Tag Archives: Community Board 2

Astoria Cove gets green light from City Planning Commission


| lguerre@queenscourier.com

Rendering courtesy of STUDIO V Architecture

Despite opposition from residents, the community board and Borough President Melinda Katz, the Astoria Cove development won over the City Planning Commission.

The 2.2-million-square-foot project along the Astoria waterfront cleared a major hurdle Monday as the commission voted to approve its land-use application despite the push back from community members with a majority vote of 10 yes, two abstentions and one partial no.

“We are pleased by the outcome. And we are looking forward to working with Councilman Constantinides and the City Council and going forward with the process,” said Howard Weiss of Davidoff Hutcher & Citron, which represents 2030 Astoria Developers, the team behind the project. “This project heralds a new era in affordable housing. It’s a great step forward in terms of the mayor’s 10-year housing plan.”

The partial no-vote centered on claims of insufficiency of affordable housing in the application. Community Board 2, Katz and others that opposed the project also called for more affordable housing to be included in the buildings, while developers are proposing 345 units or 20 percent of the 1,723 dwellings.

Members of the building services union 32BJ were displeased by the result and pledged to fight at the City Council level for more affordable housing and unionized jobs.

“Alma Realty should not be granted permission to develop Astoria Cove until they commit to responsible development,” said Lenore Friedlaender, executive director of Build Up NYC, a coalition of organizations that includes 32BJ. “We will continue to fight for the good jobs and affordable housing working families in Astoria need to grow and strengthen the middle class, and we look forward to engaging the entire City Council to make sure this gets done right.”

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 expected 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.

Recently 2030 Astoria Developers purchased the remaining land needed for the project for more than $43 million.

The City Council has 50 days to vote on the application, and affordable housing will be one of the main subjects reviewed.

“While the new housing stock is sorely needed, the development must work for all Astorians,” Constantinides said. “When the project comes before the City Council, we will work with the developer and focus on providing ample affordable housing, dramatically increasing public transportation capacity on and off of the peninsula, and keeping the development within the fabric of the community.”

 

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Silvercup Studios seeking permit approvals again for delayed expansion


| lguerre@queenscourier.com

Renderings courtesy Rogers Stirk Harbour + Partners LLP

The stalled Silvercup West development, a planned $1 billion expansion of Silvercup Studios in Long Island City just south of the Queensboro Bridge, is back in the spotlight — for special permit renewals.

The land use committee of Community Board 2 is reviewing the application and is expected to bring the matter to a full board vote in the next public meeting on Oct. 2.

The permits are for various design elements in the project, including a proposed 1,400-space parking garage, which was granted three years ago, but has expired since.

A representative for Silvercup at a recent community board committee meeting said they expect to get the approvals quickly without issues, because of past consents.

The Silvercup West plan first debuted about eight years ago with tons of media coverage. The project includes eight new soundstage studios as part of a larger 2.2 million-square-foot complex containing an office tower, high-rise apartment towers with 1,000 residences, retail space, a catering hall and cultural space.

The community board, the borough president, City Planning and the City Council all gave their blessings for the land use case of the project in 2006, and it was supposed to be completed by 2010, according to published reports.

However, the project is being held up by New York Power Authority (NYPA) generators on the site, which have to be decommissioned and removed. The generators, which have 150-foot smoke stacks on each one, are sitting on three acres of land.

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Silvercups’ plan to restore the near century-old landmarked terracotta building at 42-10 Vernon Blvd. have been proceeding well, according to a spokesman, and other plans are seeing movement as well, but the generators are stopping progression.

“We have worked with DEC on getting plans approved for remediation, and have gotten Army Corps approval to install a new bulkhead,” spokesman Russ Colchamiro said. “However, we cannot proceed with the project unitl the NYPA generators are removed.”

If the permits are renewed by the board, the application moves to City Planning for review.

View more renderings and information for the project here.

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Plans for proposed Sunnyside, Woodside slow zones revealed


| aaltamirano@queenscourier.com

Images courtesy of Department of Transportation

More streets in western Queens will soon be slower and safer.

The Department of Transportation (DOT) presented its plans for two proposed slow zones in Sunnyside Gardens, Woodside and Sunnyside, south of Queens Boulevard, before Community Board 2 (CB 2) during a public hearing on Wednesday night.

The slow zones were designed through input from the community, Councilman Jimmy Van Bramer and CB 2.

As part of the city’s Vision Zero initiative, the neighborhoods that will be included in these two slow zones were selected based on the transportation agency’s evaluation on crash history, traffic fatalities, community support, and the closeness of schools and senior and day care centers.

THE COURIER/File Photo

THE COURIER/File Photo

Slow zones are marked with high-visibility blue signs that warn drivers at all streets entering the zones. Each area has a speed limit of 20 mph and includes speed bumps and eight-foot-high letters on the road that read “20 MPH.”

The first proposed area, which would be called the Sunnyside Gardens-Woodside Slow Zone, would be bordered by 43rd Street, 38th Avenue, Barnett Avenue, 58th Street, Queens Boulevard and Roosevelt Avenue. There are three schools and three daycare/pre-K centers in the area.

SG-W SZ

According to the DOT, since 2007 there has been one death in the proposed zone and three severe pedestrian injuries.

The Sunnyside Gardens-Woodside Slow Zone would include 18 proposed speed bumps, added to the already existing 12 bumps, and 19 neighborhood slow zone gateways.

In the proposed Sunnyside Slow Zone, which has four schools in the area, the borders would be 36th Street, Queens Boulevard, 51st Street and part of the Brooklyn-Queens Expressway. The area is split diagonally by Greenpoint Avenue, which is not part of the slow zone, according to the DOT.

Since 2007 there have been four fatalities in the proposed zone and since 2008 three severe pedestrian injuries and five severe injuries involving vehicle occupants.

The Sunnyside Slow Zone would include 20 speed bumps, in addition to the current eight bumps, and 31 neighborhood slow zone gateways.

CB 2 will vote on the proposal during its next monthly meeting.

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Former Community Board 2 district manager Dolores Rizzotto passes away


| aaltamirano@queenscourier.com

Photo courtesy of Rizzotto family

Dolores Rizzotto, former district manager of Community Board 2 for more than 15 years, died Thursday after a battle with cancer, according to CB2 chair Joseph Conley.

Rizzotto, who chaired CB2 for more than 15 years, was 70.

“Dolores served the City of New York in many capacities but none so important as her role in our community as district manager,” Conley said. “Dolores worked tirelessly to improve the quality of life for so many. Dolores will be sorely missed for her wisdom, compassion, sense of humor and leadership. Dolores was a true friend to all and an expert in helping so many.”

Rizzotto, a lifelong Corona resident who recently moved to Florida, retired in 2006 from CB2, which serves Long Island City, Woodside and Sunnyside. Rizzotto would travel back and forth between Queens and Florida visiting family and friends.

She is survived by her two sons, Michael and Robert, and two grandchildren, Anthony and Thomas.

A wake will be held at Edward Guida Funeral Home, located at 47-20 104th St. in Corona. Visitations hours will be Sept. 18 from 7 to 9 p.m., and Sept. 19 from 2 to 5 p.m. and 7 to 9 p.m. The funeral mass will be on Sept. 20 at 10:45 a.m. at St. Leo’s Roman Catholic Church, located at 104-05 49th Ave. Rizzotto will be buried at Mount Saint Mary Cemetery in Flushing.

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Woodside street renamed after former Councilman Walter McCaffrey


| aaltamirano@queenscourier.com

THE COURIER/ Photos by Angy Altamirano

Woodside came together Saturday to honor a man who officials call the “great son” of the western Queens neighborhood.

Local politicians, community leaders and residents celebrated the life of former Councilman Walter McCaffrey during a ceremony in which 61st Street on Woodside Avenue was renamed “Walter McCaffrey Place.”

“The late Walter McCaffrey will never be forgotten,” said Councilman Jimmy Van Bramer, who introduced legislation into the City Council to rename the Woodside street, where McCaffrey once had his district office. “A Woodsider till the end, Walter never stopped advocating for his neighborhood and this district, setting a high bar for all elected officials who followed him in office.”

McCaffrey, who passed away last July at 64 years old, was born and raised in Woodside, and served as councilman of the 26th District from 1985 to 2001. Before being elected to the Council, McCaffrey served as chair of Community Board (CB) 2.

“Here we are to honor the life and legacy of [Walter], the person who did so much for our city, so much for our community,” said Joseph Conley, chair of CB 2, during the renaming dedication. “And as Walter taught me and many people here today, there was no greater exercise in life than to reach out your hand and help somebody.

While in the City Council McCaffrey also served as chair of the Zoning and Franchises subcommittee, and was on the Land Use, Finance, Public Safety and Transportation committee.

Friends, colleagues and others who were at the street renaming ceremony remembered the late councilman for his sense of humor and devotion to serving the residents of western Queens.

“The dedication of Walter McCaffrey Place is a fitting tribute to a selfless public servant who was synonymous with the Woodside community,” Congressman Joseph Crowley said. “Walter fought for the people of Queens with great passion, leaving behind a legacy of advocacy and accomplishment that improved the lives of middle class families across the city.”

 

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Landmarks Preservation Commission rules against Aluminaire House move to Sunnyside Gardens


| aaltamirano@queenscourier.com

Rendering Courtesy of Campani and Schwarting Architects

Sunnyside Gardens residents and local officials have won the battle against the aluminum exhibition house and residential development looking for a new site to call home.

The Landmarks Preservation Commission (LPC) ruled last week against the application to relocate the Aluminaire House – an all-aluminum, historic home built in 1931 for a New York City exhibition- to the corner of 39th Avenue and 50th Street in the landmarked district of Sunnyside Gardens.

“After a careful review of the proposal the Commissioners concluded that the relocation of the Aluminaire House to the proposed site within the historic district was not appropriate,” said the LPC in a statement. “The applicant will have the opportunity to present a revised application to the Commissioners.”

Under the proposal,the house, currently dismantled and in storage, would be surrounded by an eight-unit apartment building. Property owner Harry Otterman, who hoped to construct the building, could not be reached for comment as of press time.

Many residents and local officials have been opposed to the home because they said the structure is out of character with the landmarked neighborhood’s brick homes. 

Both the City’s Historic District Council and Community Board 2 voted against the proposal in September.

 

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Star of Queens: Christian Amez, Business Enterprise instructor, Woodside on the Move


| aaltamirano@queenscourier.com

Amez

COMMUNITY SERVICE: Christian Amez has worked with Woodside on the Move for about five years, starting as an aide in the afterschool program. He ultimately created his own year-long class, the “Business Enterprise” program. It teaches children, in grades four and above, various financial literacy and math skills. From learning how to create a budget, to understanding credit and loans, these students ultimately create their own business plans and professionally pitch them to community leaders.

Woodside on the Move has served the Community Board 2 district for over 30 years, providing youth and cultural development programs all across Woodside and its surrounding neighborhoods.

BACKGROUND:  “I’m a first-generation American born in Queens. My family moved from Peru to Woodside, then finally Sunnyside,” said Amez. “Having grown up attending public schools in both neighborhoods (I.S. 125 and P.S. 150, respectively), the two are synonymous with home to me, so I spend a great deal of time getting to know my neighbors and participating in community outreach.”

BIGGEST CHALLENGE: “My biggest challenge here had to be one I shared with Woodside on the Move, and that was our rally in May 2012 to restore funding for the afterschool and summer programs we host at P.S. 11 and 152,” said Amez.

During this time he said he had never seen so many students, parents, and community members engaged in what was a collective time of need.

FAVORITE MEMORY: The outpouring of support during the 2012 rally became Amez’s favorite memory at the organization.

“Soon after, due to the efforts of our executive director, Adrian Bordoni, all our staff, and Councilmember Jimmy Van Bramer, we succeeded in temporarily restoring funding. In the following months, even more support came from Congressmember Joseph Crowley, who donated hundreds of school supplies for the children to prepare for their upcoming school year,” said Amez.

INSPIRATION: “I went through a very transformational time while studying finance. A lot of businessmen and women dream of becoming CEOs or billionaires, but why create one success story when you can create many,” asked Amez. That is what inspired him to work at Woodside on the Move, where the organization can improve the future of the city locally from the ground up, starting with the children.

 

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5Pointz to become apartment complex after final vote


| aaltamirano@queenscourier.com

File Photo

Developers have reached the final step in seeing the Long Island City graffiti mecca, known as 5Pointz, become two apartment towers.

The City Council voted on Wednesday, October 9 to approve the land use application that would allow the Wolkoff family, owners of the property on Jackson Avenue and Davis Street, and developer G&M Realty to build apartment towers to larger dimensions than allowed by current zoning rules.

One tower would reach 47 stories and the other 41 stories, with close to 1,000 rental apartments, 32,000 square feet of outdoor public space and 50,000 square feet of retail space between them.

According to Councilmember Jimmy Van Bramer, developers agreed to build and staff the two buildings with 100 percent union workers, bringing more than 1,000 jobs to Long Island City, and also increase the number of affordable housing units from 75 to 210.

“The concessions provided under the compromise will give Western Queens residents as well as artists a wide variety of interactive amenities future generations will benefit from,” said Van Bramer.

As a “commitment to the arts in this building,” Van Bramer said the developers agreed to keep the altered plans they made in July after listening to comments from Community Board 2, which voted against the application.

G&M Realty’s plan will now include an addition of 10,000 square feet to the initial 2,000 square feet planned for artists’ studios. Borough President Helen Marshall approved the application in July.

Van Bramer said the Wolkoffs have also given a written agreement to offer Jonathan Cohen, widely known as Meres and curator of 5Pointz, the chance to select art on the new building’s walls and panels.

“It was important for me to honor the history of the building over the last 20 years and to recognize what it had become to the graffiti and aerosol art world,” said Van Bramer.

However, according to Marie Cecile Flageul, 5Pointz artists are furious a second hearing, previously promised by Van Bramer, never happened and although 40 speakers stood up to speak at the October 2 public hearing, no one really listened.

“It was a beautiful horse and pony show,” said Flageul. “About half way through the testimonies, almost every council person had left the room. Every single person that took the day off to come and speak, wasted their time because there has been no follow up.”

Flageul also said to date no 5Pointz artists have been contacted or offered to work within the art studios or be featured on the art panels. There have also been no commitments in writing stating everything promised would actually take place once the towers come up.

“[The artists] feel disrespected, they feel profiled,” said Flageul. “We’re all volunteers. We all work our butts off.”
Although the artists have until December 1 to leave the property, Flageul said business will continue as usual with artists from around the world currently putting up their work and more making the trip to the borough.

“We’re going to continue doing what we’re doing. That’s the beauty of art, no matter how much corruption or unfairness there might be, right now we’re continuing what we have been doing for 11 years. We are going to continue the beautification of Long Island City,” said Flageul. “We’re never making the move. We’re here till the end.”

City Planning Commission approves 5Pointz land use application


| aaltamirano@queenscourier.com

File photo

5Pointz, the graffiti covered warehouses in Long Island City, are one step closer to becoming two high-rise apartment buildings.

On Wednesday the City Planning Commission voted unanimously to approve the land use application that would allow the Wolkoff family, owners of the property on Jackson Avenue and Davis Street, to build apartment towers to larger dimensions than allowed by current zoning rules.

One tower would reach 47 stories and the other 41 stories, with close to 1,000 rental apartments, 30,000 square feet of outdoor public space and 50,000 square feet of retail space between them.

In July, the developers altered the initial plan after listening to comments from Community Board 2 (CB2). G&M Realty’s plan includes about 78 affordable housing units, an addition of 10,000 square feet to the initial 2,000 square feet planned for artists’ studios and community use of the parking garage for below-market rates.

The plan also includes the installation of art panels on the street to continue to display artists’ works. There will also be a program to curate the works and establish a community advisory group to work with CB 2 before, during and after construction.

CB 2 voted against the owners’ land use application in June. However, constructing the towers is within their rights.

In July, Borough President Helen Marshall announced she approved the Wolkoff’s land use application.

The application still needs to be approved by the City Council, followed by the mayor.

“Once City Planning delivers the application to the New York City Council, which we anticipate to be sometime next week, I will call the matter up,” said Councilmember Jimmy Van Bramer. “By calling it up we will trigger a 50 day window in which the City Council must vote on this application. Once this happens there will be two public City Council hearings at which the public will be invited to comment and testify. I will review the application at City Planning’s recommendation.”

Van Bramer said he will take part in the public meetings and also meet with stakeholders to make the decision based on what he believes “is best for Long Island City.”

 

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Safety improvements at fatal Long Island City intersection


| aaltamirano@queenscourier.com

Photos courtesy of Councilmember Jimmy Van Bramer

Months after 16-year-old Tenzin Drudak was struck and killed near LaGuardia Community College, the Department of Transportation (DOT) has answered students and residents’ pleas for safety enhancements.

Drudak, a student at the Applied Communications High School inside the community college’s building, died after being struck by a minivan that lost control and mounted the sidewalk at the intersection of Thomson Avenue and 30th Street in Long Island City. Four of five other pedestrians hit in the same incident were students at LaGuardia.

After Drudak’s death, residents, Councilmember Jimmy Van Bramer, Community Board 2 and LaGuardia Community College officials called on the DOT to enhance pedestrian safety at the intersection.

“No New Yorker should feel their life is in jeopardy when they are walking along the sidewalks of our City streets” said Van Bramer.

Since April, the DOT has implemented short-term improvements including adjusting the timing of signals near the intersection and installing pedestrian countdown signals at Thomson and Skillman Avenues, 30th Street, 30th Place, 31st Street and 31st Place. The agency has also added signs and improved markings at Thomson Avenue and Van Dam Street.

In the latest changes, the DOT said it has redesigned Thomson and Skillman Avenues by closing the slip ramp and making it illegal for vehicles to makes left turns from Thomson Avenue onto Skillman Avenue.

The department added it has installed new signs and plastic markers to limit left turns from Thomson Avenue to 30th Street.

There is also a brand new 550-square-foot pedestrian space at the intersection of 30th Street and Thomson Avenue. It is bordered by stone blocks, plastic markings and six planters.

According to the DOT, all the changes were aimed at improving safety for the large volume of students and residents that walk through the intersection daily.

 

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Developers change 5Pointz plans, BP approves application


| aaltamirano@queenscourier.com

File photo

After receiving harsh disapproval from the Long Island City community, the developers who plan to turn the graffiti mecca known as 5Pointz into two high-rise apartment buildings have decided to make changes to their proposal.

According to Joseph Conley, chair of Community Board (CB) 2, G&M Realty’s plan has been altered to include about 78 affordable housing units, an addition of 10,000 square feet to the initial 2,000 square feet planned for artists’ studios and community use of the parking garage for below-market rates.

Conley said the changes came after Jerry Wolkoff, whose family has owned the property for the past 40 years, heard of the community’s vociferous objections to the initial plan.

The new plan also includes the installation of art panels on the street to continue to display artists’ works. There will also be a program to curate the works and establish a community advisory group to work with CB 2 before, during and after construction.

“He wanted to make sure, before he moves forward, that he came back and met with a group of people to talk about how he could reestablish connections and solidify connection with the community he’s been a part of for 40 years,” said Conley. “The important part is that it shows his concern about the community.”

The Wolkoffs intend to demolish the graffiti-covered warehouse on Jackson Avenue and Davis Street and construct two apartment towers there. One would reach 47 stories and the other 41 stories, with close to 1,000 rental apartments, 30,000 square feet of outdoor public space and 50,000 square feet of retail space between them.

CB 2 voted against the owners’ land use application in June. However, constructing the towers is within their rights. The Wolkoffs are continuing their application to the Department of City Planning to build to larger dimensions than allowed by current zoning rules.

“Our vote does not change,” said Conley. “It’s not a question that he will do a bait-and-switch. He will be obligated to [do] what he said as he goes forward. Mr. Wolkoff immediately made the changes without hesitations. It expresses his willingness to work with the community.”

David Wolkoff previously told The Courier that his family has and will continue to listen to what the community has to say.

“We had always taken into consideration what the community wants,” he said.

However, according to Marie Cecile Flageul, a spokesperson for 5Pointz and an event planner, artists were not consulted in the recent changes to the Wolkoffs’ proposal.

“5Pointz is not included in the plan,” said Flageul. “The extra space will not be given to any of the 5Pointz collective. We wished the community board would have consulted us before saying the changes are satisfactory.”

On Wednesday, July 17 Borough President Helen Marshall announced she approved the Wolkoffs’ land use application.

The application will be reviewed by the City Planning Commission, the City Council and finally the mayor.

 

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Board votes down outdoor seating at Alobar


| aaltamirano@queenscourier.com

File photo

Alobar customers will now have to spend the summer indoors after a final vote from Community Board 2 (CB2) denied the restaurant the use of its backyard space.

The popular restaurant at 46-42 Vernon Boulevard in Hunters Point must adhere to a stipulation of its liquor license prohibiting outdoor seating.

Owner Jeff Blath met with CB2’s City Service and Public Safety Committee on June 12 to discuss opening his backyard space to customers. He said the board told him it could not make an exception for his restaurant without setting a precedent for other establishments.

“They were really clear that Alobar is an excellent addition to the neighborhood,” said Blath. “The reason was that if they say yes to Alobar, they have to say yes to everyone.”

Blath said he finds the decision “disappointing.” He previously noted the effect on his business, saying he loses dozens of customers who ask for the outdoor seating.

“It’s thousands of dollars a month and it’s enough to put people out of business,” said Bath. “It’s enough to make people lose their jobs.”

CB 2 Chair Joseph Conley previously told The Courier the board has had to deal with establishments whose backyard seating caused disturbances to neighbors and the community. He added that residents in the area have voiced their opposition to the plan.

However, Blath said he gathered nearly 500 signatures for a petition and has spoken with his neighbors that say otherwise.

Before the meeting, Blath built 11-foot-high walls to block out noise and had a sound engineer suggest other changes to make the seating area quieter. He was also trying to work with the board to cut back hours at the backyard from 10 p.m. to 6 p.m.

“I was willing to bend over backwards to make this happen,” said Blath. “When you see another place just a block away from you go out of business, it scares you. My heart is in this business. I can’t help but think what’s going to happen.”

Blath is looking to appeal the board’s decision with the State Liquor Authority.

CB2 did not respond to calls as of press time.

 

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Long Island City, Astoria bike lanes to get makeover


| aaltamirano@queenscourier.com

THE COURIER/Photo by Angy Altamirano / Graphics courtesy of DOT

Vernon Boulevard’s bike lanes are set to get a makeover this summer to provide extra safety for riders and more space for drivers.

According to a plan the Department of Transportation (DOT) presented to Community Board 2 on June 6, the two one-way bike paths on each side of Vernon Boulevard would become a two-way protected lane. The lane would have a five-foot buffer running alongside the west side of the street. The lanes would also be painted green to provide easier visibility.

“This project is intended to knit together existing sections of the greenway by providing a continuous, protected bike lane serving neighborhoods along the East River waterfront,” said DOT spokesperson Nicholas Mosquera.

The existing bike lanes were set up as part of the Queens East River Greenway in 2008, which connects the waterfront from Hallet’s Cove in Astoria to 45th Road in Hunters Point.

After hearing community concerns over the lack of parking, DOT also plans to create a protected bike path through Rainey Park in Astoria. That would free up 35 parking spaces between 34th Avenue and 33rd Road.

According to the plan, the two-way bike lane will help beginning riders feel more comfortable on the streets and bring more bicyclists to the path. The wider path would allow joggers to benefit from the space, too.

“The project, which DOT has proposed for implementation this summer, has the support of Community Board 1 and the agency continues to work with Community Board 2 on this initiative,” said Mosquera.

 

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Outdoor seating still in question at LIC’s Alobar


| aaltamirano@queenscourier.com

File photo

It seems Alobar still has to overcome a few more hurdles before getting the chance to use its backyard space this summer.

The popular restaurant, located at 46-42 Vernon Boulevard in Hunters Point, has not been allowed to offer customers outdoor seating as a stipulation of its liquor license.

Alobar’s owner Jeff Blath met with Community Board 2’s City Service and Public Safety Committee on Wednesday, May 8 to discuss opening the backyard space to customers.

Blath previously told The Courier his business loses thousands of dollars when the weather is nice. He said turning down customers who request an outdoor table pushes them to other establishments.

Committee Chair Patrick O’Brien said it was a good meeting since Blath listened to recommendations and was open to working with the community board.

“He understands the concerns, and we are sensitive to any business,” said O’Brien. “We want to hear both sides of it.”

O’Brien noted that residents have strongly voiced their opposition to opening up Alobar’s backyard seating area because of the noise it would cause.

The committee neither approved nor denied the proposal, but suggested Blath work with sound engineers to see if there is something that could muffle sounds from his backyard. The committee also asked Blath to consider offering only brunch or lunch in the backyard if it ultimately gets approval.

The committee would also have to make sure Alobar can legally use the space for the intended reasons, O’Brien said. The body is scheduled to continue discussions on Alobar’s backyard at a June 12 meeting.

Blath did not respond to multiple phone calls as of press time.

 

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LIC’s Alobar petitions for outdoor seating


| aaltamirano@queenscourier.com

File photo

With summer just around the corner, Alobar in Hunters Point is seeking permission to serve patrons outdoors.

The popular restaurant at 46-42 Vernon Boulevard is not allowed to offer its customers backyard seating as a stipulation of its liquor license.

Alobar’s owner Jeff Blath said when customers see his outdoor seating area, they often request a table there, but he has to turn them down. According to him, the business loses thousands of dollars when the weather is nice.

“I have to tell them no, and customers will usually respond with, ‘We’ll go somewhere else’,” he said.

Community Board 2 granted Alobar its liquor license. CB 2 Chair Joseph Conley said the board has previously had to deal with establishments whose backyard seating caused disturbances to neighbors and the community.

He cited Lounge 47 as an example. After years of neighbors’ complaints about excessive noise during late hours, the establishmen closed. It was located at 47-10 Vernon Boulevard.

“By and large, from past experience, people do not want them because they are a negative impact to the way of life,” said Conley. “It is very clear the community has spoken about this. Residents that live there are opposed to it.”

However, Blath maintains Alobar has been a good neighbor and will stay that way. His petition has gained 438 signatures from neighbors and customers.

“Now that I’ve been around, I’ve proven myself to be a good neighbor. I welcome speaking to neighbors and hearing from them,” Blath said. “I want to be able to go to the community board with a good number of people to show it’s what people want.”

Blath plans to make the case that Alobar is a quiet restaurant. There will be no speakers to play music, he has built 11-foot-high walls and set up an awning to muffle noise.

If CB 2 approves use of Alobar’s backyard space, the restaurant will stay open until 10:30 p.m. Blath considers that a reasonable time compared to some other establishments, which stay open past midnight.

“I’m asking for less than everyone else,” he said.

The next board meeting is on May 2. Conley said he welcomes Blath to come and bring his proposal.

“Based on the facts, there could be something unique,” Conley said. “Each case is looked at individually.”

 

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