Tag Archives: jamaica avenue

City might close Cypress Hills Collegiate Prep


| smosco@queenscourier.com

Photo by Emma Hulse

Less than six years after opening its doors, a small school opened by Mayor Michael Bloomberg’s administration might be on its way to closure.

Cypress Hills Collegiate Prep (CHCP), which shares space in the Franklin K. Lane building with three other schools on Jamaica Avenue in Brooklyn, received some bad news along with a “D” on its annual progress report – the city might move to close the school after only two graduating classes.

A spokesperson for the city’s Department of Education (DOE) said, “We have not made any decisions yet and we are still in conversation with all of our struggling schools to determine what is working and what is not in these environments.”

However, even the possibility of closure seems unfair to advocates for the school who believe CHCP hasn’t gotten a fair shake. The mostly low-income student population graduated at a 58 percent rate over the past two years, three points below the city average. This prompted students and parents to rally at the school on November 21, many blaming cuts in funding for the low grades.

Advocates of the college preparatory school contend that CHCP has not been given a chance to succeed and manages to do what it can without basic resources like a library which doesn’t seem fair to students like Jarlyn Vasquez.

“The DOE hasn’t given us a chance to develop enough, to reach our goals in attendance and student performance,” said the 16-year-old sophomore. “They should give us more time. They should also give us more resources. For example, the campus library is closed [and has been for more than a year], no students can use it. Most of us don’t have another library we can go to for books and computers. If the campus library would be open again, then students could go in, do their work, and improve their grades and attendance. This would improve the school’s overall progress report.”

Vasquez believes that if the school enters into a “phase out” process, the students that remain there will be forced to cope with even fewer resources.

“If the school gets phased out, the school will lose even more resources and students in the phase out will get even less of what we need,” said Vasquez.

Store vacancies in Queens hurt other businesses


| aaltman@queenscourier.com

THE COURIER/Photo by Alexa Altman

Some stores along Queens’ prominent shopping streets have been abandoned, sitting vacant for months. Several landlords have posted hopeful “for rent” signs. Others remain completely empty.

Officials from Business Improvement Districts (BIDs) and Chambers of Commerce across Queens blame the nation’s foundering economy for the string of vacancies. Others insist that skyrocketing rents are causing businesses to pack up and leave.

Gregg Sullivan, executive director of the Bayside Village BID, alleges that the recent upswing of store vacancies is due to both the struggling economy and raised rents.

“There’s a need for an adjustment between landlords and rents to accommodate the downturn in the economy,” said Sullivan, adding that Bayside’s Bell Boulevard has six vacant storefronts.

On Jamaica Avenue in Woodhaven, 25 stores sit empty. Maria A. Thomson, executive director of the Woodhaven Development Corporation, alleges that store vacancies are from the weak economy’s impact on business.

“With the economy being so sluggish, the patronage isn’t there to pay the bills, so that’s part of it,” said Thomson. “Part of it is the fact that they just can’t make it. They just can’t sustain the paying of the bills.”

Jim O’Kane is the head of O’Kane Realty, a company that manages several commercial properties along Maspeth’s Grand Avenue. The strip currently has nine vacancies.

“The cost of being in business is so high these days,” said O’Kane. “Rent and other expenses will eat you up unless you have a large reserve. It’s why a lot of ‘mom and pop’ stores are going out of business.”

Empty stores have begun to negatively affect Maspeth’s popular strip, according to O’Kane. “If the stores are vacant, it brings fewer people to the avenue, which compounds the situation for other store owners,” he said.

Michael Terry, president of the Maspeth Chamber of Commerce, believes that the vacancies are caused by the normal ebb and flow of the business cycle. Nevertheless, according to Terry, they are bad for business.

“It never looks good,” said Terry. “The more vacancies there are, the more people wonder how businesses are doing. The more businesses there are, the more people will come to the street.”

Terry speculated that the removal of Off-Track Betting locations in late 2010 has something to do with vacancies, as many former OTB locations have ongoing leases.

Celebrating ‘Wonderful Woodhaven’


| photographers@queenscourier.com

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The Greater Woodhaven Development Corporation’s Annual “Wonderful

Woodhaven Street Festival” was held on Sunday, October 16 on Woodhaven’s Jamaica Avenue. There were pony rides, games, food, entertainment and a variety of vendors with unique products.