Tag Archives: Astoria

24-Hour Repackathon set to break record


| aaltamirano@queenscourier.com

Photo courtesy of City Harvest

With Thanksgiving just around the corner, one organization is looking to make a difference while also setting a new record.

City Harvest, a food rescue organization founded in 1982, will host its second annual 24-Hour Repackathon on Thursday in Long Island City with the mission to help feed hungry New Yorkers across the five boroughs over the winter and holidays.

“This is part of our initiative to keep shelves at food pantries stocked for the winter,” said Samantha Park, manager of communications for City Harvest. “For a lot of people they have to make the difficult choice between paying rent and putting food on the table for their children.”

During the event, which will be held at City Harvest’s LIC Food Rescue Facility located at 55-01 Second St., more than 300 volunteers will repack bulk food donations into family-sized packages for 24 hours straight.

Participants include members from corporations such as Bank of America, Credit Suisse, Wells Fargo and many others. Restaurants, including Astoria’s Butcher Bar, will also donate food for volunteers.

“It’s just a great way to give back. The holidays are around the corner and people are always thinking about ways they could help,” Park said. “These are big businesses in New York City giving back to the community.”


Starting at 5 p.m. Thursday, volunteers will arrive in groups of 50 for three-hour shifts in which they will repack packages that will go out to over 500 food pantries and soup kitchens across the city.

At last year’s inaugural 24-Hour Repackathon, City Harvest set a world record by repacking close to 215,000 pounds of food, according to Park. This year, the organization plans to surpass that record with the goal of repacking 225,000 pounds, enough to feed more than 2,000 families.

During the last shift on Friday, which will end at 5 p.m., special guest volunteers will include U.S. Sen. Kirsten Gillibrand and former New York Knicks player John Starks.

“There are times that we can all come together and help each other,” Park said. “That’s what our organization is all about, having New Yorkers come together and help each other out.”

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$27K stolen from man at Astoria check cashing store: police


| ctumola@queenscourier.com

Photo courtesy of NYPD

A suspect followed a man into an Astoria check cashing store before stealing his $27,000 bag of money, cops said.

The suspect trailed the 36-year-old victim into the store, David’s Check Cashing, located on 31st Street near 23rd Avenue, at about 11 a.m. on Oct. 23, police said. He then held up his hand, covered with a bag, indicating that he had a gun, and demanded cash from the victim.

The victim handed the suspect a bag containing about $27,000 in cash and the suspect fled, cops said.

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

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Underground fire breaks out in Astoria


| ctumola@queenscourier.com

THE COURIER/Graphic Image

A possible utility fire broke out underground in Astoria Thursday afternoon, causing evacuations in the area, fire officials said.

The fire started about 2:45 p.m. on 36th Street near 24th Avenue, according to the FDNY. No injuries have been reported, but nearby homes have been evacuated as a precaution.

The cause of the flames, which were coming up through the sidewalk, may be from an underground transformer, according to ABC New York,

Con Edison has been called to the scene to investigate.

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Ukulele shop opens its doors in Astoria


| aaltamirano@queenscourier.com

THE COURIER/Photo by Angy Altamirano

One new shop is strumming its way into Astoria, bringing the sounds of the tropics to the big city.

Uke Hut, located at 36-01 36th Ave., held its grand opening on Halloween and has brought what manager Jeff Novak calls the only shop of its kind to the northeast United States, selling ukuleles, offering lessons and bringing together the ukulele community.

“We’re dedicating ourselves exclusively to ukuleles, and the aim is to have quality instruments at all price points,” said Novak, who has been playing the ukulele for four to five years. “We’re aiming to be a full-service shop.”

The corner shop is owned by musician Ken Bari Murray, who hopes to bring a new center for music to the community.

Uke Hut offers all types of ukuleles and strings for sale, and although the lessons and performances have not yet started, these aspects will be emphasized as the shop seeks to serve the western Queens neighborhood.

Professional ukulele musician Sakai, who has been playing the instrument for the past seven years, will be one of the teachers at the shop.

“Astoria is an up-and-coming neighborhood and it’s a vibrant neighborhood, and I think it would be a good tip for us and we’d be a good tip for the general area,” Novak said. “We’re easy and accessible. We’re there for their needs and we’re working for all level of needs.”


The shop is still being set up, but customers are welcome to stop by Tuesday through Saturday from noon to 7 p.m. The store’s official website ukehut.com is still under construction as well.

“It’s an easy instrument to play compared to others. It’s very portable. It’s been said to be a very happy instrument. You never see a sad ukulele,” Novak said.

A ukulele meetup will be held at the shop on Friday at 7: 30 p.m.


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Report: Queens rent prices increase in October


| lguerre@queenscourier.com

Chart courtesy of  MNS Real Estate.

Prepare to pay higher rents if you want to live in Queens.

An influx of new luxury buildings in Rego Park and the continued popularity of Astoria contributed to the average price for an apartment rising to $2,097 in October, according to the Queens Rental Market Report released by MNS Real Estate.

The prices for studios, one and two-bedroom apartments represents a slight jump from September, with notable changes in rents coming from Rego Park and Astoria.

In Rego Park, the average price increased because of new luxury buildings, according to the report.

“A notable growth spurt continues to take place in Rego Park as prices bounced back after a slight downturn last month,” the report said. “Developments such as The Contour at 97-45 Queens Blvd. and more recently, The Rego Modern at 99-39 66th Ave. are leading this progression.”

Renters in Astoria paid 5.3 percent more in October than September, the report showed. Studio prices in the neighborhood jump 7.05 percent to an average of $1,772.

See the full report here.

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Astoria Cove wins City Council committee support after last minute deal


| lguerre@queenscourier.com

Rendering courtesy of STUDIO V Architecture

Astoria Cove developers delayed the City Council Land Use Committee vote on Wednesday to strike a last minute deal with politicians and win approval for the project.

Based on the agreement, the number of below-market rate housing in the development will increase to 27 percent from 20 percent. About 468 units of the 1,723 total apartments throughout the 2.2 million square foot project on the Astoria waterfront will be deemed affordable.

Developers also agreed to hire union labor for construction and building maintenance jobs associated with the project, and commit to building a ferry dock.

Councilman Costa Constantinides, who promised to fight for more affordable housing units, fully embraced the project following the deal.

“The agreement will help transform Astoria for the better,” Constantinides said. “For the first time in city history, this developer will be required by law to provide permanently affordable housing that is within the reach of Astorians.”

The project still has to go through a full City Council vote on Nov. 25.

In addition to the Land Use Committee giving its approval, Borough President Melinda Katz has also had a change of heart due to the negotiations.

“The modified Astoria Cove proposal is consistent with Queens’ commitment to responsible development and is now closer to par with many of our chief concerns, namely housing, transit options and skilled labor,” Katz said in a statement. “Once built, this project will become a landmark accomplishment that we can be proud of here in the Borough of Queens.”

Astoria Cove will consist of five buildings, three on the waterfront ranging from 26 to 32 stories and two on the upland portion of the site, including a six-story residential building.

The project, which is anticipated to take more than 10 years to complete in four different phases, will also include about 84,000 square feet of publicly accessible open space, a school and some retail.

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Identify this place in Queens


By Queens Courier Staff | editorial@queenscourier.com

where

Do you know where in Queens this photo was taken? Guess by commenting below! The answer will be revealed next week.

Last week’s answer to “Identify this Place”: Norwood Gardens in Astoria

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Real estate roundup: Residential support for Astoria Cove, Saving murals for Cornell’s Roosevelt Island tech campus


By Queens Courier Staff | editorial@queenscourier.com

Rendering courtesy of STUDIO V Architecture

NYCHA residents wants Astoria Cove

“There has been a lot of debate about this 1.7 million square-foot waterfront development. We’ve heard opinions coming from The Bronx, Brooklyn and Manhattan — but take it from neighbors who live down the street in the NYCHA Astoria Houses, one for the past 61 years and the other for 60 years: This project can help move our community in the right direction.” Read more [The New York Post]

At Future Cornell Campus, the First Step in Restoring Murals Is Finding Them

“Cornell University and its conservators faced a lot of challenges rescuing three rare 7-by-50-foot murals from the Goldwater Memorial Hospital on Roosevelt Island. The first challenge was finding two of them.” Read more [New York Times]

Douglas Durst Talks Queens, Midtown and WTC

“While the Durst Organization was known for developing Manhattan commercial spaces — Seymour Durst once said he “would never buy anything he couldn’t walk to” from his Manhattan office — Mr. Durst has become a residential developer of late, with two Manhattan rental projects nearing completion and negotiations underway to build a massive mixed-use project in Hallets Point, Queens.” Read more [Commercial Observer]

Radiology Center Opens in Long-Vacant Northern Boulevard Building

“Main Street Radiology at 72-06 Northern Blvd. opened with limited services on Oct. 6, but has since expanded its offerings — modern ultrasounds, mammograms and stress tests, according to assistant director Todd DiLeonardo.” Read more [DNAinfo]

Astoria featured in city tourism campaign


| aaltamirano@queenscourier.com

Screenshot via NYC & Company

For people near and far, Astoria is the next go-to destination, according to a new neighborhood tourism campaign.

Astoria has been selected by NYC & Company, the official marketing, tourism and partnership organization for New York City, as the next spotlight area in its Neighborhood x Neighborhood campaign.

“From the remarkable Greek and international cuisine, to the fascinating cultural and arts scene, we are pleased to be promoting all there is to see and do in Astoria,” said Fred Dixon, president and CEO of NYC & Company. “We invite visitors from around the world and across the United States to discover and rediscover Astoria.”

Starting Tuesday, Astoria is being highlighted as the third feature in a three-part Neighborhood x Neighborhood documentary series. The videos in the series feature a local’s guide to the neighborhood, focusing on shops, restaurants, attractions and the history that makes the area distinct. They also include reasons for both tourists and locals to explore.


“It’s no surprise that the borough of nations is home to Astoria, a culturally diverse community known as both a creative neighborhood full of praiseworthy cultural institutions and a food destination popular for everything from Greek to Italian to Brazilian cuisine,” said Marty Markowitz, vice president of borough promotion and engagement at NYC & Company. “There is something for everyone in this bustling Queens neighborhood, and we encourage New Yorkers and visitors to spend a day in Astoria.”

This announcement comes just a few weeks after NYC & Company launched a three-month promotional campaign called “See Your City” showcasing 10 neighborhoods throughout the five boroughs, including Jackson Heights and Long Island City.

The “must-see Astoria” highlights featured in the Neighborhood x Neighborhood campaign include the Museum of the Moving Image, Astoria Park with its views of Midtown Manhattan, the neighborhood’s prominent Greek culture, restaurant and social scene, and boutique designers. 

The Neighborhood x Neighborhood campaign, first launched in 2013, targets outside visitors and New Yorkers and was designed to highlight the diversity of the city’s five boroughs and encourage people to explore outside “traditional tourist locations.”

For more information, visit nycgo.com/nxn.

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


| lguerre@queenscourier.com

Rendering courtesy of TDC Development International

Flushing Commons Construction Causes Traffic, Pedestrian Pains

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

Costco Eyes Location in Downtown Jamaica, Developers Say

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

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

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

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


| lguerre@queenscourier.com

Photo courtesy of Property Markets Group 

Property Markets Group gets $130M financing for LIC tower

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

New sushi restaurant to open on Vernon

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

Homeless shelter sparks heated debate at Police Precinct meeting

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

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


By Queens Courier Staff | editorial@queenscourier.com

THE COURIER/Photo by Liam La Guerre

Queensboro Hill nightmare continues

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

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

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

These key players will decide the fate of Astoria Cove

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

In Astoria, Queens, a Youth Movement, With Souvlaki

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

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


| lguerre@queenscourier.com

Rendering courtesy of New York Lions Group

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

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

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

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

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

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

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

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

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Astoria man charged as serial tagger for graffiti acts


| aaltamirano@queenscourier.com

Photo courtesy of the Queens district attorney's office

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

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

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

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

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

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

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

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Public art project to celebrate Queens’ diversity


| aaltamirano@queenscourier.com

Photos by Fumi Nakamura

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

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

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

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

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

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

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

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

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

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

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

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

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

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

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

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