Tag Archives: Hunters Point

11-story condominium building planned for LIC


| lguerre@queenscourier.com

Rendering courtesy of Fogarty Finger Architects

New condos are coming to the Hunter’s Point section of Long Island City.

Local companies Charney Construction & Development and Ascent Development are working on an 11-story mixed-use residential and commercial building, which will have 56 apartments, according to New York YIMBY.

The building will be located on 11-51 47th Avenue, blocks from 5Pointzwhich is being torn down for massive apartment towers— and near MoMA PS1.

Designed by Fogarty Finger Architects, the proposed 125-foot structure will be comprised of 52,728 square feet of residential space and an additional 1,280 square feet of commercial space, according to filings with the Department of Buildings.

The building will also have 23 enclosed parking spots.

 

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Street cleaning initiative expands to Dutch Kills


| aaltamirano@queenscourier.com

Photo courtesy of Councilman Jimmy Van Bramer's office

More streets of western Queens will continue to shine as The Doe Fund expands into Dutch Kills.

The move into the Long Island City neighborhood comes a month after it was announced the nonprofit organization’s reach would be expanding to other areas of Long Island City and Hunters Point, and would also be remaining in Woodside.

The Doe Fund, which employs recently homeless or formerly incarcerated people as part of its Ready, Willing and Able transitional work program, will keep the sidewalks clean and clear corner trash cans on 36th Avenue from 27th to 36th streets.

Two workers will be on-site two days per week from 9 a.m. to 5 p.m.

“We continue to tackle the issue of street cleanliness head-on,” said Councilman Jimmy Van Bramer who secured $33,000 to begin The Doe Fund program in Dutch Kills. “The maintenance of our commercial corridors and residential streets is a top priority for me.”

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Woman struck by Queens-bound No. 7 train at Grand Central


| ctumola@queenscourier.com

Photo courtesy of Wikimedia Commons/Dschwen

A woman fell into the path of a No. 7 train at Grand Central Station Thursday night after she passed out, police said.

The 32-year-old was waiting for the subway about 9:30 p.m. when she was hit by a Queens-bound train, according to the NYPD.

She was taken to Bellevue Hospital in critical condition, police said.

No. 7 train service had to be suspended between Grand Central and Hunters Point Avenue because of the accident.

 

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LIC welcomes better bus service


| aaltamirano@queenscourier.com

The Astoria and Long Island City waterfront is getting better bus service.

Improvements to the Q103 bus line, which runs along Vernon Boulevard between Hunters Point and Astoria, began on Monday, September 9. Instead of 25 runs a day, the Q103 will now have 30. It will run every 15 minutes during the morning rush-hour. The line will also start earlier, at 5:40 a.m., instead of 6:10 a.m., and end later, at 7:50 p.m., instead of 7:18 p.m.

The bus service changes are in response to months of State Senator Michael Gianaris and community group Riders Alliance pushing the MTA for better waterfront bus service, along with other MTA improvements.

“As western Queens continues to include our city’s fastest growing neighborhoods, we need to make sure public transportation keeps up,” said Gianaris. “I look forward to continuing to work with the Riders Alliance and members of our community to improve mass transit in western Queens.”

The MTA will also fix the schedule of the Q102 bus in order for the posted times to be closer to when the bus actually arrives at the stops.

“Knowing that my bus will come more often and according to schedule is a welcome change,” said Bobby Preti, Riders Alliance member. “It’s clear that our petitioning worked, the MTA heard us, and we thank them.”

 

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LIC, Hunters Point get $65G to clean up streets


| aaltamirano@queenscourier.com

THE COURIER/ Photos by Angy Altamirano

The streets of Long Island City and Hunters Point are getting cleaner.

On July 31, Councilmember Jimmy Van Bramer announced $65,000 to expand The Doe Fund’s street cleaning initiative to Hunters Point and Long Island City. The streets involved in the program are along Vernon Boulevard from 50th to 45th Avenue, and 11th Street from 50th to 45th Avenue.

“The cleanliness of the streets is one of the biggest concerns, one of the most frequent issues that we hear about here in the neighborhood,” said Van Bramer. “We want the streets of Hunters Point and Long Island City to be cleaner, we want them to be as clean as possible.”

Under this initiative, Doe Fund workers will be on the streets for three days a week, six hours each day. The workers will sweep the sidewalks from the property lines to the curb and gutters, remove and replace trash bags, clean out cigarette butts and other garbage from the cracks in the sidewalk, remove posters and graffiti from fire hydrants, lights poles and mailboxes, and also straighten newspaper distribution boxes at intersections.

“This is just the beginning, we are opened to expanding the program as we did with Woodside this year,” said Van Bramer. “First we want to see if it works and how well it works.”

Last year, Van Bramer allocated $31,000 to The Doe Fund for a street cleaning program in Woodside that placed a maintenance team on streets along Roosevelt Avenue from 51st to 61st Street, 61st Street from Roosevelt to 39th Avenue, and Woodside Avenue from 58th to 60th Street.

The program will now expand the Woodside initiative along Roosevelt Avenue up to 64th Street.

“I’m fully confident that, as we have in numerous neighborhoods across the city and now in Woodside, we’ll be able to bring these really wonderful and beautiful streets into the Long Island City and Hunters Point area,” said Ray Damm, director of The Doe Fund’s community improvement project.

According to Sheila Lewandowki, executive director of The Chocolate Factory Theater and member of Community Board 2, many residents have voiced their concerns of dirt and dust from construction. She said The Doe Fund will help residents feel safer and cleaner.

“The community board will hear fewer complaints because of the great work of The Doe Fund,” said Lewandowski.

 

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Board votes down outdoor seating at Alobar


| aaltamirano@queenscourier.com

File photo

Alobar customers will now have to spend the summer indoors after a final vote from Community Board 2 (CB2) denied the restaurant the use of its backyard space.

The popular restaurant at 46-42 Vernon Boulevard in Hunters Point must adhere to a stipulation of its liquor license prohibiting outdoor seating.

Owner Jeff Blath met with CB2’s City Service and Public Safety Committee on June 12 to discuss opening his backyard space to customers. He said the board told him it could not make an exception for his restaurant without setting a precedent for other establishments.

“They were really clear that Alobar is an excellent addition to the neighborhood,” said Blath. “The reason was that if they say yes to Alobar, they have to say yes to everyone.”

Blath said he finds the decision “disappointing.” He previously noted the effect on his business, saying he loses dozens of customers who ask for the outdoor seating.

“It’s thousands of dollars a month and it’s enough to put people out of business,” said Bath. “It’s enough to make people lose their jobs.”

CB 2 Chair Joseph Conley previously told The Courier the board has had to deal with establishments whose backyard seating caused disturbances to neighbors and the community. He added that residents in the area have voiced their opposition to the plan.

However, Blath said he gathered nearly 500 signatures for a petition and has spoken with his neighbors that say otherwise.

Before the meeting, Blath built 11-foot-high walls to block out noise and had a sound engineer suggest other changes to make the seating area quieter. He was also trying to work with the board to cut back hours at the backyard from 10 p.m. to 6 p.m.

“I was willing to bend over backwards to make this happen,” said Blath. “When you see another place just a block away from you go out of business, it scares you. My heart is in this business. I can’t help but think what’s going to happen.”

Blath is looking to appeal the board’s decision with the State Liquor Authority.

CB2 did not respond to calls as of press time.

 

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Long Island City, Astoria bike lanes to get makeover


| aaltamirano@queenscourier.com

THE COURIER/Photo by Angy Altamirano / Graphics courtesy of DOT

Vernon Boulevard’s bike lanes are set to get a makeover this summer to provide extra safety for riders and more space for drivers.

According to a plan the Department of Transportation (DOT) presented to Community Board 2 on June 6, the two one-way bike paths on each side of Vernon Boulevard would become a two-way protected lane. The lane would have a five-foot buffer running alongside the west side of the street. The lanes would also be painted green to provide easier visibility.

“This project is intended to knit together existing sections of the greenway by providing a continuous, protected bike lane serving neighborhoods along the East River waterfront,” said DOT spokesperson Nicholas Mosquera.

The existing bike lanes were set up as part of the Queens East River Greenway in 2008, which connects the waterfront from Hallet’s Cove in Astoria to 45th Road in Hunters Point.

After hearing community concerns over the lack of parking, DOT also plans to create a protected bike path through Rainey Park in Astoria. That would free up 35 parking spaces between 34th Avenue and 33rd Road.

According to the plan, the two-way bike lane will help beginning riders feel more comfortable on the streets and bring more bicyclists to the path. The wider path would allow joggers to benefit from the space, too.

“The project, which DOT has proposed for implementation this summer, has the support of Community Board 1 and the agency continues to work with Community Board 2 on this initiative,” said Mosquera.

 

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Outdoor seating still in question at LIC’s Alobar


| aaltamirano@queenscourier.com

File photo

It seems Alobar still has to overcome a few more hurdles before getting the chance to use its backyard space this summer.

The popular restaurant, located at 46-42 Vernon Boulevard in Hunters Point, has not been allowed to offer customers outdoor seating as a stipulation of its liquor license.

Alobar’s owner Jeff Blath met with Community Board 2’s City Service and Public Safety Committee on Wednesday, May 8 to discuss opening the backyard space to customers.

Blath previously told The Courier his business loses thousands of dollars when the weather is nice. He said turning down customers who request an outdoor table pushes them to other establishments.

Committee Chair Patrick O’Brien said it was a good meeting since Blath listened to recommendations and was open to working with the community board.

“He understands the concerns, and we are sensitive to any business,” said O’Brien. “We want to hear both sides of it.”

O’Brien noted that residents have strongly voiced their opposition to opening up Alobar’s backyard seating area because of the noise it would cause.

The committee neither approved nor denied the proposal, but suggested Blath work with sound engineers to see if there is something that could muffle sounds from his backyard. The committee also asked Blath to consider offering only brunch or lunch in the backyard if it ultimately gets approval.

The committee would also have to make sure Alobar can legally use the space for the intended reasons, O’Brien said. The body is scheduled to continue discussions on Alobar’s backyard at a June 12 meeting.

Blath did not respond to multiple phone calls as of press time.

 

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LIC’s Alobar petitions for outdoor seating


| aaltamirano@queenscourier.com

File photo

With summer just around the corner, Alobar in Hunters Point is seeking permission to serve patrons outdoors.

The popular restaurant at 46-42 Vernon Boulevard is not allowed to offer its customers backyard seating as a stipulation of its liquor license.

Alobar’s owner Jeff Blath said when customers see his outdoor seating area, they often request a table there, but he has to turn them down. According to him, the business loses thousands of dollars when the weather is nice.

“I have to tell them no, and customers will usually respond with, ‘We’ll go somewhere else’,” he said.

Community Board 2 granted Alobar its liquor license. CB 2 Chair Joseph Conley said the board has previously had to deal with establishments whose backyard seating caused disturbances to neighbors and the community.

He cited Lounge 47 as an example. After years of neighbors’ complaints about excessive noise during late hours, the establishmen closed. It was located at 47-10 Vernon Boulevard.

“By and large, from past experience, people do not want them because they are a negative impact to the way of life,” said Conley. “It is very clear the community has spoken about this. Residents that live there are opposed to it.”

However, Blath maintains Alobar has been a good neighbor and will stay that way. His petition has gained 438 signatures from neighbors and customers.

“Now that I’ve been around, I’ve proven myself to be a good neighbor. I welcome speaking to neighbors and hearing from them,” Blath said. “I want to be able to go to the community board with a good number of people to show it’s what people want.”

Blath plans to make the case that Alobar is a quiet restaurant. There will be no speakers to play music, he has built 11-foot-high walls and set up an awning to muffle noise.

If CB 2 approves use of Alobar’s backyard space, the restaurant will stay open until 10:30 p.m. Blath considers that a reasonable time compared to some other establishments, which stay open past midnight.

“I’m asking for less than everyone else,” he said.

The next board meeting is on May 2. Conley said he welcomes Blath to come and bring his proposal.

“Based on the facts, there could be something unique,” Conley said. “Each case is looked at individually.”

 

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Officer from Queens precinct kills child, boyfriend in apparent murder-suicide


| aaltamirano@queenscourier.com

THE COURIER/Graphic image

An off-duty police officer who was recently assigned to a Queens precinct shot her boyfriend and their one-year-old son before killing herself at their home in Brooklyn, according to published reports.

The officer, identified as Rosette M. Samuel, 43, had reportedly become part of the police force in September 2000 and was currently working at the 108th Precinct, which covers Long Island City, Sunnyside and Hunters Point.

According to reports, the body of Samuel’s boyfriend was found lying in the front hallway of the home, while Samuel and her child were found face up on a bed in a bedroom inside the family’s first- floor apartment home located on East 56th  Street in East Flatbush.

Samuel’s 19-year-old son from a previous relationship escaped through a bedroom window from the house  after hearing gunshots and called 911 at around 8:30 a.m., reported the New York Times.

According to the Daily News, cops did not find a suicide note at the scene.

 

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Hunters Point residents split on alternate side parking


| aaltamirano@queenscourier.com

THE COURIER/Photo by Angy Altamirano

Hunters Point residents are taking sides when it comes to a proposal for alternate side parking.

At a Community Board 2 meeting in January, residents became aware of the Department of Sanitation’s (DOS) proposition for alternate side street parking west of Jackson Avenue between 45th and Borden Avenues due to requests made by some residents in fall 2011.

As part of the proposal, the streets would be swept twice a week, the south and east sides on Wednesdays and the north and west sides on Thursdays. Streets in the area south of 47th Road would be cleaned from 9 a.m. to 10:30 a.m. and streets to the north would be cleaned between 11:30 a.m. and 1 p.m. Blocks with meters would be cleaned in half-hour segments between 7:30 and 9 a.m.

Dr. Moitri Savard, Community Board 2 member and a local family doctor, has been leading the battle for cleaner streets for about two years and is taking matters into her own hands.

“We just want our streets to be cleaner,” said Savard, who has now started the LIC – Environmental Community Organization (LIC-ECO) to clean the streets as they wait for the changes.

But other residents are worried about the vehicle congestion as cars do the “double parking dance,” switching in and out of spaces.

Longtime resident Diane Hendry believes the community should be accountable for litter and more trash baskets should be added. Hendry also suggests residents get parking permits, as well as resident short- and long-term parking to alleviate congestion.

According to spokesperson Kathy Dawkins, the DOS is still waiting for recommendations from the Community Board after its next public hearing.

“The Department of Sanitation prepared the plan in response to requests by the Community Board and the local councilmember who sense the changing nature of the area,” said Dawkins.

The LIC-ECO group is planning “LIC Cleanup!” for Saturday, May 11 to clean 48th Avenue between 5th Street and Vernon Boulevard.

Community Board 2 did not respond to calls for comment.

 

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Farmers’ market may return to Hunters Point


| aaltamirano@queenscourier.com

http://queenscourier.com/wp-admin/post.php?post=106816&action=edit&message=10#

The community has spoken and Hunters Point might be getting its beloved farmers’ market back on weekends.

At a meeting of the Hunters Point Civic Association, residents voiced their opinions on important issues, with many shedding light on their desire to bring back the farmers’ market. After one resident volunteered to lead the issue, Down to Earth Markets was contacted.

“We are very excited to be bringing a farmers’ market back to the neighborhood and happy to be working with Down to Earth Farmers’ Markets,” said Brent O’Leary, president of the Hunters Point Civic Association.

Down to Earth Markets manages 20 farmers’ markets in New York City and Westchester and Rockland Counties and strives to bring “locally crafted products” to the residents of each community.

There had previously been a market on 48th Street on Saturdays, but when the day was shifted to Wednesdays, the change did not go over well with residents and the operation closed down.

“It was an outcry from the residents that they wanted to have it back,” said Frankie Rowland, director of community relations and marketing for Down to Earth Markets. “We want to return the market to 48th Street on Saturdays.” At a recent Community Board 2 meeting in Sunnyside, representatives from Down to Earth Markets, including Rowland, presented their plan to the residents and board members.

“Local is a big aspect of what we do. We want to support local agriculture,” said Rowland. “We want to provide fresh local food to the residents of the area and allow them to have direct interaction with each other.” The farmers’ market would feature locally grown produce, fruits and vegetables in season, and local bread. In addition, there may be vendors selling local honey, olive oil, cheese and eggs.

According to Rowland, the first step was reaching out to Community Board 2 and now they will have a follow-up meeting with the civic association. The meeting will then be followed with the organization pursuing proper permits from the Department of Transportation.

If the farmers’ market is approved, it will be launched in June or July on 48th Street between Vernon Boulevard and 5th Street and will open every Saturday from 9 a.m. to 4 p.m. until the last Saturday before Thanksgiving.

 

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City breaks ground on Hunter’s Point South project


| aaltamirano@queenscourier.com

Renderings courtesy of NYC Mayors Office's Flickr

The first shovelful of dirt was slung last week on what will be the city’s biggest new affordable housing complex since the 1970s.

On Monday, March 4, Mayor Michael Bloomberg, public officials and representatives from firms involved in building Hunter’s Point South broke ground on the first phase of construction that will bring the first two residential buildings of the project to the Queens waterfront, with 925 permanently affordable apartments and around 17,000-square-feet of retail space.

In addition to the buildings, this phase will include a new five-acre waterfront park and a new school seating 1,100 students, almost near completion.

“In just a few years, Hunter’s Point will have all the makings of a great community – affordable homes, new transportation links, beautiful parks with sweeping views and a brand-new school,” said Bloomberg.

The plan evolved in Community Board 2 and came to be after the members put forth the idea to the mayor. The city later acquired the land, said CB 2 chair Joseph Conley.

The residential buildings are expected to have a “well balanced” population of residents including low- to moderate-income families, senior citizens, city employees and people with disabilities, said Conley.

“This ground breaking represents another milestone in the ongoing transformation of Hunter’s Point,” said Councilmember Jimmy Van Bramer. “These two towers will be affordable to many who live and want to remain residents in western Queens.”

After being hit hard by Sandy, the plans for the Hunter’s Point South waterfront include resiliency actions to safeguard the buildings from any future weather events.

For example, according to the mayor’s office, the buildings’ emergency generators will be on the roof and the mechanical systems on the second floor.

One building will be located at 1-50 50th Avenue and the other at 1-55 Borden Avenue. The buildings are being designed by SHoP Architects and Ismael Leyva Architects and are expected to begin to be occupied in 2014, with full construction finalized in 2015.

“Long Island City represents the future of New York City, and with projects like these, that future is a bright one,” said Van Bramer.

 

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M. Wells reopens in MoMA PS1


| aaltman@queenscourier.com

DSC_2478w

Art aficionados can grab a tasty bite while scoping out the latest exhibits at MoMA PS1 from a former neighborhood favorite.

M. Wells, previously a beloved Hunters Point diner, reopened at noon on Thursday, September 27 to a swarm of fans. As MoMA PS1’s central eatery, M. Wells remains removed from the archetypical museum fare of prepackaged sandwiches and bottled water. Head chefs Hugue Dufour and Sarah Obraitis whip up made-to-order specials in cafeteria style that change on a day-to-day basis.

Playing off of the art hub’s past as a public school, the ever-changing menu is scrawled on chalkboards and guests sit at classic school-house style tables, all facing frontwards. The chefs — or culinary instructors — are fully visible to the patrons who watch them while they work.

Tom Brett, a Jackson Heights resident and past patron of the original M. Wells, was pleased after his first experience at the new location.

“[The food] was wonderful,” said Brett. We ate at the other location in Hunters Point a couple of times and it was wonderful — very good food. We loved it. It’s an interesting space. It seems more spacious which is nice. It’s more laid back as well.”

This past spring, MoMA PS1 and M. Wells submitted a joint application to allow for both facilities to co-exist and were approved by the local Community Board for a liquor license. Peter Katz, chief operating officer of MoMA PS1, and Sarah Obraitis, owner of M. Wells, said they welcomed the partnership and agreed it would be mutually beneficial for the museum, the restaurant and Long Island City.

Community Board 2 member Pat O’Brien said the pairing of MoMA PS1 and M. Wells is definitely positive for Long Island City, remarking that both are very welcome elements in the neighborhood.

“M. Wells has really put themselves on the map with the cuisine and their reputation,” said O’Brien. “I think it’s going to be a great addition to the community.”

M. Wells will be open during normal museum hours.

Additional reporting by Michael Pantelidis and Sweetina Kakar

Hunters Point library site dedicated


| aaltman@queenscourier.com

Interior_Cyber_center

Hunters Point bookworms can soon curl up with a good read just inches from home.

Queens Library announced plans to construct a new branch at the corner of Center Boulevard and 48th Avenue in Hunters Point. The 21,500-square-foot facility, built on the banks of the East River, will feature a cyber-center, roof terrace and communal garden as well as separate reading spaces for adults, teens and children. According to Queens Library spokesperson Joanne King, the building will place an emphasis on environmental preservation, implementing ecologically-sound features to create an entirely carbon neutral structure.

Library officials expect to feature free cultural events and educational programs at the facility.

The building — priced at $28.6 million — was designed by world-famous architect Steven Holl, who specializes in environmentally efficient buildings.

The neighborhood lobbied strongly for the library, tired of trekking to their closest facility at the Court Square branch. King said residents felt they deserved a communal place to gather, share ideas and relax.

“They’re going to have a community hub,” said King. “It’s going to be an anchor of education and culture in the community — a community space where people can just relax and be. It will be recognizable from across the river and in the community so it’s going to give some status to the community itself by having this iconic building there as well as all the services a library provides.”

The waterfront site was dedicated at a ceremony on Friday, October 5 with the help of Borough President Helen Marshall and Councilmember Jimmy Van Bramer. Students from P.S. 78 planted “trees of knowledge” during the Friday morning ceremony.

Dr. Don Dodelson, president of the group Friends of Hunters Point Library, was ecstatic that his outfit’s hard work had paid off.

“It feels wonderful that the library is actually going to be and dedicating the ground is a huge step forward,” said Dodelson.

Dodelson hopes the library will become an all-encompassing community center, housing performances and gallery showcases as well as ceremonies such as weddings and recitals.