Tag Archives: John Ciafone

Sunnyside movie theater closing for residential development

| lguerre@queenscourier.com

Photo courtesy of Modern Spaces

And that’s a wrap for Sunnyside Center Cinemas.

The longtime neighborhood movie theater at 45-25 Queens Blvd. will be closing on Jan. 4, according to a published report, after its lease was not renewed because the owner wants to make way for a residential development.

The property was bought in 2012 for $6.65 million from Dime Savings Bank by John Ciafone, husband of Gina Argento, who is the president of film production firm Broadway Stages.

The new owner hopes to lease the ground floor, which has 52,000 square feet of air rights, for $750,000 a year to a developer looking to build a residential structure above, Sunnyside Post first reported.

“I’d like to bring much-needed affordable housing to the Sunnyside community, and I’m currently in the process of looking for a development partner with extensive affordable housing experience,” Ciafone said.

The property is currently being marketed by real estate firm Modern Spaces. The bar next door, PJ Horgan’s, which is also a tenant on the property, will remain open. And although the cinema is closing, Ciafone said that there might be a chance for it to return.

“Once the project is complete, I’d be more than happy to sit down with the owner of Center Cinemas to discuss lease opportunities,” Ciafone said.


Costa Constantinides eyeing Vallone’s seat in 22nd Council District

| aaltamirano@queenscourier.com

File photo

After winning the Democratic primary last month, Costa Constantinides is ready to head into the General Election to fill departing Councilmember Peter Vallone Jr.’s seat in the 22nd Council District.

“I think Astoria has always been a great place to live, I had a wonderful childhood growing up here,” he said. “It’s a wonderful place and I just want to help continue to foster that same atmosphere.”

In 2009, Constantinides was elected to serve as the Democratic District Leader for the 36th Assembly District, Part A. He served as Legislative Director and Deputy Chief of Staff to Councilmember James F. Gennaro.

In September, Constantinides took the win against attorney John Ciafone and longtime Community Board 1 member Constantinos “Gus” Prentzas in the Democratic primary.

Some of the main areas Constantinides hopes to address if elected are better environmental protection, including reducing traffic congestion, expanding open space and investing in clean energy. He also hopes to improve schools for the children in his district, with introducing better technology and dealing with overcrowding.

Constantinides also plans to clean up the streets by prioritizing garbage pickups, funding a street sweeping program like the Doe Fund, and making sure there are enough enforcement agents to make sure the community stays clean.

“All these things are sort of interconnected with one another and I think when we deal with each individual problem we’re going to help our community move itself forward,” said Constantinides.

Constantinides will run against Republican Daniel Peterson, Green Party candidate Lynne Serpe, Independent Danielle De Stefano and Populist Party candidate Gerald Kann in the general election on November 5.

“This is a real opportunity to vote for the mayor. It’s going to decide our city government,” he said. “It’s important to make sure your voice is heard. So I really encourage every constituent to come out and be part of the process, whether they’re voting for me or not.”



Primary guide: City Council District 22

By Queens Courier Staff | editorial@queenscourier.com


As the clock ticks closer to city primaries on Tuesday, September 10, The Courier would like to provide you, the reader and the voter, with a fair, detailed guide of who is running. Here is a list of the candidates in City Council District 22 (Astoria, Long Island City and parts of Jackson Heights), who they are, what they stand for and what they want to continue to do if they go on to the general election in November. 

Name: John J. Ciafone

Party: Democrat

Current Occupation:  Attorney

Personal Info: John Ciafone is the only candidate born, raised and who continues to live and work in the community. He attended public schools in the Astoria neighborhood like P.S. 85, J.H.S. 141, and Long Island City High School. He is now an attorney practicing for almost 20 years and maintains an office on Steinway Street. He is married with three children.  He attended NYU and St. John’s University, School of Law graduating with honors. He served as an intern for Governor Mario Cuomo and was an intern in the NYC Council’s Legal Division, where he helped draft and write law. He was also an intern to Supreme Court Justice Frederick Schmidt and was appointed a Referee in several foreclosure actions by Justices Joseph Golia and Schmidt and was appointed Administrator and Referee by Surrogate Robert Nahman.

Issues/Platform: Ciafone was elected twice to Community School Board 30 serving the greater community of Astoria, Long Island City, Jackson Heights, Sunnyside, Woodside, Corona, and East Elmhurst. There, he fought for and obtained funding for more new schools and increased seats for the children in the district.  According to Ciafone the community is in a lot of trouble.  There are no jobs for our children who graduate from schools. There is no affordable housing and no adequate senior housing.  Senior centers, libraries, and parks are being axed.  Small businesses are under attack by the city looking to generate revenue by increasing costs, fees, fines and taxes.  Small homeowners can’t afford the increased taxes, water and sewer charges.  He believes there is a need to hire more police and the weakening of Stop, Question, and Frisk will only increase crime in our community. There is a shortage of pre-K classes, beacon programs, and after school programs, he says.  Ciafone believes the people need to elect a true independent fighter not connected with the special interests and political bosses.

Name: Costa Constantinides

Party: Democrat

Current Occupation: Democratic District Leader (36 AD Part A), former Deputy Chief of Staff for Councilmember James F. Gennaro

Personal Info: Costa Constantinides is a grassroots community organizer and progressive political leader who has lived in Astoria his whole life. In 2009, Constantinides was elected to serve as the Democratic District Leader for the 36th Assembly District, Part A.  Constantinides also serves as a board member of the United Community Civic Association and the Asgata Association. He served as Legislative Director and Deputy Chief of Staff to Councilmember James F. Gennaro where he assisted on key legislation to reduce greenhouse gas emissions, to protect our wetlands, improve the water quality of our drinking supply, and on other important environmental measures.

Issues/Platform: Constantinides’ plan for better environmental protection includes dismantling the Poletti Power Plant and cleaning up other dirty plants, reducing traffic congestion, investing in clean energy, expanding open spaces and protecting drinking water. Hurricane protection, mitigation tactics and smart building codes are central to his plan to expand open spaces.  Constantinides will work to see that Mayor Michael Bloomberg’s resiliency plan is implemented. Constantinides’ plan for clean streets calls for doubling trash pick-ups, hiring street crews for litter  removal, improving park maintenance, graffiti deterrence and better removal and doubling fines for illegal dumping. He supports INT-0774, which would increase fines for depositing household garbage in public litter bins meant for pass-by litter.  He also plans to hire professional graffiti removal companies and deter graffiti with better after-school programs and security cameras in chronically-graffiti areas. Constantinides believes we need to invest more in our district schools and will work to put a stop to recent school closures.

Name: Constantinos “Gus” Prentzas

Party: Democrat

Current Occupation: Community Board 1 Co-Chair of Department of Consumer Affairs

Personal Info: Gus Prentzas is a lifelong resident of Astoria. In 1991, he was elected to School Board 30 covering Astoria. He served as Vice President of School Board 30 for seven years. During that time, he proposed the adoption of Megan’s Law within the School Board. The Board accepted the proposal making Astoria’s 30th School Board the first in the city and state to enforce the law that protects students from sexual predators. Prentzas was appointed by Councilmember Peter Vallone Sr. to supervise the cleaning process of Astoria’s schools when it became obvious asbestos levels in old school buildings could be a hazard to children. Prentzas continues his tenure of 10 years on Community Board 1 serving Astoria. He is currently the co-chair of the community board’s Department of Consumer Affairs. He is also a member of the Astoria Kiwanis Club and has been honored with the award of Community Person of the Year.

Issues/Platform: According to Prentzas, public safety is “the foundation of a prosperous community.” He hopes to work with the deputy inspector of the 114th Precinct to provide all resources needed to maintain the neighborhood’s level of safety. Prentzas will be a strong advocate of keeping the character of the communities. He believes tenants deserve the best care and renovation services from their landlords. He hopes to “take the delinquent NYCHA to task.” According to Prentzas, education is a right, not a privilege. He will fight to create new schools and help “free the teachers and students of the obstructions the bureaucracy has created.” Also, as a lifelong business owner Prentzas would provide a “common sense approach to the regulation of businesses” to help small businesses succeed.

Editor’s Note: Requests for information from the candidate’s campaign were not received as of press time, therefore this information was retrieved from the candidate’s campaign website.



CB 1 member, business owner Prentzas joins 22nd Council District race

| aaltamirano@queenscourier.com

Longtime Community Board 1 member and small business owner Constantinos “Gus” Prentzas is looking to fill departing Councilmember Peter Vallone Jr.’s seat in the 22nd Council District.

“Northwestern Queens has grown and flourished over the last 12 years,” he said. “I believe I have the right balance of private and public sector experience to continue that progress and look forward to engaging and serving the community in the City Council.”

Prentzas will run as a Democrat. He believes that through his years of experience on the community board and local school boards, he will be able to bring Astoria the leadership it needs.

“I have been proud to serve the community for more than a decade in many different capacities, both elected and unelected,” said Prentzas. “With the seat being vacated by Councilmember Peter Vallone, who is seeking the office of

Borough President, many in the community have been urging me to run to replace him to continue the progress of our community and build on his successful record.”

Prentzas faces attorney John Ciafone, Democratic District Leader Costa Constantinides, Independence Party member and Monsignor McClancy High School volleyball Coach Danielle De Stefano, Republican and former New York Young Republican Club president Daniel Peterson, and Green Party candidate Lynne Serpe.



Council District 22 candidate Tony Meloni drops out of race

| aaltamirano@queenscourier.com

Photo courtesy of Tony Meloni

Tony Meloni, one of the first candidates to enter the Democratic race for Peter Vallone Jr.’s City Council seat, announced he is dropping out.

Meloni confirmed he is ending his campaign to represent District 22 in Astoria so he can focus on his family and work in the community.

“It was a really hard decision,” Meloni said. “I have gone back and forth so many times. I absolutely love this community, but a person has to know their limitations and I decided to re-focus and reevaluate.”

His positions in the community include chair of Community Board 1’s public safety committee, vice-president of the Astoria Civic Association, founder of New York Anti-Crime and executive director of the Immigration Advocacy Services, an outreach center in Astoria.

Even though he is dropping out of the race, Meloni said he will remain highly active in the community to make sure focus is not lost on important issues. In regard to a future City Council run, he said he does not rule anything out, but wants to take it a step at a time.

Current candidates for District 22 are Democrats Costa Constantinides and attorney John Ciafone, Republican Daniel Peterson, Green Party candidate Lynn Serpe and Independent candidate Danielle De Stefano.



Astoria lawyer John Ciafone enters 22nd Council District race

| aaltamirano@queenscourier.com

John J. Ciafone has announced he will be running to fill Councilmember Peter Vallone Jr.’s spot in the 22nd Council District.

“I’m running for Council in the 22nd District because our community is facing serious problems,” said Ciafone. “Until we change these issues, our community will continue to suffer and we will lose our friends, businesses, neighbors and families to other cities.”

Ciafone has been a lawyer based on Steinway Street for the past two decades. The Astoria native was the former president and treasurer of Community School Board 30. He currently serves as the executive officer of the Aldo’s Democratic Club and is counsel to the New York State Fraternal Order of Police Big Apple Lodge.

Ciafone will run against Democrats Tony Meloni, the founder and executive director of the New York Anti-Crime Agency and Costa Constantinides, deputy chief of staff for Councilmember James Gennaro.