Tag Archives: Astoria

Video: Actors dressed as construction workers read ‘Fifty Shades’ to NYC subway riders


| ctumola@queenscourier.com

Screenshot via YouTube/Even Construction Guys

The New York City subway got “Fifty Shades” greyer this week.

A Little Neck actor and his friend, dressed as construction workers, decided to read passages from “Fifty Shades of Grey” to subway riders — while secretly filming their reactions — before the release of the movie version this Friday.

The results, a combination of laughter, annoyance and blank stares the other way, were compiled in a YouTube video posted on Wednesday

Two movie sequels are already planned for “Fifty Shades of Grey,” based on the popularity of the book series.

Johnny Solo decided to finally see what the fuss was about when he saw a waitress who works at Grand Cafe, the Astoria restaurant he owns, reading it recently.

The actor, who rides the subway to Manhattan for auditions, often passes the time by reading, but says it’s easy to feel “vulnerable” when others see what he’s reading on the train.

Fellow riders immediately noticed the “big guy” reading the female-oriented novel, he said.

“When I had the book I felt I was getting a lot of reaction without even being filmed.”

The idea of typically masculine men, like construction workers, reading the book in public then popped into his head and the video concept was born.

“The 21st-century man has changed — we are a lot more sensitive,” Solo said.

Together with Matt Flynn, who is also an actor, and Astoria resident Court Dunn, who handled the hidden cameras and editing, Solo filmed the video “Even Construction Guys Moan Over ‘Fifty Shades,’” on Monday and Tuesday.

They shot the footage on the 1, C and N trains, crossing into Queens at times, and were mostly ignored by riders.

“We got a lot more of the New York City glance,” Solo said describing the straphangers’ reactions as the two men moaned reading passages, commented on its erotic details and even got emotional at some points.

But others did react and even ran away.

“The best part was when people really laughed and enjoyed it,” Solo said.

One woman, who said Solo was “crazy” to read the book, burst into laughter when she heard the line “It’s intoxicating. I inhaled deeply.”

Despite all the time spent reading “Fifty Shades of Grey,” on the subway, Solo is still only three-quarters of the way through the novel.

“It’s kind of redundant,” he said.

Once he does finish the book, he plans on seeing the film — not because he likes the story, but because it inspired him to do something different as a performer.

“It gave me enough creative feeling to do something,” he said. “I almost feel like I owe it.”

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LIC-based grocery delivery service aimed for mom and pop stores


| aaltamirano@queenscourier.com

Images courtesy of Pickup Later

One new delivery service is trying to level the playing field for local mom and pop shops battling the big, online food delivery companies by offering customers the option to have groceries delivered within hours of placing an order at neighborhood stores.

PickUpLater, a Long Island City-based online grocery service started at the end of 2014, allows customers to go on their website and order from a local store’s inventory.

As a resident of Long Island City for the past six years, owner Kodjo Hounnaké said the idea was born after he was ordering from GrubHub and he asked himself why such a service was not available for groceries from local stores. 

Although Hounnaké says he aims for the service to go nationwide, PickUpLater currently only offers customers groceries from Foodcellar & Co. Market, located at 4-85 47th Rd. The service is available for residents in Long Island City, Hunters Point, Astoria, Greenpoint, Sunnyside and Woodside. It has also started to deliver in Manhattan, below 59th Street. 

PickUpLater owner Kodjo Hounnaké

PickUpLater owner Kodjo Hounnaké

The delivery areas are expected to expand, once Foodcellar opens its second location in Court Square. 

Unlike giants like Fresh Direct, Hounnaké added that PickUpLater has groceries directly from the store, not from a warehouse. Also unlike grocery delivery service, Instacart, which delivers from large stores such as Whole Foods Market and Costco, the idea of PickUpLater is to stick to the local mom and pop shops. 

“We’re not [the grocery store’s] competitor; what we offer them is to remove that extra cost and that extra stress,” Hounnaké said. “We’ll come in and do everything for them. In a sense we are their ally not their competition.”

Once the customer places an order on www.pickuplater.com, a personal shopper then does the work of purchasing the items on the list. Keeping an emphasis on “real time interaction with customers,” the personal shopper will text or call customers with any updates or replacement options.

The groceries will then be delivered in two hours, or more, depending on the customer’s request. They also have the option to pick up the products from Foodcellar.

For orders over $35, pick up fees are $0.99. Deliveries scheduled for more than two hours, the fee is $3.99 and $5.99 for deliveries scheduled within two hours.

PickUpLater opens at 7 a.m. and deliveries are scheduled between 9 a.m. and 11 p.m. Pickup hours are from 9 a.m. to 9 p.m.

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Astoria residents evacuated following manhole fires: FDNY


By Queens Courier Staff | editorial@queenscourier.com

THE COURIER/Photo by Ross Belsky

About two dozen Astoria residents had to be evacuated Friday morning when high carbon monoxide levels were detected following manhole fires in the area, the FDNY said.

Authorities responded to the manhole fires about 5:30 a.m.

After the high levels of carbon monoxide were discovered, residents were evacuated from a nearby building at 30-90 38th St., near 31st Avenue, reports said.

About 25 residents from eight apartments were told to leave their homes, according to the FDNY. Crews from Con Edison were also called to the scene.

No injuries were reported.

It was not clear whether the residents were allowed to return to the building as of early that afternoon.

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Real estate investors shelled out $3.6 billion for Queens properties last year


| lguerre@queenscourier.com

Photo courtesy of Scott Bintner/PropertyShark

Queens’ relatively low land prices, access to public transportation and growing popularity has helped the borough attract a significantly larger amount of money from real estate investors in 2014 than in previous years, according to a new report.

Firms and individuals shelled out about $3.65 billion last year to buy Queens investment properties—large-scale real estate costing at least $850,000—which is a 25 percent increase from 2013, according to a report by Ariel Property Advisors.

The study pointed out that about one-third of the investment properties in Queens last year were development sites, which alone accounted for more than $1 billion, or a 191 percent gain when compared to 2012.

“Queens still presents developers with the opportunity to produce large-scale developments, and they are willing to pay a premium for prime sites,” said Daniel Wechsler, vice president of Ariel Property Advisors.

Photo courtesy of Ariel Property Advisors

Photo courtesy of Ariel Property Advisors

Wechsler pointed out that land parcels with at least 50,000 square feet of buildable rights were purchased all over “The World’s Borough,” including Astoria, Long Island City, Elmhurst, Woodside, Glendale, Jamaica, Ridgewood and Flushing, “further indicating the bullish attitude of investors on the entire borough. “

The report found that 925 properties were traded during the year, which is also a 25 percent year-over-year increase.

Some of the year’s highest profile transactions include the $110 million sale of the Standard Motors Building in Long Island City, which traded for just $70 million in 2008, and the sale of a 53-building portfolio in Kew Gardens Hills for $216 million.

There was also the $26.5 million sale of a garage near Queens Place mall in Elmhurst, which has about 227,352 buildable square feet.

Click here to read the full report.

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Astoria mom teaches baby sign language to begin communication between child and parents


| aaltamirano@queenscourier.com

Photos courtesy of Rebecca Raymond

Parents in Astoria will now be able to figure out what their babies want before they even learn how to speak.

Rebecca Raymond is the instructor behind My Smart Hands NYC, the New York City franchise of a company started by Laura Berg in Canada, which aims to teach children and parents American Sign Language to promote communication early in life.

Raymond, an Astoria resident, first heard about baby signing when her sister-in-law began signing with her nephew. With her interest in languages, majoring in Spanish and English in college, she then decided to begin teaching her then-5-month-old daughter how to sign.

Rebecca Raymond

Rebecca Raymond

“I just love languages and I thought it would be fun to teach her,” Raymond said. “Every single day seeing her sign there were new things I was learning about her.”

Her daughter took around two months to pick up the signs and realize that it was a way to communicate with her mother. Raymond taught her how to sign words such as “milk” and “light” and noticed her daughter was learning through her modeling. 

“Every time I would say a particular word I would sign it to her,” Raymond said. “It’s easier to pick up the word rather than the strain of sound.”

She later also taught her second daughter how to sign. Raymond said that teaching children how to sign at such a young age reduces the level of frustration that comes from not being able to communicate with their parents or caregivers. She added that learning ASL increases the children’s self-esteem and self-confidence because their needs are met more quickly.

“Once your baby starts to figure out what they are doing with their hands is actually helping you communicate, then they pick it up fast,” Raymond said.

One important thing that parents have to keep in mind is being consistent in teaching their children, according to Raymond. Babies usually are not able to sign until they are 6 months old and begin picking up many signs between 7 to 12 months of age.

Rebecca Raymond's daughter signing the word "bed."

Rebecca Raymond’s daughter signing the word “bed,” one of the signs she still remembers from when she was a baby.

Raymond teaches parents out of their homes in either Astoria or Long Island City, and also at local bookstores and shops. Starting in March, she will begin giving Saturday classes at Raising Astoria, located at, 26-11 23rd Ave., as part of an eight-week course. Parents who are interested in taking part in the course can register on www.mysmarthandsnyc.com. Registration comes with a book and CD.

For more information visit www.mysmarthandsnyc.com or email rebecca@mysmarthands.com.

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New ferry system will benefit burgeoning Astoria waterfront


| lguerre@queenscourier.com

Map courtesy of Councilman Vincent Gentile

Mayor de Blasio’s proposal to create a citywide ferry system, including a dock along Astoria’s waterfront, will boost interest in the already hot neighborhood where industrial properties are being gobbled up as possible new residential projects.

In his State of the City addressMayor Bill de Blasio unveiled a $55 million plan to expand citywide ferry service that will make stops around the five boroughs, including Astoria, Roosevelt Island, Long Island City, the Lower East Side, Coney Island, Soundview in the Bronx, and the Rockaways.

The Astoria ferry dock was already included as part of the huge Astoria Cove project, which, together with the nearby Hallets Point mega development, will bring about 4,000 new apartments in the area.

Besides those larger projects, the burgeoning Astoria waterfront is littered with development plans for older properties, and former industrial buildings are being marketed for development sites. Some experts believe the inclusion of another transportation option will be a positive addition for the growing neighborhood.

“When I was growing up in Astoria, that area was not known as a safe neighborhood,” said Astoria native Minas Styponias, who is also an agent with BuySell Real Estate in the neighborhood. “It’ll definitely become an area where people will want to go.”

Styponias added, “It will be a little slow start until those towers get built there. Then there will be an increase in the ridership, and it will be well worth it for the city’s investment.”

De Blasio expects to have the Astoria ferry running by 2017. He said there will be an estimated 4.6 million trips each year and a ride on the new waterway system would cost the same as a subway ride.

The Astoria waterfront is underserved in public transportation, which traditionally plays a big role in real estate. As more of the city becomes accessible to the waterfront through the ferry, real estate professionals expect to see prices increase as the area becomes more popular.

“I think the ferry is great news for Astoria, and will definitely add some value the area,” said Eric Benaim, CEO of real estate firm Modern Spaces. 

Rockaway residents are also happy for the return of ferry service to their neighborhood, but officials have criticized the two-year wait for the service to restart.

While I am encouraged by the news and what it means for the future of Rockaway, our families and small businesses are suffering today and need service implemented immediately,” Assemblyman Phillip Goldfeder said. “Our ferry dock at Beach 108th was disassembled and shipped away overnight. It should not take two years to bring it back.”

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Man arrested for shooting friend from Italy in Astoria Park: DA


By Queens Courier Staff | editorial@queenscourier.com

CrimeSceneTapeHC1010_L_300_C_R-624x416

Updated Tuesday, Feb. 3, 9:34 a.m. 

An Astoria man killed a friend who was visiting from Italy during an argument in a neighborhood park Saturday afternoon, shooting him in the back of the head, officials said.

“The defendant is accused of taking the life of a friend who was seeking his help in starting a new life in this country,” District Attorney Richard Brown said.

William Klinger, 42, of Rome, Italy, and his friend Alexander Bonich, 50, were inside Astoria Park, located at 19th Street and 23rd Road on Saturday afternoon when they began to argue, Brown said.

Klinger tried to walk away when Bonich allegedly told him to stop, but Klinger ignored him. That’s when Bonich shot him in the back in the head, the district attorney’s office said. Klinger fell to the ground and his pal shot him once more in the head.

According to published reports, Bonich killed Klinger, a Communist historian and fellow Croatian national, over a failed real estate deal in Italy.

Bonich then allegedly ditched the clothing he been wearing along with his weapon, ammunition and spent shells. He got rid of the antique revolver he used to kill his friend by tossing it in the East River, reports said.

Cops found Klinger’s body about 2:30 p.m. that day near the park’s pool, police said. He was taken to Elmhurst Hospital, where he was pronounced dead.

Bonich, an Astoria resident, is currently being held pending arraignment in Queens Criminal Court on charges of second-degree murder, second-degree criminal possession of a weapon and tampering with physical evidence, according to the district attorney’s office. If convicted, he faces up to 25 years to life in prison.

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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 and David Chkheidze are the agents marketing the site. 

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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