Tag Archives: Astoria

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


| aaltamirano@queenscourier.com

THE COURIER/Photo by Angy Altamirano

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

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

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

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

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

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

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

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

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

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

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

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

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

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Teens robbed at Astoria McDonald’s: NYPD


| ctumola@queenscourier.com

Video courtesy of NYPD

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

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

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

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

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

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

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

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


| ctumola@queenscourier.com

THE COURIER/Photo by Liam La Guerre

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

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

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

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

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

The Falchi Building (Image courtesy of Jamestown)

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

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

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

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

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

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


| lguerre@queenscourier.com

Photo courtesy of Gratiela Ilis/PropertyShark 

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

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

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

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

There will also be 127 parking spots at the site.

 

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Beware of ads in the ‘by owner’ section


By Queens Courier Staff | editorial@queenscourier.com

Photos courtesy of Minas Styponias

BY MINAS STYPONIAS

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

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

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

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

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

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

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Community rallies to stop closing of Astoria Catholic school


| aaltamirano@queenscourier.com

THE COURIER/Photo by Angy Altamirano

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

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

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

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

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

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

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

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

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

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

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

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

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

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


By Queens Courier Staff | editorial@queenscourier.com

THE COURIER/Photo by Angy Altamirano

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

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

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

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

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

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

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

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

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

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

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Astoria mixed-use residential complex sold for $51M


| lguerre@queenscourier.com

Photo courtesy of Scott Bintner/PropertyShark 

A large Astoria mixed-use residential portfolio was sold for $51 million on Thursday, according to a published report.

Kushner Companies bought the 143-unit, four-building complex, which also has 11 commercial spaces. The four buildings are located at 21-81 and 21-80 38th St., and 23-15 and 23-05 30th Ave.

Seller RockFarmer Capital bought the buildings for $32 million just two years ago and reached a deal with Kushner in just a handful of weeks, according to The Real Deal.

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Two women wanted in Astoria street robbery


| ejankiewicz@queenscourier.com

Photo courtesy of NYPD

Police are searching for two women who they say robbed a 44-year-old woman last month in Astoria.

On Dec. 2 at 12 p.m., the victim was walking near 44th Street and 31st Avenue when the two suspects came up from behind the woman and pushed her to the ground, cops said. They then snatched her purse, containing the woman’s credit cards and keys, and took off.

The victim was transported to Elmhurst Hospital for cuts on her head.

Police described the suspects as Hispanic.

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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Online fundraisers set up to help Astoria roommates after fire destroys home


| aaltamirano@queenscourier.com

Photos by Duncan Pflaster

In less than half an hour Andrew Rothkin, Kim Jones and Duncan Pflaster lost the place they have called home for more than five years after a fire ripped through their Astoria apartment early Wednesday afternoon.

Pflaster, an administrative assistant and also a playwright and photographer, said he received a call from Jones at around 1 p.m. Wednesday telling him he needed to come home because as she was out running errands their 35th Street apartment had been engulfed in flames.

Their roommate, Rothkin, had been home alone and his space heater caught on fire, Pflaster said. Rothkin was taken to Mount Sinai Hospital with severe second- and third-degree burns and smoke inhalation, but was released Friday and will recuperate with his family in Baltimore.

According to the FDNY, a call for the fire was received at 10:48 a.m. and about 60 firefighters arrived at the two-story home with the fire at the rear of the first floor. The blaze was under control at 11:20 a.m. One firefighter sustained minor injuries.

“When I saw the mess, the state of everything, it was just this horrible sinking feeling. When I was allowed to go up and see, it was just terrible,” Pflaster said about what he saw once he got home.

According to Pflaster, the apartment is destroyed, and every window had to be broken by the FDNY. There are holes in the ceilings and walls, and Rothkin’s room was “gutted,” causing him to lose everything — even his cat, Pepper.

“I think I was in shock for a bit. A lot of it was strangely beautiful: holes in the ceiling give a lovely light,” Pflaster said. “There was a lot of just standing around not knowing how to even begin to clean up.”

Yet, even in these tough times a light has shone through the darkness for the three roommates from online fundraisers, started by friends, that have raised thousands in just one day.

Three separate accounts have been created on gofundme.com for Rothkin, Jones and Pflaster to help them recover from the fire and also raise enough money to sign a lease on a new apartment. In total the fundraisers have raised more than $25,000 since Friday.

“It is just wonderful. People have been so generous. People I haven’t seen in years, people I think didn’t really like me, everyone has done what they can,” Pflaster said. “It’s incredibly moving and I keep tearing up when I think of so many people who have helped out.”

Pflaster, who was able to recover some clothes and other items, is staying with friends in Astoria until he finds a new place. He also said he has had offers of furniture, clothes and gift cards.

When asked what he would tell all those who have been helping them out during this time, Pflater said, “Thank you so much. It’s been such a relief in this horrifying time. We all appreciate your support so much.”

To donate to the gofundme campaigns, visit www.gofundme.com/andrewrothkin, www.gofundme.com/jvt5oc or www.gofundme.com/jwpczs. A Facebook page has also been created for the friends.

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Vote to see Astoria man’s commercial air during Super Bowl


| ctumola@queenscourier.com

Photo courtesy of Doritos

An Astoria actor is trying to “crash” one of the most watched television events of the year.

Alex Pepper could see his commercial, filmed at his Astoria home, air during this year’s Super Bowl, but he needs your vote.

The 25-year-old is one of 10 finalists in the Doritos Crash the Super Bowl Contest. Two finalists’ commercials, one chosen by fan votes and the second by Doritos, will be shown during the Big Game. The commercial that receives the most fan votes will win $1 million and a chance to work as a contractor for a year at Universal Pictures in Hollywood.

The contest was started nine years ago, and after seeing the commercials on past Super Bowls, Pepper decided he wanted to enter.

“I am more of an actor/artist than a sports fan so to see what people bring to commercials is incredible,” he said.


With only a couple weeks to go until the deadline, and the help of his girlfriend and pals, he shot the commercial inside his Astoria apartment and on the building’s roof.

The concept came from his performance experience — the actor, who has done a national tour of “South Pacific” and background work for television, is also a dancer.

“Being a male dancer, it’s your worst nightmare to drop your partner. So I took that idea and raised the stakes a little bit,” he said.

The commercial, called “What Could Go Wrong?” features Pepper in his apartment talking to a friend who is eating a bag of Doritos. His friend convinces him to talk to “the hottie from 3B,” who is on the roof, by telling him to bring the bag of chips and saying, “What could go wrong?”

But something does go wrong. He entices the hottie (played by his friend’s girlfriend) with the Doritos and she asks Pepper to dance with her. Then, after lifting her in the air “Dirty Dancing” style, he slips on the bag and the girl falls off the roof.

She seems to have survived, shouting out, “Really? ” at him. But before sneaking off the roof, Pepper makes sure to grab his Doritos.

Though he dropped the girl in the commercial, Pepper insists he’s never dropped a dance partner in real life.

The commercial cost only about $80 to make and was shot on point-and-shoot and DSLR cameras. Though he has edited videos before, Pepper was still somewhat of a novice before tackling the Doritos ad.

PepperHeadshot copy

Photo by Sarah Linn Reedy

“I was not expecting anything to come from this,” he said about being a finalist in a contest, which he said includes filmmakers with more experience than he has.

Out of almost 4,900 submissions, 29 semifinalists were selected, which were then narrowed down by a panel of judges consisting of Doritos executives, advertising professionals and actress Elizabeth Banks, to 10 from around the world. Six are from the U.S., and Pepper is the only finalist from New York City.

When Pepper found out he was a finalist, he got a personal call from Banks. He will also get to sit with her at the Super Bowl in a private suite. All the finalists won a trip to the Feb. 1 game in Arizona, and a guaranteed $25,000. The commercial chosen to run by Doritos receives $50,000.

The winner will not be announced until the commercial airs.

If he gets the big bucks, Pepper hopes to give back to the arts organizations that have supported him, including his hometown dance studio, Dee Buchanan Studio of Dance, which is helping him get votes through YouTube. He would also like to upgrade his camera equipment.

But Pepper isn’t focused on the million dollar prize.

“I think the job and having people see your work is more exciting than the money.”

To vote for Pepper’s commercial, visit www.doritos.com. Voting is open through Jan. 28.

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Woodside man beautifies neighborhood one fire alarm box at a time


| aaltamirano@queenscourier.com

THE COURIER/Photos by Angy Altamirano

Call him the anti-graffiti artist.

Woodside resident John S. Colgan has turned outdoor walls, fire boxes, lampposts and hydrants into his canvas — not in an illegal effort at self-expression but to battle the defacing of his beloved neighborhood by graffiti.

Colgan got tired of waiting around for someone to clean up his community from the work of graffiti vandals, so instead he picked up a paintbrush and took matters into his own hands.

For the past three and a half years, Colgan, who goes by “Fire Alarm Guy” on Twitter, has been going around the western Queens neighborhood he calls home and fighting the problem of graffiti, along with bringing fire alarm boxes back to life.

“I wanted to do something nice for the neighborhood,” he said. “When I was a kid in the ’80s everything was pristine. People took care of things themselves back then. If you want to get rid of graffiti in the neighborhood, you have to do it yourself.”

After deciding to give back to community after attending church one morning, the 39-year-old security guard began to repaint lampposts, fire hydrants and fire alarm boxes in Woodside.

He has also taken the time to paint murals underneath bridges in the neighborhood, including a large American Flag, paid for by American Legion Post #1836, located on 32nd Avenue between 56th and 58th street. He plans to update the mural and add more detail to it during the summer. 

“That’s how it all started: I decided to give back, and now I’m addicted to it,” he said. 

Colgan said before he worked in the shadows, because he thought he would get into trouble for painting, but now he goes around talking to people about the issues, in hopes of getting more people involved. 

Taking things further, for the past two years, Colgan has teamed up with the Woodside Neighborhood Association and also begun going around covering up graffiti during a nightly patrol, which at first was just out of habit. Every night he drives around the neighborhood and finds fresh graffiti tags on walls and covers them up with paint he keeps at the ready in his car. He uses whatever color he has on hand. 

Members of the Woodside Neighborhood Association then come back to the site and paint over with a “battleship gray” color so that the new paint looks uniform with the rest. 

Photo courtesy of John S. Colgan

Photo courtesy of John S. Colgan

“The point is if you cover [the graffiti] within 24 hours, the taggers talk to each other and tell each other not to tag there,” he said. “The bottom line is people have to do it themselves. If they don’t fix it then they just get used to seeing it.”

Mostly all the paint used for the projects is purchased from a local shop called Gleason Paint, located at 65-01 Roosevelt Ave. Colgan said that at times the store donates paints and helps with any questions he might have. 

In the past couple of weeks, Colgan said he had noticed less graffiti in his neighborhood and has been able to move his cleanup project to Long Island City and parts of Jackson Heights. He also helps paint hydrants, lampposts and fire alarm boxes found in the perimeter of local police precincts such as the 114th and 108th precincts. 

As the weather gets warmer, Colgan plans to move further into the borough and help cover up graffiti in other areas such as Astoria and Corona. 

“The original goal was just to make it look nice and when I was painting people were stopping,” Colgan said. “The neighborhood is behind me now. They’re taking pride in the neighborhood.”

To see Colgan’s works and get updated information follow @firealarmguy75 on Twitter or @thewoodsideavenger on Instagram.

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Rego Park studio rents soaring: report


| lguerre@queenscourier.com

ContourLR1

Fueled by hot luxury listings, studio apartment rents in Rego Park are going through the roof after another huge monthly increase in December.

Rego Park renters were likely to pay $184, or about 12 percent, more on average for a studio apartment in December than November, according to MNS Real Estate’s monthly Queens Rental Market Report, which was released Thursday.

The change in rates was quite drastic over a relatively short period of time. Studio renters in Rego Park were likely to pay an average of just $1,325 per month in August, instead of the current $1,717, according to MNS.

The real estate firm highlighted the neighborhood in the report and called its monthly increase “surprising.” That’s probably how future renters will feel when they realize the popular neighborhood of Astoria currently has an average asking rent of about $127 less per studio.

But the top rates in Rego Park were caused by the change in inventory, according to the report.

“Rego Park saw a decrease in studio inventory with various lower price rentals coming off the market, leaving a small number of higher priced units, namely at The Contour on 97-45 Queens Boulevard,” the report said.

In Jackson Heights there was a similar trend in two-bedroom rates over the month, which rose $230 to an average price of $2,317 per month. Jackson Heights, which has an inventory problem, has the lowest availability of two-bedroom apartments in the borough with just six, the report said. The neighborhood also has the highest demand for two-bedroom apartments as units have an average of 19 days on the market.

Long Island City led the pack again with the highest rental prices for studios and one- and two-bedroom apartments in December, according to the report.

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Queens hookah bars caught putting tobacco in water pipes face closure


| aaltamirano@queenscourier.com

THE COURIER/Photos by Angy Altamirano

The smoke is out.

Following an undercover investigation, the city’s Health Department announced it found 13 hookah bars in the city, including four in Queens, selling a pipe mix that included tobacco for their patrons to smoke on premises, violating the city’s Smoke-Free Air Act.

At hookah bars patrons smoke a substance called shisha, composed of herbs, molasses and, in some cases, tobacco. Serving shisha with tobacco violates the city’s 2002 law that prohibits smoking tobacco in a workplace, including restaurants and bars.

“These 13 hookah bars are knowingly flouting the law by serving tobacco-based shisha,” Health Commissioner Dr. Mary Bassett said. “Tobacco smoke is dangerous for the health of the smoker, patrons and those who work in these establishments.”

On Nov. 14, Health Department inspectors, working together with New York University students, went to the 13 bars and “discretely” took samples of the shisha being served. After being sent to be tested, it was found that all the shisha samples tested positive for nicotine.

The bars in Queens included two in Astoria: Fayrooz Hookah Lounge and Bar on 28-08 Steinway St. and Melody Lounge on 25-95 Steinway St.; and two in Fresh Meadows, just blocks from St. John’s University: Layla Hookah Lounge on 181-34 Union Turnpike and Cloud 9 on 179-22 Union Turnpike.

The Health Department is now beginning to take measures to revoke the permits of all 13 bars and restaurants.

“The American Heart Association is concerned about the evidence of illegal tobacco sales in hookah bars,” said Dr. Merle Myerson, director of the Mount Sinai Roosevelt and St. Luke’s Cardiovascular Disease Prevention Program & Lipid Clinic and a member of the American Heart Association’s Advocacy Committee. “At a time when more adults are smoking at higher rates and there are fewer services available for smokers who want to quit, we must protect New Yorkers from tobacco addiction in all settings.”

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Astoria bakery gets burglarized twice within one week: cops


| ctumola@queenscourier.com

Video courtesy of NYPD

In less than one week, a burglar targeted the same Astoria bakery twice, stealing nearly $2,000, authorities said.

The business, Parisi Bakery, at 30-17 Broadway, was first hit at 2:40 a.m. on Dec. 27. It was burglarized again at 12:40 a.m. on Jan. 1, according to police.

During both burglaries, the suspect broke into the bakery, went behind the counter and took money from the cash register. In total, $1,900 was taken, authorities said.

Police have released a video of the suspect.


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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