” one student said. “We learn not to react to everything that happens. You notice what happens, respond to it and let it go. Mindfulness will help you do that.”

Mahoney also hopes that more schools will consider planting Peace Poles and she even is looking to find a way to plant a pole in Astoria, a community she has called home all her life.


New Astoria rental building The Grove to open and start leasing this fall

| lguerre@queenscourier.com

Photo courtesy of Modern Spaces

Developer Tsilo Group is hoping to open and begin leasing in its new 62-unit Astoria rental building called The Grove this fall, according to representatives of Modern Spaces, which was chosen to exclusively handle marketing in the building.

The seven-story building at 30-40 21st St. will offer a mix of studios, one- and two-bedrooms apartments. The units will feature washers and dryers, maple hardwood floors, and kitchens with Italian cabinets and Caesarstone countertops. Amenities in the building include a gym, and a landscaped rooftop with lounges and sunbathing area.

Rental prices in the building have not been released yet, but average rental rates in the neighborhood are $2,395 per month for a studio, $2,588 for a one-bedroom and $3,393 for a two-bedroom apartment, according to data from Modern Spaces.

Those rates are much higher than those in most areas in the borough, but reflects the demand in the neighborhood due to its access to transportation, established commercial strips, diverse restaurants and entertainment venues, such as the Museum of the Moving Image and the Beer Garden at Bohemian Hall. Modern Spaces believes these community amenities will attract residents to The Grove.

“Astoria is a culturally diverse and established neighborhood with a true sense of community,” said Modern Spaces’ Greg Kyroglou, who will lead the marketing effort of the building. “The Grove will not only provide well-crafted homes to potential renters but also give them a chance to experience all that makes this area so special.”

A ton of new projects are planned for Astoria, including massive waterfront developments such as the Astoria Cove and Hallets Point plans.


63-year-old man dies after being struck by SUV in Astoria

| ctumola@queenscourier.com

Image via Google Maps

A 63-year-old man succumbed to his injuries three days after being struck by an SUV just a couple blocks from his Astoria home, police announced Wednesday.

The incident happened at 34th Avenue and 28th Street at about 4:50 p.m. Friday, authorities said.

Favhad Chowdhury was crossing the intersection when a Chevy Suburban that was backing up eastbound along 34th Avenue struck him with its rear bumper, causing Chowdhury to fall into the roadway, cops said.

EMS took Chowdhury to Elmhurst Hospital, where he died on Monday.

There have been no arrests at this time and the investigation is ongoing.


Map: Where recent college grads can afford rent in Queens

| lguerre@queenscourier.com

Photo courtesy Minas Styponias

For recent college graduates, living in New York City while juggling student loans and living expenses can seem almost impossible.

Add in the need for fun and entertainment, and most won’t have a dime remaining from their paychecks.

However, a new study released Wednesday by real estate website StreetEasy shows, through an interactive map, in what neighborhoods recent graduates will be able to find affordable apartments as they begin a life of independence in the Big Apple. Some areas in the “World’s Borough” have been pointed out as leading contenders.

“One of our top tips for recent grads moving to NYC is to look outside of Manhattan, and our study shows that several neighborhoods in Queens are especially ‘grad-friendly,’” a StreetEasy representative said.

Astoria and Ridgewood top the list of those Queens neighborhoods, but affordable apartments can be found in many neighborhoods throughout the borough including Kew Gardens, Corona, Elmhurst, Jackson Heights, Rego Park and Flushing.

The map (below) reveals the availability of affordable apartments in city based on three variables. It uses the average entry-level salaries for the top 10 majors of recent grads moving to the NYC, including business, social sciences, education and engineering, the percent of income one is willing to pay toward rent and the possibility of roommates.

The study found what many have known for decades —  paying NYC rents is actually possible when roommates are included. However, the report also notes, it is possible to fly solo in the city and spend only 30 percent of income, but graduates will have to do serious apartment hunting.

It would also help, if only slightly, not to be an education major.

Zero percent of studio and one-bedroom listings are affordable to solo education majors, according to the study, whereas only 2.7 percent and 5.1 percent were available for social science and business majors respectively.


BP secures $250K for new pre-K program at Queens Library in Ravenswood Houses

| aaltamirano@queenscourier.com

Photo courtesy of BP Melinda Katz's office

More than 30 seats are being added to School District 30, as Queens Borough President Melinda Katz secured funding for a new pre-K program at a Queens Library branch at one Astoria housing development.

Katz announced Tuesday she will be allocating discretionary capital funding to create a new, free, full-day pre-K program at the Ravenswood library located within the NYCHA Ravenswood Houses at 35-32 21st St.

This new program will add 36 seats to District 30, which is known for being overcrowded and having one of the largest pre-K seat shortages in the borough for the upcoming school year. The Ravenswood site was approved last year by the Department of Buildings to operate a pre-K program.

“Addressing the pre-K seat shortage for the upcoming school year has been a priority, especially in Districts 30 and 24,” Katz said. “The Queens Library has taken one of the more creative initiatives we’ve seen to launch pre-K programs at our beloved libraries throughout the borough. Our libraries are treasured, safe community hubs for enrichment and lifelong learning, and starting the educational pathway from pre-K here is a natural fit.”

The cost to modify the Ravenswood library into the new pre-K program is estimated at $572,000, according to the Department of Design and Construction. An initial $250,000 was committed by the Shoolman Foundation, as well as $72,000 from the Department of Education.

Katz will be securing the remaining $250,000 allowing the program to become a reality.

“This funding is great news for the Ravenswood community and for the children of western Queens,” said state Senator Michael Gianaris. “We know that pre-K makes a huge difference in the lives of our young students and I am glad that we are adding space in an area that so desperately needs more school seats.”

The Ravenswood library’s entire space will be used to run the pre-K program from 8 a.m. to 2:30 p.m. on weekdays. During non-school hours, the library will be used as a Family Literacy Learning Center, offering ESL courses and other classes for adults.

“The Ravenswood library is a prime location to house and expand our city’s already successful universal pre-kindergarten program,” Councilman Jimmy Van Bramer said. “With the addition of two UPK classes we can provide more children a head start in getting the education they rightfully deserve.”


Five smallest condos in Queens for sale  

| lguerre@queenscourier.com

Photos courtesy StreetEasy and Modern Spaces

Condos are becoming more popular in western Queens neighborhoods, such as Long Island City and Astoria, as developers seek to maximize profits in a market with increasing land values and high construction costs.

In an effort to keep homes prices lower, developers are building smaller condos in buildings with more amenities and common spaces.

Studio condos are naturally smaller apartments and although these homes typically don’t offer enough space for families, it could be right for individuals or first-time homebuyers.

Here is a list of the five smallest condos on the market in Queens now, which was provided by the data team at StreetEasy.com. Not surprisingly, they are all studios in western Queens, and building amenities play a big role in the prices.

1. 14-43 28th Ave., #4B, Astoria

For: $329,000
Size: 400 square feet
Broker: Azure Realty NY LLC

This studio unit in The Astorian, a five-story, 10-year-old building with 38 units, comes with a private balcony, stainless steel appliances and — here’s the best part — a fold-up Murphy bed. It is a short walk away from the N and Q train station on 30th Avenue, which is approximately a 15-minute ride to Manhattan. The building also has a rooftop common space for events and barbecues with views of the neighborhood.

2. 25-40 Shore Blvd., #7, Astoria

For: $475,000
Size: 475 square feet
Broker: Markou Living LLC

Another studio in Astoria takes second place, but this apartment is in Shore Towers — a 23-floor, 407-unit amenity-laden building near the waterfront with views of Robert F. Kennedy Bridge. The building comes with a fitness room, indoor pool, free parking, tennis courts, a 24-hour doorman, and a free shuttle bus to and from the Astoria Blvd. N and Q train station — making for a 20-minute commute to Manhattan. Not to mention, it is also close to Astoria Park. Not far away from the building, the Durst Organization is set to revitalize the area for its mega Hallets Point development, which could increase prices in the neighborhood as demand increases.

3. 11-25 45th Ave., #2H, Long Island City

For: $619,000
Size: 479 square feet
Broker: Modern Spaces

Although listed as having just 479 square feet, as a disclaimer, the actual size of this studio unit in the Hunters Point section of Long Island City, is 946 square feet when including its massive balcony. The exterior space is the key to this home’s value. The owner of this unit will have the space to host get-togethers on this large private outdoor deck. The unit is in a six-story building called One Murray Park, which has 45 units. It is located across from Murray Playground and features a fitness center, a common roof deck, a library and bike storage. There is a variety of public transit lines nearby, including the G, E, M and 7 train lines at the Court Square subway station.

4. 44-27 Purves St., #6E, Long Island City

For: $519,000
Size: 484 square feet
Broker: Blu Realty Group

There are a few buildings under construction or planned for Purves Street, a dead-end strip off Jackson Avenue, such as a 35-story, eco-friendly rental with commercial space on the ground floor. But 44-27, a 14-story building with 64 units, was built nearly a decade ago on Purves Street before Long Island City became as hot as it is now. In 2006 the 6E unit was listed for about $262,000. In a telltale sign of how hot the neighborhood is, today it’s about double the price. The unit features a 50-square-foot balcony with large windows and has a washer and dryer hook-up. The building offers a range of amenities, such as free Wi-Fi, a gym, a sauna, a children’s playroom, a bike room and a roof deck. It is near the G, E, M and 7 train lines at the Court Square subway station.

5. 5-27 51st Ave., #4H, Long Island City

For: $605,000
Size: 490 square feet
Broker: Nest Seekers

The final condo on this list comes from the newest building. Five27, a five-story, 27-unit building in Long Island City, was completed in 2012. The unit features oak wood flooring and large windows for lots of natural light, and comes with a dishwasher and washer and dryer. Building amenities include a doorman, an outdoor common terrace, bike storage, a fitness center and a lounge for relaxing or hosting parties. Living in this unit would also put the owner close to Manhattan, which is one stop away on the 7 train.



Dining: Artichoke Basille’s Pizza

By Queens Courier Staff | editorial@queenscourier.com

Photo by Bradley Hawks


With a pizzeria on every few blocks, how do you know where to get the perfect slice? One test is longevity. If a pizzeria has stood the test of time, it’s probably a pretty safe bet. Another marker of success is if the pizza quality is worthy of expansion into new neighborhoods and locations.
22-56 31st St. has been home to a pizzeria for 50 years, so when longtime tenant Frankie’s Pizza folded up shop, it only seemed appropriate for another pizza-maker to take over the address.

There was certainly a fair amount of celebration when it was announced that the next occupant would be the maker of one of Manhattan’s most celebrated pies — Artichoke Basille’s — which opened its first pizza spot on 14th Street in 2008.

Astoria marks the company’s second location in Queens, with the first at LaGuardia Airport. Tucked just behind the stairway to the elevated train at the Ditmars Station, the renovated space is home to Artichoke Basille’s most popular pies and slices, as well as a selection of salads and “not pizza” items, as well as a variety of beer and wine.

Whole pizzas run around $30, with slices priced around $4.50, but the thickness and crunch of the crust, size of the pie, and abundance of premium-quality toppings stand in defense of the higher prices.

Their namesake pizza is piled with plump, tender artichoke hearts, spinach, lumps of mozzarella, a velvety cream sauce and pecorino romano cheese. The result is like eating a slice of crisp garlic toast topped with a decadent spinach artichoke dip, all crusted with bubbling mozzarella.

Another popular pie is slathered with a rosé crab sauce, fresh mozzarella, and panko breaded surimi crab meat (which is just a fancy way of saying artificial crab meat).
With the exception of the anchovy pie, each version is available as a whole pizza or by the slice. Be warned that they certainly aren’t worried by sodium or calories, as the pizza can lean on the salty side, and boasts a remarkably high calorie count. Delivery also leaves a little to be desired.

On three separate occasions, the pizza arrived with the toppings slid into one corner and the crust folded onto itself. That having been said, we still kept ordering it for delivery.

The dine-in experience was much more pleasant, with friendly counter service and ample seating space. I imagine for those in a rush headed to the subway, and those craving a quick bite on the way home from work, this location will do a pretty good business. And I will certainly attempt ordering delivery again, once they have been open a bit longer and settled into a comfortable rhythm. For now, I will simply have to head to the store when I want a slice.

Artichoke Basille’s Pizza
22-56 31st St., Astoria
Delivery seven days a week, 11 a.m. to 11 p.m.


New renderings for Hallets Point development revealed

| lguerre@queenscourier.com

Renderings courtesy Dattner Architects

Renderings and details for the first building of the Durst Organization’s Hallets Point development project in Astoria were revealed.

The structure will consist of two 20-story structures emerging from a podium, as reported by New York YIMBY. The Dattner Architects-designed buildings will feature views of the waterfront and a large-scale rooftop space for residents. The first structure has a 2017 opening date.

The overall 2.5-million-square-foot Hallets Point project includes 2,400 units with 483 affordable apartments in multiple residential buildings, with retail space, a supermarket, a school and a public waterfront promenade.

Durst purchased a controlling interest in the project from Lincoln Equities Group, the original developer, for more than $100 million last year. The company paid $15 million for the final parcel of land at 1-02 26th Ave. which it needed for the huge project, according to city records filed in February.

The Hallets Point project is one of two mega developments on the Astoria waterfront. The other, called Astoria Cove, was passed by the City Council last year. It includes more than 1,700 units, of which 27 percent will be affordable housing.

New Hallets Point renderings 1