Tag Archives: Flushing

Suspect wanted in burglary of Flushing auto repair shop

By Queens Courier Staff | editorial@queenscourier.com

Photo courtesy of NYPD

Police are looking for a man wanted in connection to a burglary of a Flushing auto repair shop on Valentine’s Day.

The suspect, described as a man in his 20s, forced his way into 43 Auto Service, located at 133-28 32nd Ave., on Feb. 14 at about 1:22 a.m. by using a wooden pallet as a ladder and breaking into the side window, cops said. Once inside, he removed an undetermined amount of money and various New York State inspection stickers.

He was last seen wearing a hooded sweatshirt, baseball cap and gloves.

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.


First NYC Nike Factory Store to open at SkyView Center in April

| lguerre@queenscourier.com

Photo courtesy of The Shops at SkyView Center

The city’s first Nike Factory Store will open at The Shops at SkyView Center on April 2, according to representatives and an image with the grand opening date that was recently posted at the store’s location.

Nike, which is known around the world for sports footwear, apparel, equipment and accessories, will offer select products at special prices in the new store.

The shoemaker signed a lease with Onex Real Estate, which owns the Flushing mall, for a 15,000-square-foot space on Level B in November, which was first reported by The Queens Courier.

The worldwide brand will join many major stores in the 700,000-square-foot SkyView Center, including Target, Bed, Bath & Beyond, Best Buy, Marshalls and The Children’s Place, among others.

This spring, The Shops at SkyView Center will also add national clothing retailer Forever 21, which plans to open in a 10,093-square-foot space across from the new Nordstrom Rack.


Flushing man charged in bomb scare at DA office building in Kew Gardens

| aaltamirano@queenscourier.com

THE COURIER/Photo by Angy Altamirano

A 49-year-old Flushing man has been arraigned and charged following a bomb scare on Tuesday at a Kew Gardens building that houses law enforcement offices for the Queens District Attorney, New York State Police and FBI.

While holding a package, Scott Sasonkin entered the lobby of the building located at 80-02 Kew Gardens Road at about 11 a.m. on Tuesday and told a security guard that he had a bomb and wanted to kill everyone in the building, according to Queens District Attorney Richard Brown. Sasonkin then allegedly placed the package on the floor.

A sergeant from the district attorney’s office who responded to the incident allegedly saw Sasonkin standing next to the package. The suspect then allegedly told the sergeant, in some words, “I’m a suicide bomber, my bomb is in this package, it’s a pipe bomb. I went to the hardware store and bought the fertilizer and a pipe. I learned how to make the bomb from the Internet, it has a detonator and a timer.”

Sasonkin followed by stating that he picked the building because “it’s famous and has a lot of law enforcement in it.”

The NYPD’s Bomb Squad inspected the package and determined it did not contain an explosive device and was not a bomb, according to the district attorney. Sasonkin was then arrested and taken to a local hospital.

“When a threat is posed by an organized enterprise or by a so-called lone wolf, law enforcement must respond promptly and effectively – as they did in this case – in order to protect our communities from those who would do us harm,” Brown said. “Fortunately, the bomb threat in this case proved to be a hoax. However, those responding personnel had no way of knowing that fact at the time. I thank them for their professionalism and restraint in the face of adversity.”

Sasonkin was arraigned on Wednesday night in the Queens Criminal Court on a criminal complaint charging him with first-degree reckless endangerment, first-, second- and third-degree falsely reporting an incident, first-degree placing a false bomb and making a terroristic threat. If convicted, he faces up to seven years in prison.

Sasonkin was held without bail pending the results of a mental health evaluation and has been ordered to return to court on March 23.


Police looking for Flushing spa robber

By Queens Courier Staff | editorial@queenscourier.com

Photo and video courtesy of NYPD

A man held up a Flushing spa last week, getting away with hundreds in cash, police said.

The robbery occurred at the Jessica Holistic Spa on College Point Boulevard, near Maple Avenue, just before 7 a.m. on Feb. 19.

The suspect entered the spa, simulated that he had a gun and demanded money, authorities said. He then fled with $400 in cash.

Police have released video footage of the suspect and describe the man as black, 25 years old, about 5 feet 9 inches and 170 pounds.

Anyone with information is asked to call Crime Stoppers at 800-577-TIPS (8477). The public can also submit their tips by logging onto the Crime Stoppers website or can text their tips to CRIMES (274637), then enter TIP577. All calls are strictly confidential.


Flushing Chamber of Commerce to launch English language classes for growing immigrant population

| ejankiewicz@queenscourier.com


The new Flushing Chamber of Commerce is launching a program to address the growing demand for English language classes to help waves of new immigrants in the area who need help learning the language of their adopted country.

“Language is one of the major challenges facing our business community,” said Simon Gerson, co-chair of the chamber, “and we are proud to take a leadership role in addressing this issue.”

The program “English Now!” will begin in April with a 12-week semester. The classes are meant to bridge the gap for immigrants seeking jobs in the American market. While Flushing continues to expand as an economic powerhouse, many of the new residents and businesses are forced into isolation triggered by language barriers, according to the chamber’s spokesman. By teaching the newcomers English, the chamber hopes to integrate Flushing’s residents and businesses into the larger economy of Queens and the city.

Participants must commit to two six-hour classes per week. The class will be held in Monroe College, which is a member of the chamber. The college-level class will be offered for $40.

The chamber created the program in response to a new wave of immigrants who don’t speak English very well. The trend is being seen all across the state, according to the Center for an Urban Future, but funding for English as a second language classes, known as ESL, has lagged behind the explosive demand.

The number of state-funded ESL seats has declined by 32 percent over the last nine years, from approximately 86,000 seats in 2005 to 59,000 in 2013, according to the center.

“We feel there is a need within the immigrant communities of Queens for a quality ESL program geared to professionals seeking to advance their careers,” said Evan Jerome, senior vice president at Monroe College. “This program will be geared to students with an intermediate level of ESL to advance both their written and oral communication skills.”

Class topics will be geared toward students who want to become better at speaking English for the purpose of getting jobs.

The deadline for registration is Friday, March 20. Registration forms are available by calling 914-740-6614 or emailing queens@monroecollege.edu.


Selling Point: Retail property in Jackson Heights fetches $16.4 million and more sales

| lguerre@queenscourier.com

Photos courtesy of Scott Bintner/ PropertyShark

A couple of buildings located on the Jackson Heights commercial strip and an apartment building with nearly 50 units in Flushing are some of this week’s big transactions in the borough, based on city records.

Address: 37-46/48 82nd St./37-50 82nd St.
Price: $16,425,000

A group of investors bought these adjoining commercial properties at 37-46 through 37-50 82nd St. for $16.7 million. Clark Stores Inc., a firm based in Manhattan, is the seller. Jackson Heights Retail LLC, one of the buyers, now has a majority stake in the buildings, according to property records filed on Thursday. The larger two-story building at 37-46 82nd St. was once home to a women’s apparel store called Clark’s and later a KB Toys before the company went out of business. Combined, the buildings, which have two floors each, have more than 12,400 square feet of space. The property is part of the Jackson Heights Historic District.

Address: 41-40 Parsons Blvd.
Price: $10,750,000

This corner property is a six-story multi-family rental apartment building in Flushing with 48 units. There is a mix of studios and one- and two-bedroom apartments in the building. There is more than 44,000 square feet of living space in the structure, which is a few blocks from Main Street. Wai Realty Corp. bought the property for $10.7 million from Bronx-based Bright & Sunny Corp., according to city records filed on Friday.

Address: 48-05 Metropolitan Ave. 
Price: $7,000,000

WM Capital Partners XXV LLC bought this old manufacturing-zoned building in Ridgewood for $7 million, according to records filed on Feb. 17. The building has nearly 141,000 square feet of space.


Photos: Lunar New Year turns Flushing into a sea of color and dragons

By Queens Courier Staff | editorial@queenscourier.com

Photos by Dominick Totino Photography

Despite wintry weather, thousands of New Yorkers ushered in the Year of the Sheep — or the Goat or Ram — during the 19th annual Lunar New Year parade in Flushing on Saturday.

For the first time in Flushing history, the Chinese and Korean communities came together to welcome in the Lunar New Year with a joint festival. And the MTA cooperated, too, by canceling all weekend service suspensions on the 7 train to make it easier to get to Flushing.

More than 4,000 people marched in the parade, featuring dragons, dancers, steel drummers, the NYPD band and other marching bands. Even Mr. Met was on hand, perhaps hoping this new year will bring better luck for the team.

Take a look at one of the city’s most colorful events captured by photographer Dominick Totino for The Queens Courier.


Dragons mark Lunar New Year in Flushing

| ejankiewicz@queenscourier.com

THE COURIER/Photos by Eric Jankiewicz

Dragons were spotted in Flushing on Thursday.

Thumping drums accompanied the quick pace of commuters and shoppers in downtown Flushing. Two dragons walked into a T-Mobile store on Roosevelt Avenue with a traveling band following close behind. It was the first day of Lunar New Year.

To mark the holiday that is celebrated by many Asian communities, a kung fu and dance club ran through the streets of Flushing’s Chinatown with dragon costumes, cymbals and drums. The Hung Sing Kwoon group celebrates the holiday every year by holding a small parade on the first day of Lunar New Year.

“We’re celebrating the new year by parading around Flushing stores,” said Adam Chin, who has been with the group for seven years.

The group usually barges into stores and parades through the streets for the majority of the day.

“We’ll keep it up even in this cold,” Chin said as the wind picked up. “We feel it’s our duty to help spread joy on this day. That’s why we go into stores too. People really like that.”

Meanwhile, Sen. Kirsten Gillibrand and U.S. Rep. Grace Meng read to a group of students for Lunar New Year. The lawmakers were at the Flushing branch of the Queens Library, where many of the children were wearing traditional red clothes for the holiday.

“The Lunar New Year is an important time,” Gillibrand said. “It’s a chance to think about new goals, and I wish everyone happiness, success and good fortune.


Video: Lunar New Year performances at Flushing Town Hall

| ejankiewicz@queenscourier.com

THE COURIER/Photo by Eric Jankiewicz

With the start of Lunar New Year, Flushing’s large Asian communities are getting ready to celebrate the year of the goat (or sheep, or ram, depending on the translation). At Flushing Town Hall, artists from all over the world will be holding workshops and performances for the public. Two performances are featured in this video as a sample of what to expect.

The first is the EastRiver Ensemble, a group of dancers and musicians who will be performing at the cultural center on Feb. 28, and the second performance is Dancing Wind, an abstract dance that is meant to imitate earth, wind, fire and water.

On Saturday, a large parade will be held in downtown Flushing. In the past, hundreds of people have come out to celebrate in the parade, and organizers are expecting a similar showing of people with an increased boost from both groups celebrating together.


This Lunar New Year serves as stage for Flushing’s economic and cultural strength

| ejankiewicz@queenscourier.com

THE COURIER/Photo by Eric Jankiewicz

This Lunar New Year is more than just the Year of the Sheep; it’s Flushing’s year to show off the economic and cultural strength of a burgeoning Asian-American community.

“This is an auspicious year for us,” said John Choe, who helped create the new Flushing Chamber of Commerce. “It’s very symbolic and politically significant. We’re stepping toward mainstream recognition.”

This Lunar New Year is on Feb. 19. Celebrations in Flushing have always attracted many people but Choe and organizers are expecting this year’s celebrations to be the biggest because of an increase in Flushing’s population and what Choe sees as America’s acceptance of Asian traditions.

“Our message is that this is an American holiday,” Choe said. “We create jobs. We are spurring the economy. We deserve the recognition other ethnic groups get.”

Flushing has become a cultural hub, through the combined effect of new immigrants settling in the area, the hyper activity of the real estate market and Mayor Bill de Blasio’s mandate to develop Flushing’s waterfront along the creek. The city also passed a law recently recognizing Lunar New Year as an official holiday that is being observed by public schools.

“Flushing is at the forefront of helping to make a change,” Choe said and compared it to the Harlem Renaissance. “I see the elements of a Flushing Renaissance. People come from around the world helping to contribute to a new sense of what it means to be American.”

And all that the people in the area have to contribute to America will be on display all weekend as exhibitions and workshops will be held to celebrate the holiday. There will be a parade on Feb. 21 and Flushing Town Hall will also be hosting Chinese and Korean performances. The performances include a group of dancers portraying earth, wind and fire elements; two master calligraphers holding workshops open to the public; and the East River Ensemble, a group of dancers and musicians.

The significance of the holiday was also recognized by the Metropolitan Transportation Authority, which for the first time suspended weekend service disruptions along the 7 train during the week before and week of Lunar New Year. The move was seen as a major victory among Asian-Americans in Flushing, as more visitors can travel there to shop and celebrate the holiday because subways will be running, unlike last year.

The emphasis for this year is also on a joint celebration between the Korean and Chinese communities in Flushing. In previous Lunar New Year celebrations, the two communities didn’t work together because of historical tensions that stretch back to problems between the Korean and Chinese nations.

“We’re bringing in the new year by being together,” said Jamison Moon, a member of the Korean American Association. “And to be able to do this between two historically strained groups is a great victory.”


Queens College recognized as a ‘best value college’ for affordable cost

By Queens Courier Staff | editorial@queenscourier.com

Photo courtesy of Queens College

Queens College has earned itself a place on the top ten list for the nation’s “Best Value” colleges, according to a new survey conduced by Kiplinger’s Personal Finance magazine.

The Flushing college, located at 65-30 Kissena Blvd., was named a “2015 Best Value College” by the finance magazine, which ranks four-year colleges that bring together outstanding academics with affordable costs.

Queens College was named among the top ten schools in the “24 Best College Values Under $30,000/Year 2015,” and was included in the category “Kiplinger’s Best College Values (Public Colleges).” The complete list is available at kiplinger.com/links/college.

“We salute this year’s top schools,” said Janet Bodnar, editor of Kiplinger’s Personal Finance magazine. “Balancing top-quality education with affordable cost is a challenge for families in today’s economy, which is why Kiplinger’s rankings are such a valuable resource. The schools on the 2015 list offer students the best of both worlds.”

Queens College was also selected by The Princeton Review as one of 200 schools profiled in its recent book, “Colleges That Pay You Back: The 200 Best Value Colleges and What It Takes to Get In – 2015 Edition.”

“We highly recommend Queens College and all of our ‘Colleges That Pay You Back’ schools,” said Robert Franek, senior vice president and publisher of The Princeton Review and lead author of the book. “They stand out for their excellent academics, impressive career preparation services, and affordability to students with need – via comparatively low sticker prices, generous financial aid, or both. Plus their students graduate with great career prospects.”

Earlier this month, Queens College was also acknowledged as a top producer of Fulbright students by the U.S. Department of State’s Bureau of Educational and Cultural Affairs.

The Fulbright Program is the nation’s flagship international educational exchange program in which students, who are selected for their academic merit and leadership, are given grants to study, teach English and conduct research in more than 140 countries.


City focuses on reducing pedestrian deaths in Queens

| ejankiewicz@queenscourier.com


City officials have chosen Queens to launch the first borough-wide traffic safety crackdown in the city as part of a long-range effort to reduce the number of deaths from auto accidents, police and transportation officials announced at a press conference in Jamaica on Tuesday.

“We launched Vision Zero in Queens a year ago, and today we proudly return to the world’s borough to release the first of our five groundbreaking Borough Pedestrian Safety Action Plans,” said transportation Commissioner Polly Trottenberg.

“These Borough Plans combine cutting-edge data analysis and community input from thousands of New Yorkers in all five boroughs. They will help the city target its engineering, enforcement and education efforts to make New York’s streets the safest in the world.”

The announcement was made at P.S. 82, near the intersection of Metropolitan and Hillside avenues, a “priority corridor” slated for a major redesign because of historically high rates of deaths and serious injuries.

On average, 43 people in Queens have died every year since 2011, according to data compiled by the city, and most of these deaths occurred in Flushing, Elmhurst and Jamaica, where there is a high concentration of car and foot traffic.

By focusing on intersections and areas in Queens with the highest number pedestrian deaths, the Department of Transportation identified 72 intersections and 47 corridors that pose the most danger to people and where the highest percentage of car-related deaths have taken place.

Trottenberg and other officials outlined a series of initiatives that will take two years and, the city hopes, will bring down the average number of pedestrian deaths and injuries in Queens. The initiative is part of Mayor Bill de Blasio’s Vision Zero.

The city, among other things, wants to increase pedestrian crossing times at crosswalks for areas like Northern Boulevard between Queens Plaza and 114th Street; change traffic signals so that they deter people from driving fast on large boulevards that Queens is known for; increase the amount of light in dark underpasses; and expand the bicycle lanes and network.

Cops will also take a tougher line on speeding hot spots identified by the city.

“We’re going to concentrate our enforcement efforts in these areas,” said NYPD Transportation Chief Thomas Chan. “We’re going to do our best to reduce the number of traffic fatalities.”

These plans are the results of years of preparation by the transportation department and community input received during workshops over the last year.

The press conference was also attended by local politicians whose areas included some of the dangerous areas.

“I appreciate all the effort that the administration is putting into safety,” Councilman Rory Lancman said. “This is going to make a real difference with people I represent.


Latimer House, museum for African-American inventor, rethinks museum concepts

| ejankiewicz@queenscourier.com

THE COURIER/Photo by Eric Jankiewicz

Anarchy is the word of the day at the historic Latimer House in Flushing, where the African-American inventor Lewis H. Latimer lived in the early 20th century.

“We’re embarking on an experiment here where we let people touch and interact with the historic displays. That’s why we’re calling it an experiment in anarchy,” said Monica Montgomery, director of the historic house. “When people are being killed on our streets, we want people to come here and grieve and explore ideas for social justice. And celebrating Black History Month is a great way to begin that.”

On Friday, Parks Department officials and representatives of New York City’s historic houses met at the Latimer House to celebrate Black History Month and receive a check for $100,000 from the Historic House Trust, a public charity organization that runs a network of the 23 historic house museums across the city. The Latimer House will receive $5,000 from the check.

Latimer lived in the Flushing house from 1903 until he died in 1928. The son of runaway slaves, Latimer is known for his work with Alexander Bell in creating the first practical telephone, and he is an inductee of the National Inventors Hall of Fame.

Lewis Latimer

Lewis Latimer

“A lot of the remembrance during Black History Month surrounds this idea of oppression and negativity, but I want people to see that black people have invented things and contributed to our society,” Montgomery said. “So it’s very important for us to remember Lewis’ story as an inventor overcoming obstacles.”

The Latimer House stands as a monument to Latimer’s work and many of his items, like a piano, are on display. Until recently, visitors were prohibited from touching historic items, much like at most museums. But the Historic House Trust, which provides funds to the house, decided to try a new model with the Latimer House by loosening the rules.

“The project, Latimer Now, is meant to engage more with the community and become more than just a sleepy house with dusty items,” Montgomery said.

Frank Vagnone, executive director for the Historic House Trust, said the project is meant to change the way people look at museums. In the fall, they plan on publishing a book called “The Anarchist Guide Process” that will outline methods for museums to change their model into a more engaging institution.

“We want anarchy,” he said. “So go ahead, play on Latimer’s piano, touch his tobacco pipe.”

Along with the hands-on approach to museums, Montgomery launched the “Unconquerable” initiative, referencing a poem by Latimer, a man who was born at a time of slavery, lived to see the Civil War and contributed much to America’s industrial period.

“This house was a salon during Latimer’s lifetime,” Montgomery said. “And we’re bringing that back. We’ve started to have gatherings here where people discuss the problems of our times and try to figure out solutions. That’s Latimer’s legacy.”


City plans to launch express bus service between Flushing and Jamaica this year

| ejankiewicz@queenscourier.com

THE COURIER/Photo by Eric Jankiewicz

A planned express bus service that will run between Flushing and Jamaica is set to launch this year, according to city officials, who have included some measures to appease several communities that resisted the idea of designating lanes for buses only.

“Flushing and Jamaica are two of our key commercial centers, but traveling between them by subway means going in towards Manhattan and doubling back – and forget making the trip from the Bronx on the subway,” said Polly Trottenberg, commissioner of the Department of Transportation (DOT). “There are many destinations along this route not served by the subway system, such as Queens College and other key locations in the Bronx.”

During a City Council hearing on the citywide expansion of express buses, also called Select Bus Service, Trottenberg laid out a timeline to create a bus line that would connect the downtown areas of Flushing and Jamaica. She also said that in areas between the two destinations, bus-only lanes wouldn’t be created, respecting the wishes of many community members in areas like Kew Gardens Hills.

But Mike Sidell, a Kew Gardens Hills resident and community activist, remains skeptical because Trottenberg did not specify which communities would be spared the bus lane.

“We should hold them to the fire and get them to name all of the communities that won’t have the bus-only lanes,” Sidell said. “It looks like they’re giving us lip service, but it worries me that [Trottenberg] didn’t specifically name Kew Gardens Hills.”

Exclusive bus lanes are a common element of express bus lines, but residents in communities that live between Flushing and Jamaica resisted this idea because they feared it would create traffic back-ups by squeezing all the other traffic into only one lane.

The city appears to have responded to these residents by suggesting that bus-only lanes will be limited to areas where they are most needed, like the congested downtown Flushing area.

“Downtown Flushing and Jamaica are very different than places in between those neighborhoods,” Trottenberg said. “We’re going to have a long period of community engagement.”

The city plans to transform the Q44 into a Select Bus Service that will cut travel time, much like those that have already been created in Manhattan and Staten Island. Plans for the Q44, which runs mainly along Main Street, include off-board fare collection, traffic lights that will stay green for buses and general infrastructure upgrades.

The City Council hearing was held for testimony over a proposed bill that would require the DOT to develop a network of express buses that would stretch across the city and connect neighborhoods that have limited or no access to subways. The DOT already initiated express bus service plans on several routes, including Woodhaven Boulevard. And the hearing came soon after Mayor Bill de Blasio pushed for the expansion of express buses in his State of the City address.


Man arrested in deadly shooting at Pomonok Houses

| ctumola@queenscourier.com


Updated 4:17 p.m.

Police have arrested a man for gunning down a Flushing resident in the doorway of an apartment at the Pomonok Houses early last month, authorities said.

Shyron Kearse, 34, is accused of fatally shooting Troy Grant at the New York City Housing Authority complex on Jan. 2 in what was the first Queens homicide of 2015.

Cops found Grant, 30, with a gunshot wound to the head inside his home at the Pomonok Houses on 71st Avenue at about 2:30 a.m., cops said.

That morning, Grant heard a knock on the door and the doorbell ring, according to the district attorney’s office. When he answered, Kearse, an acquaintance, allegedly shot him in the head and shoulder before fleeing. Grant was pronounced dead at the scene.

Kearse, a resident of another Pomonok Houses building, has been charged with second-degree murder and criminal possession of a weapon, authorities said.