Tag Archives: Fresh Meadows

Fresh Meadows residents and local pol tell city flooding must stop


| ejankiewicz@queenscourier.com

Photo courtesy of Jim Gallagher

Fresh Meadows residents have reached their saturation point.

For over a decade, a section of Utopia Parkway has been getting flooded every time it rains more than a few inches, and homes along the street end up with basements, bathrooms and garages overflowing with untreated sewage, according to residents and City Councilman Rory Lancman.

“This is something that’s been going on for many years,”  Lancman said, before going on to describe the issue as both “maddening” and “intolerable.”

The Department of Environmental Protection (DEP) conducted a study of the area and came up with several possible solutions, from raising the curb to installing green infrastructure like bioswales, which are plantings and landscape designs to filter and redirect polluted water.

The long-standing problem, according to residents and city documents, is geography. The area sits in a valley that naturally collects water, overwhelming the catch basins faster than in other areas.

“So it’s not as if the city can’t do anything to alleviate the problem,” Lancman said. “We can’t get the DEP to ultimately tell us what it’s willing to do.”

The councilman is meeting with the DEP next week to see if he can push the department to move ahead with a solution.

In the meantime, residents like Annette Shapiro who live in the problem area between 65th and 67th Avenue worry at the mere prospect of a heavy rainfall.

“Every time it rains, everybody freaks out,” she said. “It’s no way to live. I’m sick of it.”

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Fresh Meadows kids try to score a Harlem Globetrotters visit


| ejankiewicz@queenscourier.com

Screenshot via YouTube/Harlem Globetrotters

A group of young gymnasts in Fresh Meadows are just a dribble and a dunk away from getting the Harlem Globetrotters to visit their gym.

After My Gym was featured in a Sesame Street episode about diversity, the children from the gym were asked to perform an opening ceremony at Barclays Center for the Harlem Globetrotters. The performance will be held on Dec. 27, but the troupe might get a chance to see the basketball players in their home court on Dec. 17 if they can sell 100 tickets to the Brooklyn performance.

“We’ve never had something this big happen,” said Meredith Coleman, the gym’s director. “The kids are insanely excited.”

The deadline to sell the tickets is Dec. 12 and in the name of sales, Coleman turned the gym into a sales firm, channeling the excitement into the kids’ sales attempts. If the gym is successful, a couple of members of the basketball team will visit the gym on Union Turnpike for a private performance.

“The kids will get a chance to meet them and see them perform a few small tricks and get autographs,” Coleman said, noting that she wanted to invite as many people as possible from the Fresh Meadows area. “Meeting the Globetrotters is a once-in-a-lifetime opportunity for many people in Queens.”

Tickets can be bought on the gym’s website.

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Councilman promises to fund purchase of Fresh Meadows colonial cemetery


| ejankiewicz@queenscourier.com

Photo courtesy of Landmarks Preservation Commission

Fresh Meadows Councilman Rory Lancman pledged to fully fund the purchase of a historical cemetery on 182nd Avenue from the current private owner that has no intention of preserving the plot of land.

“Buying the cemetery is the easy part,” Lancman said about the Brinckerhoff Cemetery. “We need to make sure that an organization with the infrastructure can shoulder the responsibility of upkeeping and maintaining the cemetery.”

The 18th century cemetery was designated a landmark in 2012, thwarting the efforts of the owner, Linda Cai, to develop the land into housing or commercial property.

Lancman, whose coverage area includes Fresh Meadows, said that his office was in the process of looking for an organization that would be able to take care of the colonial cemetery.

The Friends of the The Brinckerhoff Colonial Cemetery, a nonprofit, helped the site gain the landmark status and is in the process of raising money to buy the cemetery. But so far, Lancman hasn’t offered to buy the property for the group because he isn’t sure if the organization

“I’m not going to make the decision unilaterally,” Lancman said. “We need to sit down with the community and figure it out.”

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Preservation group struggles to raise money for historical cemetery in Fresh Meadows


| ejankiewicz@queenscourier.com

Photo courtesy of Landmarks Preservation Commission

A preservation group is trying to save a colonial-era burial ground in Fresh Meadows from fading away.

The Brinckerhoff Cemetery was designated a landmark in 2012 by the city. But the small plot of land is privately owned by Linda Cai.

“If we didn’t fight for the cemetery this could have been developed and the grounds desecrated,” said Yolanda Dela Cruz-Gallagher, president of Friends of the Brinckerhoff Colonial Cemetery. “And we could have lost the historical essence of our forefather.”

Dela Cruz-Gallagher and her preservation organization are raising money to buy the property. The current owner is asking for $150,000.

“We have no money,” Dela Cruz-Gallagher said. “And so we’re asking the public for support.”

Dela Cruz-Gallagher and other Queens historical groups believe there are over 70 tombstones in the cemetery, but none of them are visible due to the overgrowth of weeds and a lack of maintenance.

Surveys of the area are prohibited since the cemetery is private property, so no one is certain about the conditions of the tombstones and other historical artifacts. The 18th-century graveyard is named after a prominent immigrant family from Holland that settled in Fresh Meadows.

“I believe that the property would be in better hands with the Friends of the Brinckerhoff Cemetery than the current owner,” said Mitchell Grubler, chair of the Queens Preservation Council. “It’s a property that’s had a lot of invasive growth, vegetation. Over the course of time, that needs to be managed.”

The Queens Preservation Council doesn’t have any plans to financially support Friends of the Brinckerhoff Colonial Cemetery. But Grubler said that doesn’t mean they won’t help in the future.

In 2012, when the site was designated as a historical landmark, former City Councilman James Gennaro lobbied hard to win the site’s landmark status, according to earlier reports.

Gennaro also said that a nonprofit group with the financial ability should buy the property. While Dela Cruz-Gallagher’s preservation group is a nonprofit, they aren’t close to the $150,000 needed to buy the property.

“These are the people who fought side by side with George Washington. It has a lot of historical significance,” Dela Cruz-Gallagher said. “We need to get this property as soon as possible before everything there is lost.”

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Barnes & Noble in Fresh Meadows to close


| ejankiewicz@queenscourier.com

THE COURIER/Photo by Angy Altamirano

It’s the end of a chapter for Barnes & Noble.

The Queens Courier has learned that the bookstore on Union Turnpike in Fresh Meadows will be closing at the end of this year.

The store has been in the area since 2004 and residents and local leaders considered the place to be a community center complete with a coffee shop and children’s reading groups. The lease for the store ends on January 31, 2015, and a lease agreement between the owner and the store was scrapped.

“We had discussions with the property owner to try to structure a lease extension, but were not able to come to an agreement,” said David Deason, the vice president of development for Barnes & Noble. “We enjoyed serving our St. John’s/Fresh Meadows-area customers for the last 10 years and look forward to continuing to serve them at the nearby Bayside location.”

The store first opened in June 2004. Residents in the community lamented the news of the location’s upcoming closing.

“I love that store,” said Joan Piconni, a Fresh Meadows resident. “I was so happy when it opened, I was doing a dance.”

She continued, “When I first heard that it was going to close, I said, ‘Oh my God, I’m going to go through withdrawals without my Barnes & Noble.’ We need a bookstore in this area. We have many schools in this area and the students all go there for research and homework.”

Mike Sidell, a member of Community Board 8, said that it was particularly troublesome that the store was closing, because it wasn’t due to a lack of business but because the property owner and the store couldn’t agree on a lease extension.

He noted that politicians and activists in the Bronx “saved the day” when the Barnes & Noble there, which served as the only full-service bookstore in the borough, was on the brink of closing. The community, he said, pulled together and saved the store from being closed. And he suggested that people in Queens should do the same.

“I feel [the Fresh Meadows Barnes & Noble] was good for the community because people from the surrounding Queens areas use it too,” Sidell said.

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Fresh Meadows building housing Assemblywoman Nily Rozic’s office selling for $14.6M


| lguerre@queenscourier.com

Photo courtesy of Massey Knakal Realty Services 

The mixed-use office building in Fresh Meadows housing Assemblywoman Nily Rozic’s district office is selling for $14.6 million.

The building, located at 159-16 Union Turnpike, was built in 2008 and features a modern glass façade. It has a combination of retail and office tenants, including the local politician, who wasn’t initially aware the building was listed, but confirmed to The Courier that her office has no intention on moving.

Benton Management, LLC, which partially owns the building according to city records, purchased the land for $2.5 million in 2007, before the building’s construction.

The three-story building has 37,814 square feet of space, and is fully-leased with six retail units and 11 office spaces, according to Massey Knakal Realty Services, which is listing the property.

Current tenants may see rent increases from potential buyers.

“There is a tremendous opportunity to add significant value by increasing the rents which are currently on average at 50 percent market value,” said Stephen Preuss of Massey Knakal. “Additionally, the asset is being offered well below replacement cost.”

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Fresh Meadows restaurant King Yum reopens after Health Department closes it down


| ejankiewicz@queenscourier.com

THE COURIER/Photo by Melissa Chan

The iconic 60-year-old eatery King Yum resumed business on Tuesday after the city’s Health Department closed the restaurant for having roaches roaming around, contaminated meat and other violations.

The department closed the Fresh Meadows business on Sept. 25 for six “critical violations,” according to the inspection report. The report stated that a variety of vermin inhabited the business, located on Union Turnpike, including filth flies, flesh flies and cockroaches.

The Health Department will typically close a business for receiving a violation score of 28 or higher. King Yum received a 65.

HEALTH_SIGN

Photo courtesy of Jim Gallagher

On Monday, according to a King Yum worker, the department conducted another inspection and, finding it suitably sterile, allowed owner Robin Ng to open his business again.

Ng couldn’t be immediately reached for comment, but in a previous article by The Courier, Ng explained how his business has been able to stay open for 60 years.

It has been King Yum’s “good food, consistency and good value” that has kept the restaurant alive in the ever-changing food industry, he said.

“I grew up working here with my brother. We managed the place as teenagers. I did everything from washing dishes to peeling shrimp,” Ng said. “We’ve been here for 60 years. We must be doing something right.”

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Queens kids appear in Sesame Street episode on diversity


| ejankiewicz@queenscourier.com

A scene from the Sesame Street song "beautiful skin song" featuring a child from Fresh Meadows.

When the children’s show Sesame Street is doing an episode about racial and cultural diversity, where do they turn? Queens.

Sesame Street filmed an episode that celebrates diversity, and they filmed part of it in a Fresh Meadows children’s athletic center, My Gym. But the film crew used more than just the gym’s child-friendly space; they also asked the gym’s director, Meredith Coleman, if they could film the students for their athletics and aesthetic.

“And they asked that I make sure that the kids are as diverse as possible. We’ve always been diverse. That’s part of living in Queens,” Coleman said.

The Sesame Street episode, “Proud to Be Me,” aired on Sept. 17, and the bulk of it came from filming the 60 kids from My Gym, including the “beautiful skin song” in the episode.

When the film crew first started recording the children, ages 1 through 12, on June 16, they were shy.

“They had a camera literally in their face so it was awkward at first,” Coleman said. “But soon the kids got used to it and some of them were even fighting for the camera’s attention. We try to build up the confidence of our kids and this helped perfectly, especially that it was an episode about being proud of who you are.”

Coleman believes that the nonprofit education show chose My Gym, an international franchise, because they have always been very active in the community and have performed in Hershey Park and alongside the singer Ashanti Shequoiya Douglas. In December, a group of the older children will perform at halftime for the Harlem Globe Trotters in the Barclays Center.

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Motorcyclist dies in Fresh Meadows collision


| ctumola@queenscourier.com

ambulance

A 24-year-old Rego Park man was killed Monday afternoon in a motorcycle crash near an exit of the Clearview Expressway, according to authorities.

The victim, identified by police as David Duran, was riding his bike westbound on 73rd Avenue in Fresh Meadows just after 4 p.m. when the accident happened, cops said.

A Mazda Miata was stopped on 73rd Avenue just west of the southbound exit of the Clearview Expressway and attempted to make a U-turn. At that time, Duran began to skid and his motorcycle turned onto its side before hitting the left side of the Mazda, according to police.

Duran was taken to New York Hospital Queens, where he was pronounced dead.

There have been no arrests and the investigation is ongoing, authorities said.

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Top 10 places to watch football in Queens


By Queens Courier Staff | editorial@queenscourier.com

THE COURIER/File photo

BY ECLEEN CARABALLO, ASHA MAHADEVAN AND CRISTABELLE TUMOLA

If you grow tired of watching the football games from your couch this season, there are plenty of bars in Queens that offer bigger TVs, fellow fans and an array of drink and beer specials to accompany the touchdowns.

Austin’s Steak and Ale House
82-70 Austin St., Kew Gardens
718-849-3939
austinsteakandalehouse.com

Photo courtesy of Austin's Ale House

Photo courtesy of Austin’s Ale House

Austin’s Ale House will be screening all of the games this football season on their 50-odd TV screens. In one of the rooms, they have TVs at the table. There is a 30-cent wing special all day on Sundays. Customers can also enjoy a Sunday brunch for $16.95 while watching the games, as well as 20 beers on draft and 50 beers in bottles.

Bar43
43-06 43rd St., Sunnyside
718-361-3090
bar43.com

For one, it has a sports bar with 10 TVs. Bar43 shows the games on all the days, and is offering specials on a mango fuel cocktail ($5) and high-water melon beer ($4).

Bohemian Hall and Beer Garden
29-19 24th Ave., Astoria
718-274-4925
bohemianhall.com

Bohemian Hall 3

Photo courtesy of Bohemian Hall and Beer Garden

There is happy hour between 5 and 7 p.m. every day, during which there are $4 mugs of craft beer. You can watch football games on the TV sets installed all over the garden. Sounds perfect? Ah, there is a catch. Bohemian Hall won’t have every game on, just the ones that are on local channels or ESPN.

Break Bar and Billiards
32-04b Broadway, Astoria
718-777-5400
break-ny.com

Photo courtesy of Break Bar and Billiards

Photo courtesy of Break Bar and Billiards

Break Bar and Billiards is showing all the games on 16 big-screen TVs and one 105-inch projector. Specials during the games are wings for $4.50 and beer towers (100 oz.) for $20. Happy hour is seven days a week, even when there is no game on.

Buffalo Wild Wings
107-16 71st Ave., Forest Hills
718-544-9453
buffalowildwings.com

Manager George Criskos of the Buffalo Wild Wings in Forest Hills claims that it has the best chicken wings. But he says that’s only the beginning. With 95 televisions and two 14-foot projectors, you can watch the game from every angle and drink one of its 30 draft beers or 26 bottled beers while you’re at it.

Hooters of Fresh Meadows
61-09 190th St., Fresh Meadows
718-454-2800
facebook.com/hootersoffreshmeadows

THE COURIER/File photo

THE COURIER/File photo

As football season kicks off, the manager prepares by filling Hooters with jerseys that the restaurant will be giving away. The team at Hooters believes its locale is the best place to go during football season because it roots for every team, and gives back to those who come visit with prizes from jerseys to tickets to games.

Katch Astoria
31-19 Newtown Ave., Astoria
718-777-2230
katchastoria.com

Photo courtesy of Katch Brewery & Grill

Photo courtesy of Katch Brewery & Grill

Tino Tsutras, general manager, describes Katch Astoria, as a “sports capable bar,” with its 63 TVs, 50 craft beers on tap and entirely handmade menu created from nothing frozen. During Sunday and Monday football there are 60-cent wing and $5 Brooklyn Brewery beer specials. Thursday is ladies’ night, with 50 percent off on sangria, house liquor, wine and Prosecco. Katch has every sporting event offered by satellite TV.

Miller’s Ale House at Rego Park
61-35 Junction Blvd., Rego Park
718-760-1090
millersalehouse.com

Photo courtesy of millersalehouse.com

Photo courtesy of millersalehouse.com

Miller’s Ale House has 70 TVs showing the games through 20 separate satellites. No blackouts, it says. You can watch every single game on Mondays, Thursdays and Sundays. It has bucket specials (5 for $10), bottle specials (a pint of Bud Light for $2.75 and pitchers of Corona Light for $7) and food specials.

O’Neill’s Maspeth
64-21 53rd Dr., Maspeth
718-672-9696
oneillsmaspeth.com

THE COURIER/File photo

THE COURIER/File photo

With more than 50 TVs and surround sound, O’Neill’s wants to make you feel like you are at the game. Every day during football season, it’s offering $3 pints and $12 pitchers of Coors Light, Miller Lite and Pabst Blue Ribbon, $4 pints and $14 pitchers of Corona Light, and $3 sangria. On Mondays, Thursdays and Sundays there are Coors Light beer tubes with 10 wings of your choice for $25 as well as 5 for $15 Coors Light buckets and 5 for $20 Corona buckets. Thursday is ladies’ night with buy-one-get-one-free well drinks. On select weeks, Miller Lite, Coors Light and Corona reps come in and hold giveaways and raffles during the games. Grill rooms have personal TVs at each booth, and there are projectors in each of the catering rooms for private parties.

The Garden at Studio Square NYC
35-33 36th St., Astoria
718-383-1001
www.studiosquarebeergarden.com

File photo

File photo

The Garden is known for its 9-by-16-foot high definition video wall and its space, which fits more than 2,000 people in the garden. Chief Marketing Officer Pete Mason also proudly mentioned that it won “the ESPN ultimate sports bar challenge in NY for 2014,” and that “if you can’t be there at the stadium, this is the next best thing.”

What are your favorite places to watch football in Queens? Let us know by commenting below.

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Queens Library struggling from space constraints, report says


| lguerre@queenscourier.com

Photo courtesy of the Queens Library

Increasing space for users at Queens Library branches could begin a new chapter in its history, after a new study found most locations are struggling from space constraints.

The news comes days after the library’s CEO Tom Galante was suspended by the board of trustees, following a series of published reports revealing his nearly $400,000 salary, benefits, and erection of a smoking deck outside his office in Central Library, while making employee cuts.

The Center for an Urban Future released Monday the Re-Envisioning New York’s Branch Libraries report, which said 41 of the library’s 62 branches are under 10,000 square feet and struggling to meet the demands of its increasing membership. Queens had the most branches under that size in the five boroughs. Brooklyn came in second with 26 branches.

About 11.2 million people visited Queens Library branches in fiscal year 2014, according to statistics on the library’s website, and there were 929,000 active borrowers. The problem isn’t a need to repair libraries but adjust the layout, according to the report.

“It’s not just that so many New York City libraries are old and in a state of disrepair, many are not configured to meet the needs of today’s users,” the study said. “Designed around their book collections, many devote a majority of their layouts to shelves and rooms for book processing.”

The report specifically identified the Fresh Meadows library branch as one of the more well-attended branches in the city, but only has 8,700 square feet of space. That branch and the Far Rockaway, Lefferts, Rego Park and Sunnyside locations are five of the 10 “highest performing branches citywide” that are in need of more space.

“These well-attended branches would undoubtedly attract significantly more patrons for programs if they had more space for them,” the report said.

But some libraries just don’t have enough seating, such as the Jackson Heights branch, which has more than 375,000 annual visitors, but can only seat 78 people.

In its defense, Interim Queens Library President and CEO Bridget Quinn-Carey said that the library is currently engaging in many projects to expand its branches and meet its vast membership.

“Over the past several years, elected officials in Queens have done a great job of allocating funds to help Queens Library upgrade and maintain its facilities,” Quinn-Carey said. “As the report suggests, there is still so much more that we could be doing for the community if we had the space in which to do it. We look forward to working with public funders to establish a rational, forward-looking capital funding plan that gives libraries the resources they need to plan important capital investments.”

On a positive note, Queens has the newest libraries, according to the report. The borough ranks youngest in age, with the average library at just 47 years old. Manhattan is first with an average age of 84 years old. Also, six of the 15 new libraries in the past 20 years were branches in Queens.

Click here to read the full report.

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Health Department to treat parts of Queens against West Nile


By Queens Courier Staff | editorial@queenscourier.com

Photos courtesy of NYC Department of Health

On Monday, Sept. 8, there will be West Nile spraying in parts of Queens to help reduce the mosquito population and the risk of the disease.

The spraying will take place between the hours of 8:00 p.m. and 6 a.m. the next morning. In case of bad weather, the application will be delayed until Tuesday, Sept. 9 during the same hours.

The following neighborhoods are being treated due to rising West Nile virus activity with high mosquito populations, according to the city’s Health Department:

Parts of Auburndale, Flushing, Fresh Meadows, Murray Hill Pomonok, and Queensboro Hill (Bordered by 46th Avenue, Holly Avenue and Kissena Boulevard to the north; Main Street and Elder Avenue to west; Long Island Expressway to the south; and Hollis Court Boulevard to the east).

Parts of Astoria, Jackson Heights, Steinway and Woodside (Bordered by 19th Avenue and 81st Street to the north; 45th Street to the west; 25th Avenue and Brooklyn-Queens Expressway West to the south; and Brooklyn-Queens Expressway East, 25th Avenue, 77th Street and Grand Central Parkway to the east).

WNV2

For the application, the Health Department will spray pesticide from trucks and use a very low concentration of Anvil®, 10 + 10, a synthetic pesticide. When properly used, this product poses no significant risks to human health.

The Health Department recommends that people take the following precautions to minimize direct exposure:

  • Whenever possible, stay indoors during spraying. People with asthma or other respiratory conditions  are encouraged to stay inside during spraying since direct exposure could worsen these conditions.
  • Air conditioners may remain on, however, if you wish to reduce the possibility of indoor exposure to pesticides, set the air conditioner vent to the closed position, or choose the re-circulate function.
  •  Remove children’s toys, outdoor equipment, and clothes from outdoor areas during spraying. If  outdoor equipment and toys are exposed to pesticides, wash them with soap and water before using  again.
  • Wash skin and clothing exposed to pesticides with soap and water. Always wash your produce thoroughly with water before cooking or eating.

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Update: Foundation work underway for Fresh Meadows 12-story hotel


| lguerre@queenscourier.com

THE COURIER/Photos by Liam La Guerre

Foundation work is progressing on a planned 12-story mixed-use hotel near the Fresh Meadows Shopping Center.

The hotel, which is designed by Tan Architect, will be divided into 14,672 square feet of residential space, 40,675 square feet of retail space and 2,239 square feet of community space, according to filings with the Department of Buildings.

The site at 61-27 186th Street was previously vacant land across from the mall’s parking lot.

Rendering-of-building-1024x682

The new structure will have 22 rooms and is expected to be completed in January 2016, according to the work poster at the site.

City records also show that there will be 45 enclosed parking spaces.

Fresh meadows lot side

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Two wanted in Flushing, Fresh Meadows street robberies  


| ctumola@queenscourier.com

Photo and video courtesy of NYPD

Cops are looking for two suspects in a string of street robberies in Flushing and Fresh Meadows over the last month.

One of the suspects snatched a bag from a 63-year-old woman on Aug.4 at the intersection of 202nd Street and Hillside Avenue at about 4:50 a.m. after flashing a gun at the victim, cops said.

A suspect then stole another woman’s bag at the intersection of 162nd Street and Booth Memorial Avenue on Aug. 14 around 9:15 p.m. after assaulting the 46-year-old.

Both suspects are wanted in two other street robberies this month—on Aug. 17 at the intersection of 165th Street and the Horace Harding Expressway at about 9:30 p.m. and on Aug. 18 at the intersection of the Horace Harding Expressway and 148th Street, officials said. During the latest robbery, the pair approached a 23-year-old man just after midnight and assaulted him before taking his personal property.

Police describe the suspects as black men in their 20s, 6 feet tall and 170 pounds, and have released a video of one of the suspects using a credit card that was taken during the Aug. 18 robbery.

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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Fresh Meadows two-story mall to open soon


| lguerre@queenscourier.com

THE COURIER/Photo by Liam La Guerre

Work on a two-story mall in Fresh Meadows on 164th Street is weeks away from completion, according to the owner J&H Management Corp.

About four years ago, former Councilman James Gennaro assisted in changing the zoning of the lot to commercial to clear the way for the shopping center. 

J&H, which filed to demolish the auto repair shop on the lot in 2012, started construction last year and was expecting the shopping center to be completed in the spring. The more than 13,000 square-foot retail mall will have 13 tenants and 38 parking spots. 

“It’s about bringing retail in to an area which it really needs it, and bringing parking to Queens,” said Joel Fischer, president of J&H Management Corp.  

The new mall will share the block with a pizzeria near the 69th Avenue, and is close to a Key Food supermarket on the next block.

Some shops are already confirmed as tenants, but the owner wants to hold off on announcing them at this time.

 

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