Tag Archives: Elmhurst

Cat rescued from Elmhurst tree looking for home


| aaltamirano@queenscourier.com

Photos courtesy of Councilman Daniel Dromm's office

One Queens cat is looking for the purrfect home.

On Dec. 20, FDNY Battalion 46 rescued a cat, now named Dorothy Gale, from a tree three stories high in front of Newton High School in Elmhurst, according to Councilman Daniel Dromm.

Dorothy had been stuck in the tree for three days and residents had attached a sign to the tree looking for help. Dromm’s office contacted animal advocacy organization NYCLASS and other animal advocates. Firefighters were called to conduct the actual rescue.

“My office works hard to serve the community,” Dromm said. “Recently, we received a call from a constituent in Elmhurst stating that a cat had been stuck in a tree for three days. I am an animal rights activist and knew we had to help. We immediately started making calls to bring Dorothy Gale to safety. I’m glad we helped. Now, we hope someone can give her a nice, warm, permanent home.”

Since being saved, Dorothy has paid a visit to the vet, where she was spayed and given all her shots.

Currently in good health, Dorothy is living with foster mom Annet Artani of Miney’s Rescue of Love, who writes on Facebook that the cat is “very friendly.”

facebook cat

Photo via Facebook

Anyone interested in welcoming Dorothy Gale into their home can contact Annet Artani of Miney’s Rescue of Love at fonoula28@aol.com or 347-934-5707.

RECOMMENDED STORIES

Community demands improvements at Elmhurst LIRR overpass


| aaltamirano@queenscourier.com

THE COURIER/Photos by Angy Altamirano

Elmhurst residents and their elected officials are demanding that the city clean and maintain a pedestrian bridge above Long Island Rail Road tracks that they say is deteriorating, dirty and often dangerous.

Local elected officials and community leaders gathered earlier in December to tour the pedestrian bridge that connects two separate sections of 55th Avenue, one of which turns onto 85th Street and the other that becomes a dead end near Haspel Street.

The group toured the overpass with Long Island Rail Road and Sanitation officials to discuss the conditions and demand immediate improvements be made at the site.

According to Christian Cassagnol, district manager of Community Board 4, the problems most residents have voiced concerns about include graffiti, lack of sufficient lighting, safety overnight and dirty conditions.

Residents and members of CB 4’s environmental committee regularly gather to clean up the site, Cassagnol said, but there is only so much that could be done on a local level. He decided to contact Councilman Daniel Dromm’s office in the hopes of finding a better solution.

Rosemarie Daraio, president of the nonprofit Communities of Maspeth & Elmhurst Together Inc. (COMET) Civic Association, added that some other issues include illegal dumping, weeds overtaking the site, and deteriorating and uneven steps.

Days before the Dec. 15 walk-through, the city’s Department of Sanitation showed up and did a cleanup.

“This site must be cleaned and made safe for pedestrians,” said Senator Toby Ann Stavisky, who was part of the group that toured the overpass.  “There is no substitute for an on-site visit to see conditions firsthand.”

According to Stavisky, she and Dromm will continue to monitor the issue.

“Quality-of-life issues are vitally important to the growth, strength and happiness of the community,” Dromm said.

Cassagnol plans to work with local leaders on trying to implement the Greenstreets program at the site, also known as the Green Infrastructure Program, which works to transform areas into green spaces.

“It’s an issue we are going to have to constantly monitor,” Daraio said.

RECOMMENDED STORIES

Cardozo HS senior to take part in Times Square ball drop


| ctumola@queenscourier.com

Photo courtesy of Sonam Lama /  Countdown Entertainment

One Queens teen will be the belle of the ball this New Year’s Eve.

Sonam Lama, a 16-year-old senior at Benjamin N. Cardozo High School, will be one of five representatives from the International Rescue Committee (IRC) to push the button, signaling the lowering of the Times Square New Year’s Eve ball, and help lead the 60-second countdown to 2015.

“It is such a great honor and there are so many thoughts and emotions going through my mind and my heart right now,” Lama said. “I feel blessed to have the opportunity to participate in New Year’s Eve in Times Square and am really looking forward to pressing the button along with other awesome and inspiring people.”

The IRC, an organization that helps refugees from around the world, resettled Lama from her native Nepal when she came to the United States in 2012.

Lama’s family was forced from their village after her father, an active member of the Nepali Congress party, faced pressure to join the Maoists.

Even after they moved to the city of Kathmandu, they were followed, and with no help from the police, they had to keep moving from location to location, according to Lama. In 2005, her father applied for political asylum in the U.S. and left Nepal.

Lama said she didn’t know a lot about America, but imagined her father would be wearing a suit, carrying briefcases and living in tall skyscrapers “like the movies.”

IRC President and CEO David Miliband, Nykhor Paul, an Sonam Lama practice pressing the button. (Photo courtesy of Countdown Entertainment)

IRC President and CEO David Miliband, Nykhor Paul and Sonam Lama practice pressing the button. (Photo courtesy of Countdown Entertainment)

When Lama and her family finally joined her father in May 2012, life in America was not what she imagined, including the small, older building that would be her home. But she did find improvements, such as medical help for her sister who needed a hearing aid.

Though the Elmhurst resident found no language barriers after learning English in school since kindergarten and from watching television, high school was a challenge.

Lama admits at first she had difficulty adapting to her large school, but after joining clubs and activities, such as the Red Cross, UNICEF, badminton and volleyball during her junior year, she was able to make friends.

Joining Lama during the famed ball drop will be models Alek Wek and Nykhor Paul, both former refugees from South Sudan, Jencarlos Canela, an award-winning musician and actor who has volunteered with IRC, and IRC President and CEO David Miliband.

RECOMMENDED STORIES

New Elmhurst luxury rental building The Elm West revealed


| lguerre@queenscourier.com

Renderings courtesy of Pi Capital Partners 

The Elm East meets The Elm West.

The developer of The Elm East, an Elmhurst luxury building located at Broadway and Queens Boulevard, has revealed renderings for a project planned across the street called The Elm West.

Flushing-based Pi Capital Partners is developing the sibling project at 85-15 Queens Blvd., according to a published report. The new building will be larger than its predecessor, which was completed in 2012.

The Elm West will have 130 luxury units, 50,000 square feet of retail space and a community facility, according to New York YIMBY.

Tenants will benefit from panorama views of the Manhattan skyline, according to Pi Capital.

Permits have yet to be filed with the Buildings Department for the new building, but if it’s anything like its sister, The Elm West will have a mix of studios and one- and two-bedroom apartments.

the-elm-east3

The Elm East

RECOMMENDED STORIES 

Sen. Avella calls conditions at proposed Pan Am permanent shelter ‘horrendous’


| aaltamirano@queenscourier.com

THE COURIER/Photo by Angy Altamirano

State Sen. Tony Avella has joined the opposition to the planned conversion of an emergency homeless shelter at the former Pan American Hotel into a permanent facility due to what he called “horrendous” conditions at the site.

Avella, who is chairman of the Senate’s Social Services Committee, joined residents and local leaders to speak out against the proposal to convert the shelter at 7900 Queens Blvd. in Elmhurst to a permanent facility under a $42 million contract with the city.

“It is an outrage to take an abandoned hotel, warehouse homeless families inside it, ignore shocking City Code and HPD violations, waste an exorbitant amount of taxpayer dollars in the process, and then award a $42 million contract to a questionable-at-best organization, making the entire situation permanent,” Avella said.

According to the senator, the shelter houses over 700 residents, made up of families of which many have small children. Each unit at the shelter holds four to five people.

Because the shelter uses former hotel rooms, they are not equipped with cooking facilities. The senator and organizations such as Elmhurst United claim this goes against a NYC Administrative Code requiring that each unit at a family shelter have a kitchen, and in order to do this, there would need to be major renovations at the site.

Photo courtesy of Sen. Tony Avella's office

Photo courtesy of Sen. Tony Avella’s office

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.

“As chair of the State Senate’s Social Services Committee, I understand the vital importance of addressing our growing homeless population and I am committed to working to resolve these issues,” Avella said. “However, this cannot be at the expense of homeless families and children or the community as a whole. We must look to fix this broken system, not warehouse those people that need our help most.”

Due to all these conditions, Avella said he calls on the city to reject the contract that would covert the former hotel into a permanent homeless shelter because he believes it is “not fit for long-term housing for the homeless.”

According to the city’s Department of Homeless Services, the hotel was remodeled before the agency began using it as a shelter. The building also always has hot water, yet sometimes there is a lack of pressure, and hot water has been at full capacity since Dec. 7. Additionally, there have been no problems with the heat. Bedbugs were identified in five units and are currently being treated by an extermination company, and the facility has been lead-free since July.

“We have worked swiftly with our provider to respond to all concerns in the building,” said a DHS spokesperson. “Providing adequate shelter for families in need is a priority for this administration, and it’s heartening to see the community concern about the welfare of these families – an encouraging development after unfortunate and regrettable opposition to this shelter.”

The city is wrestling with a record number of homeless people. More than 59,000 people are currently in the shelter system.

RECOMMENDED STORIES

Elmhurst man stabs wife with kitchen knife, fakes her suicide note: DA


| aaltamirano@queenscourier.com

CrimeSceneTapeHC1010_L_300_C_R-624x416

The estranged husband of an Elmhurst woman was charged Thursday night with stabbing his wife to death with a kitchen knife and trying to make the murder look like a suicide, authorities said.

Luis Paguay, 43, was arrested after police found his wife, 39-year-old Maria Paguay, unconscious and unresponsive with stab wounds on her body inside her 50th Avenue basement apartment at about 6 p.m., cops said. The victim was pronounced dead at the scene.

Paguay allegedly stabbed his wife multiple times in the neck and chest with a large kitchen knife sometime between Wednesday night and before 6 p.m. Thursday, according to Queens District Attorney Richard Brown. The victim’s 19-year-old son found her as he returned home from school.

After stabbing his wife, Paguay allegedly wrote a suicide note in his wife’s name and then left for his job as a dishwasher at Ducale Restaurant in Whitestone, Brown said. When he arrived at the restaurant he allegedly saw he had blood on his shoes and according to surveillance footage, he attempted to wash his shoes in a sink.

According to the New York Daily News, the couple had recently separated and the victim’s husband had gotten angry that she was in a new relationship.

Paguay, who is awaiting arraignment in Queens Criminal Court, was charged with murder, tampering with physical evidence and criminal possession of a weapon. If convicted he faces up to 25 years to life in prison.

RECOMMENDED STORIES

See it: Remodeled Elmhurst co-op The Continental Park selling fast


| lguerre@queenscourier.com

Renderings courtesy of The Continental Park 

Demand is high for remodeled luxury co-op apartments in The Continental Park building in Elmhurst, which opened for sales in October.

Thirty of the 79 renovated units are already in contract after just six weeks, according to representatives of the building, although construction on the property won’t be completed until next year.

The speed of the sales reflects a demand for spacious units in high-traffic areas, according to project manager Meredith Fisher Maltby. Also, with some 500-square-foot studios starting around $200,000, and 1,200-square-foot three-bedrooms at just over $500,000, the price is very attractive to residents when compared to other neighborhoods. However, there are no more one- or three-bedroom units remaining for sale.

Two-bedrooms, which range from approximately 830 square feet to more than 1,050 square feet, start from $347,500. All home sizes will feature full kitchens, and many of the residences have large private outdoor terraces and washer and dryer hook-ups.


The six-story building, originally known as The Continental, opened in the 1960s as a rental building with 153 units. Some units became co-ops in the ’80s, and there are still a number of rent stabilized apartments throughout the building.

A team of real estate investors, including Myles Horn, ABC Properties and Fisher Associates, bought 79 unsold units throughout the building last year for $8.5 million, and a portion of the money is being used to renovate the building’s common areas.

There will be a new private park, a playground, a redesigned lobby and entrance, a community room for tenants, a gym and a new recreation room. The hallways are also being redone for the building.

Representatives said they expect tenants to move into some completed units by February, but the full renovation will be completed by the summer.

 

 

RECOMMENDED STORIES 

 

Inside St. John’s Hospital’s transformation into Queens Pointe development


| lguerre@queenscourier.com

THE COURIER/Photos by Liam La Guerre

After about a year of construction, the former St. John’s Hospital in Elmhurst is beginning to look more and more like the new Queens Pointe residential and retail destination it will become.

The hospital, which closed in 2009, was acquired by a group of Asian-based investors for more than $50 million late last year, according to property records and published reports. Since that time, construction has been taking place to transform the 90-08 Queens Blvd. site’s interior space.

The seven-story building will have about 150 luxury rental apartments and a penthouse level with six units on the top four floors, while the basement, first and second floors will be used for a mix of community facility space and retail.

Construction on most of the apartments is almost complete and appliances have already been brought into some of the units.

The penthouse level features apartments with nearly 16-foot ceilings and views of the Manhattan skyline, as well as the Queens Center and Queens Place malls, which are across Queens Boulevard.

Marketing for the residential side of the building will begin early next year, according to a representative of Winick Realty Group, which is handling sales in Queens Pointe.

Marketing for the first floor and basement level, which are about 64,000 square feet combined, started months ago and received interest from various companies, including a gym, a supermarket and a clothing retailer. But the first floor and basement still have much interior construction remaining.

Representatives are negotiating with a school and a senior center to occupy part of the second floor. Construction on the second floor is partially complete, with new flooring, paint, ceiling tiles and lighting.

The development also includes a 250-spot parking garage across the street at 87-28 58th Ave., which will be available to retail customers and residents. Currently the parking facility has fading paint and graffiti, but there are plans to renovate the garage as well.

RECOMMENDED STORIES

Elmhurst woman writes Queens walking tour book


| aaltamirano@queenscourier.com

Image courtesy of Adrienne Onofri

One Elmhurst woman is hoping her new book will help readers step out their doors and take a stroll while exploring all that Queens has to offer.

Adrienne Onofri is the author behind “Walking Queens,” a new book that features 30 detailed walking tours through the borough exploring architecture, distinct cultures in different neighborhoods, historical landmarks, celebrity homes and natural scenery.

“There are one or two books about neighborhoods in Queens but really no guide book completely dedicated to Queens,” Onofri said. 

The opportunity to write this book came after Onofri, a licensed New York City sightseeing guide, wrote “Walking Brooklyn: 30 Tours Exploring Historical Legacies.” 

Her publisher became interested in doing a version for Queens, and Onofri said she jumped at the idea because a lot of people had asked her to write a walking tour book for the borough she has called home for decades.

“I liked the idea because I can say I live in Queens,” Onofri said. 

To compile the book, which took about a year to finish, Onofri traveled the borough on nothing but her two legs and public transportation. She sketched out routes based on what she already had in mind or knew she wanted to include. Other locations, she said, she roamed and discovered in order to create the detailed walks. 

“There are a lot of people that drive around and don’t get around in public transportation much,” Onofri said. “[The book] is just encouraging them to go a few neighborhoods over, which they would normally drive pass on the highway.”

The neighborhoods featured in the book go from Long Island City and Astoria all the way to Howard Beach and the Rockaways. Along with these, Onofri also spent time in the borough’s parks such as Flushing Meadows Corona Park, Alley Pond Park and Rockaway Park. 

The book, with photographs taken by the author, includes maps of the area that will be walked, nearby trains or buses, points of interest in the neighborhood, historical facts and detailed directions of how to get around. 

Part of the Hunters Point Historic District on 45th Ave. in Long Island City (Photo by  Adrienne Onofri)

Part of the Hunters Point Historic District on 45th Ave. in Long Island City (Photo by Adrienne Onofri)

“There are things you walk past and don’t notice,” Onofri said. “This book has the discoveries of things that you might not take the time to notice regularly.”

While working on the book, Onofri said she realized there were instances where she noticed things she hadn’t before. Also, one of the issues was trying to fit as much as she could in the 254-page book, with some things just not being able to be included. 

“There was a lot of stuff to learn, whether it was just some place I had been only a couple of times or a place I really didn’t know much about before,” she said. 

Onofri said she is still conducting tours in Manhattan, Brooklyn and Queens. 

To contact Onofri to schedule a tour, email walkingqueens@gmail.com.

RECOMMENDED STORIES

Suspect wanted for questioning in deadly shooting outside Elmhurst club


| ctumola@queenscourier.com

Suspect photo courtesy of NYPD/ Club photo by Salvatore Licata

Police have released the photo of a suspect wanted in connection to a shooting outside an Elmhurst club last month that left one dead and two others injured.

The gunfire erupted about 4 a.m. on Oct. 31 near Club Hive NYC, located on Queens Boulevard between Barnwell and Cornish avenues, cops said.

After a “disorderly crowd” dispersed into the street, an unknown gunman started firing and hit three people, according to police. The shooting was sparked by a dispute inside the club that spilled onto the street, reports said.

Tamar Sermons, 20, of Laurelton, who was hit in the neck and leg, was killed in the shooting.

A 21-year-old woman, who was shot in the buttocks and the leg, and a 31-year-old man, who suffered a graze wound to the head, were injured.

Authorities are now looking a man to question in the murder of Sermons. He is described as a black man in his 20s who was last seen wearing a shirt with the number 99 on it.

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.

RECOMMENDED STORIES

Pan Am homeless shelter violates laws, says opponent


| aaltamirano@queenscourier.com

THE COURIER/ Photo by Angy Altamirano

One Elmhurst grassroots organization is claiming the conditions at the proposed permanent homeless shelter at the former Pan American Hotel are breaking the law.

Elmhurst United, a grassroots organization that has been voicing its opposition to the homeless shelter at 7900 Queens Blvd. since day one, released a statement arguing that conditions at the homeless shelter violate city laws. The statement was released after a Queens Courier report that the city is seeking approval for a $42 million contract to operate the site as a permanent shelter.

The Department of Homeless Services did not immediately respond to request for comment.

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.”

Other conditions include “inadequate sleeping quarters” with four to five people living in a single room with bunk beds pushed up against windows, according to Elmhurst United.

“These units simply cannot be converted to be used for permanent housing with minimal structural change,” said Jennifer Chu, spokeswoman for Elmhurst United. “The Pan Am would require major renovation in order for it to lawfully meet NYC standards for Tier II homeless shelters. The Samaritan Village draft contract shows that there is no money in the line item budget to do renovations for the next 4.5 years.”

DHS is proposing a five-year, $42 million contract with Samaritan Village Inc. for the shelter at the Pan Am Hotel, The Courier previously reported.

RECOMMENDED  STORIES

Real estate firm helps give home to Queens family


| lguerre@queenscourier.com

Photos courtesy of Urban Compass

Real estate firm Urban Compass is donating money — and time — so that a Queens family can have a home of their own.

The company has pledged $20,000 to Habitat for Humanity New York City to renovate a vacant Jamaica home, which will be purchased by a family of four from Elmhurst that was selected through the organization’s affordable homeownership program.

Urban Compass employees will also volunteer 500 hours to help construct the home at 178-25 93rd Ave. So far the team has already helped put up Sheetrock and worked on the backyard and lighting.

“The employees in the company are very community oriented and people that want to participate in society around them and help make the world better,” said Robert Reffkin, CEO and founder of Urban Compass.

The house, which is the first of many that Urban Compass plans to help Habitat NYC with, is expected to be completed in six months. The family will be able to move in May of next year.

178-25 93rd Ave.

178-25 93rd Ave.

Originally built in 1920, the home has been vacant for several years and has fallen into disrepair, according to Habitat for Humanity.

The organization bought the house for $1 from the New York City Housing Authority to be one of 13 properties around the city that will be transformed and purchased at low mortage interest rates by families through its homeownership program.

 

RECOMMENDED STORIES 

New pre-K center to open in Elmhurst school


| lguerre@queenscourier.com

Photo courtesy of Scott Bintner/ PropertyShark

A new $3 million pre-K center is set to open next year in Elmhurst.

The School Construction Authority recently started accepting bids for the center, called Q391, which will be located in St. Bartholomew School at 44-15 Judge St.

The center will have 144 seats, according to the Department of Education, and is expected to open in September 2015.

The School Construction Authority is collecting bids until Nov. 25.

RECOMMENDED STORIES 

Police need help identifying murder victim found near Elmhurst train tracks


| ctumola@queenscourier.com

Sketches courtesy of NYPD

Seven months after body parts were discovered near railroad tracks in Elmhurst, police are trying to figure out the identity of the murder victim.

The remains were found on the afternoon of April 12 by CSX tracks near 43rd Avenue and 74th Street, cops said.

A man was collecting cans when he uncovered a torn bag that had a skull in it, according to authorities. A police search of the area turned up more body parts in bags.

The death was later classified as a homicide.

Police have released several sketches of the victim, who is described as a 30-year-old white man.

SKETCH 1

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.

RECOMMENDED STORIES

 

City seeks $42M contract for Pan Am homeless shelter


| lguerre@queenscourier.com

THE COURIER/Photo by Salvatore Licata

Making the homeless shelter at the Pan Am Hotel permanent will inch forward next week when the city seeks approval for a $42 million contract to operate it.

The Department of Homeless Services is proposing a five-year, $42 million contract with Samaritan Village Inc. for the proposed homeless shelter at the former Pan Am Hotel in Elmhurst, according to city records.

Samaritan Village, which runs homeless facilities across the city, is also seeking to run the proposed shelter on Cooper Avenue in Glendale.

The public is invited to give feedback at a hearing on Nov. 13 at 125 Worth St. in Manhattan at 10 a.m.

The contract’s operating term will start from Dec. 6, 2014, to June 30, 2019, with an option for renewal from July 1, 2019, to June 20, 2023, for the shelter, which will be located at 79-00 Queens Blvd.

The city opened the shelter for emergency shelter at the Pan Am Hotel on June 5. Lawfully, the city can operate an emergency shelter for six months before it has to make it permanent.

RECOMMENDED STORIES