Tag Archives: Corona

Reputed gang member arrested in murder on Roosevelt Avenue


| ctumola@queenscourier.com

Photo courtesy of NYPD/via Google Maps

Updated Monday, May 18, 4:09 p.m. 

A reported gang member has been apprehended in the deadly shooting of a Corona man in Jackson Heights earlier this month, authorities said.

Raul Zamora, a reputed member of the Sureños 13 gang, has been charged with second-degree murder, first-degree gang assault and second-degree criminal possession of a weapon in the death of 38-year-old Jorge Manzanarez, according to the district attorney’s office.

Police identified Zamora, 33, who lives in Jackson Heights, just blocks from the crime scene, as the suspected shooter last Monday, arresting him on Saturday.

According to officials, Zamora and two other unapprehended individuals got into an argument with Manzanarez at about 2:30 p.m. on May 5 on Roosevelt Avenue near 94th Street. Manzanarez was then shot once in the chest.

Manzanarez was taken to Elmhurst Hospital, where he was pronounced dead.

Zamora, who faces 25 years to life in prison, was ordered held with out bail at his arraignment on Sunday.

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New installments to bring ‘light to shadow’ on Roosevelt Avenue


| aaltamirano@queenscourier.com

THE COURIER/Photos by Angy Altamirano

A stretch of Roosevelt Avenue in Corona will soon light up bright, removing residents from the shadows and bringing a sense of safety to the community.

Councilwoman Julissa Ferreras and the Department of Transportation (DOT) announced Friday that new lampposts and LED lights are being installed down Roosevelt Avenue, a thoroughfare that has faced safety issues throughout the years.

The $500,000 project, which is part of Ferreras’ New Deal plan for Roosevelt Avenue, will replace the current lampposts and install new ones between 90th and 111th streets.

“Having lived on Roosevelt Avenue, I was eyewitness to the challenges it has with regard to safety,” Ferreras said. “Improving the environment for everyone — families, small businesses, street vendors, the LGBTQ community, drivers — has been one of my most important goals, and I am enormously proud to hit another milestone today with the installation of these lights.”

Roosevelt Avenue.

Roosevelt Avenue.

In Ferreras’ New Deal for the corridor, she aimed to make significant improvements such as creating a better business environment, increasing sanitation services and upgrading the lights.

According to the DOT, the new 78- and 91-watt LED lights will replace the 100- and 150-watt high-pressure sodium lights, giving everything around the lights a better color rendering and enhancing nighttime visibility.

The "yellow colored" lights that used to run down Roosevelt Avenue will be replaced.

The “yellow-colored” lampposts that used to run down Roosevelt Avenue will be replaced with new LED lights.

“Thanks to the council member’s support, the new LED lights and poles that DOT is currently installing on Roosevelt Avenue help build on Vision Zero’s safety goals,” DOT Borough Commissioner Nicole Garcia said. “The improved lighting enhances visibility for all, boost[s] the look of the streetscape and saves on energy costs.”

The lights are also part of Mayor Bill de Blasio’s OneNYC Initiative, which looks to reduce the city’s overall carbon footprint by more than 30 percent by 2030.

The installation of the new light poles began last week and the DOT plans to have all work completed by the fall.

“[Roosevelt Avenue] will no longer be viewed as a blighted area. This will no longer be viewed as the shadow area of our community. We have brought light to shadow and I think that’s very important. It’s something that this community has consistently asked for,” Ferreras said.

Ferreras also added that as part of her participatory budgeting she plans to allocate funds to get new lampposts and LED lights from 90th to 82nd streets as well.

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Map: Where recent college grads can afford rent in Queens


| lguerre@queenscourier.com

Photo courtesy Minas Styponias

For recent college graduates, living in New York City while juggling student loans and living expenses can seem almost impossible.

Add in the need for fun and entertainment, and most won’t have a dime remaining from their paychecks.

However, a new study released Wednesday by real estate website StreetEasy shows, through an interactive map, in what neighborhoods recent graduates will be able to find affordable apartments as they begin a life of independence in the Big Apple. Some areas in the “World’s Borough” have been pointed out as leading contenders.

“One of our top tips for recent grads moving to NYC is to look outside of Manhattan, and our study shows that several neighborhoods in Queens are especially ‘grad-friendly,’” a StreetEasy representative said.

Astoria and Ridgewood top the list of those Queens neighborhoods, but affordable apartments can be found in many neighborhoods throughout the borough including Kew Gardens, Corona, Elmhurst, Jackson Heights, Rego Park and Flushing.

The map (below) reveals the availability of affordable apartments in city based on three variables. It uses the average entry-level salaries for the top 10 majors of recent grads moving to the NYC, including business, social sciences, education and engineering, the percent of income one is willing to pay toward rent and the possibility of roommates.

The study found what many have known for decades —  paying NYC rents is actually possible when roommates are included. However, the report also notes, it is possible to fly solo in the city and spend only 30 percent of income, but graduates will have to do serious apartment hunting.

It would also help, if only slightly, not to be an education major.

Zero percent of studio and one-bedroom listings are affordable to solo education majors, according to the study, whereas only 2.7 percent and 5.1 percent were available for social science and business majors respectively.

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Suspect identified in fatal shooting of Corona man on Roosevelt Avenue


| ctumola@queenscourier.com

Photo courtesy of NYPD/via Google Maps

Police have identified an alleged gang member as the shooter suspected of killing a 38-year-old Corona man in broad daylight on a Jackson Heights street last week.

According to authorities, Raul Zamora, a reported member of the Sureños 13 gang, and two other individuals got into a verbal dispute with the victim, Jorge Manzanarez, just before 2:30 p.m. on May 5 on Roosevelt Avenue near 94th Street. Zamora then pulled out a gun, shooting Manzanarez in the torso. Police believe the shooting was gang-related.

EMS rushed Manzanarez to Elmhurst Hospital, where he was pronounced dead.

Zamora is described as 33 years old, Hispanic, 5 feet 9 inches tall and 145 pounds.

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

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City to deploy ‘shelter repair squad’ to fix homeless shelter issues


| aaltamirano@queenscourier.com

THE COURIER/Photo by Angy Altamirano

Five city agencies are coming together to investigate and solve the issues faced at over 500 homeless shelters throughout the city.

Mayor Bill de Blasio announced on Monday that the city will deploying hundreds of “special SWAT teams” — made up of employees from the FDNY, Department of Buildings, Department of Homeless Services, Department of Health and the Department of Housing Preservation and Development — to accelerate the process of repairs at homeless shelters all over New York City.

“These SWAT teams are necessary because we aren’t dealing with a problem that just started in the last year or two, we’re dealing with a problem that is decades old and has gotten worse for several reasons,” de Blasio said. “This city has seen a homelessness crisis that in the last decade went from a very troubling level to an absolutely unacceptable level.”

According to the mayor, 56,000 people are currently living in shelters, and although that number is down from 59,000 people a few months ago, there is still much more to be done.

The implementation of the inter-agency shelter repair squad comes after de Blasio received a report from the Department of Investigation two months ago that put forth the unhealthy conditions at the city shelters. The DOI found 25 shelters that required immediate attention, and those have since had almost all violations addressed.

One of those shelters included the Corona Family Residence, where de Blasio made the announcement Monday afternoon. This facility had violations such as smoke detector problems and rodent infestations.

The squads will go out to individual shelters, identify the problems and solutions to them, then reach out to various departments and agencies that could find the resources to correct the conditions. Typical violations — such as broken or missing smoke detectors — will be expected to be fixed within a seven-day period after being identified. Some of the more complicated capital repairs will begin in about 30 days with a plan of completion within the calendar year.

Along with the squad, there will also be an accountability system put into place where members of the public will be able to track the city’s progress through online scorecards.

“Every effort is being made to reduce the number of health and safety violations within DHS shelters, and the creation of the shelter repair squad will provide immeasurable support to us in these efforts,” DHS Commissioner Gilbert Taylor said. “This engagement is truly reflective of our city’s collective responsibility, serving our most vulnerable New Yorkers. These measures will indeed help DHS to overcome the many years of neglect that our city shelter system has been subjected to.”

Last week, de Blasio also announced that in the city’s 2016 $78.3 billion budget $100 million will go toward homeless prevention and assistance, including rental support, anti-eviction and legal services, and more. The budget will also include $4.7 million to expand the number of shelter beds for runaway and homeless youth by another 100, while enhancing mental health services.

For Councilman Jimmy Van Bramer, who attended the Monday announcement, the issues residents have to live with at these homeless shelters hit close to his heart because his family once lived in a shelter. Van Bramer said that many of the issues the families are facing are the same as those his family faced years ago.

“Every family that comes to [a] shelter is in a state of crisis in one way or another, but the fact that they found shelter means that they are on the path to recovery, like my family. So going to [a] shelter is the first step, in many cases, to making it out of [the] shelter,” Van Bramer said. “But when you get to that shelter, it should be a place where any New Yorker could live because it’s about dignity and it’s about knowing that you matter, your lives matter, your children matter.”

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Queens family charged for international cocaine trafficking


| rpozarycki@queenscourier.com

Photo via Google Maps

This drug ring was all in the family.

A married Malba couple and their son from Woodside were formally booked Wednesday in a federal indictment for operating an international cocaine smuggling ring out of a Corona restaurant and export company.

Gregorio and Eleonora Gigliotti, ages 59 and 54 respectively, and their son Angelo Gigliotti, 34, were initially arrested on March 11. They were charged with conspiracy to import cocaine, conspiracy to possess with intent to distribute cocaine, importation of cocaine and attempted possession of cocaine.

Italian authorities arrested on Thursday the Gigliottis’ alleged business partner — Franco Fazio, 56, of Calabria, Italy — along with 12 other defendants allegedly involved in the drug trafficking ring. The Gigliottis also face charges in Italy for various narcotics trafficking offenses.

Federal authorities said the drug ring was revealed through an investigation that included physical surveillance and court-authorized wiretaps.

Last October, federal agents intercepted a shipment of cassava from Costa Rica bound for Fresh Farms Export Corp. based in Corona and operated by the Gigliottis. Upon inspection, the shipment was found to contain 40 kilograms of cocaine.

Another 15 kilograms of the narcotic were recovered in a second cassava shipment to Fresh Farms Export Corp. that federal authorities intercepted in December.

Federal agents learned that the Gigliottis allegedly ran the drug smuggling business out of the export company and Cucino Amodo Mio, a restaurant and pizzeria the couple owned and operated at 51-01 108th St. in Corona. Eleonora Giglotti traveled to Costa Rica prior to the first shipment and made a $400,000 down payment on the product.

Investigators learned that in September, Fazio allegedly traveled from Italy to Costa Rica (by way of New York) and made an additional payment to the drug suppliers.

The FBI raided the home of Gregorio and Eleonora Gigliotti and Cucino Amodo Mio restaurant on March 11 and recovered numerous weapons — including a 12-gauge shotgun, several loaded handguns and brass knuckles — as well as more than $118,000 in cash.

“This case is a powerful example of the impact of international cooperation in combating criminal organizations whose activities transcend national borders,” said Acting U.S. Attorney of the Eastern District of New York Kelly Currie.

“The arrests in New York and Italy dismantle a global network of alleged drug smugglers believed responsible for importing more than 50 kilograms of cocaine into the U.S.,” said Special Agent-in-Charge Raymond Parmer of the U.S. Immigration and Customs Enforcement Homeland Security Investigations.

Each of the Gigliottis face at least 15 years behind bars if convicted on the top charges.

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Corona man found shot to death on Roosevelt Avenue


| ctumola@queenscourier.com

Image via Google Maps

Police are investigating the murder of a 38-year-old Corona man who was fatally shot in Jackson Heights Tuesday afternoon.

Cops discovered Jorge Manzanarez about 2:20 p.m. on Roosevelt Avenue near 94th Street with a gunshot wound to the torso, authorities said.

EMS rushed Manzanarez to Elmhurst Hospital, where he was pronounced dead.

A motive for the shooting was not immediately clear. There are no arrests.

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Man exposes himself to woman on 7 train: NYPD


| ctumola@queenscourier.com

File photo/Photo courtesy of NYPD

A man riding on the 7 line exposed himself to a female straphanger as the train was approaching the Junction Boulevard station in Corona, police said.

The incident happened about 8:30 a.m. on March 20 aboard a Manhattan-bound train, according to authorities.

As the train was pulling into the stop at Junction Boulevard and Roosevelt Avenue, the victim, a 25-year-old woman, saw the suspect standing in front of her and exposing himself, police said. The man then exited the train at the Woodside/61st Street station.

The suspect is described as an Asian male in his 60s, about 6 feet tall, 180 pounds, with brown eyes and gray hair.

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

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Parents call for permanent annex at Corona’s P.S. 143 to alleviate overcrowding


| aaltamirano@queenscourier.com

THE COURIER/ Photos by Angy Altamirano

Parents at one Corona school are saying enough is enough and are calling on officials to give their children more room to succeed.

Over a hundred parents and children gathered on Tuesday morning with state Senator Jose Peralta outside of P.S. 143, The Louis Armstrong Elementary School, located at 34-74 113th St., to propose the building of a permanent addition to the school to help alleviate the chronic overcrowding.

According to Peralta, the Corona elementary school was originally built to accommodate 900 students, yet currently there are about 1,800 students enrolled at the site. This causes some children to have lunch at 9:50 a.m. and a large number of students have to take their classes outside of the school’s building.

The new annex would replace a mini building and six temporary classroom units, also known as trailers, which are found on the side of the school’s original building. Some students have also been moved to an annex located at 98th Street and 38th Avenue. 

“We need to have real classrooms for our children. A trailer is no place for a kid to be learning and that’s something that we’ve been saying time and time again to the administration,” Peralta said. “No kid should have to learn in a trailer. Forget about the state-of-the-art classrooms, state-of-the-art technology, we just want every student to sit and get an education in a real classroom.

Peralta first proposed the idea of the annex to the Department of Education two years ago, and was told that the agency agreed with the need for a solution to alleviate the overcrowding at P.S. 143. However issues arose because the property where the building would go is owned by the Parks Department. 

Yet the senator said that the building of a new annex would not affect the recreational areas because it would only take up the space already being used by the mini building and trailers. 

“Enough of the talk – we need the walk, we need actions. It is time to act now,” Peralta said. “This is the 21st century. We need to treat our kids like we are in the 21st century,”

Parents said they are concerned because their young children, mostly first-graders, have to go from one location to another during bad weather conditions and are also learning in classrooms with over 30 students. 

The parents added that they call on representatives of the Department of Education, Parks Department and School Construction Authority to believe that it was their children being made to learn in these conditions. 

“We are fighting and no one listens to us and we are tired of this situation,” said Juana de los Santos, who has two children attending P.S. 143. “I believe our children deserve a good education because they are the future of this country. We want an answer and soon, we don’t want them to tell us ‘Here, in five years it will happen.’ We are tired and our children are suffering.”

According to DOE spokesman Jason Fink, the agency is “working with the Parks Department to explore ways to add capacity at this school.”

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Bayside actor muscles in on Hollywood


By Queens Courier Staff | editorial@queenscourier.com

Image courtesy of Peter Gaudio

Bayside actor Peter Gaudio is keeping himself quite busy these days both on and off the screen.

Gaudio has a starring role in the upcoming Steve Rahaman film “Snitches,” which according to IMDb is scheduled to premiere in 2016. Starring Chris Victor and Daniel O’Shea, the movie tells the story of a New York City crime boss undermined by an associate working with corrupt police officers to bring the syndicate down.

The Bayside resident and Corona native was most recently featured in the boxing film “Back in the Day,” starring Alec Baldwin, Danny Glover and Michael Madsen. He’s also part of “Take it Back,” a mob TV drama currently in production.

But away from the production sets, Gaudio showcases his comedic and singing talents during the “Wiseguys and Women of Comedy” act playing weekly at Il Bacco restaurant in Little Neck.

An active bodybuilder and former Mr. New York City, Gaudio got his first break on the screen in the 1992 film “A Bronx Tale” starring Chazz Palmentieri and Robert DeNiro, who also directed. Gaudio said DeNiro selected him in an open audition for one of many background roles in the film shot on location in Astoria.

Over the years, he worked to refine his acting craft, studying with many renowned acting coaches in New York City including the late actor William Hickey and Alice Spivak.

Those lessons paid off for Gaudio, as he’s worked in dozens of films and television shows based in New York and had a recurring role in the off-Broadway murder-mystery show “Murdered by the Mob.” Even so, there’s only one role more important in his life.

“Working with talented artists is living a dream, but the best role I play each and every day is being the greatest father I can be to my 10-year-old daughter Petrina,” he said.

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LeFrak City cuts ribbon on new courtyard as part of multimillion-dollar renovations


| aaltamirano@queenscourier.com

THE COURIER/Photos by Angy Altamirano

A new era has begun at LeFrak City as the Corona apartment complex celebrated the grand opening of a brand-new courtyard filled with amenities just in time for the warmer weather.

The West Courtyard, located at 96-04 57th Ave. in LeFrak City, was officially opened on Wednesday morning after a ribbon-cutting ceremony including local elected officials, LeFrak Organization representatives and residents of LeFrak City.

The courtyard, which is the first phase of projects aiming to transform the outdoor amenities at LeFrak City, features new trees and shrubs, walkways, a new seating area with benches and picnic tables, and two athletic courts currently used for basketball and tennis.

“We’re going to be able to have a great summer and spring here in LeFrak City, but it only works if we keep it clean, if we respect ourselves and respect the facility and we allow the residents and children to enjoy this in that kind of atmosphere,” Assemblyman Jeffrion Aubry said. “We can do this. This is not so hard; we just have to work together, communicate together and enjoy the diversity that LeFrak City has promoted for so many years.”

Aubry also added that the new projects were a “new era” for the Corona apartment complex. Along with the West Courtyard, the next outdoor project will be adding a new playground with state-of-the-art equipment for young children.

Plans are even being drawn to bring a new swimming pool at the East Courtyard in 2017, according to Jamie LeFrak, principal of the LeFrak Organization.

“LeFrak City is more, it’s much more and by that I’m not talking about the spacious, sun-filled apartments or the lively, growing neighborhood with its library and schools and shopping malls,” LeFrak said. “The more in LeFrak City is the people. LeFrak City is 20,000 amazing people in 5,000 families and more than 200 maintenance workers, safety officers and administrative staff.”

All the outdoor projects are part of a multimillion-dollar renewal and modernization of LeFrak City which began three years ago.

The overall renovations include five new lobbies with 10 new mail rooms, hundreds of renovated apartments, 20 new laundry rooms, 10,000 brighter and more efficient light fixtures, 60 fully modernized elevators, 80 restored façades, eight reconstructed garages, five new security and intercom systems including more than 1,000 new HD video cameras and a residential rooftop solar energy installation.

“LeFrak has always been a destination and now it will continue to be even a better destination with this courtyard. This is the new beginning,” state Senator Jose Peralta said. “LeFrak has gone through some recent tragedies but today is a day of celebration. Today is a day of celebration because today is about a new hope, a new beginning where we are going to transform LeFrak into what LeFrak was going to be envisioned for.”

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Pair sought in Queens police impersonation robberies


| agiudice@ridgewoodtimes.com

Video courtesy of NYPD

A phony cop is stopping people on the streets of Queens before robbing them and jumping into a getaway car, authorities said.

Police have released video footage of the fake officer in the act and say he has robbed six separate victims between October and March in Middle Village, Woodside, Elmhurst and Corona.

All of the victims were traveling on foot when they were stopped by the suspect described as Hispanic or white, about 30 to 40 years old and with a heavy build, authorities said. He then searched the victim and removed property from them before fleeing with a second suspect who was waiting in a black Lincoln Town Car or dark van, police said.

The two suspects are wanted in the following incidents:

  • On Oct. 29, at about 1:30 a.m., at the corner of 82nd Street and Furmanville Avenue, $80 was taken from a 21-year-old man.
  • On Nov. 27, at about 1:30 a.m., at the corner of James Avenue and 88th Street, a 40-year-old man’s wallet containing a debit card was taken.
  • On Dec. 11, at about 12:50 a.m. in front of 39-66 65th St., a 39-year-old man’s wallet containing $17 was taken.
  • On Feb. 14, at about 4:45 a.m. in front of 102-26 45th Ave., a 37-year-old man’s wallet containing a debit card and a cellphone were taken.
  • On Feb. 26, at about 12:30 a.m. in front of 49-07 103rd St., a 33-year-old man’s wallet containing $650 and debit and credit cards were taken.
  • On March 15, at about 5:30 a.m. at the corner of 102nd Street and 45th Avenue, a 45-year-old man’s wallet containing $480 was taken.

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

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110 Precinct CO talks new post, future plans


| aaltamirano@queenscourier.com

THE COURIER/ Photo by Angy Altamirano

The 110th Precinct, which encompasses Corona and Elmhurst, has a new top cop and he is ready to get to know his new community and continue the work his predecessor achieved.

Captain Christopher Manson was named the new commanding officer of the western Queens precinct and started at his new post on March 17. He is taking over from Deputy Inspector Ronald Leyson, who after spending the last three years at the 110th Precinct was reassigned to the NYPD’s Queens North Detective Bureau.

For the past two years, Manson was the commanding officer at the 104th Precinct, which covers Ridgewood, Glendale, Middle Village and Maspeth.

“I had a great time there, great community. Crime went down about 11 percent over two years. We did a lot of good work,” Manson said. “We hope to continue that here. I inherited a very good, smooth running operation from my predecessor Deputy Inspector Leyson.”

Before taking command of the 104th Precinct, the 27-year NYPD veteran was assigned for a few months at the 114th Precinct, and before that was the executive officer for two years at the 109th Precinct in Flushing.

Since starting at his new post in Corona, Manson said he has been getting know the community and its leaders, and plans to continue the outreach.

“It’s a good place. I’m happy to be here,” Manson said. “I think right now the precinct is set up right because they have a lot of manpower that works late at night.”

He added that in the year to date, crime had been down 8 percent; however, domestic violence had increased in the confines of the precinct. Based on this data, Manson said he hopes to “take a heavy look” at the issue of domestic violence.

Among other initiatives from his past post, Manson has brought over weekly deployment meetings in which he gets together with specific units of the precinct and goes over certain patterns and trends going on.

The units are then committed to addressing certain crimes in specific areas within the precinct.

“Whatever it is these different units from the precinct are committed to these crime zones. It’s worked in the past and continues to work,” Manson said.

Manson added that there other things he might want to bring over from his previous post but he still needs to get to know the 110th Precinct a bit more and then decide what should be done.

He plans to continue the precinct’s social media presence with taking over the Twitter account @NYPD110Pct.

“I’m the 110 rookie,” he said. “I’ve got a lot to learn.”

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Corona community opposes planned conference hotel even after downsize


| lguerre@queenscourier.com

Renderings courtesy of Fleet Financial Group

Plans to construct a luxurious 25-story hotel and convention center in Corona are crumbling amid growing pressure from residents and politicians who feel the structure would degrade the quality of life in the neighborhood by obstructing views, increasing traffic and creating pollution.

Now the developer, Fleet Financial Group, led by president Richard Xia, is considering downsizing the project to a 12-story mixed-use building called the Eastern Emerald Hotel at 112-21 Northern Blvd., according to reports. Even so, residents are against the revised development as well.

“They thought we were a quiet neighborhood. They awoke a sleeping giant,” said Beryl Major, who refers to herself as the facilitator of S.T.O.P. (Standing Together On Principle), a group of residents formed to combat the development of the center. “What [Xia] wants to build, whether it’s as of right or not, it doesn’t belong in this neighborhood.”

S.T.O.P. held its second public meeting Thursday at First Baptist Church across the border in East Elmhurst, which featured ranking members of the Department of City Planning.

Borough President Melinda Katz and Councilwoman Julissa Ferreras were also in attendance, and joined the chorus against the project, believing it would become a glaring structure among the community of low-rise homes.

Fleet Financial Group paid $17 million in 2013 for the site at 112-21 Northern Blvd., which was home to the DiBlasi Ford dealership.


The group originally planned for a $200 million hotel and exhibition hall, with 292 hotel rooms, 236 apartments, a shopping center, a high-class restaurant and a 300-space garage.

However, after scaling back the project to the as of right plans, or what it is legally entitled to build without a variance or rezoning, now the development could become a 12-story mixed-use residential, hotel and community facility building, with a parking garage and a community facility.

This smaller project would have 206 apartments in eight upper floors of residential space, and 197 hotel guestrooms in three floors, according to the plans obtained by The Courier.

Xia said the reason for scaling back the project was because of traffic conditions, according to a report.

But the larger 25-story project would have needed to go through the city’s Uniform Land Use Review Procedure (ULURP) for a required rezoning, and it most certainly would have been doomed without community, City Council and borough president support.

Because of the extensive amount of construction projects occurring around their neighborhoods, including the National Tennis Center expansion and the mega mall at Willets Point, residents are seeing too much change happening too quickly.

Even Ferreras — a supporter of the Willets Point plan — hopes the new planned hotel is a fleeting idea.

“I’m not someone who believes that we have to stop every project,” she said, “but there are projects that just make no sense. And this one contextually makes no sense for our community.”

In February the Department of Buildings disapproved permits to construct the 12-story building.

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Rusty trailers to be removed from overcrowded Corona elementary school


| aaltamirano@queenscourier.com

THE COURIER/Photos by Angy Altamirano

The largest elementary school in the city is getting much-needed room for students to grow and learn.

P.S. 19, located at 98-2 Roosevelt Ave. in Corona, is known for its overcrowded hallways and for students attending classes in trailers, also called Temporary Classroom Units. The school is the largest elementary school in the city by student enrollment and one of the most overcrowded in Queens.

For years, parents and local leaders have fought to remove the trailers, five of which were placed at the school in 1994 and a larger one that was placed on site in 1987, and bring their children back into the school.

On Friday, parents and city officials gathered in front one of the six trailers at the school to announce that the “decades-old, rusty” transportables would be removed and that a new addition is expected to be constructed for the Corona school.

The removal of the trailers and construction of the new building are funded through the Smart Schools Bond Act.

“For too long, P.S. 19 has been inadvertently punished for its own success. What’s remarkable about P.S. 19 is in spite of bursting at the seams from chronic capacity issues and trailers breaking down, the school’s learning environment remains strong and the school performs consistently well,” Borough President Melinda Katz said.

The five smaller trailers at P.S. 19 accommodate 250 students into seven kindergarten and three first-grade classrooms. The larger trailer fits 250 more students into 11 classrooms from grades one through five.

Problems faced in the trailers included frequent breaking down of heating and air conditioning.

“When my son was in kindergarten he was always upset about going to school,” said Rafaela Vivalo, a mother of a second-grader at the school. “He had to learn in a trailer and was always cold and wet during the winter — his feet never had time to dry, since they had to go inside and outside multiple times a day to the main building.”

In spring 2016 the design process for P.S. 19’s new building will be completed and by that summer all the trailers are expected to be removed. During the construction of the new building, 500 incoming students will be temporarily relocated to P.S. 315’s new building on 43rd Avenue, but will still be considered part of P.S. 19.

“It is unacceptable that some of our children are playing musical chairs in the schools within the bounds of the greatest city of the world,” state Senator Jose Peralta said. “I urge swift action on the welcomed addition and look forward to supporting P.S. 19 throughout the process.”

Construction is expected to be completed by the 2018-2019 school year and the relocated students will return to P.S. 19.

“We have worked long and hard to end overcrowding in Corona, and the expansion of P.S. 19 is a milestone in our progress,” said Councilwoman Julissa Ferreras, who attended the elementary school. “We’re giving our kids a quality space to learn and thrive.”

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