Tag Archives: Department of Buildings

LIC’s Secret Theatre turns to fundraising campaign to survive


| aaltamirano@queenscourier.com

Photo by Orestes Gonzalez

One Long Island City theatre is looking to raise enough money to help keep its doors open.

Richard Mazda, founder of the Secret Theatre, located at 44-02 23rd St., has started an Indiegogo fundraising campaign after having to deal with financial difficulties starting in late 2012.

The difficulties came after the Department of Buildings found the landlord’s certificate of occupancy was out of date, which meant that Mazda had to pay DOB fines, hire architects to get correct permits in place and also move the site’s Little Theatre to an alternative spot in the 23rd Street building.

“We were under the threat of closing one space and just having the big theatre, or closing both spaces and literally calling it a day,” Mazda said. “No matter how hard we tried we couldn’t dig our way out just from our normal thin profit margin.”

Mazda continued to explain that the Secret Theatre breaks even with the money coming in from ticket sales, but to pay for the “unexpected costs” they now had to turn to the community to help cover some debts and also continue offering programs to the community.

The Secret Theatre opened in 2007 and has since produced weekly children’s theatre shows, held classes for students, provided coaching services, and produced in-house and co-produced productions.

“I am comfortable that we will raise a good amount of money,” Mazda said. “I am very moved by the support we are receiving so far and I look forward to being able to thank more people.”

Along with raising the money to pay for expenses, Mazda also said he hopes to bring change to the Secret Theatre and turn it into a nonprofit organization.

The Indiegogo campaign has a goal of $10,000 and will run until Sept. 4.

“At this point in time I don’t think we will close. We are still in trouble, but the reaction from people has been incredible,” Mazda said.

For more information visit secrettheatre.com. To donate to the Secret Theatre’s fundraising campaign, click here.

RECOMMENDED STORIES

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.

 

RECOMMENDED STORIES

Work progressing on 13-story Flushing residential building  


| lguerre@queenscourier.com

THE COURIER/Photo by Liam La Guerre

Excavation work recently began on a planned 13-story residential building in Flushing.

The building, which will be located on the corner of Main Street and Elder Avenue near the Queens Botanical Garden, will have 20 apartments, according to filings with the Department of Buildings.

Raymond Chan Architect designed the building, and it is expected to be completed by winter 2015.

 

RECOMMENDED STORIES 

Plans filed for 150-room, 26-story LIC hotel


| lguerre@queenscourier.com

THE COURIER/Photo by Liam La Guerre

A 26-story mixed-use hotel is coming to Long Island City.

The hotel, which will be located at 32-35 Queens Blvd., will have 150 rooms, New York YIMBY reported.

Raymond Chan Architect is designing the building.

The hotel will be just over 104,000 square feet, with a 44,400 square-foot community facility, according to filings owner Fongtar Realty made with the Department of Buildings.

A two-story commercial structure that currently sits on the property will need to be demolished before construction can begin.

 

RECOMMENDED STORIES

Woodside catering hall sold for $9.8 million


| lguerre@queenscourier.com

THE COURIER/Photo by Liam La Guerre

Elite Palace catering hall on Garfield Avenue in Woodside is under new management.

V.G.F. Properties LLC sold the building to 6902 Garfield Ave LLC in a $9.8 million transaction, which was finalized on Wednesday, according to city records.

The more than 22,000-square-foot building, which hosts everything from weddings to Sweet 16 parties, has a grand ballroom with 20-foot ceilings and 22 Bavarian crystal chandeliers. The catering hall can accommodate events of up to 700 people. There are also 83 parking spots on the property and valet parking.

The building was converted to a catering hall in 2008, according to Department of Buildings filings. The new owners plan to continue to operate the catering business, according to a representative.

 

RECOMMENDED STORIES

 

Rendering for Long Island City office building conversion released


| lguerre@queenscourier.com

Rendering courtesy Avinash K Malhotra


Meadow Partners released a rendering of its conversion of a Long Island City building on 42-15 Crescent St., which is set to be completed next year.

The building, which is being designed by Avinash K Malhotra Architects, was an office and retail structure that was bought by Meadow in December 2012 for $19 million, according to the Commercial Observer.

The structure will expand from its current nine stories to 11, according to Department of Buildings filings, and is expected to include 124 residential units and retail space on the ground floor.

 

RECOMMENDED STORIES

Rendering posted of new 15-story Flushing building


| lguerre@queenscourier.com

THE COURIER/Photos by Liam La Guerre


Developers planning to build on 36-16 Main St. posted the rendering of a new building that’ll soon make its mark in the ever-growing downtown Flushing skyline.

The new building, which is being designed by JWC Architects Engineer DPC, will be a 15-story residential development, according to Department of Buildings records.

The structure, which will be located near the intersection of Northern Boulevard and Main Street, has an anticipated completion date for 2018.

 

RECOMMENDED STORIES 

Ridgewood Theater’s residential conversion approved


| ejankiewicz@queenscourier.com

THE COURIER/Photos by Liam La Guerre

The Department of Buildings approved a permit to turn the Ridgewood Theater into a multi-purpose building last week, according to neighborhood news and real estate blog Curbed NY.

The approved permit reveals plans to add two more stories to the three-story building that once housed an almost century-old movie theater. The first floor will be an entertainment venue while the other floors will be used to create 50 apartment units. The owner, Bushburg Properties, told Curbed that they are still in the planning stage and that a completion date has not been set. The movie theater is landmarked so any plans require the owner to preserve the façade of the building.

The permit shows that there will be 13,638 square feet of commercial space but the venue hasn’t been leased yet. Community leaders are brainstorming ideas for what kind of entertainment would work best in the first floor space.


RECOMMENDED STORIES 

New Ridgewood restaurant criticized for ‘soft-core porn’ wall art


| ejankiewicz@queenscourier.com

THE COURIER/Photos by Eric Jankiewicz

A new Ridgewood restaurant hoping to capture the influx of hipsters has alienated them with a series of photographs of nude women.

The bar stocks Brooklyn-made vodka. One wall is lined with exposed brick cobbled in California. The handmade chandeliers hanging over the oak-wood bar cost $600 a piece. Cream offers food that would be found in higher-end restaurants, such as pan-seared striped bass, herb-marinated rack of lamb and crème brûlée. Besides two floors for seating and a bar, Cream also has a backyard garden with wooden benches.

“You can have a drink here and really good food without going to Williamsburg or Manhattan,” owner John Black said.

It should have been an instant hit.

Many of the restaurant’s features appeal to reviewers but then they get to the photos.

“Wall décor is tasteless, with faceless women in various states of undress. Downloaded, low-res black & white nudie pics don’t make a restaurant’s décor artsy or sexy — just tacky,” one reviewer wrote about the restaurant on Yelp. “Even the bathroom has an 8×10 of a naked woman sitting on a toilet … gross.”

Others have complained of staring at “a crotch shot while eating” and that the photos border the line of “soft-core porn.” All of which made one reviewer on Yelp feel like they were “in some strange restaurant in NJ.”

But owner Black argues that the pictures are beautiful and that people who complain about the naked pictures are being obtuse. “I’m not showing any dirty girls,” Black, 76, said. “The hipsters should go back to the south or wherever it is they came from. They want me to be like Williamsburg.”

Black owns the Myrtle Avenue building that houses Cream and lives in the neighborhood.

He bought the building on Myrtle Avenue, in 2006 but due to Department of Building inspection problems, he wasn’t able to open the business until this May.

“We did everything twice and I had to spend an extra $300,000,” he said. “But in the end I said, ‘I’m not a quitter’ so I finished the job.”

 

RECOMMENDED STORIES

 

Renderings released for 50-story LIC development


| aaltamirano@queenscourier.com

Renderings Courtesy of SLCE Architects

The sky’s the limit for real estate in Long Island City.

Rockrose Development Corporation has released renderings for its newest 50-story development coming to the western Queens neighborhood at 43-25 Hunter St.

Permits for the project were partially approved on June 27, according to records from the city’s Department of Buildings. As of yet, no start date has been released.

The 970,000-square-foot tower will be made up of 19,000 square feet of ground floor retail space and 974 apartments, of which 20 percent will be affordable units.

According to published reports, the development will also include a 14-story building adjacent to the 50-story tower.


Rendering of the 14-story building adjacent to the 50-story tower

There will be 18,000 square feet of interior amenity space and three large rooftop terraces. Amenities include a fitness center, basketball court, billiard room, rooftop solarium and great lawn, yoga studio, zen garden, screening room, library, children’s playroom, and a 38th floor rooftop terrace and lounge.

The building, designed by SLCE Architects, will be one of the tallest in Long Island City, according to published reports. Nearby in Astoria, 42-12 28th St. by developer Heatherwood Communities beats 43-25 Hunter St. with a total of 58 stories in height.

 

RECOMMENDED STORIES

Kew Gardens Hills residents fight against synagogue expansion


| lguerre@queenscourier.com

THE COURIER/Photos by Liam La Guerre


A fight between residents and a local synagogue may need a lot of prayer and reflection before it is resolved.

Kew Gardens Hills neighbors are hoping to stop the proposed expansion of the temple’s school, which they say will further diminish their quality of life by increasing noise and garbage, while decreasing available parking spots and their property values.

The synagogue, the Sephardic Congregation located on 72nd Avenue between Main and 141st streets, plans to add another floor, which leaders say is necessary to cope with the school’s population increase.

Currently, the building has two floors and a basement level and towers over the houses on the block. Since the community is zoned for family homes, the temple requires Community Board 8’s approval for a variance to the Board of Standards and Appeals (BSA).

“I’m worrying about one thing. I worry about the kids in the community,” said Rabbi Asaf Haimoff, who is also the principal of the school. “As an educator, I am responsible to make sure my kids get what they need. Neighbors have a different agenda … but the school is not closing down. It’s growing. It’s been growing and growing.”

The religious organization moved into the neighborhood about 20 years ago after converting a residential home, and soon after added a school, Yeshiva Ohel Simcha. The synagogue added the second floor in the late 1990s, Department of Buildings records show.

The school now enrolls about 70 preschool and elementary-aged students. But synagogue leaders say since the temple started in the neighborhood two decades ago, the congregation has expanded to about 200 people and they have had to halt school enrollment and turn prospective students away due to classroom size limitations.

Temple officials said they plan to add six classrooms on the new floor, so the building can accommodate up to 185 persons, including additional teachers.

But more than 50 residents within a two-block radius of temple have already signed a petition to deny the variance, which they plan to deliver to Councilman Rory Lancman’s office. Longtime residents say the community has been traumatized by noise from the synagogue during school hours for years.

“It’s been 20 years so we learned to adapt,” said Trinidad Lum, who has lived across the street for 51 years. “But before this building was put there this was a very quiet street.”

During school weekday drop-off and pick-up hours (8 a.m. and 5 p.m.) residents say parents block driveways and parking spots and they expect the problem to expand with more students.

“It’s going to be unbelievable traffic here,” said Dennis Shore, who lives next to the temple. “I already can’t park in front of my house when we go shopping. Where are these teachers going to park?”

Residents said they are also worried about the safety of the children. Since the school doesn’t have a playground, residents are afraid they will run into streets or the driveway behind the building in path of cars when they go out to play. But leaders say they plan to build a playground on the roof of the building.

The organization already has approval from the Community Board 8 Zoning Committee. They are seeking approval from the full board in a vote on Wednesday night.

 

 

RECOMMENDED STORIES 

Authorized construction of Queens residential units jumps in 2013


| ctumola@queenscourier.com

Renderings courtesy of NYC Mayors Office's Flickr

Building is booming in the borough.

The city’s Department of Buildings (DOB) authorized construction of 18,095 residential units in 1,383 buildings in 2013, a 71 percent increase from the previous year, according to a New York Building Congress (NYBC) analysis.

Queens experienced the largest percentage jump.

The area went from 1,529 units in 2012 to 3,161 in 2013—an increase of 107 percent.

According to the analysis, the gain was largely impacted by the start of construction of the Hunters Point South affordable housing project in Long Island City.

The report also found that in Queens 72 percent of the permitted buildings were for one- or two-family residences, and the estimated cost of construction per unit reached $102,500.

The NYBC said that last year, for the first time since 2008, the number of housing units authorized by the DOB increased in each of the five boroughs, but residential permits “remain far below the levels attained between 2005 and 2008.”

“With most of the recent talk centered on the recent boom in ultra-luxury Manhattan residential towers, it is certainly encouraging to see that momentum is quietly building in each of the five boroughs,” NYBC President Richard T. Anderson said.  “The key to the city’s success rests in part on our ability to produce a wide range of housing options that are tailored to meet the needs of a population as diverse as New York.”

 

RECOMMENDED STORIES

Woodhaven-Richmond Hill Volunteer Ambulance Corps rallies to resolve collapsed building issue


| lguerre@queenscourier.com

THE COURIER/Photos by Liam La Guerre

Follow me @liamlaguerre 

 

Next year will be Woodhaven-Richmond Hill Volunteer Ambulance Corps’ 50th anniversary, but members don’t’ know if the organization will be around to see it.

The ambulance corps headquarters took damage when building adjoining, 78-19 Jamaica Avenue, collapsed nearly a year ago. Recently members were forced to vacate after melted snow from the collapsed building caused water to flood into the volunteer group’s structure. Now the ambulance corps has damaged walls and mold, members said, and the volunteer organization has to wait for an inspection before they can use the building again.

Members of the ambulance corps and supporters rallied in front the ambulance corps building Sunday to ask the city to speed up repairs on the crumbling building.

“It’s very frustrating, sad and makes me upset,” said John Bennett, a member of the board of the ambulance corps, who has been with the organization for more than three decades. “It feels like I’m losing someone very close.”

The ambulance corps recently filed a lawsuit against the collapsed building’s owner to the tune of $13 million in damages and lost rent. However, it’s another slow process they have to deal with while the building continues to suffer.

The Woodhaven-Richmond Hill Senior Center rented space from the volunteer ambulance group, but had to move to a temporary location—American Legion Post 118—after the structure was determined unsafe by the city’s Buildings Department. The ambulance corps has lost its revenue source, and seniors want to move back into the volunteer groups’ building for its centralized location to transportation, wide space and other features.

“I miss the senior center because in the temporary location I can’t even use the bathroom,” Patricia Sexton said. “It’s not handicapped accessible.”

The owner of the collapsed building, George Kochabe, recently paid $3,200 in fines owed to the  Department of Buildings and hired an architect, according to the agency. However, the building still has many open violations and Kochabe owes thousands more in fines. He could not be reached for comment.

Assemblymember Mike Miller and State Senator Joseph Addabbo are pushing to have the city tear down the building, rebuild it and bill Kochabe. They not only fear for the survival of the volunteer ambulance corps and the senior center, but also worry about the threat the crumbling building creates for pedestrians.

“We don’t want to find out how much more this building could take,” Addabbo said. “We don’t want to react to a bad situation or a tragedy.”

 

RECOMMENDED STORIES

City temporarily closes Long Island City rock climbing facility


| aaltamirano@queenscourier.com

Rendering courtesy of Mike Wolfert

One Long Island City business is hanging on a cliff, waiting to get the thumbs up to open shop again.

The rock climbing facility, called The Cliffs, was temporarily closed after receiving a vacate order on October 25. The building did not have a valid certificate of occupancy, according to the Department of Buildings (DOB).

The 30,000-square-foot climbing arena at 11-11 44th Drive held its grand opening on October 5, just a few weeks before.

According to a DOB complaint, a vacate order was also served because the rock climbing apparatuses and walls were considered a “hazard and dangerous” to users.

Mike Wolfert, owner of The Cliffs, could not be reached for comment. According to the business’ Facebook page, members and pass holders will be credited for the time lost during the temporary closing, and additional guest passes will also be offered.

“We are excited to open our doors again as soon as we are able,” Wolfert posted.

Earlier this year, Wolfert faced charges of bribery after he paid a total of $1,094 to a Department of

Investigation undercover investigator posing as a DOB inspector.

According to the Facebook page, an anonymous tip, which led to the inspection and vacate order, said the facility was operating without a special permit.

The most recent post, dated November 15, said all required revisions have been made and submitted to the Department of Buildings.

 

RECOMMENDED STORIES

Despite setbacks, Maspeth Knockdown Center determined to host events


| lguerre@queenscourier.com

Photos courtesy of Knockdown Center/Ariana Page Russell

The Knockdown Center is not backing down.

The Department of Buildings (DOB) recently reviewed and disapproved the center’s plan for a Place of Assembly Certificate of Operation (PA) on October 24, but Knockdown’s manager said they will tweak their proposal until it meets regulations.

The PA is required for a site that seeks to have 75 or more people gathered indoors or more than 200 outside.

“We are committed to ensuring we have the optimal building plan from the DOB perspective, and have found the plan reviews very helpful, and believe that our plans will be approved soon,” said Tyler Myers, the center’s manager.

The Knockdown Center, a former glass and door factory turned arts hall, has hosted everything from weddings, Tiki Disco parties and even a mini-golf art exhibition, since last year.

The center became a hot controversial community issue after a representative announced they were considering applying for a license from the State Liquor Authority (SLA) to serve alcohol at future events at the 52-19 Flushing Avenue site.

At the Community Board 5 October meeting, the Land Use Committee rejected granting a liquor license for the center, although Knockdown could still make a case to the SLA for the license.

Residents and politicians in the community are split on the center, some feeling that it could bring jobs and is a good use of the more than century-year old building. Others believe it will create a club environment in a neighborhood where many residents live.

“There is some evidence of people being carried out, a lot of evidence of people partying and loud music, and there is evidence of love making right in the open,” said Bob Holden, president of the Juniper Park Civic Association.

“We’re concerned that it will lower the quality of life.”

 

RECOMMENDED STORIES