Tag Archives: Business

No More Rotten ‘Apple’


| mpantelidis@queenscourier.com

Photo Courtesy of Alma Realty

Long Island City’s “Apple Building” – currently eaten to its core – will soon be ripe again.

The edifice, located at 30-30 Northern Boulevard and known for the large sign on its roof – left behind by the Apple Red Tag & Label company when it ceased operations in the 1970s – has been mostly vacant for over a decade and is currently in disarray.

Alma Realty, the building’s developer, is planning to restore and renovate the structure into a retail and commercial complex by this time next year. The developers also aim to raise the building’s square footage from about 180,000 to roughly 270,000 by increasing the number of stories from five to seven. Once completed, the building will include a fitness center, cafeteria and rooftop terrace.

George Valiotis, the Alma Realty project director, anticipates a strong demand in retail in the upcoming years, and believes the site could be very appealing to tech and media firms. Valiotis went on to say that Alma has had preliminary negotiations with several universities about building a campus on the site – complete a culture center, museum, 2,000-seat amphitheatre and dormitory – which he hopes would open in five years.

“We think this is great for L.I.C.,” Valiotis said. “It will create foot traffic for other businesses to open up in the surrounding area. If the building is filled up with offices and there are hundreds of people working there, restaurants, cafes and stores will open in the area. It brings life to an area which for a long time was underutilized. L.I.C. is a great place to live, work and play and if people work there then they will live and play there too.”

According to Valiotis, the exterior work necessary is substantial, and the interior will be based on tenants’ requests. Valiotis said the signature sign on the building’s roof will be restored, but kept in place. Although Alma has yet to receive a building permit, the company has begun fixing violations and performing demolition work. The developers have also applied for Leadership in Energy and Environmental Design (LEED) Gold Certification – a prestigious designation awarded to eco-friendly buildings.

“The Apple Building,” which was erected in 1913, was sold to Alma in 2011. The previous developer intended to build a 19-story dormitory on the site, and the last tenant the building had was a topless bar.

Community leaders have strongly supported the building’s renovation – anticipating that retail and commercial space will compliment the restaurants and shops recently opened in the Queens Plaza area.

Jerry Walsh, president of the Dutch Kills Civic Association, expects the area’s economy to improve greatly, and he hopes to hold discussions with Alma regarding the project in the future. Although he would have preferred the city purchase the building to construct a hospital, Walsh says Alma’s plans are a great positive for the neighborhood and residents are pleased.

Food Fight: Bayside biz say food carts hurt


| mchan@queenscourier.com

The Courier/Photo by Melissa Chan

Bayside business owners say mobile food vendors that are popping up in the area and setting up shop near established eateries may be carting revenue away from them.

According to Sammy An, owner of Cue Bar on Bell Boulevard, a piggybacking Halal food cart vendor’s 24-hour service has robbed him of income.

“I keep seeing people walking out [of my restaurant], spending their money there and coming back to keep drinking,” An said. “But I have the kitchen open, and it takes away revenue.”

An — who said he pays about $26,000 a month for rent — said he also finds himself picking up after messes left behind by his competitor, who surfaced less than a month ago, in order to avoid being pinned for littering.

Majid Khan, owner of the Halal stand, heavily disputed the claims.

“If they believe we’re taking business away from them, they’re wrong,” Khan said. “If people like food from the restaurant, they’re going to go to the restaurant. If people like Halal food, they’re going to get food from us. You can’t stop anyone.”

According to Susan Seinfeld, district manager of Community Board 11, about a dozen home and business owners have filed complaints about the rise in food carts in northeast Queens.

Amongst concerns about the uncleanliness and clutter, Seinfeld said residents are more than displeased with how the carts have harmed the aesthetics of the area.
“This is not an addition they bargained for,” she said. “They want to keep the area low density, almost suburban, with trees lining the block. People keep everything neat and clean here, and they feel the food carts are unattractive.”

Seinfeld said the problem extends outside of the borough, but within Bayside alone she said the heavy hitters are located on Northern and Bell Boulevards, 73rd Avenue and Bell Boulevard, and Springfield Boulevard and Horace Harding Expressway.

According to Councilmember Mark Weprin, the City Council held hearings last week to discuss the growing issues. He said there are still “a lot of questions we’re trying to get answers to” before a real solution can be reached.

“I’m very concerned about the unfair competition these food carts create for local merchants,” he said. “There should be some limit as to where they can set up.”

John Amanatidis, owner of a grilled food stand on Northern and Bell Boulevards, said it’s all about coexisting with local businesses.

A neighborhood staple for 15 years, he said he closes up shop between 6 and 7 p.m. before the dinner rush begins at nearby restaurants.

“I leave. I respect them,” Amanatidis said. “But I have four kids. I have to pay rent, the bills and my taxes.”

Bayside Bid Battle Brewing


| mpantelidis@queenscourier.com

DSC_0341

A business battle is brewing in Bayside.

Store owners on Bell Boulevard attended a meeting on April 18 organized by Gregg Sullivan – the former director of the Bayside Village Business Improvement District (BID) – to address concerns about the current state of the organization. During the meeting, the BID members in attendance voted to reappoint Sullivan, who was fired on December 19.

The merchants’ complaints included a lack of information and response from the BID’s board since Sullivan’s firing, a blurring of the line between the BID and Bayside Business Association and ambiguity regarding the allocation of funds, including a reported 30 percent increase in the organization’s original $80,000 budget. No board members attended the meeting, although Sullivan claims to have invited them all.

“Bayside got lost, and it’s been unattended to and neglected,” Sullivan said. “We need to change that now. We need to reclaim Bayside and put it in the right direction.”
Claims were also made that some owners were unaware a BID existed or that they could apply for the right to vote. According to Sullivan, there are roughly 150 businesses in the BID – which is on Bell Boulevard from 35th Avenue to Northern Boulevard – and only 29 are signed up to vote.

“We need to unify and get everyone together as merchants and real estate owners and bring this back to life. We need to have organization, structure and passion and set a one-year plan in place,” said William Degel, a BID member who organized the meeting along with Sullivan. “Nobody has done anything [since Sullivan was fired.] There is no information and no communication. It’s like everything died.”

Degel, who owns Uncle Jack’s Steakhouse on Bell Boulevard, said he expects Sullivan to be reinstated and hopes to hold a meeting with the current board to gauge their interest in making improvements and increasing transparency. In the event the board is unwilling to negotiate, replacing the members entirely was discussed during the meeting.

The motion to reinstate Sullivan was introduced by Margaret Papacostas – BID member and owner of Azure clothing store – and subsequently seconded and approved by the 16 BID voters in attendance. No one opposed the motion.

Sullivan believes he was fired after the board discovered he sent a letter to the commissioner of the Department of Small Business Services (SBS) complaining about the status of the BID. Although he claims he enjoyed working for members of the board, including BID President James Riso, Sullivan feels there may be a need for the infusion of new energy.

Riso says he was never invited to the meeting, and while Sullivan was well liked by business owners and energetic to the public, he was insubordinate behind the scenes. He also feels that the attacks on the BID have taken away from the organization’s ability to focus fully on improving business in the area.

Riso, who will step down in June due to fatigue, claims the BID’s budget was still $81,368 up until December 31, 2011, and that the board did everything expected of them at that time. With the recent increase in budget, the board hopes to accomplish more, according to Riso.

“We are not hiding behind a curtain doing secret things trying to get over on people,” said Riso. “I own a business on Bell Boulevard. I pay more taxes that anyone. We welcome people to help. Instead of having these secret meetings, help out. The people making these accusations are inhibiting us from progressing.”

Despite Sullivan’s claim that he has been reinstated to his former position, the BID recently hired an executive director. Lyle Sclair, a former economic development associate with the Brooklyn Economic Development Council, was named the new executive director of the BID on April 23. “My number one objective is to meet everyone and learn the challenges they are facing. I’m not out there to recreate the wheel, but really just to help them grow their businesses,” Sclair said. “Bell Boulevard has a great mix of restaurants, nightlife and shopping. It offers everything, so if you are looking for something you will find it on Bell Boulevard.”

Best of the Boro Voting is Live: Don’t delay, vote today!


| brennison@queenscourier.com

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Cast your vote for the best in Queens’ Family, Education & Recreation.

Hundreds of nominations have poured in to the Best of the Boro’s fourth and final round and now residents can select who stands out above the competition.

With seemingly endless entertainment options, this category allows residents to choose the borough’s best places to relax and enjoy time with your family.
The eclectic category features dozens of subcategories in a wide range of topics including: best batting cage, best pool hall, best shopping center and best movie theater among a host of others.

Also, the scores of elementary, middle and high schools throughout the borough have the opportunity to show off their school spirit as they vie to be named the top school in Queens. Best teacher, public school, private school, high school spirit and university are among the categories to be won.

Voting for your favorites is easy. Simply visit www.queenscourier.com and click on the Best of the Boro logo. There you can choose the best in any or all of the categories.
Voting will remain open until May 18. Hundreds of votes have already been tabulated, so if you want your favorites to have a chance to win, make sure to vote early and often. Residents can vote for their favorites once per day.

The first three rounds have garnered more than 175,000 votes. Keep an eye out around Queens for the Best of the Boro stickers in stores and eateries window — indicating that the borough’s residents chose it as second to none.

To stay up-to-the-minute on the competition like the Best of the Boro page on Facebook and follow @BestOfTheBoro on Twitter.

CLICK HERE to Start Voting

Bank helps customers prepare for retirement


| tpetropoulosedit@queenscourier.com

The Courier/Photos

The road to retirement is often a tricky one, with many obstacles along the way.

On April 18, Dime Savings Bank tried to make that road a little smoother by hosting a dinner to discuss options for retirement with select customers at Luigi’s Italian Restaurant in Glen Oaks.

This is the third event of its kind the bank has done this year and the first in Queens.

“We believe that it is our responsibility as their bank to educate them on all the options that are available so they can make more money,” said Larry Kinitsky, Senior Vice President of Marketing at The Dime Savings Bank of Williamsburg, which helped organize the event. “In this event, we educate and reward our customers, let them have dinner and have a good time while also getting educated.”

In between a dinner of Italian specialties and a desert of assorted pastries, Mary Ferrante, regional vice president for U.S. Life, a partner of Dime Bank, gave a PowerPoint presentation and fielded questions from the roughly 45 attendees.

Ferrante discussed how planning for retirement has changed over the years, how every individual should have a specific plan, and the benefit of annuities.
“We all dream that when we are retired we can sit and relax in our rocking chairs,” said Ferrante. “No one wants to be in their rocking chair worrying about where their money is going.”

Branch managers from Garden City, Bayside, Hillcrest and Glen Oaks were also at the event, mingling with guests and giving one-on-one advice.

“I think the event was very informative and I learned a lot,” said attendee Carolyn Sorrentino. “It was absolutely better than anything I would have expected.”

Are you a true believer or just a salesperson?


By Queens Courier Staff | editorial@queenscourier.com

What do you believe in?

What are your real beliefs?

I’m asking you these questions so you can have a clearer picture as to why sales are made or lost.

“Jeffrey, you don’t understand,” you whine. “Our customers are price buyers!” No Jackson, YOU don’t understand. You BELIEVE they’re price buyers, and until you change your belief, they will continue to be that way.

SIMPLE RULE: Change your beliefs and you can change your outcomes.

SIMPLER RULE: Your beliefs control your sales performance.

SIMPLEST RULE: You can strengthen your beliefs with clear thoughts and deep commitment.

THINK ABOUT THIS: As you’re preparing for a sale, your belief system is so powerful it will dominate your desire to get ready to win. Those beliefs have been present either consciously or subconsciously for as long as you have been employed by your present company – and they deepen with every sales call you make, every sale you achieve, and every sale you lose.

You may look at belief as “faith.” A common belief is, “I’ve lost faith in my company’s ability to deliver as promised.” Others are loss of faith in product, boss, ethics of company, or even the economy.

But your belief and your belief system are the root of your sales success, or the bane of your failure.

 There are five elements to belief, and in order to be a great salesperson you must be the master believer of all five. There’s also a .5 that enables you to change or strengthen your beliefs…

1. You have to believe you work for the greatest company in the world.

2. You have to believe your products and services are the greatest in the world.

3. You have to believe in yourself.

(NOTE: STOP here if the above three beliefs – company, products and services, and self – are not present and deep. The next two will be impossible to comprehend, let alone master…)

4. You have to believe in your ability to differentiate from your competition in a way that the customer PERCEIVES as BOTH different AND valuable. If the customer fails to perceive a difference between you and your competition, if they fail to perceive your value, then all that’s left is price.

5. BIGGEST ASPECT OF BELIEF: You must believe that the customer is BETTER OFF having purchased from you. Not just believing this in your head – rather, believing it in your heart.

5.5 You control your belief with your thoughts and your attitude. And this understanding is critical to building and maintaining a positive belief for all you say and do. Once this belief begins to falter, it’s time to go. Time to move on to something you believe in.

These 5.5 fundamental beliefs will drive your preparation, and thereby your presentation, to new heights, new sales, and new success.

Take a moment and rate yourself on a scale of 1-10 (10 being best) for each of the 5.5 elements above. If your total is less than 40, you’re losing sales due to lack of belief.

BEWARE: There are negative beliefs that will also limit your success, even if you possess the critical five.

• Belief your prices are too high.

• Belief your competition has a lock on the business you’re trying to get.

• Belief that the sale is a bidding process and you’ll lose without the lowest bid.

• Belief that the sale you’re in the middle of won’t happen.

…And about 20 more beliefs that are completely alterable.

GREAT NEWS: The deeper you possess the big five beliefs, the bigger and faster your sales cycle will end – with an order.

KEY POINT OF UNDERSTANDING: Belief does not come in a day – it comes day-by-day, slowly over time. But once achieved at its highest level, it’s virtually impenetrable – and it will put passion in your preparation, not to mention, money in your pocket.

Do you believe? I hope you do. Your success depends on it.

 

Jeffrey Gitomer is the author of The Sales Bible, Customer Satisfaction is Worthless Customer Loyalty is Priceless, The Little Red Book of Selling, The Little Red Book of Sales Answers, The Little Black Book of Connections, The Little Gold Book of YES! Attitude, The Little Green Book of Getting Your Way, The Little Platinum Book of Cha-Ching, The Little Teal Book of Trust, The Little Book of Leadership, and Social BOOM! His website, www.gitomer.com, will lead you to more information about training and seminars, or email him personally at salesman@gitomer.com.

 

© 2012 All Rights Reserved. Don’t even think about reproducing this document

without written permission from Jeffrey H. Gitomer and Buy Gitomer. 704/333-1112

Better than ‘goals’


By Queens Courier Staff | editorial@queenscourier.com

I am sick of goals and goal experts. You know, the people that spam you around the first of the year proclaiming they are the ones who can “help you” get to the next level. They have the magic “goal achievement formula.”

All you have to do to achieve your goals is pay the sender of the email.

I am not an expert at setting goals. Rather, I’m an achiever.

To me “goal” is the wrong word. It tells me there’s something I HOPE or SEEK to achieve. I think you should call them the “achievements I’m striving for, and intend to make happen.” Whoa! That sounds like a whole different (better) process.

The reason most goals are not met is simple: Starting with the goal is wrong. Making the goal is the middle of the process.

BIG PICTURE: BEFORE YOU MAKE A GOAL, YOU NEED INFORMATION, AND YOU NEED TO DEFINE YOUR OWN REALITY.

Here’s the achievement formula and process that will work…

Before you make a goal, first define and write down what’s happening in your life at this moment.

What is my present situation? Ask yourself (and write down the answers): What’s happening in my life? What’s happening in the lives of others that may affect me? What’s happening at my job and in my career? What’s going on in my family?

What is my present status? What are my skills? My capabilities? My shortcomings? What are the things I need to work on? What is my experience level? How’s my health? What’s my demeanor? How positive is my attitude?

What are my opportunities this year? What is available for me to grasp, accomplish, or achieve in both career and life? FYI: If you’re facing major change, maybe you should redefine it as opportunity. If you do, you’ll see the other side of the picture.

What are my objectives? What’s been on my mind to do? What do I want to make happen?

What are my needs? What do I “gotta do” whether I like it or not?

What are my desires? What do I really wanna do?

What are my intentions? Am I writing down a 20-year dream, or am I dedicating myself to the tasks necessary to get something achieved in a short space of (defined) time?

What are my beliefs? How strong do I believe in my company? My product? My service? Do I believe I can differentiate myself from others? Do I believe that my customer is better off purchasing from me?

 

Second, you write down what achievements you’d like to make:

What have I been thinking about? What are my dominant thoughts? What are my thoughts I’d like to turn into achievements?

What have I ALWAYS wanted to do?

What am I willing to do? If I make a goal, am I willing to actually do the work to make it happen?

What’s the time requirement? If I make a goal, do I have the time to achieve it? Am I willing to allocate the time?

What am I willing to sacrifice in order to achieve? (Give up bacon? Beer? TV?)

What are the barriers? What are the obstacles I’m facing? Can I overcome them alone or do I need help? If so, who?

What’s my level of dedication? What has been my history of achievement?

What’s my attitude toward doing? Am I “gung ho” or “ho hum”?

What’s my date to start? Pick a firm date. Document it.

What’s my plan of action? What do I need to do every day? What’s my “daily dose”?

What’s my expected date of achievement? Pick a firm date. Document it.

What’s my plan to celebrate? Where’s the party? When is the party? Who is coming?

What are my outcome expectations? What do I believe will happen AFTER achievement? How will that affect my life?

 

Get the picture?

There’s a heck of a lot that goes into the achievement process. Setting the goal is just one small part of it. That’s why I substitute the word goal for the word achievement.

You have ideas, you have dreams, you have aspirations, you have desires, and you have needs. And now you have a full-blown plan of understanding and attack. BUT the plan alone will not work without the secret ingredient: Your hard work.

In my years of achievement, hard work has always been my secret weapon. Make it yours.

 

Jeffrey Gitomer is the author of The Sales Bible, Customer Satisfaction is Worthless Customer Loyalty is Priceless, The Little Red Book of Selling, The Little Red Book of Sales Answers, The Little Black Book of Connections, The Little Gold Book of YES! Attitude, The Little Green Book of Getting Your Way, The Little Platinum Book of Cha-Ching, The Little Teal Book of Trust, The Little Book of Leadership, and Social BOOM! His website, www.gitomer.com, will lead you to more information about training and seminars, or email him personally at salesman@gitomer.com.


© 2012 All Rights Reserved. Don’t even think about reproducing this document

without written permission from Jeffrey H. Gitomer and Buy Gitomer. 704/333-1112

 

Trashy situation along Liberty Avenue


| mchan@queenscourier.com

THE COURIER/Photo by Melissa Chan

Business owners are bearing the brunt of the burden as overflowing garbage cans and household debris continue to litter Liberty Avenue.

“People seem to think — when they see a trash can — that they can dump all of their garbage from home there. They think they have the right to do that. It’s frustrating,” said Monica, a manager at Monique’s Beauty Salon, who did not want to give her last name. “This always happens. I get upset because we didn’t put the garbage there, but we’re still being fined for it.”

Like Monica, several merchants along the main commercial strip in Richmond Hill have been slapped with $100 fines for waste that spills onto their storefronts, although they say the mess is not theirs.

“People leave nasty stuff outside — and when they leave it there, we get a ticket,” said Pam Mohabir, owner of Melanie Fashion Boutique.

Mohabir said she has seen garbage bags, construction waste and even mattresses pile up in front of her store on 127th Street.

She said she was pinned with a $100 fine at the end of November for debris and leaves blown in front of her store during a rainy day.

“When other people leave stuff outside, we have to bring it in to the back of the store so we don’t get fined,” Mohabir said.

The debris debacle has also raised concerns from local leaders.

Vishnu Mahadeo, president of the Richmond Hill Economic Development Council, said the problem stems from a combination of not having enough garbage receptacles along Liberty Avenue and not having frequent enough garbage pickups.

“When the garbage overflows, the store owner gets a ticket. It’s a very unhealthy relationship,” Mahadeo said, adding that business has suffered as a result of the overwhelming amount of refuse. “[The area] no longer is a shopper-friendly environment. It’s a sore sight and it’s very unsanitary. When there’s overflowing garbage, you don’t feel comfortable shopping there.”

Councilmember Ruben Wills — who has been working with merchants about this issue over the last year — said trash pickups have been recently extended from two to three days a week after he and Councilmember Eric Ulrich were able to secure funding for it.

“That alleviated a lot of the problem,” Wills said, adding that they just added more funding.

However, according to Wills, the problem lies beyond insufficient pickups and trash bins. He said the area is home to several “illegally converted apartment buildings, which allows for a lot more garbage to be accumulated and for the infrastructure to be overwhelmed.”

He said he is currently working with the Department of Buildings and the Department of Sanitation (DSNY) to enforce fines upon the people who litter and not the storeowners.

“It’s not fair for this issue to be put on the back of small business owners,” Wills said.

While business owners are still required to sweep their sidewalks during the day, DSNY officials said they are “closely monitoring litter baskets to address their misuse, as well as pedestrians to make sure they respect their community.”

Business owners are asked to report garbage overflow problems to 3-1-1.

Long Island City on Ice


| aaltman@queenscourier.com

Anyone looking to play a little puck in the city should body check on down to City Ice Pavilion on 32nd Place.

Anyone looking to play a little puck in the city should body check on down to City Ice Pavilion on 32nd Place.

Newly appointed Director of Youth Programs at City Ice Pavilion in LIC, Alexis Moed, has big plans for the community hockey center. Moed, a former player herself, hopes to expand the hockey program through skills clinics and specialized classes. She is confident that through dedicated training, the center’s players can grow into tremendous athletes.

Moed played Division 1 hockey for Boston College. She was selected to participate in a scrimmage against the Olympic team in Lake Placid during the 2002 Salt Lake City games. She is also a former member of North Axis College Sports Management, a firm responsible for presenting marketing prospects to NCAA Division 1 schools.

The Long Island native will now oversee the complex’s staff members as well as manage the center’s travel and house leagues.

City Ice Pavilion’s travel team, the Skyliners, is currently in the tier three bracket of the Long Island Hockey League. Moed believes that with practice, they can move up to tier one.

“We definitely have one of the finest facilities and coaching staff in the area,” she said. “We provide quality training; all of our amenities give City Ice clubhouse feel, and its setup is unique compared to other rinks”.

The facility is equipped for success, boasting a 34,000 square foot skating dome and an NHL size rink with one of the most well maintained ice surfaces in the greater New York City area. Off-ice amenities include a 17,000 square foot locker room and a state of the art fitness center. City Ice also hosts a 4,000 square foot synthetic ice surface, just for shooting practice.

World Ice, City Ice’s sister arena, boasts an NHL size rink as well, incase they need some extra space.

“City Ice is an amazing facility,” said Moed. “It’s not often you find a rink as complete as we are. I don’t ever see a reason to go to another rink. Everything you need is right here.”

Participants at City Ice are as young as four years old. Moed believes that hockey promotes positive behavior in children, fortifying skills such as discipline and time management.

But the facility is not just limited to kids, however. The center offers skating and skills classes for adults as well. Moed, who didn’t learn to skate until her teens, thinks it’s never too late for anyone with interest and dedication to get in to hockey.

For more information visit www.nycskyliners.com or call 718-706-6667.

Will door close on Maspeth company?


| brennison@queenscourier.com

Karp Associates

After 50 years in the community, a Maspeth manufacturer may be headed for “greener” pastures out of state that provide more financial incentives.

Karp Associates, a third-generation manufacturing company, is leaving its current Maspeth location after losing their property to Eminent Domain.

Though Karp, which manufactures and distributes access doors, has received offers to relocate from about a dozen states, the company favors staying within the city.

“Our first preference was always to stay here,” said George Kosser, vice president of operations at Karp. He said that while Karp has received better offers from other locales, the company is merely looking for the same offer a new business coming into the city would receive.

“We weren’t going anywhere,” said Kosser. “For the fact that we’re being kicked out, treat us just like we were coming for the first time.”

Their location on 43rd Street between 55th Avenue and 54th Road, in the shadow of the Kosciusko Bridge, was seized by the state Department of Transportation to make way for a new bridge.

The city has worked with Karp since the company discovered their property was being seized to keep them in the five boroughs. But they are not eligible for certain assistance that companies relocating to the city are.

The company was offered tax breaks and incentive packages by the New York City Economic Development Corporation (EDC) to stay in the city.

Karp was founded in 1957 by current owner Adam Gold’s grandfather and great uncle. Over its 50-plus years in Maspeth, the company has grown from an operation of 10 workers in a 5,000-square-foot space to about 120 workers in 120,000-square-feet in three locations.

“The feeling I get is that the city doesn’t care if we stay or go,” Kosser said.

The EDC said they are very committed to job retention.

“We take the needs of companies across the five boroughs very seriously, and are committed to providing certain types of assistance when necessary to keep good jobs here in New York City,” said EDC spokesperson Patrick Muncie.

Karp is resigned to the fact that it will most likely have to leave the city, but the company hopes to be able to remain in New York, specifically Long Island, and is continuing to work with the state. Most of the workers live near the company’s current location.

In June, Karp declined an offer from the Empire State Development (ESD) of a package that included $445,000 from the EDC along with $7 million from the Suffolk County Industrial Development Agency.

“ESD will continue to work hard to keep jobs in New York and talks are ongoing, but there cannot be an open faucet of taxpayer money,” said Austin Shafran, vice president of public affairs for Empire State Development.

Karp was offered the maximum amount of money allowable under state law, he said.

The company hopes to make a decision by the end of the year, with relocating to New Jersey being an option if a move to Long Island cannot be negotiated.

Karp, whose customers are mostly construction distributors, recently landed the contract for the World Trade Center.

“We’re the company that everyone wants,” Kosser said. “Except for the city.”

RKO Keith Theater develops


| smosco@queenscourier.com

RKO

The rebirth of the RKO Keith Theater is more reality than Hollywood fantasy – reports that it will be redeveloped into apartments and shops are based on a true story.

Developer Patrick Thompson purchased the Flushing landmark for $20 million and plans to restore the historic lobby while building a 17-story tower with stores, 357 rental apartments and a community center. Thompson’s spokesperson Michael Nussbaum said that most of the necessary approvals have been obtained and that demolition will most likely begin in the first quarter of 2012.

Nussbaum also said previously published reports stating that the Federal Aviation Administration (FAA) rejected the project due to its height were misleading. The project is in close proximity to LaGuardia Airport, but Nussbaum believes that the FAA will find that the development does not disrupt flight patterns.

“The previous owner submitted a proposal to the FAA and got their approval. The plans we submitted are the same as the ones they submitted,” said Nussbaum, explaining that the previous owner’s approval from the FAA had expired and that Thompson simply needs to resubmit. “This process was triggered by us because we had to apply for a new approval.”

Nussbaum said that he is confident that Thompson will get the same approval that the previous owner, Shaya Boymelgreen, got in 2003. The FAA did send a letter to Thompson calling the height “hazardous,” but both Nussbaum and a spokesperson from the FAA said doing so is standard operating procedure for any new structure that has not yet been approved.

Thompson has hired an FAA consultant, who will go through the process – and said that it should take anywhere from 30 to 60 days to get an approval.

“The building’s height has not changed one inch and as far as we know LaGuardia’s flight pattern has not changed,” said Nussbaum. “We expect the FAA to come to the same conclusion they did in 2003.”

The project already has approvals from the Board of Standards and Appeals, as well as Community Board 7. Thompson has said that he expects completion of the project in early 2015.

Leaders wary of businesses opening near Aqueduct Racino


| mchan@queenscourier.com

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Pawn shop and bar owners in South Ozone Park are looking to cash in on their own jackpot once the city’s first casino opens for business.

The stores have been sprouting up on Rockaway Boulevard and owners say it’s the perfect time and place to set up shop.

“Why open up a bar here? To make money. The casino’s coming up. A lot of people are going to come from everywhere and the place is going to be busy,” said Mohammad Saddique, co-owner of Johnny’s Bar and Restaurant.

The bar closed last Thanksgiving for renovations and plans to reopen late this October — just in time for the first stage of Resorts World Casino New York City to open to the public.
“It makes sense,” said pawn shop owner Amit Verma. “When somebody is a little low on their luck in the casino, they get lucky over here, especially now when the gold price is so high. They get paid a lot of money for their jewelry, and then they can try their luck again and maybe win their money back.”

Verma opened up his shop, Nassau Buyers, about a year ago. He said he signed the lease on the same day he found out the casino was coming to town.

“Right now it’s really slow. We only see a few people a day. But we expect the numbers to [multiply] by ten,” he said.

But local leaders are less than thrilled with their presence.

“These are the last types of businesses that the community wants,” said Councilmember Eric Ulrich. “I doubt very much that this was the type of job creation that people had in mind when we heard that Aqueduct was going to be turned into a racino.”

Betty Braton, chairmember of Community Board 10, said she’s concerned that the businesses will take advantage of local gamblers.

“The owners assume they’re going to get business from gamblers. We are very concerned that there are people who will try to capitalize on other peoples’ gambling needs by opening businesses that cater to problem gamblers,” she said. “You can’t say they can’t be there. They have a right to be there, but we don’t believe they are particularly an asset to the community.”

But pawn shop owner Primo Arjun said he doesn’t see his business as a “bad thing.”

“You have people who don’t have credit cards or bank accounts, and they come in to get a loan in a hurry. There’s nothing wrong with that,” he said. “The pawn shop business has changed throughout the years. You now have middle class people coming in, not just the lower class. It’s not like before where people would bring in a lot of stolen stuff. It’s mostly people who just need a loan. I’ve seen police officers, people from real estate, nurses — people from all walks of life come pawn with you.”

Arjun, owner of Primo’s Pawn Broker, said he has even been cooperating with the police.

“Everything we do gets transmitted to the precinct, and they kind of run everybody’s name through the system just to make sure. If there’s something they need to see, if they feel suspicious, we show it to them. They can come in and inspect whatever they need to,” he said.

Both pawn shop owners said they’ve been trying to erase the bad name associated with the industry.

“We’re not here to take advantage of people. There are so many locals who come out here that don’t have money for oil to heat their houses for the winter. I can’t tell you how many bills we’ve helped pay,” Verma said. “I’m a proud owner and I think that it’s a good part of the community.”

Flushing mail center may close


| jlane@queenscourier.com

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Due to drastic declines in mail volume, state and nationwide, the Queens Processing and Distribution Center in Flushing may be closed or consolidated, according to the United States Postal Service (USPS).

The center — the only one in Queens under study — is responsible for sorting and distributing mail throughout Queens. It joins 255 other centers nationwide that are at risk of being shut down.

“We have too many processing plants that are not operating at 100 percent capacity because we have no mail,” said USPS spokesperson Darleen Reid. “It doesn’t make good business for us to continue 452 facilities when we can reduce that by half and still process the mail.”

Reid said the USPS is looking to possibly consolidate its operations into the Brooklyn New York Processing and Distribution Center or the Morgan Processing and Distribution Center in Manhattan.

As far as service, only first-class mail products would be affected, Reid said.

“Right now we can get first-class mail from Queens to Brooklyn or to Manhattan in one to two days. We’re changing that nationally to two to three days,” she said.

There will be no other changes since other mail classes already follow a two to three day delivery standard, Reid said.

According to the USPS, annual mail volume has declined by more than 43 billion pieces in the past five years and is continuing to decline. Total first-class mail has dropped 25 percent and single piece first-class mail — letters bearing postage stamps — has declined 36 percent in the same timeframe.

“Mail volumes have been going down drastically since 2006 and we anticipate that our first-class mail product is never going to return to previous peak levels,” Reid said.

The postal service receives no tax dollars for operating expenses and relies completely on their own products and services for funding. Its main product is first-class mail, Reid said.

“As first class mail declines, so does our revenue and our revenue continues to go down. We’re facing a financial short-fall by the end of September,” she said.

USPS studies will be concluded in three months. By then, they will announce the results to the general public. At that time, mailers will be given the opportunity to comment during public meetings. Their comments will then be considered before the final decision.