Tag Archives: Bell Boulevard

Organic produce market to open on Bayside’s Bell Boulevard


| asuriel@queenscourier.com

Photo courtesy of Jeannie Hermosura

Bayside’s Bell Boulevard will be getting a fast and fresh alternative to the avenue’s many food and dining options with the arrival of Big Green Apple Market, an organic produce store with hot and cold meals.

The market will be located adjacent to the Port Washington-bound entrance of the LIRR on Bell Boulevard between 41st and 42nd avenues. It is slated to open for business sometime in late August and will be open 24 hours.

Store manager Harry Celik, a Kew Gardens resident who originally hails from Turkey, is familiar with Bayside because he had been looking to open a store in the neighborhood for several years. He believes the upscale clientele of Bell Boulevard will be a great fit for the new market, which will prominently feature organic products, including fresh produce and dairy items.

The market is also planned to have a selection of hot and cold prepared foods, bubble tea and sushi in addition to household grocery staples.

Celik said that customers will choose Big Green Apple Market because of the affordable prices for high-quality products.

“There’s no store like ours around the neighborhood,” Celik said. “There are a few stores that are way overpriced, [especially] supermarkets with crazy prices, and we’re going to have everything with a reasonable price that everybody can afford.”

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THE COURIER/Photo by Alina Suriel

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Tapas bar with specialty drinks coming to Bell Boulevard


| asuriel@queenscourier.com

THE COURIER/Photo by Alina Suriel

Sangarita’s, an offshoot of successful tapas bar Sangria on Francis Lewis Boulevard, will be opening on Bayside‘s Bell Boulevard.

The menu will focus on Spanish-style tapas, which is a variety of appetizers or snacks that can be served hot or cold.

According to Joseph Loccisano, who is involved with the team behind both Sangria and Sangarita’s, a lot of the new spot’s ingredients are from imported directly from Spain, including sausages and manchego cheese. These elements will be used in dishes such as a potato croquette with cheese and prosciutto, a mixed seafood paella, and specialty entrees with chicken or salmon that will be seasoned with spices evoking Spanish culinary traditions.

Caribbean Latino food will be also be represented at Sangarita’s. French fries will be given a Dominican twist by being made out of yucca, a starchy tuber widely eaten on the island, and chimi sliders, a take on the Dominican version of a burger, will be on the menu as well with cabbage, tomatoes, ketchup and mayonnaise. Select options will recall Puerto Rican cuisine and that of Cuba, such as Cubanito sliders.

Five different types of sangria and a selection of fruit margaritas will keep patrons happy, but many of these are also available in non-alcoholic versions for those just looking for a sweet fruit beverage. Semi-regular live flamenco performances are planned to add an extra cultural dimension and amplify the sensual, rustic vibe.

Loccisano — who also operates Villaggio’s, an Italian food venture in Whitestone — said that he thinks Sangarita’s will be successful in carving out its own niche on Bell Boulevard.

“We’re a new format here. We’re different than every other restaurant because we don’t specifically make one type of cuisine,” said Loccisano, “and with the live flamenco, we bring the European flair.”

The restaurant is located at 40-02 Bell Blvd., and will likely open in October.

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Latin fusion spot set to open on Bayside’s Bell Boulevard


| asuriel@queenscourier.com

THE COURIER/Photo by Alina Suriel

Bell Boulevard will be getting a new restaurant to add to its strong culinary lineup with the arrival of Sol, a two-level bar and lounge with Latin fusion cuisine.

Owner Paul Rhee and legal counsel Dev Viswanath, both Queens natives born into multicultural backgrounds, aim to have Sol open by mid- to late August.

According to Viswanath, the cuisine at Sol, located at 40-09 Bell Blvd., will reflect their heritage as a fusion of Latin flavors with Korean and Indian influences. He said that now was a good time to start a fusion restaurant because modern consumers have come to respond very well to unusual flavor pairings.

“It’s a product of Queens,” said Viswanath, who grew up in Holliswood and currently lives in Hollis Hills. “We’re in a new, sort of post-ethnic world now where it’s not uncommon to find fusion dishes. It’s not uncommon to find several types of things on a menu.”

The interior design of Sol will carry on the theme of contrasting elements coming together. Both levels will have a bar, and each floor will follow a theme inspired by opposing forces of the sun or the moon. The downstairs is planned to have a warmer and more casual ambiance, and the upstairs area, dubbed the “Luna Lounge,” will have modern and sexy decor to create a sophisticated vibe.

Rhee, who grew up in Whitestone and has lived in Bayside and Jackson Heights before moving to Woodside, is very familiar with the Bell Boulevard scene, having formerly worked at Chase Bank near the LIRR station. Rhee had been a patron of several eateries that were previously located at the site of Sol, including former bar and lounge Conga’s, which closed in late 2014.

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Parking meters upgraded along Bayside’s Bell Boulevard


| asuriel@queenscourier.com

THE COURIER/Photo by Alina Suriel

Bell Boulevard in Bayside has had new “pay-and-display” parking meters installed as part of a citywide update.

According to Community Board 11 District Manager Susan Seinfeld, all meters in New York City will eventually be switched to a new model being used as part of an upgraded system.

The new hardware has a similar appearance to the old meters with the exception of a more compact, rectangular shape. Solar panels are built directly onto the top of the meter, instead of attached to a separate upward-facing platform as before.

The old meters will remain on the street until the new ones can be completely integrated into the system, but are not usable.

To patrons of the commercial Bayside commercial stretch, the switch is a major improvement over the old meters, which were frequently broken or out-of-service.

Bell Boulevard shopper Eileen Anderson said she once found three broken meters in a row on Bell Boulevard, and had to go to a meter on a completely different corner than where she parked her car.

“I was a little frustrated,” said Eileen Anderson, “I was annoyed.”

Local food service worker Juan Carmona said he often saw meters with red lights on to warn users of malfunction and has also experienced difficulty with meters not accepting payment cards or just not working.

“It frustrates me, but I work right here so it doesn’t make me late.”

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Bayside Paint Place moving into former McDonald’s site


| asuriel@queenscourier.com

THE COURIER/Photos by Alina Suriel

Bayside Paint Place will be moving to a new, larger store on Bell Boulevard to accommodate an expanded inventory set to include wallpaper and window treatments.

The store is currently located at 41-23 Bell Blvd. and will be moving only two spaces down to the larger corner spot at 41-27 Bell Blvd., which formerly housed a McDonald’s franchise.

Peter Ha, who has served as general manager of Bayside Paint Place for seven years, told The Courier that there is very good business to be done as a home improvement store on Bell Boulevard. While the Bayside commercial stretch is rich in dining and nightlife options, there is little local competition for a paint or home decorating store.

“When you look at Bell Boulevard, you can see restaurants and food and you have choices,” Ha said, “but when it comes to decorating in the neighborhood and stuff like that, over here you don’t see any, and nobody really does it.”

The abundance of single-family homes in Bayside and northeast Queens generate a constant demand for custom home decorating supplies, and according to Ha, customers often came into the store asking for more than just paint. Wallpaper in particular was a popular request for its classic style, and the store also received frequent inquiries on window treatments.

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Jimmy Bougadis, a loyal patron of Bayside Paint Place, said that Ha has given him great advice on how to complete construction projects and that his customer service is also at a much higher level than at other stores.

“In the other stores, you go in and ask a question, but they’re very busy and don’t give you any attention,” Bougadis said. “Peter smiles to you and says good morning. It makes me feel good.”

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Study: Bell Boulevard needs nearly a thousand more parking spots


| asuriel@queenscourier.com

THE COURIER/Photo by Alina Suriel

Confirming what many Baysiders already believed to be true, a study concluded that Bell Boulevard needs nearly one thousand more parking spaces to meet the needs of shoppers, commuters and residents alike.

The study commissioned by the Bayside Village Business Improvement District (BID) and funded by City Councilman Paul Vallone continues the process of finding a solution to overcrowded parking conditions on the boulevard.

According to the report released this week, approximately 3,400 spaces are needed in total to accommodate all of the parking needs, but only 2,500 of those spots are currently available. Issues of short parking supply on Bell Boulevard arise from the multiple different functions which the strip serves in the community, attracting thousands of people and their vehicles to the area every day.

Lyle Sclair, executive director of the Bayside Village BID, emphasized how important it was to organize a plan to alleviate the parking strain on all of the different demographics using Bell Boulevard.

“We have to understand how to balance that without putting undue pressure on any group,” Sclair said. “I don’t think anyone would tell you that parking was working for any one group.”

Of the total 3,400 needed spots, an estimated 1,400 are generated from commercial and office uses on the boulevard. Another 1,033 spots are needed for commuters, with 23 percent of Long Island Rail Road users connecting to the Bayside station by driving themselves alone and parking their cars in the neighborhood.

An additional 1,000 vehicles were also factored in for residents who live in the area. While there are approximately 1,713 registered vehicles in the study area, many of them are parked off-street in private driveways or garages.

Several options were introduced in the study for both long- and short-term solutions to ease the scarcity of parking spot in Bell Boulevard.

“We don’t want to recreate the wheel but you have to look at every possible solution out there,” Sclair said, “and that’s what we’re trying to do with the parking plan.”

One of the solutions explored in the study was to construct a parking structure in an appropriate site, with the current location of the Department of Transportation Municipal Lot used as an example. A private developer or the BID would have to build the structure as the Department of Transportation does not perform that service, and this would have a price tag of around $10 million in city permits and design and construction costs.

A long-term surface parking lot was also looked at as a possible solution in the study. This could cost around $5 million in construction costs without factoring in the cost of the real estate, and would involve a private developer acquiring multiple local properties for the project.

“We looked at all of those programs to see what was reasonable, and what was feasible,” Sclair said. “You want as many ideas out there as possible, so you can actually get things done.”

To download the complete parking study and read more information about local parking, visit the Bayside BID’s website.

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Car crashes into store at Bay Terrace Shopping Center


| amatua@queenscourier.com

Photo via Twitter/@NYPD109Pct

Updated 1:44 p.m.

A woman crashed her car into an Aeropostale store at the Bay Terrace Shopping Center Sunday afternoon, shattering the front window and nearly taking out shoppers, according to officials.

The FDNY said the crash happened at about 4:30 p.m. on Bell Boulevard and 23rd Street in Bayside. Only minor injuries were reported, according to the 109th Precinct’s Twitter page.

According to published reports, there were 14 people inside the store when the collision occurred. Three large clothing shelves reportedly flew to the back of the store as a result.

The manager of the store was reportedly taken to the hospital after experiencing a panic attack. A witness said the 90-year-old driver was trying to park and accidentally accelerated instead, according to reports.

An investigation is ongoing.

@slugs718 drive thru? Thank god no one got hurt

A video posted by gus214 (@gus214) on

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Dog stolen from Bayside park found dead


| aaltamirano@queenscourier.com

Photos courtesy of Lora

Updated Wednesday, July 1 11:13 a.m.

The search for Ginger, the 5-year-old cocker spaniel that was stolen from a Bayside park Sunday night, ended in tragedy Tuesday as the owner confirmed to The Courier that the dog was found dead.

The beloved pet was discovered by park workers within Crocheron Park, located at 214th Street and 35th Avenue, where on Sunday at about 10 p.m. she was stolen from her owner, Lora, who did not want to give her last name.

According to the Bayside resident, two men approached Lora and Ginger near the stairs leading toward the pond. One of the two men pretended to be interested in the dog and bent down to pet her while asking questions about the dog, according to Lora.

“I didn’t really think anything of it because people stop and look at my dog all the time,” she said.

The second man, who was larger than the other and stayed quiet the whole time, then punched Lora in the stomach and the two men ran away with Ginger.

The owner, who found it difficult to get up from the attack, said she ran after them after catching her breath and was screaming her dog’s name. Lora said she heard a car “peeling out” right after but wasn’t sure it was the men’s car.

“I mean it’s Bayside,” she said. “I didn’t think anything like that could happen. I never felt unsafe in the area.”

Fliers asking for the public’s help were taped all down Bell Boulevard Monday afternoon and posts were also put up on Facebook, Craigslist and Reddit asking for help in bringing Ginger home.

“I just want her back safely with my family,” she previously told The Courier.

According to Lora, who has had the dog since it was 4 months old, Ginger was wearing a Star Wars Yoda collar with green, yellow and brown checkers and had a black leash with multicolor peace signs on it.

“I just want her back. I just feel so guilty for not protecting her,” Lora previously said. “It doesn’t even feel real. I feel like I’m going to wake up and she’s going to be in bed with me. I feel like it’s a really, really bad dream. It’s not right. I don’t know how anyone can do that.”

Lora filed a police report with the 111th Precinct on Sunday and now the Detective Squad of the precinct will investigate the dog’s death.

Police said they caution dog owners to be careful when walking their dogs and also add that people should not be in public parks after 9 p.m.

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Real-life ‘escape room’ to open on Bell Boulevard in Bayside


| asuriel@queenscourier.com

Photo courtesy of PropertyShark/Christopher Bride

Now you can be the main character in your very own adventurous escape.

Bayside will be getting its very first real-life, themed “escape room” with the arrival of Challenge Escape Rooms on June 19.

New York City schoolteacher Chris Purcell and his wife, Janice Galizia, a psychologist with experience being involved in live theater, decided to open Challenge Escape Rooms on 40-18 Bell Blvd. after experiencing one for the first time only two months ago.

Galizia’s sister, Lauren, is one of the owners of their unique enterprise, and all three design the fantasy challenge themselves. A place in one of the rooms can be booked at www.challengeescaperooms.com or by calling 516-888-0202, and for a limited time customers can use promo code “CHALLENGE” when booking online for 25 percent off the admittance fee.

Escape rooms were popularized in Europe and Asia, with one company from Japan claiming to have been the first to open one in 2007. While the United States has only recently seen escape rooms gain popularity on its shores, they have quickly proliferated to become a trendy weekend activity for couples and groups of friends.

Purcell said that being trapped together in an impossible situation can be a great team-building exercise for different groups of people, even strangers.

“You come out of it bonded by what you went through,” said Purcell. “Whether you win or lose, no matter what the result is, it focuses on collaborating with your friends, family, strangers, to figure out this challenge.”

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Mixed-use Bayside buildings sell for record value due to rising demand


| lguerre@queenscourier.com

Photo courtesy of Cushman & Wakefield  

Filled with bars, shops and a wide variety of restaurants, Bell Boulevard is the main commercial strip in Bayside.

The thoroughfare is serviced by buses and the Bayside LIRR station on the boulevard, which brings high foot traffic to the area.

For these reasons, and partly because of a spillover from nearby Flushing due to lack of inventory, rising demand for real estate on the Bayside commercial strip is leading to sale prices well above past averages.

In fact, the two attached mixed-use buildings at 39-32 and 39-34 Bell Blvd. recently sold for $3.8 million, which equates to about $731 per square foot and is a record for a residential and commercial mixed-use building sold in Bayside, according to broker Cushman & Wakefield.

“The package provides great upside for the investor in an area that is continuing to see an abundance of attention in the real estate world,” said Cushman & Wakefield’s Stephen Preuss, who handled the transaction for the seller.

In 2012, commercial real estate was selling for an average of $550 per square foot on Bell Boulevard and as much as $600 for top properties. Last year, the average rose to $615 per square foot, according to Preuss.

The two buildings at 39-32 and 39-34 Bell Blvd. have 5,200 square feet of space, in which there are four residential units and two ground-floor retail spaces.

As a side note, one of the retail tenants, Il Vesuvio Pizzeria, is moving a few doors down to the location of the former Okinawa restaurant and expanding to include a bar, restaurant and pizzeria.

Il Vesuvio is also changing its name to Il Borgo and is expected to open in the coming weeks.

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Bayside restaurant Il Vesuvio moving, expanding and changing name


| lguerre@queenscourier.com

THE COURIER/Photo by Liam La Guerre

Il Vesuvio Pizzeria in Bayside is saying ciao to its small location and doubling in size just a few doors down on Bell Boulevard.

Owners are moving the restaurant to 39-28 Bell Blvd., the site of former hibachi steakhouse and sushi bar Okinawa, and expanding it to include a bar, restaurant and pizzeria.

Pat Fabiano, an owner of the restaurant, also said they are also changing the name from Il Vesuvio to Il Borgo to reflect the new start for the business. Il Borgo is expected to open in about a month and a half.

Fabiano purchased Il Vesuvio about a decade ago. The restaurateur also owns Organico in Port Washington, which is a formal sit-down organic Italian restaurant that has received high ratings.

Il Borgo will be less formal, and Fabiano envisions a sit-down eatery on Bell Boulevard where everyday families and friends can gather.

“I feel that people need that option of an easygoing place and to not be scared because they see tablecloth,” he said. “I want people to walk in with their regular T-shirts.”

The new restaurant will have an “industrial look,” with brick, metal and wood features. The expansion will allow for about 120 people, and there will be a party room. The six-person staff will more than double as well.

Fabiano said there will be a grand opening party for Il Borgo.

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Bayside BID updates community on early results of parking study


| lguerre@queenscourier.com

THE COURIER/Photos by Liam La Guerre

Finding parking on the Bell Boulevard commercial strip in Bayside is not for the faint of heart. It is tough.

And after months of collecting data for the Bayside Village Business Improvement District (BID) parking study, consulting firms VHB and Desman Associates can clearly show how desperate the area is for more parking.

To summarize: from about midday through the night, parking spots on Bell Boulevard and even nearby side streets become filled to near capacity, causing congestion on the commercial strip, presenters said at a BID meeting on Tuesday.

“Nothing that you heard [at the meeting] was surprising,” said Lyle Sclair, the executive director of the BID. “But I think what is valuable is that we are quantifying it. I don’t think people know what a parking desert Bell Boulevard is.”

The BID’s study, which Councilman Paul Vallone allocated $20,000 to fund last year, is looking to find a solution to the parking mess, which is a result of local employees, shoppers, restaurant-goers, commuters looking to catch the LIRR and residents all fighting for spots.

At the meeting, representatives of the firms and BID members didn’t offer any concrete solutions to the problem, but introduced suggestions to residents and business owners and collected feedback for what residents would like to see.

The solutions at this point are theoretical, and broken into two groups: long-term and short-term plans. The short-term plans are cheaper and could be implemented toward the end of the year. They include changing the timing and pricing rate of meters on Bell Boulevard with the Department of Transportation to hasten the turnover rate of drivers, and using valet parking with private businesses that have lot space near Bell Boulevard.

The long-term solutions could take years and will be costly. Possibilities include the creation of a five-level private parking garage with 320 spaces, which could cost more than $15 million, or a mixed-used building with residential units, ground-floor retail and parking, which would run upwards of $40 million.

Some residents in the crowd weren’t too excited about the idea of building a structure or garage near Bell Boulevard, because they felt it wouldn’t deter commuters and employees who don’t live in the neighborhood from looking for free spots on residential streets.

Residents want to free up public parking spaces in front their houses, because some drivers occasionally block their driveways.

“We are going to take into consideration everything with the study that we do. Hopefully we can help that situation,” said BID President Dominick Bruccoleri. “The idea is to implement changes in our district that will help [the business] side not hurt [the residential] side.”

The BID is going to use feedback from the meeting to further discuss solutions. The study is expected to be completed by June.

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Bayside Village BID to hold April 14 hearing on local parking woes


| rpozarycki@queenscourier.com

THE COURIER/Photo by Liam La Guerre

Those having a hard time finding parking near Bayside’s Bell Boulevard can vent their frustrations at a special public hearing the Bayside Village Business Improvement District (BID) will hold on the topic on Tuesday, April 14.

Residents, drivers and merchants alike are invited to attend the session scheduled to take place at 7 p.m. at Bayside United Methodist Church, located at 38-20 Bell Blvd.

The Bayside Village BID, with the assistance of Councilman Paul Vallone, recently hired an engineering firm to examine parking problems in the area around Bell Boulevard and form potential short- and long-term solutions. It is reportedly part of a revived attempt to fix parking problems in the area launched more than a decade ago.

In a letter, Bayside Village BID Executive Director Lyle Sclair said that attendees will learn information on some of the “best practices from across the region.” BID members and residents can also share their ideas and input on how to ease the pain for all drivers.

Meanwhile, Sclair urged local businesses to sign a pledge that they would keep spots in front of their shops free as much as possible.

“Many of the business owners signed a pledge that they and their workers would not park on Bell Boulevard in the metered spots that are designed for customers,” Sclair wrote. “We understand that you may need to use the parking in front of your business for pickups and deliveries. The pledge is not meant to discourage you from using the space in front of your store for business operations, but once you are done, please move your car to the surrounding side streets.”

BID members who cannot attend the April 14 meeting may schedule one-on-one consultations regarding the plan earlier that day from 3 to 6:30 p.m. at the BID’s office located at 213-39 39th Ave., Suite 310.

For more information, click here or call 718-423-2434.

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69-year-old woman fatally struck in Bay Terrace


| ctumola@queenscourier.com

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A 69-year-old woman was hit and killed as she was trying to cross a Bay Terrace street on Monday, police said.

The victim was attempting to walk across Bell Boulevard when a 57-year-old woman driving a Subaru struck the pedestrian near Estates Lane about 5:35 p.m., authorities said.

EMS took the victim, whose identity has yet to be released by police, to New York Hospital Queens, where she was pronounced dead.

Police were on the scene investigating.

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McDonald’s vows to return to Bell Boulevard after closing neighborhood fixture


| ejankiewicz@queenscourier.com

THE COURIER/Photo by Ross Belsky

Bell Boulevard hasn’t seen the last of McDonald’s. The golden arches came down when the Bayside restaurant closed last year, but the franchise owner plans on opening in another location near Bay Terrace.

“We loved our customers there, but Bell Boulevard has changed a great deal over the years,” said Maria Sullivan, who owned the McDonald’s at 41st Avenue for 25 years before it closed.

The fast-food chain’s lease expired at the end of last year and Sullivan decided not to renew it, leaving an empty storefront where one of the neighborhood’s longtime fixtures once stood. Sullivan decided to close the eatery because a number of factors were taking a bite out of her Big Mac sales: the area has become filled with an array of food options for potential customers while a lack of parking and a drive-through made it hard for Sullivan to lure people in.

“I’ll miss the regulars,” Sullivan said. “There used to be different groups that would come in for coffee meetings and I didn’t mind them being there at all.”

Now she wants to find a location in a section of Bell Boulevard that isn’t as congested to allow her to provide a drive-through and parking.

“It’s just the nature of this area,” Sullivan said. “You have to have these things to be successful.”

Sullivan owns four other McDonald’s spread across Bayside and Little Neck.

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