Tag Archives: Bayside

Bayside residents tell car dealership to hit the road


| ejankiewicz@queenscourier.com

THE COURIER/Photo by Eric Jankiewicz

Community Board 11 unanimously refused to renew a zoning variance that allowed a Bayside Toyota dealership to operate in a residential area after neighbors complained.

Star Toyota and Scion has been operating on Northern Boulevard for 40 years with the variance, but locals want the dealership gone for being, according to one board member, a “bad neighbor.”

“The community wants them removed because they don’t respect us,” said board member Steven Behar. “It’s as simple as that.”

Residents complained that the dealership parked their cars on residential streets and illegally dumped garbage in the neighborhood.

As a requirement of the variance, the dealership must meet with the community board every 10 years so their business can be reviewed.

After reviewing the business this time, the board decided to act on the complaints and vote down the renewal.

There are two more steps in the process: Borough President Melinda Katz is expected to announce a decision on Sept. 18 and, if she supports the community board’s decision, the Board of Standards and Appeals will make a final decision.

“We’re hoping that with the new [mayoral] administration and a real show of community support, we can have the BSA do what’s right for the community,” Behar said. “We’ve tried to solve this with them but they wouldn’t work with us so now it’s come to this.”

The manager of the dealership declined to comment.

Further west on Northern Boulevard, a Flushing real estate business attempted to remove a condition in a similar variance.

Paul Luciano, owner of Utopia Real Estate, asked Community Board 7 to remove a restriction contained in the variance that prevents the building’s owner from making any alterations without the board’s permission.

But the board voted to maintain its power over the business, which has been in Flushing since 1957, by keeping the conditions of the variance in place.

“They [the community board] just want to hold the power over us for no reason,” Luciano said.
But locals said they feared changes would alter the nature of the neighborhood.

“If we’re not careful, our area will start to look like Main Street,” resident Terri Pouymari said.

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Watch: Queens Courier publisher completes ALS Ice Bucket Challenge


By Queens Courier Staff | editorial@queenscourier.com

THE COURIER/Photo by Angy Altamirano

Victoria Schneps, publisher of The Queens Courier, participated in the ALS Ice Bucket Challenge at Christie & Co. Salon & Spa, at 23-64 Bell Blvd, in Bayside’s Bay Terrace Shopping Center on Friday afternoon.

 

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City issues violation to Bayside resident for using home as synagogue


| ejankiewicz@queenscourier.com

THE COURIER/Photo by Salvatore Licata

A Bayside rabbi violated zoning rules by using his home as a synagogue, city officials said.

Jacob Hasis’ neighbors complained to the city that he was using his home as a synagogue, The Courier reported on Sept. 4.

A day later, the Department of Buildings (DOB) visited the home on 26th Avenue and found that Hasis was in violation of his certificate of occupancy by using the one-family home as a house of worship, according to city documents.

Hassis said that the DOB came to his home on a Friday evening while he was eating Shabbos dinner with his family and a few friends.

“They’re violating the privacy of my home and telling me what I can and can’t do,” Hasis said in response to the city’s findings. “We’re just a big family and we pray often. So this is illegal? I don’t understand why they’re targeting me.”

Hasis will have to appear before the Environmental Control Board.

He denied the accusations at the time and he still continues to deny the city’s findings.

“My family is 12 people and maybe another three or four of my friends come over to pray,” he said previously. “I don’t know why they were complaining.”

The Environmental Control Board scheduled a hearing on Sept. 21, according to Hasis, and he said that he plans on fighting the violation to get it dismissed.

The violation could be dropped if the DOB inspects his home a second time and they find that it is no longer being used as a synagogue, officials said.

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Bayside residents accuse neighbor of using his home as a synagogue


| ejankiewicz@queenscourier.com

THE COURIER/PHOTO BY SALVATORE LICATA

A Bayside homeowner is being accused of using his home as an illegal synagogue, according to city records.

The Department of Buildings received a complaint that Jacob Hasis, a rabbi, is using his 26th Avenue residence as a house of worship, in violation of its certificate of occupancy as a residence, a spokesman said.

“This property has many past issues so we take the complaints very seriously,” the DOB spokesman said.

Hasis acknowledged that residents complained to him about loud noise coming from his home. But he said that people mistake his large family of 12 and a couple of friends who come over for religious reasons as a synagogue.

“My family is 12 people and maybe another three or four of my friends come over to pray,” he said. “I don’t know why they were complaining.”

But in a flier that Hasis made, he invites “the whole community” to “Rabbi Yaakov’s shul for the high holidays service,” although the flier does say there is “limited space available” in the single-family home.

Hasis has a history of constructing additions to his home “illegally” and has paid $1,200 in fines to the city in regard to the property, according to the DOB spokesman.

The home also has three open violations relating to construction without the proper work permits. This construction includes creating entry doors for the cellar, two of which the DOB has deemed “immediately hazardous.”

The front yard of the house is filled with bricks, wheel barrels for cement and an abundance of wood.

Community Board 11 and state Sen. Tony Avella’s office have also received complaints about the building.

A spokesman for Avella said that the office was aware of the complaints and that they were in the process of trying to figure out the situation.

Harvey Beringer, who lives near the alleged synagogue, said he tried to complain to the community board, but someone had beaten him to it.

“When I called the community board, they said they had a complaint already about it being used as a synagogue,” he said.

The DOB plans on inspecting the property within the next 60 days, according to its spokesman.

With additional reporting by Salvatore Licata

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DOE protects Bayside schoolchildren from non-existent construction project


| ejankiewicz@queenscourier.com

THE COURIER/Photo by Aasha Mahadevan

As a new school year starts, students at a Bayside elementary school will find their school shrouded in scaffolding and mesh for a building project that doesn’t yet exist, according to city officials.

The city put the scaffolding up last school year at P.S. 162, according to a DOE spokeswoman, who said the project is still in its planning stage and designs for the project haven’t been made.

“This is really depressing for the children who are just going back to school and they have to go through this ominous entrance now,” said Beatrice Gallagher, who lives near the school. “Why has no work been done but they have the scaffolding up? That’s their job and they’re not doing what they’re supposed to be doing for us.”

The K-5 school, which was built in 1936, was chosen for an “exterior modernization project” that would replace and repair the roof, parapets, windows and exterior masonry.

The DOE spokeswoman said the scaffolding was erected for safety reasons even though the school is “safe” with no danger of falling bricks or debris.

The city doesn’t have an estimated completion date — or estimated start date — and the school declined to comment.

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Colombian restaurant Mr. Pollo coming to Bayside


| ejankiewicz@queenscourier.com

THE COURIER/Photo by Eric Jankiewicz

After being vacant for five years, a storefront on Bell Boulevard will be home to Mr. Pollo. The Colombian restaurant opens at the end of September in Bayside once construction and inspections are complete, according to the building’s owner.

In 2011 , the building’s owner installed a top floor, according to city records, but the new Colombian restaurant will only be on the ground floor. The top floor has three apartment units.

The awning for “El Original Mr. Pollo #1″ is already up and construction workers inside are expanding the kitchen, according to city records.

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Bayside resident prepares for annual pigeon race


| ejankiewicz@queenscourier.com

THE COURIER/Photo by Eric Jankiewicz

Xu Jun wakes up every morning at 4 a.m. and drives hundreds of miles away from his Bayside apartment with at least 70 pigeons, then lets them find their way home. He’s training his birds, known as homing pigeons, for a competition in September.

“When I was young I liked to have pigeons,” Jun said in Mandarin, speaking through translator Lisa Zhang. “It’s always been an interest of mine.”

Jun participates in various races across the northeast and he began the hobby three years ago. The World Center Memorial Race, the one Jun is currently preparing for, is hosted by the Bronx Homing Pigeon Club and takes place in late September. Each of Jun’s 101 pigeons has an individual number tag so that the race organizers can make sure nobody cheats. The organizers of the race will take Jun’s birds, along with hundreds of other contestants’ birds, to an undisclosed area where they are released. Contestants are judged based on how fast their flock comes home, according to Jun.

Jun’s birds live in a wooden nest, known as a loft, in a College Point bus repair shop. The loft serves as their home and final destination in races. Jun works for the shop and during the lulls in his work schedule he cleans the loft and feeds the birds.

Homing pigeons have two racing seasons. The first is in late September when the birds are less than a year old. The second season is in the spring and the birds are typically older by this point in their racing careers.

With the first race season approaching, Jun has been training his pigeons by taking them further and further out in New Jersey every week and then releasing them in the wild, where they will usually take several hours to fly back home.

“I just like pigeons. It’s a very simple thing for me and I enjoy it,” Jun said. That day he was particularly pleased with his birds’ athletic performance; he released 73 and all of them returned, an outcome that doesn’t always happen.

“There’s kind of a neat tradition to pigeon homing,” said Deone Roberts, who works for the American Racing Pigeon Union, an organization that’s affiliated with hundreds of pigeon clubs across the country.

“The bird’s simply enjoying flying and going home,” she said. “[The pigeon] wants to go home and be with his mate and their offspring. It makes good fun.”

Using pigeons for racing has been around in America since the late 1800s, according to Roberts’ organization. The birds, a common sight in New York City, were also used during WWII to transmit messages across enemy lines.

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French bistro opening off Bell Boulevard


| ejankiewicz@queenscourier.com

THE COURIER/Photo by Eric Jankiewicz

A new French restaurant is set to open in two months in Bayside, according to a spokesman for one of the two owners .

The location was previously the home of Bentley’s off Bell, a bar and grill that closed earlier this year.

The French bistro started work in March, according to city records, and the awning for Bentley’s still hangs over the location on 39th Avenue. When it opens, it will be the only French restaurant in the neighborhood.

The owners didn’t want to discuss details of the restaurant, so whether or not the menu will include escargot remains to be seen.

 

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Cinco De Mayo moves down Bell Blvd., replaced by Peruvian restaurant


| ejankiewicz@queenscourier.com

THE COURIER/Photo by Eric Jankiewicz

Hasta luego, Cinco De Mayo; bienvenido, Piura.

Mexican restaurant Cinco De Mayo,  located at 39-32 Bell Blvd., is closing its current location on Bell Boulevard, which used to be home to Italian food store La Bottega, and a Peruvian restaurant called Piura will be moving in.

But fans of the Mexican restaurant will not have to travel far for their “comida.” The eatery is just moving down the Bayside commercial strip to another location at 42-29 Bell Blvd.

The owner of Cinco De Mayo is only doing minor construction to the new location, according to city records. A sign hangs on the new location announcing the move, while the old spot still has a sign for the Mexican restaurant and above it is a new sign for the Peruvian eatery.

Current Cinco De Mayo workers said they will continue to work in the new location and the menu will stay the same. The owners of both the Mexican and Peruvian restaurants could not be reached but several workers in the restaurant expect the move to take place this fall.

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Movie starring Jesse Eisenberg, Gabriel Byrne begins film preparations in Bayside


| ejankiewicz@queenscourier.com

THE COURIER/Photo by Eric Jankiewicz

A new movie, “Louder Than Bombs,”  starring Jesse Eisenberg, Isabelle Huppert and Gabriel Bryne  is expected to begin filming in September in Bayside.

Crew members started moving equipment into the area on Thursday.  A Ryder truck was spotted in front of Anchor Inn on Northern Boulevard where the crew prepared the motel for shooting.

The director of the film is Joachim Trier and according to reports, the movie is set to be  completed and released in 2015.

THE COURIER/Photo by Eric Jankiewicz

THE COURIER/Photo by Eric Jankiewicz

Eisenberg is known for his bigger roles in the movies “Social Network” and “Zombieland.” Bryne, the oldest of the trio, starred in many movies including “The Usual Suspects” and “In Treatment.” The French actress Huppert has played in many European movies but was also in “I Heart Huckabees.”

“Louder Than Bombs” is still in the very early stages but according to reports, the plot is about a late war photographer, played by Huppert, whose husband and two sons discover a secret about her past. The secret ends up unravelling the lives of the men into chaos. The movie is being labeled a drama.

The plot of “Louder Than Bombs” doesn’t take place in Queens but the crew plan on using two locations in the area, according to a spokeswoman for the crew. The first is in the inn on Northern Boulevard and the second is at a residential corner on 215th Place and 38th Avenue.

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Obituary: Longtime litigator and Bayside resident William Spanakos


| aaltamirano@queenscourier.com

Longtime litigator and Bayside resident William Spanakos died on Aug. 11 at the age of 86, according to his family, after suffering a major heart attack the day before.

“He liked his work and he continued his job until the last minute,” William’s brother, George, said. “He always tried to help people through his job and in his personal life.”

William was a practicing attorney for over 50 years and had an office in Bay Ridge, Brooklyn. He specialized in criminal defense but also served the Greek immigrant community in legal matters. He was one of seven sons and his parents immigrated from Greece.

He graduated from St. John’s Law School in 1953 and soon after that he opened a law firm in 1956 with his brother John, who died last year.

As a defense lawyer, William always rooted for the underdog, according to George.

“He was known for his charitable works,” his brother said, and in 1990 William established a scholarship fund in honor of his parents that serves to assist financially challenged individuals of Greek descent to become doctors.

William is survived by his girlfriend Sheila Silverstein; his children, Michael Spanakos, Stella Spanakos, Lillian Spanakos, Helen Spanakos-Weitman and Athena Spanakos-O’Riordan; and three brothers, George, Peter and Nick.

 

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Bayside’s ‘unofficial mayor’ to be memorialized in street renaming


| ejankiewicz@queenscourier.com

THE COURIER/Photo by Eric Jankiewicz

Bayside’s “unofficial mayor” Benjamin Fried will be memorialized next Monday during a street renaming ceremony, according to Councilman Paul Vallone.

For 68 years Fried was a part of Bell Boulevard and now he will be a permanent part of the strip.

Vallone’s spokesman said that Fried, who died at the age of 98 last year, contributed to the healthy mix of commercial and residential areas in the neighborhood.

The city is designating 43rd Avenue and Bell Boulevard — at the corner where Fried kept shop for 68 years until 2001 — as Benjamin Fried Boulevard on Aug. 25.

Fried’s civic life began in 1933 when he opened Benn’s Bargain Store — later renamed to Benn’s Hardware — on Bell Boulevard and he would eventually become active in many parts of Bayside. Along with his hardware store, Fried was also a local activist, according to Vallone’s spokesman. Fried led a succesful rally in the 1970s to reopen fire department engine company 306 on 214th Place.

“Benjamin Fried was affectionately known as the mayor of Bayside and for good reason. His life was spent advocating for Bayside, his community, family and friends,” Vallone said. “Now as we co-name 43rd Avenue as Benjamin Fried Boulevard, we will always keep his memory alive.”

Fried founded the Bell Boulevard Merchants Association and started the annual Children’s Holiday Parade. These all led to his unofficial mayor title, with his hardware business serving as the unofficial city hall.

“The Fried family made sure Bell Boulevard remained a huge commercial shopping destination,” a spokesman for the Bayside Business Improvement District said. “They’re able to perform this balancing act of making it a great commercial destination without overpowering the residential side [of the neighborhood].”

 

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Bayside Little League drops Borough Cup final at Yankee Stadium


| lguerre@queenscourier.com

Photos courtesy Steven Perez

The Bayside Rebels Little League team came up short of standing on top of the city, but they will have a summer vacation story like none other to tell their schoolmates.

The Rebels suffered a 6-2 defeat in the inaugural 12U Borough Cup Championship at Yankee Stadium on Aug. 14 to the USC Knights. But prior to the game, the team took a tour of Monument Park and learned about baseball legends.

Then they met with and received autographs from famous sports figures, including former Yankees infielder Willie Randolph, former Mets pitcher John Franco and Yankees pitcher CC Sabathia.

Photo courtesy Steven Perez

Photo courtesy of Steven Perez

After the pre-game activities, the Rebels had a difficult time against the Knights.

They allowed three runs in the first inning and one more in the second. It was enough to knock out Bayside, which struggled at the plate during the game.

The Rebels had just four hits, two of which came from Nicholas Perez, who also scored the first run for the team in the fourth inning.

John Callahan scored another run for the Rebels in the fourth inning, but it was all the offense the Bayside team would get. The Knights meanwhile added two more insurance runs in the fifth and seventh innings to win the game.

 

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Bayside Rebels Little League team heading to Borough Cup


By Queens Courier Staff | editorial@queenscourier.com

Yankee Stadium here we come!

BENJAMIN FANG

The Bayside Rebels are back and better than ever.

After an administrative error left the Little League baseball team out of the sectional tournament, the 12-year-olds are now headed to the Borough Cup championship game on Aug. 14 at Yankee Stadium.

They will face the USC Knights of Kingsbridge in a matchup pitting Queens against the Bronx.

Bayside’s road to the finals was paved with success. The Rebels dominated all five tournament games, outscoring opponents 41 to two.

The Rebels blanked three straight Queens teams to advance to the city playoffs. They beat the Forest Hill Bombers 7-0, defeated the NY Nationals 7-0 and trounced the Queens Braves 12-0.

In the next round, Bayside handed the Bronx’s TM Select team a 9-1 loss, leading them to the semifinal game against Staten Island’s Mid-Island Royals. On Sunday, the Queens champions easily beat the Royals 6-1, moving on to the championship game.

Now they will face a formidable foe in the USC Knights, which have also overpowered its competitors. The Bronx team has scored 55 runs throughout the Borough Cup tournament while only surrendering four.

This is the inaugural Borough Cup tournament, created by Mets Hall of Fame pitcher John Franco, WFAN sports radio personality Craig Carton and Brooklyn Cyclones assistant general manager Gary Perone.

 

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College Point tattoo shop hopes to make an indelible mark in Bayside


| ejankiewicz@queenscourier.com

THE COURIER/Photo by Benjamin Fang

A College Point tattoo shop is packing up, needles and ink in tow, and moving to Bayside to add a little color to Bell Boulevard.

Mean Streets Tattoo first opened in 1999 and is owned by Tommy Murphy, who is also one of the store’s main tattoo artists.

But in recent years, “College Point is not what it used to be,” Murphy said. “We just wanted to go to a neighborhood that’s more upscale and local.”

Murphy, who is from Whitestone, cited the opening of corporate stores in recent years like the Target as a contributing factor to the decline in business for his tattoo shop.

“All the local stores are starting to feel the pressure,” he said.

Along with his partner and daughter, both of whom work as tattoo artists, Murphy plans on opening his new shop on Sept. 1, leaving behind their original location.

The new Bell Boulevard site used to belong to a gift shop, Top Drawer, before it closed down earlier this year, according to neighboring businesses and city records.

According to the Times Ledger, Top Drawer was in business for 35 years and owners Jeffrey and Karen Serin decided to close shop for good after their lease expired. Renovations have just started but Murphy is excited for the new business and being in Bayside.

“Bell Boulevard is an amazing thing and it has a really strong small business atmosphere and we’re looking forward to being part of that,” he said.

 

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