Tag Archives: Elmhurst

Shake Shack to open location in Queens Center


| aaltamirano@queenscourier.com

Photo by Evan Sung

Something is shaking at Queens Center.

Shake Shack, the critically acclaimed “roadside” burger stand which has locations throughout the United States and world, has confirmed it will be opening in 2016 at Queens Center in Elmhurst.

Although Shake Shacks have opened at sites in JFK Airport and Citi FIeld, this will be the company’s first stand-alone location in Queens.

The establishment, which has five locations in Manhattan, is known for its 100 percent all-natural, antibiotic-free Angus beef burgers, crinkly cut fries and much more.

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Man wanted for exposing himself to two girls in Elmhurst


| ctumola@queenscourier.com

Sketches courtesy of NYPD

A man wanted for exposing himself to a 10-year-old girl near Elmhurst Park last month is suspected of committing the same lewd act last week just blocks away, according to police.

At about 7 a.m. on Wednesday, the suspect, while sitting on the passenger side of a parked vehicle with the door open near Calamus Avenue and Grand Avenue, exposed himself to a 12-year-old girl, authorities said.

The same man allegedly exposed himself to a 10-year-old girl, while also sitting on the passenger side of a parked vehicle with the door open, around Grand Avenue and 79th Street at about 3 p.m. on May 28.

Police have released two sketches of the perp, who they describe as a white Hispanic male with black hair and standing about 5 feet 8 inches to 5 feet 10 inches tall.

Anyone with information regarding the incident is asked to call Crime Stoppers at 800-577-TIPS, visit their website or send a text message to 274637 (CRIMES), then enter TIP577. All calls and messages are kept confidential.

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Former architect from Elmhurst admits to hoarding child porn


| rpozarycki@queenscourier.com

File Photo

An Elmhurst man who previously worked as an architect admitted in court on Monday that he downloaded a cache of child pornography containing hundreds of explicit images and videos of juveniles, prosecutors announced.

Jaime Lozano, 58, a former architect from St. James Avenue, pleaded guilty to two counts of promoting a sexual performance by a child. Queens Supreme Court Justice Richard L. Buchter, who accepted the plea, ordered him to return to court on July 7 for sentencing and indicated Lozano would likely serve several consecutive prison terms of between two and four years.

The illicit downloads were discovered after members of the Department of Homeland Security, as part of an ongoing investigation, raided Lozano’s home on April 18, 2014, and seized his desktop computer. The hard drive was found to contain 2,665 photos and 316 videos of children — some of whom were as young as 2 — being molested and sexually assaulted.

According to Queens District Attorney Richard A. Brown, Lozano obtained and shared the explicit material through the peer-to-peer network Emule for more than a year before his arrest.

In pleading guilty, prosecutors said, Lozano agreed to forfeit all of the electronic devices that law enforcement agents seized and to register as a sex offender.

“These images are — for all intents and purposes — crime scenes, and the abuse the children endured is very real and will be with them forever,” Brown said in a statement Monday. “This case should serve as a clear and unmistakable warning that law enforcement is prepared to apprehend and prosecute those who attempt to engage in illicit activity involving children.”

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Pervert exposes himself to young girl at Elmhurst Park


By Queens Courier Staff | editorial@queenscourier.com

Photo courtesy of NYPD

Police released on Wednesday a sketch of a man who exposed himself to a 10-year-old girl at Elmhurst Park last month.

According to authorities, the perpetrator was in the front passenger seat of a dark-colored SUV near the park at the corner of Grand Avenue and 79th Street at about 3 p.m. on May 28.

Reportedly, the suspect observed the 10-year-old girl, who was walking to a nearby youth center, then opened the door and flashed himself at the child. The SUV then sped away from the location.

The incident was reported to the 110th Precinct; no injuries were reported.

Anyone with information regarding the suspect’s whereabouts is asked to call Crime Stoppers at 800-577-TIPS, visit their website or send a text message to 274637 (CRIMES), then enter TIP577. All calls and messages are kept confidential.

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Elmhurst plants a tree to honor late Parks Department employee


| editorial@ridgewoodtimes.com

RIDGEWOOD TIMES/Photo by Kelly Marie Mancuso

BY KELLY MARIE MANCUSO

The Parks Department and members of the Communities of Maspeth and Elmhurst Together (COMET) teamed up on June 11 for a special Elmhurst Park Day of Service in memory of Parks Department manager Jennifer Kao.

Kao, a senior project manager with the Parks Department’s Planning and Parklands division, worked with the community to help create the park on the site of the former Elmhurst gas tanks. Tragically, Kao died earlier this year.

The Elmhurst Park Day of Service began with a special tree planting ceremony in Kao’s honor led by Dorothy Lewandowski, the Parks Department’s Queens commissioner.

“I had an opportunity to work with Jennifer when I came here about 10 or 11 years ago,” Lewandowski recalled. “She was an important part of the Parks Department. Her character and dedication went above the task. I greatly miss her.”

Kao was also fondly remembered by her fellow Parks Department colleagues, as well as community members.

“I think it’s a real testament to Jennifer Kao’s reach across the agency in working with various members to get projects done,” explained Parks Department Assistant Commissioner for Planning Alyssa Konon.

“For all of us who knew her, she was a very dedicated person who was very thorough and followed through on numerous tasks,” Konon said. “I’m sure it would please her to know that we’re all here today on something that she started. Here we are following through on something that she helped to make happen.”

COMET representative Richie Polgar also expressed gratitude for Kao’s work in creating Elmhurst Park.

“This park is one of the greatest things that have happened to this area,” Polgar said. “It’s so great to see this many people enjoying the park as it was intended to be. I’m so glad we have it.”

According to Lewandowski, COMET member Christina Wilkinson reached out to her shortly after Kao’s passing requesting that the community plant a special tree in Kao’s memory.

The tree planted in Kao’s honor is an Eastern Red Bud. “It gets beautiful, heart-shaped leaves and little pink flowers in the early spring that bloom against the wood, so it looks like the stems are lit up with pink,” said Queens Director of Horticulture Adriana Jaceykewycz.

Community volunteers and Parks Department employees continued to work on cleaning the park and planting new flowers and shrubbery well into the afternoon.

“This is a good spot to come back and contemplate about not only our own lives, but Jennifer’s, too,” Lewandowski said.

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Queens students fold paper cranes for international project


| asuriel@queenscourier.com

Photos courtesy of Gary Malone

Birds of a feather flock together.

Students from middle schools in Flushing and Elmhurst are involved in a project to exchange cranes with schoolchildren their age in the Japanese city of Hiroshima, which was hit with an atomic bomb by the U.S. in the final stage of World War II.

To help their pupils learn about the second world war, Gary Malone, an English teacher at Flushing’s J.H.S. 189, and wife Amber Malone, who teaches social studies at I.S. 5 in Elmhurst, assigned their respective classes to read historical children’s novel “Sadako and the Thousand Paper Cranes.”

Based on a true story, the fictional account tells of a young girl living in post-WWII Japan and suffering from cancer caused by the atomic bomb dropped on August 6, 1945. As she spends time in the hospital, she folds papers cranes, inspired by a Japanese legend that says that if a sick person folds 1,000 paper cranes, the gods will make her well again.

After reading the book, classes participating in the Malone’s project folded their own paper cranes to send to students in Senogawa Junior High School in Hiroshima, whose students did the same in exchange.

Students from Queens sent 1,500 cranes to Japan altogether. These will be split into two displays, with 1,000 going to the Children’s Memorial Peace Park in Hiroshima and 500 set to be hung in Senogawa Junior High School, along with 500 more folded by the Japanese middle schoolers.

Senogawa students sent 500 cranes to both participating schools, and these will be displayed along with 500 cranes folded by American students for a total of a thousand each. Malone said that his students were impressed with the precision of the cranes they received, with each creased bird folded in nearly perfect identical form.

According to Gary Malone, the idea for the project came to him and his wife after winning a grant for a trip to Japan in summer 2014 to study the events of World War II from the Japanese perspective.

He said that many of his students do not leave their own neighborhood very often, and while he wishes the class could take an actual trip to Japan, the crane exchange was a good way to connect them with children of the same age who live on the other side of the globe.

“It’s two countries [who were] once enemies, and the communication is meaningful to them,” said Gary Malone, who is currently working to arrange some form of video interaction between his students and their Japanese counterparts.

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Cops seek Elmhurst shooter who injured two during gunplay


| rpozarycki@queenscourier.com

Photo courtesy of NYPD

Police ask for the public’s help in finding a gunman who injured two people after opening fire on an Elmhurst street last weekend.

Authorities said the incident occurred at 12:10 a.m. on May 24, when the suspect—described as a black male wearing a black hooded sweatshirt with white letters on the front, white jeans and black and white sneakers—fired a shot in front of a location on 43rd Avenue near Corona Avenue.

Reportedly, both victims—a 25-year-old male and a 17-year-old female—sustained gunshot wounds to their lower left legs. Police noted that the male victim was hit by a fragmented bullet.

Officers from the 110th Precinct and EMS units responded to the scene. Paramedics brought the man and woman to Elmhurst Hospital and Forest Hills Hospital, respectively; both were treated and later released.

Police released on Friday night security camera footage of the suspect fleeing the scene.

Anyone with information regarding the shooting is asked to call Crime Stoppers at 800-577-TIPS, visit their website or send a text message to 274637 (CRIMES), then the code TIP577. All calls and messages will be kept confidential.

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Elmhurst girls impress at first-ever NYRR Kids Boardwalk Run


| agiudice@ridgewoodtimes.com

Photo courtesy NYRR

Two girls from P.S. 102 in Elmhurst finished in two of the three top spots for their age bracket in the first-ever New York Road Runners (NYRR) Kids’ Boardwalk Run at the Airbnb Brooklyn Half on May 16. Hundreds of children, ages 7 to 18, from all five boroughs competed in heats based on age.

Skyi Velasco, 11, finished in second place, with a time of 6:10 and Kallie Sanchez, 13, came in third place with a time of 6:13 in the 11- to 13-year-old girls one-mile heat. They also placed third and fifth, respectively, out of nearly 300 female runners.

The out-and-back course started and ended at the half-marathon finish line. The kids ran in their heats and all participants earned a finisher ribbon as well as a set of bright green sunglasses. The top three finishers in each heat also received a medal and tickets to the New York Aquarium.

Both girls participate in the NYRR Young Runners youth program. The young runners program use team-based structure to help kids learn important lessons about how to set and achieve goals and to make activity a part of their daily lives.

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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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Precincts give crime updates at COMET meeting


| agiudice@ridgewoodtimes.com

Photo by Anthony Giudice

The 108th Precinct’s commander raised concern over a rash of stolen vehicles and commercial burglaries in the Maspeth/Woodside area during the Communities of Maspeth and Elmhurst Together (COMET) meeting held Monday in Elmhurst.

Captain John Travaglia said the number of cars being stolen in the neighborhoods has escalated, especially the older-model Dodge Caravans. According to Travaglia, at least four of these vehicles have been stolen within the confines of the 108th Precinct in the last 28 days.

“What we see a lot with that is, they’re easy to steal,” Travaglia said. “And then they’re easy to steal other things with because the seats will come out quick and maybe they’ll steal a motorcycle then, and throw the motorcycle in the back of that Dodge Caravan. So we’ve seen that type of activity going on in the precinct.”

The precinct has noticed an increase in commercial burglaries throughout the neighborhoods as well. The one burglary that was reported in the 28-day time frame from the 108th Precinct occurred at 70-32 Queens Blvd., where tools were stolen from off of a construction site.

“Construction sites, houses that are under construction are being burglarized for copper pipes [and] for tools,” Travaglia told those in attendance. “This has become a prevalent problem all over Queens.”

One major highlight for the 108th Precinct is the number of traffic fatalities that have occurred since November, which is zero.

“I can report the 108 Precinct [has] not had a traffic fatality since I’ve been there in November,” Travaglia announced. “It’s been fantastic. Year-to-date, we haven’t had a traffic fatality.”

Detective Thomas Bell from the 104th Precinct Community Affairs Unit also announced that the precinct is down in overall crime.

“Year-to-date, the 104 is down about 8.6 percent in crime,” Bell said. “We are down pretty much across the board.”

The 104th Precinct has seen two murders this year, compared to three at this time last year. There have been seven rapes compared to eight last year, 57 robberies compared to 62 last year. Felony assaults dropped to 63 this year from 69 last year, burglaries fell by just one, 110 versus 111 from 2014. Grand larcenies dropped from 198 last year to only 181 this year and grand larceny for automobiles dropped from 71 in 2014 to 57 this year.

P.O. David Saponieri from the 110th Precinct Community Affairs Unit also informed COMET about its crime numbers. There have only been six arrests during the 28-day period within COMET’s area of Elmhurst. There were two stolen cars, two grand larcenies and two burglaries.

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Stop by these Queens Häagen-Dazs shops for Free Cone Day


| ctumola@queenscourier.com

THE COURIER/Photo by Angy Altamirano

Just in time for the warmer weather, Tuesday is Free Cone Day at Häagen-Dazs stores throughout the country, including four in Queens.

From 4 to 8 p.m., participating locations are offering one free kiddie-sized ice cream in either a cup, sugar cone or cake cone.

Free Cone Day will also feature two new artisan flavors — chocolate caramelized oat and banana rum jam.

The following Häagen-Dazs shops around the borough are taking part in the event:

  • New World Mall, 136-20 Roosevelt Ave., Flushing
  • Queens Center mall, 90-15 Queens Blvd., Elmhurst
  • 70-40 Austin St., Forest Hills
  • 61-10 188th St., Fresh Meadows

For more Häagen-Dazs locations around New York City, click here.

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City comptroller sends back Pan American shelter contract


| rpozarycki@queenscourier.com

THE COURIER/Photo by Angy Altamirano

Plans to make the former Pan American Hotel in Elmhurst a permanent homeless shelter hit a roadblock Monday when City Comptroller Scott Stringer refused to sign a city contract for its operation.

The Department of Homeless Services (DHS) and the nonprofit group Samaritan Village previously agreed upon a five-year, $42.4 million contract formally establishing 79-00 Queens Blvd. as a permanent transitional housing shelter.

Stringer, however, sent the contract back to the mayor’s office as a result of concerns regarding conditions at the Pan American. The NY Daily News reported earlier this month that the shelter was suffering from vermin infestation. Last week, a fire also broke out in one of the units. There were no injuries reported, but the family in the affected unit was forced to relocate to another shelter.

The comptroller similarly voided a DHS contract for another shelter in Manhattan.

The comptroller vowed not to approve the contract until his office “receives assurances that anyone staying in these facilities will be safe” and “all outstanding violations and complaints have been corrected.”

“In March, the NYC Department of Investigation released a report that highlighted unacceptable living conditions in our city’s shelters and raised significant issues about how the Department of Homeless Services identifies and cures health and safety violations,” Stringer said in a statement. “We simply can and must do better on behalf of the 60,000 people, including nearly 25,000 children, who are under our care.”

The announcement came hours after Mayor Bill de Blasio announced in Corona the creation of an inter-agency shelter repair squad designed to find and correct any violations in city homeless shelters.

Stringer applauded the mayor for the announcement and added he is looking forward “to working closely with this group to meaningfully change the way the city procures and operates our homeless shelters.”

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Macy’s to open off-price store at Queens Place


| ctumola@queenscourier.com

THE COURIER/Photo by Liam La Guerre

Macy’s will launch one of four pilot stores offering shoppers discounted merchandise at Queens Place mall in Elmhurst this fall, according to the retailer.

The off-price stores, to be called Macy’s Backstage, will average about 30,000 square feet and feature clearance goods from Macy’s stores. Shoppers will also find great values and special buys from well-known fashion brands, often between 20 to 80 percent off of original and comparable prices for similar merchandise. Those products will include women’s, men’s and children’s clothing, shoes, accessories, jewelry, housewares and home textiles.

Each store will also offer amenities such as free Wi-Fi and a suite of spacious fitting rooms. There are additional plans to test a café concept at one location.

“We believe we can deliver a whole new level of value to customers who appreciate fashion and love to hunt for a bargain,” said Peter Sachse, Macy’s chief innovation and business development officer said in a statement released on Tuesday. “Macy’s Backstage stores will be designed to surprise and delight customers with continuously updated and fresh merchandise assortments focused on delivering current fashion with incredible prices, day in and day out, and enthusiastic sales associates.”

Sachse added that the retailer could open more stores following the pilot period.

“As with all of Macy’s innovations, we will test and learn to see what resonates most with customers so we can adjust before rolling out additional locations,” he said.

The other three stores, all in the New York City metro area, will be at 2027 Emmons Ave. in Sheepshead Bay, Brooklyn; Lake Success Shopping Center in New Hyde Park, Long Island; and Melville Mall in Huntington, also in Long Island.

But the selection of Queens Place as one of the pilot locations seems particularly fitting, as the shopping center was constructed as a Macy’s in the mid-1960s. Though the store later relocated to the nearby Queens Center mall, Queens Place still houses a Macy’s Furniture Gallery.

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Pan Am Hotel homeless shelter infested with vermin: report


| aaltamirano@queenscourier.com

THE COURIER/Photo by Angy Altamirano

Residents at the emergency homeless shelter located at the former Pan American Hotel are being visited by unwanted guests that have been munching on trash left piled up behind the site, according to a published report.

Members of the community surrounding the homeless shelter, located at 7900 Queens Blvd., captured a pack of rats in the act of looking through the garbage for a meal on April 17, according to the NY Daily News.

Business owners and local residents reportedly say that the garbage, which at first was being put inside a dumpster, has since been piled up in the lot behind the hotel.

Along with the reports of the rats, residents of the homeless shelter said they have issues with cockroaches inside their apartments, which in some cases hold four to five people, the Daily News said.

The former Elmhurst hotel houses over 700 residents, made up of families, many of which have small children.


The city had previously been seeking approval for a five-year, $42 million contract with the nonprofit Samaritan Village Inc. to operate the location as a permanent shelter.

Officials from the city’s Department of Homeless Services (DHS) told the Daily News that as of April 18, Samaritan Village “has been working with the community and is purchasing a garbage compactor that will address these garbage concerns.”

“We are currently working with Department of Sanitation (DSNY), which has provided the specs for the compactor and will provide containers with lids. The garbage will then be compacted. We hope to have this remedied as soon as possible,” the DHS said.

In the past, the shelter has also had a large number of violations such as failure to provide hot water or heat for days, reports of bed bugs, peeling of lead paint in one unit, and garbage left sitting in front of the entrance to the children’s play area, according to the city’s Department of Housing Preservation and Development.

Last November, the grassroots organization Elmhurst United, which has been voicing its opposition to the shelter since day one, said the conditions at the site violate city laws.

The group claims the shelter violates the NYC Administrative Code, which states, “No homeless family shelter shall be established which does not provide a bathroom, a refrigerator and cooking facilities and an adequate sleeping area within each unit within the shelter and which otherwise complies with state and local laws.”

According to the organization, the site does not have kitchens in every unit, which was why initially DHS did not consider the site to be a “permanent family shelter.”

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$2K reward for man who choked, cut girlfriend in Elmhurst: NYPD


| aaltamirano@queenscourier.com

Photo courtesy of the NYPD

Police are looking for a man who goes by four different names for recently choking his girlfriend and slicing her with scissors.

On March 9 at about 3 a.m. Mario Rubiano-Gonzalez — who also uses the names William Para, Orlando Morales and John Zea — choked his girlfriend inside a home on Pettit Avenue in Elmhurst, according to cops. He also sliced the woman across her forearm with scissors, causing serious physical injury.

According to the 110th Precinct, neither the suspect nor victim has prior domestic violence history, but Rubiano-Gonzalez does have a nonviolent prior arrest.

The suspect, who is being sought for assault, is described as a white Hispanic man, 5 feet 5 inches tall, with black hair, brown eyes, and weighing 173 pounds.

There is a $2,000 reward being offered for any information that leads to the arrest of Rubiano-Gonzalez.

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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