Tag Archives: Court Square

LIC woman starts tour company to share her love for Queens

| aaltamirano@queenscourier.com

Photo courtesy of Connie Murray

One Long Island City resident has decided to share her love for her neighborhood and borough through a new tour company aimed at giving participants a real Queens experience.

Connie Murray, the woman behind the Twitter account @fuelgrannie, has launched her own business called QueensStomp, which offers tours of LIC to locals and tourists.

Murray led her first tour in April as a Hunters Point bar crawl but now wants to incorporate her love for photography, walking and local architecture in areas such as Hunters Point, Court Square, Queens Plaza and Dutch Kills into future tours.

Her new tours will look to take participants throughout the western Queens neighborhood and experience it in a way locals do.

“It’s not just bars, not just food, it’s having a real Queens experience because it’s such a sweet and nice and cute area,” Murray said.

The idea for the tour company came after a friend suggested Murray get into the business and while she thought about the idea, travel guidebook company Lonely Planet named Queens as the best place to visit in the U.S. in 2015, and she knew the universe had aligned for her.

Currently, Murray is working on her brand and networking with other locals who offer tours — such as Joe DiStefano and Jeff Orlick — to create a tour model.

She added that she wants to incorporate her love for the city’s industrial architecture, sunsets off the East River and her taste for Queens-produced craft beer to create the perfect Queens experience to bring tourists back again and again.

“I think a lot of people are now coming specifically to Queens. They’re not just staying in the hotel hub in Long Island City,” Murray said. “They are actually coming to hang out in Queens.”

Although she grew up in Manhattan, Murray has been living in Long Island City for the past 17 years and said she fell in love the moment she made the move into Queens.

“I absolutely love it. I’m a New York gal, but I fell in love with New York hard when I moved into Queens,” Murray said. “Queens has so much to offer. It’s an extraordinary borough and I think it’s such an unsung hero in our city.”

At the moment — as she gets her feet wet — Murray said she is offering her tours for free as a way to get feedback and also get a better understanding of what she can expect once she starts charging for the tours.

Anyone interested in taking part in the tours can contact Murray via the QueensStomp website or reach out to her via social media.

In the future, Murray also said she hopes to get to know other Queens neighborhoods better so she can expand her tours deeper into the borough.

“I’m just really excited to see what is happening with my borough and I’m happy to be a part of it,” Murray said. “If I ever won the lottery, if I had a billion dollars I would not move back to Manhattan. I just love it here. I’m just so happy to be here.”

Murray plans to officially launch her tours by the end of July or early August and tours will take place seven days a week. For more information and updates, visit queensstomp.com or @queensstomp on Twitter.


LIC residents call on DOT to return hundreds of public parking spaces

| aaltamirano@queenscourier.com

THE COURIER/Photo by Angy Altamirano

Residents in Long Island City want the Department of Transportation to know that its decision to take away hundreds of public parking spaces at one parking garage is not in their favor and the agency needs to return what belongs to the community.

Councilman Jimmy Van Bramer gathered with angry residents Friday morning to call on the transportation agency to restore 330 public parking permits that were taken away by DOT at the Court Square Municipal Parking Garage, located at 45-40 Court Square.

“The DOT a few months ago without consultation decided they were going to change the rules, they were going to make it more difficult for the people in this community to park their cars, make it more difficult for them to get to work on time, take their kids to school, do all the things they need to do,” Van Bramer said. “These seem like small matters, but the truth is it’s the small things that make a big difference in the quality of life.”


Along with removing over 50 parking spaces last December in order to make room for DOT vehicles, the policy of the garage was changed two months ago making 210 parking spaces available on a first-come, first-served basis.

“It’s a wrong decision. It’s a foolish decision. It requires to be reversed not tomorrow but today,” resident Rama Rao said. “We are a community here. We contributed through Arris Lofts and other buildings around here to build Long Island City what it is today.”

According to residents, for the past two months they have had to wait hours in line during days designated by the DOT in order for them to pay their existing monthly parking and also ensure they get the spots for the following month.

“This is ‘The Hunger Games’ of monthly permit parking,” said P.C. Cheng, an LIC resident who has been parking at the garage since 2008.

Lines of hundreds of people fill the parking garage during those days and people have to wait in the middle of active driveways, some bringing in chairs to wait, according to residents. They say parking spaces have also been taken away to make room for a DOT storage facility surrounded by a fence.

Photo courtesy of P.C. Cheng

Hundreds of people waited hours to make sure they got a space at the Court Square Municipal Park for the month of June. (Photo courtesy of P.C. Cheng)

Cindy Vitari, who has been living in the neighborhood since 2007, said last month her husband had to wait four hours and was late to work.

“The sudden change is undemocratic. It’s not right for the residents of Long Island City,” Vitari said. “We have had to fight for space in our schools and anything to do with our public transportation, with our parking being taking away now, too.”

Van Bramer said that his office was never contacted in regard to the change and he is calling on the DOT to give the spaces back to the people that live and work in Long Island City.

“I am calling on them to rescind both of these policies which are not helping anyone here in Long Island City; they’re only making life more difficult for these folks who have invested in Court Square, invested in Long Island City,” Van Bramer said.

According to a DOT spokesperson, the DOT seeks a fair and efficient balance between daily and monthly permits and after hearing concerns from local stakeholders, the agency decided to implement the policy change in order to allow motorists to apply for 210 monthly spaces on a first-come, first-served basis.

The remaining 120 spaces, which used to be monthly spaces, are now being using for short-term parking and according to the DOT no spaces are being lost with the change of policy.

“This not only allows for all motorists to have a fair chance to apply for a monthly permit, but also allows for more short-term parking in the area, which is home to several courts, a museum and a law school,” a DOT spokesperson said.

In regard to the spaces being taken by DOT vehicles, the spokesperson said the agency’s operational fleet, which carry speed camera equipment, is kept there to be in close proximity to the unit they serve and are dispatched from. DOT also added that the spaces taken are not part of the 330 spaces made available to the public.

DOT also plans to implement an electronic permit reservation system this summer that will allow for a faster process.

The agency plans to review data obtained in the next several months and then make any necessary changes, if needed.


LIC Arts Open to celebrate fifth year

| aaltamirano@queenscourier.com

Photos by Junenoire Fonte

Long Island City is coming together next month to celebrate the art scene that grows every day throughout the western Queens neighborhood.

The LIC Arts Open — a five-day extravaganza where over 500 artists are expected to occupy galleries and other local spaces and open their studios to visitors — will celebrate its fifth year and hopes to work with real estate companies to help keep artists in the neighborhood.

“We’re really proud to have reached year five and I think that we did not really envision it when we first started,” said Richard Mazda, festival director. “We [started] something that even in the first year became much bigger than we thought it would.”

The festival, running from May 13 through 17, began as a two-day, open-studio event mainly showcasing visual artists. However, in its fifth year, the event now features works from visual artists, performers, musicians and so much more.

This year the festival will span 60 locations, and over 200 artists will open up their studios on Saturday, May 16, and Sunday, May 17, from noon to 6 p.m. to share their work with visitors. For the first time, there will be a preview of open studios located in the Court Square area on Friday, May 15, from 5 to 7 p.m.

Sculpture by Jack Howard-Potter at last year's LIC Arts Open.

Sculpture by Jack Howard-Potter at last year’s LIC Arts Open.

“The initial inspiration for the festival was because Queens has one of the largest concentrations of artists of any borough in New York and maybe it’s the largest concentration of artists in the country. It just hasn’t been talked about much,” Mazda said. “We have a lot of the major cultural institutions in Queens so the festival was sort of inspired by the idea that it was time to shine a light on the immense talent that is here.”

Mazda also added that there is some concern surrounding the real estate boom occurring in the neighborhood, but he plans to work with real estate property companies to “remind them that artists are a valuable component when marketing the area.”

A head sculpture made from trash bags by Beth Williams.

A head sculpture made from trash bags by Beth Williams.

The festival is working with companies such as Jamestown, which owns the Falchi Building located at 31-00 47th Ave., to showcase art shows during the LIC Arts Open.

The idea of the five-day event is also to take over buildings and spaces that are not traditional gallery locations, and create pop-up art galleries and art shows introducing the community to these industrial spaces.

Another highlight of the festival includes neighborhood nights out, where each night is dedicated to a specific area of Long Island City such as Vernon Boulevard/Jackson Avenue, Dutch Kills or Court Square.

A fundraiser will be held on May 5 at the home of LIC photographer Orestes Gonzalez. During the garden party, awards will be given to Harriet Taub, executive director of Material For the Arts, and sculptor Eliot Lable.

Map of participating venues for this year’s LIC Arts Open.

The LIC Arts Open will come to an end during a closing party at the Court Square Studios, located at 2138 44th Rd., on May 17 featuring a special concert version of the musical “Hair,” a silent auction of about 100 art pieces on 10-by-10 canvases, and performance from the Astoria band 2/3 Goat.

Every event throughout the festival is free and open to the public. For the latest updates visit licartsopen.org.


Multi-lot Court Square development site hits the market for $41.5M

| lguerre@queenscourier.com

Photos courtesy of Modern Spaces

A seven-lot portfolio near the heart of the hot Court Square area in Long Island City is asking for $41.5 million, and will probably get that much or more soon.

A collection of six landlords are selling the two- and three-story townhouse buildings on the parcels, which are being marketing by Modern Spaces and The Corcoran Group.

The landlords combined the properties to maximize buildable rights. Together the site has about 11,145 square feet, and offers 167,000 buildable square feet, The Real Deal reported.

The portfolio of properties has only been on the market for three days and there have been offers around the asking price, said Evan Daniel, vice president at Modern Spaces. Three of the buildings are located on 45th Avenue at 23-10, 23-14, and 23-16. The remaining properties are at 45-03, 45-05, 45-07 and 45-09 23rd St.

The size and zoning of the site allows for many possible uses, and Daniel believes it could be great for a mixed-use structure.

“I think retail hasn’t really come yet to this area, but we all know it will come here. I think it would be good for this project,” Daniel said. “You can have a tremendous mixed-use project here with residential, office and retail.”

Because it is located across from One Court Square, also known as the Citibank Building, and near the mix of Court Square subway transit options, the location will be attractive to developers.

“One thing we know about this project is that location is second to none,” Daniel said.

23rd Street Properties

23rd Street properties


Man struck with brick during attempted robbery at Court Square ATM: cops

| ctumola@queenscourier.com

Photo courtesy of NYPD

An attacker used a brick stuffed into a pink stocking to hit a man in the head after he refused to hand over his cash at a Long Island City ATM, police said.

The 32-year-old victim was withdrawing money inside the vestibule area of the 1 Court Square Citibank about 4:15 a.m. on Monday when the suspect approached him, authorities said.

The suspect, while holding the stocking with the brick inside of it, then demanded money from the man.

When the victim would not hand over his cash, the suspect swung the brick at the man and struck him in the head, according to police. He fled without taking any money.

The victim refused medical attention.

Police describe the suspect as about 5 feet 8 inches tall and 230 pounds. He was last seen wearing a black hat and black jacket.

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.



LIC warehouse sells for $37M, demolition on the way

| lguerre@queenscourier.com

Photo courtesy of Scott Binter/PropertyShark 

GDC Properties bought a warehouse in Long Island City that is ripe for development for $37 million, according to city records filed Monday.

The firm also applied for demolition permits with the Department of Buildings for the one-story 33,660-square-foot warehouse previously owned by Eunhasu Corporation. The warehouse is located at 11-22 45th Rd. in the Court Square area, which has seen numerous plans for development recently.

The property has 114,000 buildable square feet, according to The Real Deal.

Permits for a new building have not been filed at the site yet.


Report: LIC land prices nearly hit $300 per buildable square foot

| lguerre@queenscourier.com

Chart courtesy of Modern Spaces

Soaring land prices in Long Island City are hitting record highs for the neighborhood, according to the Moderns Spaces 3Q report released Thursday.

The price per buildable square in LIC jumped to an unheard of $250-$300 in this past quarter for some properties, the report said. The average land prices are above $200 in prime areas.

The price surge is mainly due to the demand for bigger projects aimed at larger family-size apartments, according to the report.

“The properties that are being acquired at those price points will most likely all be condos as they don’t make financial sense as a rental product with that high of a land base,” the report said. “But as condo prices rise in Manhattan and in Brooklyn, it’s naturally going to drive the buyer who is getting priced out of the areas to Long Island City or Queens as a whole.”

Meanwhile, for commercial and investment properties, the report found that in south Long Island City — areas near the waterfront, Hunter’s Point, Court Square, and Queens Plaza — land values eclipsed an average of more than $200 per buildable square foot and some properties have hit prices almost as high as $300.

But Modern Spaces predicts this trend will not continue.

“Despite demand being as strong as it has ever been, we predict the market will level in the $225 – $250 per buildable square foot range depending on exact location,” the report said.

Although land prices in Astoria have not hit an average of $200 per buildable square foot yet, not to be left too far behind, land prices in the neighborhood doubled in the past year with some properties eclipsing $200 per buildable square foot, according to the report.




Real estate roundup: Alternate Silvercup expansion renderings, city approves shaming landlords, Court Square permits filed

By Queens Courier Staff | editorial@queenscourier.com

Rendering courtesy of LEESER Architecture

Imagine LIC’s Skyline with this Whimsical Silvercup Addition

The expansion of Long Island City’s Silvercup Studios to include Silvercup West, a mixed-use extension of the famed production studio, hasn’t been a dormant project after all; in fact, LEESER Architecture has been busy creating a plan as an alternate to the originally-proposed Richard Rogers design. Read more [Curbed]

Permits filed for two towers in Court Square

The first permits are up for yet another Court Square tower, this one coming to 27-19 44th Drive. Coincidentally, permits were filed for a 26-story tower right next door yesterday, and the buildings will actually be the same height, with both standing 282 feet tall. Read more [New York YIMBY]

NYC’s Queens to get 2,404 Apartments in Durst Project

Rendering courtesy of Durst Organization

Rendering courtesy of Durst Organization

A partnership including Durst Organization plans to build 2,404 apartments on the East River waterfront in the Astoria section of Queens, New York. Douglas Durst’s company said it will invest $1.5 billion in a 2.5 million square-foot (232,000-square-meter) residential and retail development on Hallets Point, a peninsula just southwest of the Robert F. Kennedy Bridge, according to an e-mailed statement. Read more [Bloomberg]

City to publicly shame harassing landlords

New York City officials will publicly post the names of landlords found to have harassed tenants, hoping the public shaming will be a deterrent. The mayor signed a bill on Tuesday that will require the city’s Department of Housing Preservation and Development to post on its website the names of landlords found in housing court to have harassed tenants. Read more [New York Times] 

Riders happy but cautious as G train service returns between LIC and Brooklyn

| aaltamirano@queenscourier.com


Commuters breathed sighs of relief as the G train began rolling into Long Island City once again.

For five consecutive weeks this summer, the subway line was not running between the Court Square station in Long Island City and the Nassau Avenue stop in Brooklyn due to repairs being made to damaged tubes flooded during Hurricane Sandy, according to the MTA.

“The dedication of transit personnel in rebuilding the Greenpoint Tubes and ensuring safe, reliable G train service for our customers is part of our continuing efforts to reinforce the system’s infrastructure and safeguard the most vulnerable areas of our subway system for decades to come,” said NYC Transit President Carmen Bianco.

Regular weekday service on the G train resumed between the stops on Tuesday, making many train riders happy to use the line once again.

Jackson Heights resident Elizabeth Gutierrez was excited to be able to once again ride the G train, which she uses to get to her job in Brooklyn. However, she says she is slightly worried the line will be suspended once again in the future.

“It’s really nice to have something back that I depend on for work so much, but I just hope this whole thing was for something,” Gutierrez said. “I’m just afraid in a few months it’ll happen again.”

Sam Lancet, a Long Island City resident, said he was happy the line was back and running but is also concerned about other subway lines being suspended.
“I’m really happy that now I can just hop back on the G, but you never know what other train will go out of service next,” Lancet said.

During the G train suspensions, which began on July 25, the MTA provided shuttle buses for riders between Long Island City and Greenpoint, Brooklyn.

“To be honest I enjoyed the buses more; they were on time mostly,” said Long Island City resident Gerry Hughes. “But I am still happy the G is back, finally. That summer was too long.”


Plans filed for 33-floor, mixed-use residential building in LIC

| lguerre@queenscourier.com

Photo courtesy Property Shark

Another towering residential structure is planned for Long Island City.

Plans for a 33-story residential and commercial building have been filed with the Department of Buildings  on a vacant lot blocks away from Court Square Park and the subway station on Jackson Avenue.

The building, which is planned for 44-26 Purves St., will comprise 270 units in 206,546 square feet of residential space, according to Department of Buildings records.

FXFOWLE Architects is designing the residential tower, which will also include 517 square feet of commercial space.

The 33-floor building will join not only the 50-story One Court Square building in the LIC skyline, but also another mammoth mixed-use residential building that is planned for the burgeoning neighborhood.

Rockrose Development Corporation is working on a 50-story building at 43-25 Hunter St. with 767,305 square feet of residential space and 18,800 square feet of retail space. There will be 974 units and 67 enclosed parking spots.

Excavation work recently began on this development, according to The Court Square Blog.



LIC demands better communication over G train suspensions

| aaltamirano@queenscourier.com


The Long Island City community is concerned a new string of subway shutdowns will bring more problems to residents and business owners.

The MTA announced the G subway line, which connects Brooklyn and Queens, will be shut down for five weeks, including weekdays and weekends, starting July 28, though full details of the closure are still being finalized.

Service will also be suspended between Nassau Avenue and Court Square.

Although the transit agency said there will be no scheduled suspensions on the No. 7 and L subway lines during the five weeks, Long Island City residents and business owners are concerned about the inconveniences the shutdowns will bring.

“It’s one thing after another. We just have to throw up our hands and ask what’s next from the MTA,” Senator Michael Gianaris said. “They make these decisions without asking the community for its input.”

The closures are due to Sandy-related repairs, which involve track, structural, signal and electrical component repairs and replacement work, the MTA said. The work was scheduled during this period because it is when the G train has the lowest ridership.

Sheila Lewandowski, co-founder and executive director of The Chocolate Factory Theater in Long Island City, said more commuters are using the line and she hopes the MTA will take the time to listen to their ideas for alternatives before July.

“There’s more and more people traveling within the other boroughs,” Lewandowski said. “It should not just be a talk down decision. There has to be communication. They need to be listening to their communities more.”



G train to shut down between Brooklyn and LIC for five weeks

| aaltamirano@queenscourier.com


Starting in July, G train riders are going to have to find a new way to get from Brooklyn to Queens.

The line will be shut down for five weeks, including weekdays and weekends, starting on July 28 with service suspended between the Nassau Avenue and Court Square stations, according to the MTA.

The closures are due to Sandy-related repairs, which involve track, structural, signal and electrical component repairs and replacement work, the transit agency said. The work was scheduled during this period because it is when the G train has the lowest ridership.

The full details of the service plan for this G line closure are still being finalized. During the five weeks, there will be no scheduled suspensions on the No. 7 and L subway lines.

Beginning this month, the No. 7 line is slated to be suspended for a total of 22 weekends this year.

Last July, the MTA shut down the G line for 12 weekends in order to make Sandy-related repairs. Although the agency provided shuttle buses during the suspensions, there was an uproar from local leaders, residents and business owners who said the shut down caused riders inconveniences.



Man sought in bias assault on No. 7 train

| ctumola@queenscourier.com

Photo courtesy of NYPD

A suspect allegedly assaulted a Hispanic man on a No. 7 train before making anti-Mexican statements towards him, cops said.

The 43-year-old victim was on a northbound train about 4 p.m. Sunday when the suspect approached him and punched him twice in the face, then made the bias remarks, police said. The suspect then fled the train at the Court Square station in Long Island City.

The victim sustained bruises to the nose and a lacerated lip, but refused medical aid at the scene, according to cops.

Police describe the suspect as a black male, 6′ tall and 165 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.



Court Sqaure station reopened

| mpantelidis@queenscourier.com

Photo Courtesy the MTA:

Court Square station is ready for riders again.

After being closed on January 21 in order to facilitate a substantial rehabilitation project, “7” trains resumed making stops at the Long Island City station on Monday, April 2.

The revitalization plan included platform and windscreen replacement and the enhancement of accessibility features – which will make the station compliant with the Americans with Disabilities Act. A new platform composed of fiberglass and resin was also constructed, making it lighter and corrosion resistant.

“Returning Court Square station to revenue service will once again allow our customers to take advantage of the recently completed in-system free transfer, and with full rehabilitation work nearly complete, the fast-growing area of Long Island City will have a refurbished and updated complex that will be fully accessible,” said NYC Transit President Thomas Prendergast.

Expansion joints, tactile warning tiles and four new track drains were also installed along both platforms during the closure, and the mezzanine was rehabilitated as well. Other improvements include new stair stringers and treads connecting the mezzanine to both the Queens and Manhattan-bound platforms and new conduits to accommodate relocated fare collection equipment.

Although the project is close to completion, the MTA continues to work on the “upgrade and modernization” of the “7” line. Project updates can be viewed at http://www.mta.info/nyct/service/building7update.htm.