Tag Archives: Flushing

Residents focus on affordable housing during Flushing West rezoning meeting


| asuriel@queenscourier.com

THE COURIER/Photo by Alina Suriel

Community stakeholders attended an open house Wednesday night focused on the ongoing Department of City Planning rezoning study of the Flushing West area.

This was the second open house event held by the Department of City Planning for the Flushing West planning study. For most of the participating community members, the hottest topic of the night was affordable housing and how much of it would be available with an increase of residential development.

Hyun-Jung Kim — an engagement coordinator at the MinKwon Action Center, a Korean American community-based organization — said the center’s biggest priority is to fight for the affordability of housing for the most vulnerable populations. This includes senior citizens struggling to remain in their homes, low income families being priced out of the neighborhood and community members with limited English skills.

“I think the communities here in Queens are sometimes forgotten in conversations about the need for affordable housing. There are a lot of very vulnerable populations here,” Kim said. “We’re concerned when those folks might get swept under the carpet when Queens is just seen as a hot market, the next Brooklyn.”

John Choe, executive director of the Greater Flushing Chamber of Commerce, said that he believes changes in Flushing West are long overdue. According to Choe, many issues in the area — from transportation upgrades to affordable housing — have not been adequately addressed over the past two decades.

“Affordable housing, for example, that could have been addressed in many different ways much earlier by the city,” he said. “To me, the demand far outweighs the investment that the city has put in over the past 20 years of affordable housing, and that’s just one area.”

Ken Cohen, president of the NAACP’s Northeast Queens division, added that although the Flushing West planning study has shown that 71 percent of the target area is of Asian descent, there are still issues which concern his organization.

“Flushing is a diverse place where people of all colors and ethnic backgrounds live,” Cohen said. “Affordable residential housing is much needed, jobs are much needed, so there is a call for a number of things that we would like to see as the NAACP.”

While affordable housing is a priority for many of the forum’s attendees, there are also environmental factors involved in the Flushing West Planning Study.

Alexandra Rosa, consultant for Friends of Flushing Creek, was there to talk to representatives of the Department of Environmental Protection (DEP) about increasing efforts to clean up Flushing Creek. According to Rosa, one billion gallons of raw sewage and storm water runoff is dumped into the creek each year — and the group takes issue with a DEP plan that would continue the practice of releasing sewer overflows into the creek.

“Friends of Flushing Creek is committed to help publicize the need for and to get projects that will actually make Flushing Creek a recreation destination, and to clean up the pollutants,” Rosa said.

Information on the study’s progress can be found on the Department of City Planning website. The next open forum on the Flushing West study will reveal the results of public feedback received by Department of City Planning from previous open house events, and is planned for Aug. 20.

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Knife-wielding suspect, accomplice rob Flushing deli


| ctumola@queenscourier.com

Video courtesy of NYPD

Police have released video footage of two robbers after a Flushing deli worker caught them shoplifting earlier this week and was slashed with a knife.

The incident occurred just before 3 am. on Tuesday at the Queen Bee deli, located at 43-82 162nd St., authorities said.

After the two suspects walked into the store, they took beer and candy from the shelves and started to leave, according to police. The deli worker then attempted to stop the pair when one of the suspects tried to stab him and both fled.

The clerk received a laceration to his hand, but refused medical attention at the scene.

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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Flushing street to be co-named after 3-year-old crash victim


| asuriel@queenscourier.com

Photo courtesy of His-Pei Liao and Amy Tam-Liao

The memory of a young Flushing girl tragically killed on a local street two years ago will live on with the co-naming of a neighborhood street.

The northeast corner of Main Street and Cherry Avenue in Flushing will be known as Allison Hope Liao Way after Allison Liao, a 3-year-old girl who was fatally hit by a car on Oct. 13, 2013, while crossing the street with her grandmother.

“Allison Liao was a bright and boisterous young girl with limitless potential who had her whole life ahead of her,” said Councilman Peter Koo, who sponsored the co-naming request. “While her senseless death was devastating to our community, it has also spurred impassioned awareness campaigns on driver safety across the city.”

After her death, Liao’s parents helped to form “Families for Safe Streets,” an advocacy group of people affected by traffic violence. The Liao family was instrumental in lowering the NYC default speed limit, and the tragedy of their daughter’s death was one of the catalysts for the foundation of the Vision Zero set of traffic and street safety initiatives.

“We are deeply grateful for Councilman Koo’s assistance in the street co-naming, and more importantly, for his continued support of Vision Zero and other street safety initiatives,” the Liao family said in a statement.

Koo said that he hoped drivers who may be distracted or impatient behind the wheel will realize the potential consequences of their carelessness.

“As drivers pass Allison Hope Liao Way, it is our hope that they recall her parents’ poignant question, ‘Is it worth it?’” Koo said.

The bill also creates Ptl. Phillip Cardillo Way on 28th Avenue between College Point Boulevard and Ulmer Street in College Point. The street is outside a new NYPD academy that opened in January.

“Soon, generations of new officers will be able to look to the sign and know his story and legacy to the department,” said bill sponsor Councilman Paul Vallone of District 19.

Cardillo had been on the force for five years when he and his partner received a false call about an officer in distress at the Nation of Islam mosque on 116th Street on April 14, 1974. The two responding officers were attacked upon their arrival, and Cardillo, 31, was fatally shot. He has been honored with an NYPD patrol boat named after him, and a book published in 2007 by author Randy Jurgenson tells the story of his death and the case against his killer.

“May this sign forever remind us of the sacrifices that the men and women of the NYPD are too often asked to selflessly make, as well as serve as a symbol that these sacrifices are never forgotten,” Vallone said. “This recognition has been long overdue and I couldn’t be more proud to right the wrongs from 43 years ago.”

The bill also names the northeast corner of Northern Boulevard and Marathon Parkway in Little Neck as Matinecock Way.

The Matinecock Native Americans once lived in communities spanning the area of northeast Queens, but the last of the tribe was driven out of Douglaston and Little Neck in 1656 in the battle of Madnan’s Neck. Matinecock graves were discovered in the 1930s at Northern Boulevard and were re-buried in the cemetery of the Zion Episcopal Church. The Bayside Historical Society and the Udalls Cove Preservation Committee were the first to bring the issue up to the Community Board.

“I am proud to finally pay the long overdue recognition to the Matinecock descendants and their ancestors who hold an important place in our neighborhood’s history,” Vallone said.

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Falling debris causes disruptions on the 7 line in Flushing


| agiudice@ridgewoodtimes.com

Photo via Twitter/@NYPD109Pct

Watch out below!

Service on the 7 line was disrupted Saturday afternoon due to a construction accident when a crane hoisting construction materials to stores’ rooftops broke and spilled its cargo onto the tracks at Roosevelt Avenue and College Point Boulevard in Flushing.

The incident took place at about 1 p.m. on Saturday afternoon, when the falling debris caused smoke and a small fire to spark on the tracks, according to reports.

Service was suspended between Roosevelt Avenue and Mets-Willets Point for several hours during the afternoon as crews worked to remove the debris from the tracks and are conducting an investigation for any damage.

Though train service was running normally by 7 p.m., with a Mets game scheduled at Citi Field, the team advised fans on Twitter hours before the game to allow additional travel time and use alternate means.

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Flushing Met Food Market to close after July 26


By Queens Courier Staff | editorial@queenscourier.com

THE COURIER/Photo by  Kirsten E. Paulson

BY KIRSTEN E. PAULSON

The Met Food market in Flushing will be closing its doors after Sunday, July 26, to make way for a new development.

After more than 30 years of operation, the independently owned neighborhood grocery store, located at 41-62 Bowne St., is shutting down following a decision by owners Abel and Ahmed Saleh to sell the property.

In an interview, store manager Ziyad Saleh said the property has been purchased by a number of investors who plan to raze the building and existing foundation, which cannot support more than two stories. The property’s new owners plan to build a new foundation for a new, taller building.

However, that’s just about the only thing that’s certain about the future of the site. Rumors and speculation abound about what’s coming to the neighborhood next; many suspect the new structure will be an apartment building or condominium, while others believe it will become a new grocery store stocked with items to attract customers from the neighborhood’s expanding Asian population.

The latter speculation might have some grain of truth to it. In the same interview, Saleh mentioned that he had heard that the investors who purchased the property have discussed the possibility of putting another brand-name supermarket on the ground level of the building once construction has been completed.

“Nobody knows [what it will be] yet. It’s still early,” Saleh said.

Reactions to news of the store’s closure have been mixed, and range from acceptance and resignation to shock and sadness. Numerous shoppers, particularly the elderly and those with physical disabilities, expressed concerns and worries about how they would be able to do their monthly shopping after the store closes.

This particular Met Food was the only store in the area that offered home deliveries on purchases of $25 or more, making it an ideal place to shop for people unable to drive or carry heavy bags.

Several patrons interviewed at the store said that they had been shopping there for more than 20 years. For them, the store’s closing is the end of an era.

“It’s gonna be missed,” Saleh said, echoing the same sentiment expressed by customers.

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Flushing Town Hall to host food and wine tasting event on Aug. 1


By Queens Courier Staff | editorial@queenscourier.com

Image courtesy of Flushing Town Hall

BY KIRSTEN E. PAULSON

Flushing Town Hall will play host to a farm-to-festival food and wine tasting event, The Catskills Comes to Queens, on Saturday, Aug. 1, starting at 6 p.m.

The night will feature an all-star lineup of 20 chefs from the Catskills, Queens and the greater New York City area, including Hugue Dufour of M. Wells in Long Island City; Will Horowitz of Ducks Eatery in the East Village; Ed Cotton of Sotto 13 in the West Village; and Tyson Ho of Arrogant Swine in Bushwick.

The festival will showcase and celebrate the agricultural bounty of the Catskills, with plenty of grass-fed beef, heritage pork, farm-fresh produce and more. Brewers, vintners and cider makers from the region will be at the event as well to pour and serve their wares to guests.

Some of the items on the menu for this event are gigantic tagine of lamb (Hugue Dufour, M. Wells Steakhouse), crispy beef tripe with Sichuan peppercorn and jalapeno (Landhaus), maple cured pork belly with sour cream grits and red pepper jelly (Natty Felder, The Astor Room), and braised short rib with tamarind and fruit chutney (Alfonso Zhicay, Casa del Chef Bistro). Beers from Keegan Ales and Roscoe Brewing, as well as Awestruck Ciders, will be poured.

Tickets for the event are $95 for the public and $76 for Flushing Town Hall members.

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New boats for Hong Kong Dragon Boat Festival unveiled in Flushing


| asuriel@queenscourier.com

THE COURIER/Photos by Alina Suriel

New boats for the 25th annual Hong Kong Dragon Boat Festival scheduled for next month at Flushing Meadows Corona Park were unveiled Thursday morning with an awakening ceremony of ritual blessing before the big races.

According to organizers, the Dragon Boat Festival is the largest multicultural event of its kind in New York, drawing over 15,000 people last year.

At Thursday’s event, a demonstration by Shaolin martial artists began the kickoff of the pre-race festivities, and then officials, event organizers and sponsors were guided by a Buddhist monk in blessing the boat with incense and dotting the eyes of the carved dragons with red paint.

Organizer Henry Wan highlighted the variety of offerings to be enjoyed at the festival, including a land performance, stage performance, martial arts, multicultural song and dance, as well as souvenir giveaways from local and corporate sponsors.

“It’s an event for the whole family, and it’s free, so come and visit us,” Wan said.

The two-day racing festival has grown considerably since its 1991 debut, which commemorated the New York arrival of the Hong Kong Economic and Trade Office, from 10 boats in the first year to over 200 in 2015. Racers are competing to win cash and prizes, and to encourage past participants to be a part of the event this year. A “senior” discount will also be available for those over the age of 40.

The Chinese tradition of dragon boat racing is an annual rite to honor Qu Yuan, a outspoken poet who drowned himself in third century B.C. to protest against the policies of the emperor in his home state. According to the legend of Qu Yuan, the local fishermen raced out to the river to save the poet, but were unsuccessful. During their frantic dash they beat drums and splashed their paddles to prevent fish and water dragons from eating his body, a move which is echoed by drums still used in today’s races.

Queens Borough President Melinda Katz said that the event was a chance to welcome an international crowd and show off the cultural offerings of Queens. She was involved in the event’s first year while working in the office of former Borough President Claire Shulman.

“It is exactly what Queens is about: having an international event where folks are coming from all over the world,” Katz said. “But really, the greatest participants are those that live right here, that have chosen to make Queens their home.”

Suzanne Brienza, an area manager of HSBC Bank who will be rowing as part of its team, the Red Dragons, said that her company has been practicing every week since April in anticipation of the competition. The bank has been an active part of the race as one of its original sponsors, and Brienza felt confident of their ability to win.

“It all depends on being in sync, and then the speed,” Brienza said.

This year’s festival will take place on the weekend of Aug. 8 and 9 at Meadow Lake in Flushing Meadows Corona Park. Races will begin at 9 a.m. and the festivities will last on both days until 5 p.m.

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Identify this place in Queens


By Queens Courier Staff | editorial@queenscourier.com

FullSizeRender

Do you know where in Queens this photo was taken? Guess by commenting below! The answer will be revealed next week.

Last week’s answer to “Identify this Place”: Near Union Street in Flushing

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Assemblywoman Rozic leads inaugural district bike ride


| asuriel@queenscourier.com

Photo courtesy of the office of Nily Rozic

Assemblywoman Nily Rozic hosted the first annual community bike ride in District 25 on Monday.

Riders met up at Flushing’s Kissena Park at Rose Avenue for the event, which ended at Cunningham Park in Oakland Gardens. Residents from Rozic’s district participated along with members of Star Track Cycling, a free, nine-week youth cycling and mentorship program to teach goal setting and teamwork to New York City children ages 8 to 14 through the sport of track racing.

Rozic said that the district ride was meant as a way to raise awareness about parklands and ways to enjoy them. The parks in her district are part of the Brooklyn-Queens Greenway, a 40-mile pedestrian and cycling path connecting NYC Parks.

“This was a great opportunity for the community to come together and highlight parts along the path that need improvements,” said Rozic. “Thanks to today’s success I look forward to future bike rides and more healthy partnerships with the community that promote all that Queens has to offer.”

According to the city Department of Transportation, over half a million New Yorkers ride a bike at least several times a month, and the department has promoted bicycling increasingly in recent years as a sustainable alternative to carbon-burning automobiles.

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Stop & Shop to buy out Pathmark, Waldbaum’s supermarkets in Queens


| rpozarycki@queenscourier.com

THE COURIER/File photo

Updated, July 21, 2 p.m.

Stop & Shop is looking to grab six Queens supermarkets off the clearance rack.

The company announced Monday it is acquiring local Pathmark and Waldbaum’s supermarkets from the struggling Great Atlantic and Pacific Tea Company (A&P), which filed for bankruptcy. In all, Stop & Shop is purchasing 25 Pathmark, Waldbaum’s and A&P locations in the tri-state area from the grocery giant for $146 million. The deal is subject to court approval, but is expected to be finalized before the end of this calendar year.

On Sunday, A&P announced it was filing for federal Chapter 11 bankruptcy protection, its second such filing in five years, according to The Wall Street Journal. A&P reportedly racked up $2.3 billion in debts versus $1.6 billion in assets, according to its bankruptcy filing. Reportedly, the company lost $300 million between February 2014 and February 2015.

A Stop & Shop spokesperson said the acquired locations will remain open and become integrated into the national supermarket chain, and all of its employees would be retained.

“Stop & Shop is always looking for convenient locations to better serve our customers,” said Don Sussman, president of the company’s New York Metro Division. “We are very happy to have the opportunity to expand our presence in greater New York and serve new customers.”

Stop & Shop currently has five locations in Queens, including on Myrtle Avenue in Glendale; on Union Turnpike on the Glendale/Forest Hills border; on Northern Boulevard in Little Neck; and on 48th Street in Long Island City.

The chain will more than double its presence in the “World’s Borough” with the addition of three Waldbaum’s stores on 26th Avenue in Bayside, Beach Channel Drive in Belle Harbor and Cross Bay Boulevard in Howard Beach, as well as three Pathmark locations on Farrington Street in Flushing, Atlantic Avenue in Ozone Park and Springfield Boulevard in Springfield Gardens.

The 19 other Waldbaum’s and Pathmark locations that Stop & Shop purchased are in Nassau, Suffolk and Westchester counties, Staten Island, Brooklyn, the Bronx and New Jersey.

The 25 stores Stop & Shop acquired represent about 10 percent of A&P’s 296 stores nationwide. As part of the bankruptcy filing, A&P put up 120 supermarkets for sale at a combined $600 million, which will be tested at an upcoming auction. The company is closing 25 other locations immediately; none of those stores are in Queens.

Stop & Shop has 395 stores from New Jersey to Massachusetts employing over 59,000 workers.

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Local group plays a major role in improving the Flushing landscape


| asuriel@queenscourier.com

THE COURIER/Photo by Alina Suriel

Calling it “a labor of love,” the president of the Flushing Willets Point Corona Local Development Corporation (LDC) said the nonprofit group is working hard toward improving Flushing for the entire community.

Former Borough President Claire Shulman serves as president and CEO of the organization which is currently involved in the first stages of the downtown Flushing revitalization effort. The process began after the nonprofit was granted funds through a state environmental program to complete a master plan for an approximately 60-acre area of the neighborhood.

The project has since been largely taken over by the Department of City Planning, which has received funding from the LDC to study potential environmental impacts of rezoning the area and renamed the project “Flushing West.”

According to Shulman, Flushing needs increased city infrastructure because of the high volume of people it services. Reports by the state comptroller’s office have praised the neighborhood’s strong economy, with visitors drawn from all around the tri-state area to experience its legendary cultural and dining offerings.

“If you walk down Main Street, it’s as busy as Times Square. Look at all the people that are there,” said Shulman, who added that the area’s infrastructure includes housing for employees of Flushing small businesses, young families and local seniors.

While the Flushing West study is one of the most high profile of the LDC’s projects, the group has also undertaken other community initiatives.

In 2009, the LDC envisioned a plan to convert a municipal parking lot to a mixed-use facility which would address a significant need for senior facilities. They subsequently received a $14,000 grant to create more elaborate development plans for the project, which would incorporate the Flushing-Main Street Long Island Rail Road (LIRR) station into the design, and the project is still in the early stages of planning.

The corporation has also worked with the MTA and LIRR to identify useful improvements to the Flushing-Main Street LIRR station. These will include two new elevators which will make the station handicap accessible, as well as platform railings, lighting and warning stripes. The contract to do the station work is expected to be awarded by the end of 2015.

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Burglar strikes several homes near Bowne Park in Flushing


| rpozarycki@queenscourier.com

Photo via Wikimedia Commons, Inset courtesy of NYPD

The NYPD is asking for the public’s assistance in finding a man wanted for a recent burglary pattern in the area surrounding Flushing’s Bowne Park dating back to June.

Police released on Thursday morning a surveillance camera image of the suspect, described as a black male wearing a white bucket hat and a gray jogging suit while carrying a backpack.

The first incident occurred between 9 a.m. and 1 p.m. on June 16, when the crook entered the backyard of a home on 158th Street and was observed trying to enter through a window. Police said he fled after he was unable to get inside.

His second burglary attempt also failed, police said, when he unsuccessfully tried to enter through a window of a 154th Street home on June 25 between 3 and 10 p.m.

Police said the burglar finally succeeded on July 1, when he broke into a home on 28th Street between 1:30 and 4 p.m. and removed an undetermined amount of property.

Then, on July 2 between 3:30 and 6:30 p.m., authorities said, the bandit broke through a rear window of a home on 25th Avenue and stole two gold rings and a pair of earrings.

All of the incidents took place within the confines of the 109th Precinct.

Anyone with information regarding the burglary pattern or 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 will be kept confidential.

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VIDEO & PHOTOS: George Clinton gets funky at Queensbridge Park performance


| aaltamirano@queenscourier.com

THE COURIER/Photos by Angy Altamirano

With the Queensboro Bridge as the backdrop, the “godfather of funk” took the stage at Queensbridge Park Wednesday during a night filled with laughter and dancing.

About a thousand people flocked to the Long Island City waterfront park, located along Vernon Boulevard, to catch George Clinton and Parliament Funkadelic during a free performance as part of SummerStage’s 30th anniversary summer festival.

The group, which was inducted into the Rock and Roll Hall of Fame in 1997, performed classics such as “Give Up The Funk,” “Not Just Knee Deep,” “Maggot Brain,” “One Nation Under A Groove,” “Flashlight,” “Aquaboogie,” “P.Funk (Wants to Get Funked Up)” and many more.

Fans danced and sang along with the songs as Clinton jumped on stage with other group members.

Clinton has been referred to as one of the trendsetters of funk music and known for revolutionizing R&B during the ’70s. Parliament Funkadelic recorded three platinum albums and had over 40 R&B hit singles. Through the ’80s the group recorded as the P-Funk All Stars.


Wednesday night’s concert is part of a six-day festival taking place at eight local parks. The night before, Queensbridge Park presented the musical group Chi-Lites and on Thursday night it will host Large Professor (LP), a hip-hop songwriter, producer and DJ from Flushing, together with Marley Mark.

The performance was not Clinton’s first visit to Queens, as he came to the borough last October during a discussion and book signing event, for his memoir “Brothas Be, Yo Like George, Ain’t That Funkin’ Kinda Hard on You? : A Memoir,” at the Museum of the Moving Image in Astoria.


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Huge mixed-use waterfront complex planned for former Flushing supermarket site


By Queens Courier Staff | editorial@queenscourier.com

Photo courtesy of PropertyShark/Scott Bintner

BY KIRSTEN E. PAULSON

The former Asian grocery Assi Plaza, located in Flushing, is about to change hands again to make way for redevelopment.

Eastern Consolidated’s Capital Advisory Division has negotiated a $42 million bridge loan from a private lender on behalf of Triple Star Realty LLC, which used the loan to purchase the nearly 100,000-square-foot property on which the former supermarket sat. The total acquisition cost was upwards of $90 million.

Triple Star Realty plans to raze the existing structures on the former supermarket site in order to develop a 631,752-square-foot, mixed-use waterfront complex that will consist of a 360-unit condominium and a 200-room hotel, as well as a supermarket, retail and office space, and parking. The development will be comparable to other large-scale projects, such as Sky View Parc, Flushing Commons and Willets Point.

Located at 131-01 39th Ave., Assi Plaza had served the Flushing community from 1994 until September 2014, when it was sold to Outlet Plaza LLC by Rhee Brothers Inc., which owns the supermarket chain.

“Through Eastern’s close relationship with the lender and the hard work of all involved, we were able to negotiate a larger loan and facilitate the closing,” said Jonathan Aghravi, the managing director of Eastern Consolidated’s Capital Advisory Division, who helped lead the financing team. “We now look forward to working with the borrowers on procuring the construction financing for the project.”

 

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The Jacksons’ 50th anniversary tour coming to Queens


| ctumola@queenscourier.com

Photo courtesy of Kupferberg Center for the Arts

One of the most famous families in music history is stopping in Flushing later this summer to celebrate its 50th anniversary.

The Jacksons, known for hits with younger brother Michael, such as “ABC,” “I Want You Back” and “I’ll Be There,” are coming to the Kupferberg Center for the Arts for one night only, kicking off the venue’s 2015-16 season.

The show, on Sunday, August 30, is just one day after the anniversary of Michael Jackson’s birthday, when the late pop star would have turned 57, and will feature video footage that chronicles the evolution of the Jacksons.

This concert, which is the group’s only New York City-area stop, also promises to be full of energy with their famous dance moves and costumes.

Tickets are now on sale for the 7 p.m. performance at the Kupferberg Center’s Colden Auditorium and range in price from $35 to $79. For more information and to purchase tickets, click here.

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