Tag Archives: Kew Gardens Hills

Disbarred Flushing attorney accused of stealing $34K in estate funds


| ctumola@queenscourier.com

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A Flushing man found himself on the wrong side of the law after the disbarred attorney stole $34,000 in legal expenses while handling an estate intended for a convent, prosecutors said.

John Giordanella, 48, was arraigned last week in Queens Criminal Court, where he was charged with third-degree grand larceny and a violation of the judiciary law (practice of law by an attorney who has been disbarred, suspended or convicted of a felony), according to the Queens district attorney’s office.

Giordanella practiced law from 1990 until his disbarment on March 13, 2007, prosecutors said. But he allegedly not only continued to represent himself as a licensed attorney, but is accused of stealing when he was hired by a Kew Gardens Hills couple to handle the estate of their deceased friend.

The couple did not know Giordanella was disbarred, and entrusted him to handle the estate valued at $130,000. According to Queens District Attorney Richard Brown, any money left over after expenses were to be given to a convent.

Giordanella was given six checks, totaling $34,247, for expenses, such as securing bonds, a probate “fast track” fee and estate taxes, between February 1, 2012 and December 31, 2012. Giordanella also asked for an additional $20,000 to secure a bond and $6,247 to pay estate taxes. The six checks were allegedly deposited into the accounts of Giordanella and his wife.

According to the district attorney’s office, the will did not require the filing of a New York State estate tax return since the value of the estate did not exceed $1 million. Also, there were no fees required and no bonds requested, and the only activity for the will was its filing in April 2014.

Giordanella faces up to seven years in prison if convicted. He was released on his own recognizance and ordered to return to court on May 6.

Anyone who may have been a victim or knows someone who may have been a victim of Giordanella should contact the Queens District Attorney’s Office at 718-286-5957.

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MTA, DOT scrap plans for Main Street bus-only lane in Kew Gardens Hills


| rpozarycki@queenscourier.com

Photo courtesy of Councilman Rory Lancman's office

Facing community and political opposition, the MTA and the city Department of Transportation slammed the brakes on a proposed dedicated bus lane for the limited Q44 bus line on Main Street in Kew Gardens Hills.

The news came during Wednesday night’s meeting of the Kew Gardens Hills Civic Association. The MTA planned to take one lane in each direction of Main Street to convert the Q44 between Flushing and Jamaica into a Select Bus Service (SBS) route.

Civic leaders and elected officials protested the plans previously, claiming the lost lane of traffic would increase vehicular traffic on Main Street while also depriving both residents and shoppers of valued parking space.

“A dedicated bus-only lane in Kew Gardens Hills was always the wrong choice for our community,” Councilman Rory Lancman said in a press release Thursday. “The proposed bus-only lane would have increased congestion, reduced parking spaces, hurt businesses and diverted cars onto residential streets.”

Lancman along with Rep. Grace Meng, Assemblyman Michael Simanowitz and state Senators Joseph Addabbo and Toby Ann Stavisky praised the MTA and DOT for hearing concerns about the bus lane and ultimately nixing the plan.

According to Lancman, the DOT and MTA will seek other methods to improve traffic flow on Main Street in Kew Gardens Hills, including potential street reconfiguration, off-board fare collection and re-synchronizing traffic lights.

A source familiar with the plan indicated a bus-only lane is most likely for areas of Main Street north of the Long Island Expressway. However, it is not likely a bus lane would be created on Main Street south of Kew Gardens Hills due to a lack of street space.

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Public transit advocates expand coalition for express bus service in Queens


| ejankiewicz@queenscourier.com

THE COURIER/Photo by Eric Jankiewicz

Updated March 3, 1 p.m. 

With express bus service set to be created on routes between Flushing and Jamaica and along Woodhaven Boulevard this year, a coalition of public transit advocates backing the plan is expanding its efforts to win the hearts and minds of Queens community members.

As the city moves ahead with plans to create what’s known as Select Bus Service, the Department of Transportation is holding workshops to gather input from community members living in areas that would be affected by the new bus service. Often these meetings are attended by an overwhelming majority of people who are opposed to Select Bus Service.

But a coalition of transit advocates – BRT  for NYC — recently enlisted interest groups like New York Immigration Coalition to help raise awareness in communities that would benefit from faster bus travel times. They ultimately want to influence the city’s plans to speed up travel time for commuters who depend on buses.

“People who are afraid of this are going to fight harder than people who will benefit from it,” said Joan Byron, a member of the Pratt Center, which is part of the growing coalition.

During a meeting at Kew Gardens Hills last year, city officials were barraged by people opposed to any express bus service plans that would have taken away a lane of traffic from motorists and restricted it to buses only.

“You are wrecking our neighborhoods,” one woman said to a city official during the 2014 meeting. “You’re all morons. We do not want this.”

The community members worried that the city would remove a traffic lane on Main Street to allow express buses to whiz past rush hour traffic. But for Kew Gardens Hills residents, traffic lanes were more important than fast buses.

During a City Council hearing in February, transportation Commissioner Polly Trottenberg announced that the Q44 would be transformed into a Select Bus Service that will cut travel time, much like those that have already been created in Manhattan and Staten Island.

Plans for the Q44, which runs mostly along Main Street, include off-board fare collection, traffic lights that will stay green for buses and general infrastructure upgrades. The city also plans to create an express bus service called Bus Rapid Transit along Woodhaven Boulevard.

The coalition has enlisted 10 new groups to help what they, according to Byron, see as underprivileged communities living in areas that don’t have train access and have very limited bus access.

But with some of these new enlisted groups, like the Alliance for a Greater New York, Jess Nizar from Riders Alliance and others hope the pro-Select Bus Service side will get a boost with political influence.

“Without having a coalition these plans won’t reflect the needs of the people that need this the most,” Nizar said. “Sure, the city said they’re going to create SBS, but we don’t know what it will look like yet and we want people who benefit from this to give the city their input.”

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Death of Kew Gardens Hills man ruled homicide


| ctumola@queenscourier.com

CrimeSceneTapeHC1010_L_300_C_R-624x416

Updated Tuesday, March 3, 12:21 p.m

A Kew Gardens Hills man who was found dead in the basement of his home on Valentine’s Day was killed following a dispute and a suspect is facing possible charges in his death, authorities said.

Officers found 56-year-old Kevin Lopyan unconscious at about 8:40 a.m. on Feb. 14 at his 77th Avenue house, police said. He had trauma to his head and was pronounced dead at the scene.

The medical examiner’s office determined on Feb. 28 that Lopyan’s death was a homicide.

Rahmatullah Popal, 21, who Lopyan had hired for doing odd jobs around his home, according to published reports, was caught with the victim’s credit card and a blank check bearing Lopyan’s name the same day he was found dead, court documents said.

Popal had come to Lopyan’s place to collect $200 that he owed him, according to a criminal complaint. Lopyan then handed him a blank check and threw him out of his house.

But Popal then returned to the home, surprising Lopyan by entering through the basement, and he screamed out “Robber! Robber!” when he saw Popal.

That’s when the two started to fight, with Popal kicking Lopyan in the stomach and Lopyan then punching him in the face, court records said. Popal then picked up a piece of a shed and used it to shove Lopyan away from him, causing him to hit his head on a door and fall to the floor.

Lopyan then allegedly had a seizure and Popal held him down with the piece of the shed until he stopped moving.

Popal was found that same day by police with Lopyan’s credit card and the blank check, and was charged with burglary, robbery and criminal possession of stolen property, court records said.

Upgraded charges against Popal could come at his next court appearance later this month, according to the Queens district attorney’s office.

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Police investigating death of Kew Gardens Hills man


By Queens Courier Staff | editorial@queenscourier.com

CrimeSceneTapeHC1010_L_300_C_R-624x416

Police are investigating the death of a Kew Gardens Hills man who was found with head trauma in the basement of his home Saturday morning.

Officers found the 56-year-old unconscious and unresponsive about 8:40 a.m. at his 77th Avenue house, police said. He had trauma to his head and was pronounced dead at the scene.

The medical examiner is determining the cause death, but, according to published reports, police are treating the death as suspicious after the victim was found with a bruise on his forehead and his pants partially removed.

A 21-year-old man, who was found nearby with some of the victim’s possessions, was being questioned, reports said.

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City plans to launch express bus service between Flushing and Jamaica this year


| ejankiewicz@queenscourier.com

THE COURIER/Photo by Eric Jankiewicz

A planned express bus service that will run between Flushing and Jamaica is set to launch this year, according to city officials, who have included some measures to appease several communities that resisted the idea of designating lanes for buses only.

“Flushing and Jamaica are two of our key commercial centers, but traveling between them by subway means going in towards Manhattan and doubling back – and forget making the trip from the Bronx on the subway,” said Polly Trottenberg, commissioner of the Department of Transportation (DOT). “There are many destinations along this route not served by the subway system, such as Queens College and other key locations in the Bronx.”

During a City Council hearing on the citywide expansion of express buses, also called Select Bus Service, Trottenberg laid out a timeline to create a bus line that would connect the downtown areas of Flushing and Jamaica. She also said that in areas between the two destinations, bus-only lanes wouldn’t be created, respecting the wishes of many community members in areas like Kew Gardens Hills.

But Mike Sidell, a Kew Gardens Hills resident and community activist, remains skeptical because Trottenberg did not specify which communities would be spared the bus lane.

“We should hold them to the fire and get them to name all of the communities that won’t have the bus-only lanes,” Sidell said. “It looks like they’re giving us lip service, but it worries me that [Trottenberg] didn’t specifically name Kew Gardens Hills.”

Exclusive bus lanes are a common element of express bus lines, but residents in communities that live between Flushing and Jamaica resisted this idea because they feared it would create traffic back-ups by squeezing all the other traffic into only one lane.

The city appears to have responded to these residents by suggesting that bus-only lanes will be limited to areas where they are most needed, like the congested downtown Flushing area.

“Downtown Flushing and Jamaica are very different than places in between those neighborhoods,” Trottenberg said. “We’re going to have a long period of community engagement.”

The city plans to transform the Q44 into a Select Bus Service that will cut travel time, much like those that have already been created in Manhattan and Staten Island. Plans for the Q44, which runs mainly along Main Street, include off-board fare collection, traffic lights that will stay green for buses and general infrastructure upgrades.

The City Council hearing was held for testimony over a proposed bill that would require the DOT to develop a network of express buses that would stretch across the city and connect neighborhoods that have limited or no access to subways. The DOT already initiated express bus service plans on several routes, including Woodhaven Boulevard. And the hearing came soon after Mayor Bill de Blasio pushed for the expansion of express buses in his State of the City address.

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Real estate investors shelled out $3.6 billion for Queens properties last year


| lguerre@queenscourier.com

Photo courtesy of Scott Bintner/PropertyShark

Queens’ relatively low land prices, access to public transportation and growing popularity has helped the borough attract a significantly larger amount of money from real estate investors in 2014 than in previous years, according to a new report.

Firms and individuals shelled out about $3.65 billion last year to buy Queens investment properties—large-scale real estate costing at least $850,000—which is a 25 percent increase from 2013, according to a report by Ariel Property Advisors.

The study pointed out that about one-third of the investment properties in Queens last year were development sites, which alone accounted for more than $1 billion, or a 191 percent gain when compared to 2012.

“Queens still presents developers with the opportunity to produce large-scale developments, and they are willing to pay a premium for prime sites,” said Daniel Wechsler, vice president of Ariel Property Advisors.

Photo courtesy of Ariel Property Advisors

Photo courtesy of Ariel Property Advisors

Wechsler pointed out that land parcels with at least 50,000 square feet of buildable rights were purchased all over “The World’s Borough,” including Astoria, Long Island City, Elmhurst, Woodside, Glendale, Jamaica, Ridgewood and Flushing, “further indicating the bullish attitude of investors on the entire borough. “

The report found that 925 properties were traded during the year, which is also a 25 percent year-over-year increase.

Some of the year’s highest profile transactions include the $110 million sale of the Standard Motors Building in Long Island City, which traded for just $70 million in 2008, and the sale of a 53-building portfolio in Kew Gardens Hills for $216 million.

There was also the $26.5 million sale of a garage near Queens Place mall in Elmhurst, which has about 227,352 buildable square feet.

Click here to read the full report.

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City renews express bus service plans between Jamaica and Flushing after nod from mayor


| ejankiewicz@queenscourier.com

THE COURIER/Photo by Eric Jankiewicz

With the backing of Mayor Bill de Blasio, the city is moving ahead with plans to develop an express bus service between Flushing and Jamaica.

Despite calls from community members and politicians in neighborhoods like Kew Gardens Hills, the transformation of the Q44 and Q25 into a Select Bus Service (SBS) line is set to begin as early as this fall, according to a Department of Transportation spokesman, but no official schedule has been announced. The transformed Q44 would continue along its path on Main Street. Residents in Kew Gardens Hills are worried that an express bus through their neighborhood would increase traffic or reduce parking along the route.

The city claims that an express bus line would help thousands of commuters going between the two neighborhoods every hour and allow people in areas without trains to quickly travel to Flushing for the 7 train. And in his State of the City Address, the mayor also pushed for express buses.

“[Bus Rapid Transit] will cut transit time on existing routes by 15 to 25 percent. That means New Yorkers spending less time in transit and more time living their lives,” he said.

Public transportation advocacy groups lauded de Blasio’s support for express buses, which are sometimes referred to as Bus Rapid Transit (BRT).

“Bus Rapid Transit could transform New York City by providing faster, more reliable bus service for residents in the outer boroughs who need it most,” the group Riders Alliance said.

And elected officials representing Flushing and Jamaica have also expressed their support for the plans.

“Flushing and Jamaica are two rapidly growing economic centers that require a transportation system and infrastructure to serve its increasing population and activity,” the officials wrote in a letter to the city. The letter was signed by Queens representatives, including state Senator Toby Ann Stavisky, Councilman Peter Koo and Congresswoman Grace Meng.

But people who live between these two transportation hubs claim that their needs are being sacrificed and made their thoughts clear to city officials during a recent workshop held in Townsend Harris High School. Those in the middle tend to rely on cars instead of bus service, making parking and open lanes a priority for them.

New York City has several express lines that aim to cut down commutes by devoting a lane exclusively to SBS lines. But creating an exclusive bus lane means there is one less lane for regular traffic, a point that is a deal-breaker for Councilman Rory Lancman, who represents Kew Gardens Hills and other areas.

“All they’re doing is shifting the burden of heavy traffic from one group of people to another,” Lancman said. “And I can’t support anything like that.”

Officials from the transportation department haven’t responded to questions to see if the city will still install a dedicated bus lane that would run through Kew Gardens Hills.

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Kew Gardens Hills residents enraged over city proposal to create new express bus service


| ejankiewicz@queenscourier.com

THE COURIER/Photo by Eric Jankiewicz

Addressing a crowd of angry Kew Gardens Hills residents, Councilman Rory Lancman urged the group to “express yourselves in a respectful manner” on Wednesday night as MTA and city officials met with residents who would be affected by a proposed express bus service line.

The new express line, known as Select Bus Service, would run between Flushing and Jamaica.

But residents had their own ideas on how to express themselves during the city workshop that was held at Townsend Harris High School.

“You are wrecking our neighborhoods,” one woman said as a gaggle of scowling women surrounded a city official. “You’re all morons. We do not want this.”

City Transportation Commissioner Polly Trottenberg also attended the meeting.

The city is considering two routes between the neighborhoods for SBS. The first would travel along Main Street where the Q44 and Q20A/B run. This route was the source of contention for residents. City officials and representatives from the MTA held the meeting to collect feedback from people who would be directly affected by any changes to create a new express bus.

The second route under consideration is along Parsons and Kissena boulevards, currently serviced by the Q25 and Q34.

Members of the community were worried that the city would sacrifice a traffic lane on Main Street to create a dedicated bus lane for a Select Bus Service line. Many saw the city trampling over the needs of the residential neighborhood of Kew Gardens Hills to solve traffic problems in Jamaica and Flushing.

“There [are] no traffic problems in this neighborhood,” said David Deutsch, who lives and works in the area. “There may be a problem in Flushing and Jamaica, but that has nothing to do with here.”

But Sheldon Goodridge disagreed. Standing apart from the angry crowds, he said that most people, like Deutsch, are criticizing the plan even though they don’t use buses to commute.

“Sometimes I wait so long that I have to take a risk and use the dollar vans, and that’s a very harrowing ride,” Goodridge said. But when the buses actually come he takes the Q44 on Main Street and 58th Avenue to the No. 7 train in Flushing for his morning commute to work.

“Having a bus lane would cut down on my commute,” Goodridge said. “We should emulate what Manhattan has.”

Mark Henry, the president of a transit union representing bus workers in the areas between, and including, Flushing and Jamaica, attended the workshop and was unimpressed by the city’s proposal.

“They make it very attractive. Give it a world view. And talk about how other transit agencies across the world do similar things,” Henry said and then pointed out that adding another bus to a street that already has a bus wouldn’t help. “But we see it as a duplication of the service that’s already there. This SBS line will be redundant. It already exists.”

With over 25 years of experience as a bus driver in the city, Henry said that the city should create new bus lines in areas that don’t have buses. And that many of these new lines should run in areas where there are no trains, like routes between Bayside and Rockaway or from Rosedale to Queens College.

“As bus drivers we feel that we are part of the community and we want to help people,” said Henry. “And the SBS is going to bypass the community.”

In Queens, the city has been slowly moving toward creating SBS along Woodhaven Boulevard, and routes between Jamaica and Flushing are in the early stages of planning.

The city hasn’t released any official plans on what will ultimately be done, so residents and elected officials like Lancman are hoping to dissuade the city from implementing dedicated bus lanes in Kew Gardens Hills and other neighborhoods that are sandwiched between the busy downtown areas of Flushing and Jamaica. Lancman also sent a letter to the Department of Transportation opposing any proposals that would include a bus lane.

During the workshop at Townsend High School, Lancman and Assemblyman Michael Simanowitz suggested that many of the elements of Select Bus Service are useful. They approved of time-saving ideas like coordinated traffic lights and installing kiosks at bus stops so that people could buy MetroCards instead of fumbling with money as they step onto the bus.

But, Lancman added, “We do not want to see this happen if they’re going to insist on a bus lane.”

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Video captures Kew Gardens Hills synagogue burglars


| ctumola@queenscourier.com

Video courtesy of NYPD

Police have released video footage of a burglary at a Kew Gardens Hills synagogue, where cash was stolen in the early morning hours of Dec. 25.

The two suspects entered the synagogue on 70th Road near 147th Street sometime between 5 and 8:30 a.m. through an open door, cops said. They then took an undetermined amount of money from a box inside the building.


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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BP Katz recommends against controversial Kew Gardens Hills synagogue expansion


| lguerre@queenscourier.com

THE COURIER/Photo by Liam La Guerre

A controversial plan to expand a Kew Gardens Hills synagogue suffered another major setback.

Borough president Melinda Katz recommended against the expansion of the Sephardic Congregation of Kew Gardens Hills on Wednesday, citing the possible disturbance it would cause for the community. Community Board 8 members overwhelmingly denied the variance application in June.

Leaders of the synagogue at 141-41, 72nd Ave. applied for a variance to build a third floor on its two-story building to accommodate the temple’s growing congregation and school. But community members protested against the proposed expansion because of the potential for an increase in garbage, more noise, poor building maintenance, traffic congestion and “a lack of adequate student supervision outside of the school facility.”

“There is no question as to the need for the services provided to their congregation and students,” Katz said in her decision, but added:  “An enlargement of the facility and addition of new congregants and students may make all of those negative conditions worse for the surrounding neighborhood.”

The congregation was established more than two decades ago after converting a residential two-story house into a synagogue. A school, Yeshiva Ohel Simcha, was added soon after and currently enrolls 70 students of elementary school age every weekday. Now there are two floors and a cellar in the building. The proposed third floor would be used to accommodate new students,  they currently have to turn away due to classroom-size limitations, congregation leaders said. They hope to add six additional classrooms, so they can house 185 students, doubling student enrollment and adding new teachers.

In addition to the issues raised by the community, the building has more than a dozen open Department of Buildings violations, including a broken elevator, lack of a Certificate of Occupancy and lack of fire alarms.

The congregation’s variance application for the third floor included asking for permission to work in the building despite lacking the required Certificate of Occupancy and other violations. This was necessary, according to congregation lawyer Jay Goldstein, because without it they can’t legally work on the building, since it currently doesn’t meet requirements. They pledged to amend the violations if approved for the application and to come up with solutions to the community’s issues.

Katz, however, did support the request to legalize the current building despite the violations, in order to allow the temple to continue practicing and give its owners a chance to fix violations throughout the property.

“The house of worship and school has been a part of the neighborhood for over 20 years,” Katz said. “It should be allowed to remain to continue providing services to their existing congregation and students.”

The Board of Standards and Appeals has the final say on the expansion of the synagogue.

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Kew Gardens Hills synagogues experience growing pains


| lguerre@queenscourier.com

Photo courtesy Nicholas Strini/PropertyShark

The large and expanding Jewish community in Kew Gardens Hills has fueled the need for synagogue expansions, according to religious leaders, but some projects hinge on special permits which aren’t always easy to obtain.

In the latest batch of synagogues seeking variances, Community Board 8 will host a public hearing on Monday, Oct. 27, regarding a structural expansion of one place of worship and special operational permits for another. This comes after the board denied an application in June for expansion of a third synagogue, which is still hoping to get approval from the Board of Standards and Appeals in an upcoming vote.

The congregation of Torath Haim Ohel Sara at 144-11 77th Ave. is hoping the community board approves changes to an extant variance to allow it to operate without the lawfully required amount of space in its front, side and rear yards. They also request an extension of time to operate without a certificate of occupancy.

But this property, which is also undergoing construction, has Buildings Department violations for ignoring a stop-work order, according to city records, and has accrued penalties totaling nearly $100,000. Calls for comment from the synagogue were not returned.

A synagogue Just a block away, in a two-story building at 147-02 76th Rd., will also come before the board, hoping to get approval to add a floor to make room for a school and an office for the rabbi.

Isak Ambramov of Sharey Tefilah Synagogue initially applied for a brand-new three-story building in 2010 on the site and architectural firm Gerald Caliendo was slated to design it. However, the Buildings Department disapproved the plans, city records show.

And there hasn’t been any movement on the expansion application of Sephardic Congregation at 141-41 72nd Ave.

THE COURIER/Photo by Liam La Guerre

THE COURIER/Photo by Liam La Guerre

The community board denied its appeal for a variance to expand to three floors in June, after community residents strongly opposed it due to the potential increase of noise and garbage along with 15 existing Building Department violations. The application then went to Borough President Melinda Katz for a public hearing later in the month.

Community Board 8 District Manager Marie Adam-Ovide told The Courier she has not heard from Borough Hall as yet on that variance.

The borough president’s “recommendation is still being worked on,” according to a spokesman from Katz’s office, who said it would not be coming out Thursday, but did not have a definitive time frame beyond that point.

The Board of Standards and Appeals has the final say on all the applications.

The community board hearing will be held at Parsons Junior High School, 158-40 76th Rd., at 7:30 p.m.

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1,270-unit Kew Gardens Hills apartment complex sells for $216 million


| lguerre@queenscourier.com

Photo courtesy of PropertyShark/Scott Bintner

Real estate investment firm Hudson Realty Capital sold a massive 12-lot portfolio of apartment buildings in Kew Gardens Hills for $216 million, according to city records filed Wednesday.

The site comprises 1,268 apartments in 53 buildings on 24.6 acres scattered throughout 72nd Road, 150th Street, 73rd Avenue, 75th Avenue, Kissena Boulevard and 153rd Street.

The buyer is an affiliate of A&E Real Estate, The Real Deal reported.

Massey Knakal was the broker in the transaction, which an agent from the firm said in February would be the single largest residential complex sold in Queens since the sale of 3,000 units in Fresh Meadows in 1997.

However, a representative from the firm declined to comment on the sale.

Complex

Photo courtesy of Massey Knakal

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Take a first look inside Mela’s Café in Kew Gardens Hills


| lguerre@queenscourier.com

THE COURIER/Photos by Liam La Guerre

Mela’s Café may be replacing another diner in Kew Gardens Hills when it opens on Wednesday, but owners promise it will bring new flavor in more ways than just taste.

The left side of the restaurant has booths and tables with exposed brick walls, while the right side has large windows that will guide in natural light, giving customers different ways to experience the eatery. The diner seats 90 people, but it can expand it to about 120 seats if necessary.

cleared space

There are electrical outlets and USB ports scattered around the restaurant so patrons can charge their mobile devices, and free Wi-Fi is set up for people needing to use the Internet. With these features, they expect to attract the younger crowd from nearby Queens College.

“If we are going to make a difference we can’t go old, we have to think now,” said Melissa Guzman, daughter of the owner and the morning manager. Owner Franklin Rivera named the diner after her nickname, Mela.

Booths 2

Mela’s Café will be open from 7 a.m. to 11 p.m.

In terms of food, head chef David Nunez will be mixing his knowledge of Latin dishes with various flavors from other nationalities, such as Japanese, to bring a new culinary experience to the neighborhood.

“We didn’t want people to say, ‘Oh that’s a Dominican family so it’ll be only Dominican food,” Guzman said.

large windows

However, at the moment Mela’s is still waiting to get liquor license approval, so they won’t be selling alcohol for a little while.

Although Mela’s will bring many new features to the area, the one thing that may be familiar to local customers will be the staff.

There are 45 employees in the establishment, according to the human resources manager, and owners made a push to rehire servers from the former restaurant, because of their proximity to the diner and familiarity with neighborhood.

The family held an emotional meet-and-greet on Friday to thank community members and leaders for their support. They are looking forward to introducing their food to the neighborhood.

“To be honest, I’m anxious and nervous, but I’m very excited,” Guzman said. “This is a big [moment] for my family. I’m pretty stoked.”

Mela's family

Visit the restaurant’s website for more information.

 

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Health Department to treat parts of Queens against West Nile


By Queens Courier Staff | editorial@queenscourier.com

Images Courtesy of NYC Department of Health

On Tuesday, Aug. 19, the Health Department will treat parts of Queens to help reduce the mosquito population and the risk of West Nile virus.

The treatment, which will spray pesticide from trucks, will take place between the hours of 8:15 p.m. and 6 a.m. the following morning. In case of bad weather, the application will be delayed until Wednesday, Aug. 20. during the same hours.

For this spraying, the Health Department will 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.

LOCATIONS:

Parts of Corona, Forest Hills, Forest Hill Gardens, Flushing, Kew Gardens Hills, Queensboro Hill and Rego Park (Bordered  by Long Island Expressway, College Point Boulevard and Booth Memorial Avenue to the north; 99th Street, 67th Avenue and Austin Street to the west; Jackie Robinson Parkway and Grand Central Parkway to the south; and Main Street to the east)

Parts of Bellrose, Douglaston, Floral Park, Hollis Hills, Glen Oaks and Little Neck (Bordered by Long Island Expressway, Douglaston Parkway and Van Zandt Avenue to the north; Cloverdale Boulevard,73rd Avenue and Springfield Boulevard to the west; Hillside Avenue to the south; Little Neck Parkway, Leith Road, Hewlett Street and Langdale Street to the east.)

 

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