Tag Archives: Jackson Avenue

Community expresses mixed feelings on city-commissioned sculpture in LIC


| aaltamirano@queenscourier.com

THE COURIER/ Photo by Angy Altamirano

Beauty is in the eye of the beholder. But for one community in Long Island City, a bright pink statue that would stand more than 8 feet tall just might not fit their vision of beauty.

At the recent Community Board 2 meeting, the city’s Department of Cultural Affairs presented the newest project for the Percent for Art program that is being commissioned for Jackson Avenue and 43rd Avenue.

Since 1982, the city’s Percent for Art law has required that one percent of the budget for eligible city-funded construction projects be spent on public artwork.

For this commission, a panel convened by the agency selected Brooklyn-artist Ohad Meromi and at the Dec. 4 board meeting, the community got a preview of what is being proposed for the Long Island City site.

Meromi’s proposed sculpture is an 8.5-foot-tall, bright pink piece called “The Sunbather” which is shaped as a human figure. About $515,000 of city tax dollars will go toward the construction of the piece, made of bronze.

Although Meromi said he is “excited for the opportunity” to sculpt the piece, community board members and residents at the meeting brought up issues such as the community at large not having had the opportunity to give their input on the sculpture earlier and also the color just being a little too much.

“I personally do like the art,” said Moitri Chowdhury Savard, a community board member. “But I think the bright pink color and the size of it has been brought up by many residents of the community as too much for the area. I think it might be a little too much for a lot of the residents there.”

Resident Christian Amez, also a member of the organization Hunters Point Parks Conservancy, said he also wished the community could have been more well-represented earlier in the process. They also would have liked it if a local artist could have been chosen.

According to Sarah Reisman, director for Percent for Art, the agency presented a rough draft of a rendering to the community board’s land use committee first, and members of the board were invited.

Reisman also added that about 40 artists, including local Long Island City artists, were presented to a panel that later picked finalists. After finalists presented proposals, Meromi, who has presented pieces at the SculptureCenter and MoMA PS1, was chosen.

The sculpture’s size and color are still not finalized, but a permanent piece by Meromi is expected to be located at the site.

“I really thought the site could use color,” Meromi said about the color selection of the sculpture. “I think pink is bold and the site could use something bold.”

Now the agency will take the comments from residents and the community board comments and go back to the renderings of the sculpture. Then, the agency will present a conceptual design to the public design commission at City Hall.

“We want to know what you think, take it to consideration and take it to the design commission,” Reisman said. “We’re here to listen.”

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Real estate roundup: Eight-story residential tower planned for downtown Jamaica, Queens eyed for juvenile offenders facilities


By Queens Courier Staff | editorial@queenscourier.com

Photo courtesy of Christopher Bride/ PropertyShark 

Eight stories in downtown Jamaica

“Applications have been filed to begin construction of an eight-story and 31-unit residential building of 22,728 square feet at the vacant lots of 87-65 – 87-69 171st Street, in Downtown Jamaica; the site’s two-story predecessor was demolished in 2003, and M. S. Savani is designing.” Read more [New York YIMBY]

Two Queens neighborhoods being eyed for ‘limited secure’ facilities for juvenile offenders

“The city is searching for sites in Queens to place a “limited secure” facility for juvenile offenders, the News has learned. Sources said locations in South Ozone Park and Jamaica are being studied.” Read more [New York Daily News]

Checking in on Tishman Speyer’s Long Island City project

“28-18 Jackson Avenue, which is part of Tishman Speyer’s plan to bring approximately 1,600 residential apartments to Long Island City, is completely covered in pipe scaffolding now.Construction crews put the pipe scaffolding up with in the last two weeks, and a permit filed on September 11 calls for the full mechanical demolition of the building.” Read more [The Court Square Blog]

 

Real estate roundup: 5Pointz moves to new demolition phase, 22-unit mixed-use building proposed for Astoria


By Queens Courier Staff | editorial@queenscourier.com

File photo

Scaffolding up on Jackson Avenue side of former 5Pointz building

“Demolition has moved into a new phase at 45-46 Davis Street, the former home of 5Pointz. The last time we checked in, construction crews had erected fences on Davis and Crane Street. More recently, they put up the scaffolding on the Jackson Avenue side, shown in the first photo.” Read more [The Court Square Blog]

6-Story Mixed Use Building Proposed for 24th Avenue and 32nd Street

“In this new building, 19,837 square feet will be residential, 4,610 will be commercial, and the same amount will be a “community facility” at the address of 24-08 32nd Street.” Read more [We Heart Astoria]

Communitea Is Closing

“We learned yesterday that Communitea, the sweet little cafe on Vernon and 47th Avenue, is closing. October 26 will be their last day.” Read more [We Heart LIC]

Demolition begins at 5Pointz


By Queens Courier Staff | editorial@queenscourier.com

THE COURIER/Photo by Liam La Guerre

The walls have started to come down at the Long Island City site which was once home to the graffiti mecca known as 5Pointz.

Demolition began Friday at the property on Jackson Avenue and Davis Street as crews teared down the back wall with bulldozers.

Last month, Jerry Wolkoff, owner of the property, said he hoped to begin demolishing the buidlings in August after initially looking to tear down the site months ago. The demolition is expected to take up to three months to finish.

Wolkoff and his company, G&M Realty, plan to build two apartment towers—one 47 stories and the other 41 stories tall – with close to 1,000 rental apartments, 32,000 square feet of outdoor public space and 50,000 square feet of retail space between them.

Jackson Ave 5

In October, the City Council approved the developer’s proposal to build apartment towers to larger dimensions than allowed by current zoning rules.

Wolkoff ordered to have the building and all the aerosol work that covered it painted white overnight last November, only a few days after artists and supporters held rallies looking to save the graffiti mecca and requested the site be landmarked.

Then earlier this month, Wolkoff released a rendering of a reserved space for graffiti which will be on the new building’s exterior near a rear courtyard, and will be open to the public. However, some artists and 5Pointz supporters are skeptical of the reserved space.

“Who knows what kind of artists it’s going to attract, what’s it’s going to be like and how are they going to manage that,” said Carolina Penafiel of Local Project, a non-profit arts organization which used to be housed in 5Pointz.

Jackson Ave 8

Penafiel stopped by the former graffiti mecca to watch the early demolition and reflect on it.

“It’s sad to see that nobody was able to do anything,” she said. “It wasn’t just a building. It was 5Pointz, you know? I don’t think you could build something like this again.”

 

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LIC loses some free Wi-Fi hotspots amid bankruptcy scandal


By Queens Courier Staff | editorial@queenscourier.com

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Long Island City has lost some of its connection.

Spain-based Wi-Fi provider GOWEX, which was announced last year as one of the organizations that would help bring free Wi-Fi access throughout the city, has filed bankruptcy and had “dozens” of its hotspots go offline, according to the New York Post.

Some of the hotspots include areas in Long Island City, the Bronx and Staten Island, the Post said.

According to the Post, analysts at Gotham City Research posted in a July 1 report that GOWEX had lied about the size of its contract with the city’s Economic Development Corporation, claiming it had 100,00 hotspots throughout the world, when it actually had about 5,000.

Founder and CEO of GOWEX, Jenaro Garcia resigned after he admitted he inflated the revenues, according to the Chicago Tribune.

When it was announced last year, GOWEX was expected to help bring free Wi-Fi access to the Long Island City area with the network being installed along the Vernon Boulevard, Jackson Avenue and Queens Plaza commercial and retail corridors.

GOWEX had a contract with the EDC worth $245,000 and it has paid the company about $185,000 so far, according to published reports. The contract with GOWEX runs through September 2016.

 

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5Pointz demolition expected to begin in August: reports


| aaltamirano@queenscourier.com

THE COURIER/Photo by Angy Altamirano

The Long Island City site which once was home to the graffiti mecca known as 5Pointz could soon be gone.

Jerry Wolkoff, owner of the property on Jackson Avenue and Davis Street, said he hopes to begin demolishing the buildings in August after initially wanting to have started tearing down the site months ago, according to published reports. The demolition is expected to take up to three months to finish.

Wolkoff and his company, G&M Realty, hope to build two apartment towers—one 47 stories and the other 41 stories tall – with close to 1,000 rental apartments, 32,000 square feet of outdoor public space and 50,000 square feet of retail space between them.

In October, the City Council approved the developer’s proposal to build apartment towers to larger dimensions than allowed by current zoning rules.

Last November, Wolkoff ordered to have the building and all the aerosol work that covered it painted white overnight only a few days after artists and supporters held rallies looking to save the graffiti mecca and requesting the site be landmarked.

Wolkoff previously said the towers would include about 20 artist studios and outdoor walls designated for artists.

Wolkoff did not immediately respond to requests for comment.

 

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DOT to implement Slow Zones on Northern and Queens boulevards


| aaltamirano@queenscourier.com

THE COURIER/ Photo by Angy Altamirano

The city’s Vision Zero traffic safety plan will be implemented at two highly trafficked Queens thoroughfares where collisions have claimed more than 20 lives in the last six years, officials said.

The Department of Transportation (DOT) announced Thursday that Northern and Queens boulevards would become part of 25 planned Arterial Slow Zones implemented throughout the five boroughs.

“I am pleased to bring the Arterial Slow Zone program to Northern Boulevard where long crosswalks and high speeds have been an unnecessary reality for too many Queens residents,” DOT Commissioner Polly Trottenberg said.

The first phase of a Slow Zone for Northern Boulevard will run 4.2 miles long from 40th Road to 114th Street. Starting later this month, the speed limit will be lowered to 25 mph and traffic signals will be retimed.

Since 2008, there have been five fatalities on Northern Boulevard, according to the DOT. One of the recent accidents involved 8-year-old Noshat Nahian, who was fatally struck by a truck on his way to school on Northern Boulevard and 61st Street.

Last month the DOT announced it would install two pedestrian safety islands at the intersection, and remove the westbound left turn bay and signal on Northern Boulevard to eliminate possible vehicle and pedestrian collisions.

“Bringing an arterial slow zone to Northern Boulevard is a huge victory for our entire community,” Councilwoman Julissa Ferreras said.

In July, the DOT will implement a Slow Zone on Queens Boulevard, which has seen 23 deaths in the past six years. The Slow Zone will stretch 7.4 miles from Jackson Avenue to Hillside Avenue.

“I am thrilled to be here on Northern Boulevard with Commissioner Trottenberg announcing safety improvements, rather than with a grieving family begging the city to take actions,” state Sen. Michael Gianaris said. “Too many lives have been lost on Northern and Queens Boulevard, and many other dangerous roads throughout our city.”

The city agency also announced Slow Zones would go up on Jamaica Avenue later this month, and Rockaway Boulevard in August.

For more information on the Slow Zones, visit www.nyc.gov/dot or www.nyc.gov/visionzero.

 

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Artist behind 5Pointz banner hopes to open dialogue on gentrification


| aaltamirano@queenscourier.com

Photo by Andy Kim

A duo of Brooklyn artists hope their recent stop in Long Island City will help open the door to a solution.

Artists gilf! and BAMN (By Any Means Necessary) collaborated on Sunday to put a large yellow caution tape, about 3 feet wide and a few hundred feet long, around the Jackson Avenue side of the building which was once home to 5Pointz, with the words “Gentrification in Progress.”

Gilf!, who just goes by her artist name, said it was sad to see the 5Pointz group fight for so long to keep the graffiti mecca alive and in the end just watch it be whitewashed. She believes small businesses are what bring character to New York City, and she has been speaking out against gentrification for a while.

The artist said she had been speaking with BAMN about wanting to create a piece for 5Pointz and following another one of her shows against gentrification, the duo made it to Long Island City.

“I hope people will talk about what gentrification means to them and if it’s something that affects them. And if it is, what are they willing to do about it,” gilf! said. “I use my art to facilitate the dialogue that I think is important or is being swept under the rug.”

She also said she hopes the piece, which was taken down about 36 hours later, will open a door for discussion and bring different people together to come up with an answer.

“If anywhere in the world is going to come up with a solution for this, it’s going to be New York,” she said.

After a long fight to save 5Pointz, years of art was erased overnight last year. The owners of the property on Jackson Avenue and Davis Street, the Wolkoff family, ordered the action to be taken in November. Rallies were held throughout that same month to save the site, including a gathering only three days before the whitewashing, requesting the building, with its art, be landmarked.

Since the whitewashing, the demolition process has slowly begun, with signs of asbestos removal crews at the location.

Although residents have called the city’s Department of Environmental Protection (DEP) and 3-1-1 with complaints, a DEP spokesperson said that all work being done is in compliance with regulations.

Asbestos abatement is taking place on the side located at 45-50 Davis St. by contractors hired by the buildings’ owners. DEP inspectors issued one stop work order, for less than 24 hours, after an inspection on March 2, for minor corrections, said the spokesperson. The issues were corrected and the order was lifted the following day.

Since then, DEP inspectors have gone and supervised the work being done, as a normal procedure.

“We have been there a few times because we keep receiving complaints about it,” the DEP spokesperson said. “But everything has been in compliance there.”

 

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LIC community voices outrage against upcoming No. 7 train suspensions


| aaltamirano@queenscourier.com

THE COURIER/ Photo by Angy Altamirano

Long Island City residents and business owners are telling the MTA enough is enough.

The No. 7 train will soon be going through another round of suspensions causing it to not run in parts of western Queens and Manhattan for more than a dozen weekends this year, starting in the end of February, according to a notice from the MTA.

This news again upset residents, business owners and local politicians who gathered in front of the Vernon Boulevard-Jackson Avenue subway station on Friday to tell the MTA they are fed up with the constant disruptions and the lack of notice.

“Real people’s lives are affected in real ways here, this is not a game,” said Councilmember Jimmy Van Bramer. “This is about human beings, they’re trying to survive and the MTA is trying to kill us. We’ve got to stop this now.”

From February through July, there will be 13 weekend suspensions. Those dates are finalized, the transit agency said. There are nine tentative weekend shutdowns scheduled for August through November.

Business owners are tired of potential financial losses, residents are sick of longer commutes and local politicians just want the MTA to finally listen to their ideas and communicate with the neighborhood.

“It outrageous and all we are asking for is the opportunity to be heard, to present some common sense ideas that we have presented to them year after year after year,” said Senator Michael Gianaris, who has suggested the MTA offer a shuttle bus from Vernon Boulevard through the Queens Midtown Tunnel into the city. “The MTA needs to listen to us once and for all.”

Rebecca Trent, LIC resident and owner of The Creek and The Cave on Jackson Avenue, said the area has grown by 500 percent and the suspension will only make business owners’ jobs harder.

“I don’t know how I’m going to survive this, I do not know and neither do many of my neighbors,” Trent said holding back tears. “What they are trying to do to this neighborhood is disgusting, we deserve better, enough is enough.”

Along with the shuttle service through the Midtown tunnel, Trent also said that in order to compensate the Long Island City community for the “irresponsible shutdowns,” the MTA should give local businesses, who will suffer, free ad space at the E and G subway stations and on the trains.

Richard Mazda, artistic director for The Secret Theatre, said he has had to put up with the disruptions to his business every single year and has faced problems during the annual LIC Arts Open festival, with artists and friends not being able to attend.

“You must have known that you were going to do this work, you have stage managed the release of this information so that we couldn’t fight you, but we will,” Mazda said to the MTA. “This is like the worst movie you have ever seen.”

The latest round of work, including continued installation of Communications-Based Train Control (CBTC), replacement of critical track panels and reconstruction inside the Steinway Tube under the East River, is expected to modernize, improve a fortify the Flushing No. 7 line, according to the MTA. The work will also include tunnel duct reconstruction and replacement and improvements on components damaged during Superstorm Sandy.

“We understand that these service disruptions are inconvenient to the customers who depend on the No. 7 train and we appreciate their patience,” said MTA NYC Transit President Carmen Bianco. “We have made every effort to schedule these project simultaneously to get as much work done as we can during these periods.”

 

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In Long Island City artist’s paintings, life takes on new form


| aaltman@queenscourier.com

Photos courtesy of Ellen Schneiderman

Through ribbons of water-based paint, entities reserved to be seen under a microscope are visible. Ellen Schneiderman draws from the world we know at it’s most basic level, subterranian, with elements of biology, archaeology and microcosmic forces taking shape. Flowing lava, a magnified leaf and the trenches of the ocean meet the surface of the Earth on pieces of canvas in Schneiderman’s studio — the world in tiny snapshots.

“These are feelings and thoughts and worlds that don’t exist beyond the paintings themselves,” said Schneiderman. “There’s abstraction all around us, It’s just whether you’re looking for it or whether you want to see it.”

Schneiderman’s art education began in her hometown of Los Angeles, undergoing a more technique-based form of traditional training. She departed the West Coast to study at Brown University, where she encountered a learning style that emphasized more abstract ideas. Immediately after graduating in 2005, she moved to New York City.

“I really fell in love with New York and I really fell in love with Queens,” she said.

She joined a program that set artists up in underutilized spaces around Long Island City, providing them with studio space for free. She worked in a 15,000 square-foot warehouse on Jackson Avenue with several other artists, including Jeffrey Leder, with whom she formed a close bond. Schneiderman’s work has been a mainstay in Leder’s gallery for the past few years.

“I have a very strong communities of artists and painters,” she said. “I love having friends who are artists and who can give me feedback and try to understand what its like to have a life as an artist. Its wonderful if you can find that kind of community.”

While some find solitude necessary to create, Schneiderman said being around others is a necessity in her creative process, feeding off of the support of others and embracing their opinions.

“I’m very used to making art around people,” she said. “It’s something I gain a lot from. I think that’s a good thing as an artist, to be around people who think about things differently than you do and challenge you. It’s really important to have that in your life.”

And, even with the input of others, she’s made things she’s hated. It’s part of the process, she says.

“There’s something about embracing everything you make,” she said. “Mistakes don’t really matter. I’ve learned as much from the paintings that I hate as the ones that are successful.”

When she’s not in her studio, Schneiderman works at the Henry Street Settlement, a large social service agency that runs a network of homeless shelters and public outreach centers. She runs fundraisers for the agency’s Abrons Arts Center, making sure they have enough funding to continue art education for those in need. She says she doesn’t know if she’ll always do some kind of social work, what she studied in college, but for now, it’s gratifying.

Even though she’s only 30, Schneiderman said age never relates to the success of one’s career. Part of joining a collective studio space, she says, is to connect with other creatives who are at various stages in their artistic lives. It’s about the evolution ­— and avoiding the plateau.

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New community center in Long Island City


| smosco@queenscourier.com

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Rabbi Zev Wineberg and his wife Rivka arrived in Long Island City four years ago. Since then, the western Queens neighborhood has expanded – bringing new buildings, new people and new needs.

One such need in the neighborhood is a space that community members can utilize for all types of gatherings – both religious and secular – and can act as a focal point for L.I.C.

The Winebergs are doing their part to help foster community relations, recently opening Chabad LIC on Jackson Avenue. At the grand opening on September 22, Rabbi Zev said that since he moved to L.I.C. four years ago, there has been a growing need and desire for, not only a Jewish community center, but a community center that reaches out to all people.

“There’s no communal space here,” the Rabbi said. “So many people moved to this neighborhood specifically to be in this neighborhood, but they don’t know each other. A lot of people who are religiously involved tend to meet people and become socially active in their religious circle, but people who are not religious or observant tend to not have a place to meet their neighbors.”

The Chabad (10-31 Jackson Avenue) will host many different types of meetings, according to Rabbi Zev and Rivka. Aside from prayers and religious observances, they will most likely also host adult education courses, “mommy and me” classes and various other types of meetings. Rabbi Zev said that with such a diverse neighborhood, it is important cater to anyone looking to make connections.

“Itss very important that people don’t just live next door, but know their neighbors,” he said. “It’s a very friendly neighborhood, people do say hi to each other, people know each other from the stores and all of that, but it’s important to have a venue to be able to get together.”

At the Chabad opening, which featured Councilmember Jimmy Van Bramer as well as some notable L.I.C. residents, Rabbi Zev welcomed his friend Yitzchok Moully – otherwise known aas the “Pop Art Rabbi” – who displayed his nontraditional take on the Jewish tradition.

“My work is mainly contemporary, but traditional,” he said. “I’m trying to bring two distinct worlds together.”

And this is exactly what the Winebergs want to do in L.I.C.

“We wanted a space that is homey and open to any person in the neighborhood. It’s theirs. It belongs to everyone,” said Rivka. “In L.I.C., there’s a mix of a whole bunch of new people, new businesses and new life. It’s just so amazing.”

For more information on Chabad LIC, visit www.jewishlic.com or call 718-609-0066.