Tag Archives: Long Island City

5Pointz artists transform August Martin HS in Jamaica


| aaltamirano@queenscourier.com

THE COURIER/Photos by Angy Altamirano

Over a hundred 5Pointz artists volunteered their time this weekend to make the hallways of a high school in Jamaica shine once again.

August Martin High School was filled with laughter and music on Saturday as 5Pointz curators Jonathan “Meres One” Cohen and Marie Cecile Flageul invited aerosol artists from near and far to cover the interior of the school in one-of-a-kind artwork.

The 5Pointz crew worked together with a team of students of the nonprofit The Future Project Dream Team at the school, who came up with the idea for the project called “Operation Skittles.”

The project — in which artists paint the school’s hallways, staircases and elevator doors — came after the team surveyed 500 students and found out that their fellow classmates unanimously felt the white walls of the school needed to be changed to enhance the atmosphere.

“I still believe that the classrooms should be kind of free of art so you can focus but why not have the hallways awesome. Why not have a school that you can brag about?” Cohen said. “Its cool because [5Pointz is] kind of inside out, it’s almost inverted. The students have a little treasure that not everyone will have.”

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On both Saturday and Sunday, over 100 artists are volunteering their time and paint to transform the school, located at 156-01 Baisley Blvd. They have been given the freedom to choose the art that will go on the walls, and each will have an inspirational word.

“Being able to use the power of art to inspire the youth is amazing and I know these kids that go here are looked at as disappointment because of their graduation rate but as time changes so does our methods of getting these kids into school,” Cohen said. “You just have to give them a little bit of inspiration.”

Along with being seen as the “rebirth” of 5Pointz, which saw its Long Island City home be whitewashed in 2013, organizers and school staff also hope this project will give the school which some call “the worst in New York City” a second chance.

“This alone might get [students] to school and create a sense of pride for their school that a lot of them didn’t have before,” said Syreeta Gates, The Future Project Dream Director at August Martin.

According to the school’s principal, Gillian Smith, August Martin is still considered an “out of time school” meaning it hasn’t made any academic progress in recent years and has a 39 percent graduation rate.

However, Smith, who welcomed the idea of the project with open arms, hopes a project such as coming together with 5Pointz artists will help build a sense of pride and push students to do better.

Some artists have offered to participate in future workshops for the students, and the 5Pointz curators also hope to continue being a “part of the family” with the school.

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“We want students to be so inspired that they want to stay in school because now they can see that dreams can happen and dreams can come true,” Smith said. “It’s a difficult journey; it’s a lot of work. But I think all of these little steps matter. To see this happen in a weekend all of a sudden makes you feel like, ‘I got it, the world is mine. I can do this.’”

Students involved in the project said they are excited to see their classmates’ reactions on Monday when seeing the hallways.

They also added that they think this project will help change the way people view the high school.

“It’s a sense of hope and pride because people talk so much crap about August Martin, it’s going to change how they look at the school, and students here are going to have so much pride coming here and saying ‘5Pointz did my school.’ Who else can say that?,” said 11th-grader Trivella Osborne.

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When asked what they would say to the artists volunteering their time to transform their school the students on the Dream Team burst out in thank yous and cheers.

“They’re making history right now,” said ninth-grader Latoya Mann. “It’s a resurrection of August Martin and 5Pointz.”

The completed project will be revealed to the public on June 11 from 4 to 8 p.m. during an art show at the school. Some artists will also be selling their work on canvas in order to raise money for the high school.

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Participatory budgeting winners announced in western Queens


| aaltamirano@queenscourier.com

THE COURIER/File Photo

The residents of western Queens have spoken and the results are in regarding where they would like to see $1 million spent in each community.

Councilmen Costa Constantinides and Jimmy Van Bramer announced the winning projects of this year’s participatory budgeting process, where residents in each individual district were able to cast their vote on where they want city funding to be spent.

In Constantinides’ District 22, which covers Astoria and parts of Woodside, East Elmhurst and Jackson Heights, 2,204 residents came out to vote last month and three projects were chosen as the winners.

A total of 825 residents voted on the first project that will spend $245,000 in district-wide public school technology upgrades. Through this project, $35,000 will be spent each for P.S. 84, P.S. 122, P.S. 234, I.S. 235, P.S. 17, P.S. 2 and I.S. 141.

The second project, which brought in 773 votes, is $500,000 to go toward turning a lot under the RFK Bridge, located at Hoyt Avenue between 23rd and 24th streets, which is currently empty, into a dog run.

The final project, with 715 votes, will transform I.S. 126’s parking lot in Astoria into a recreational playground for the school and community.

With the third project the total comes out to $1,245,000, so Constantinides plans to allocate more funding from his discretionary budget to fully support the projects.

“The entire process has been community-driven, inclusive, and engaging. I am excited to see the strong voter response that gave everyone a voice in the city budgeting process,” Constantinides said. “The technology upgrades across the district, a new dog run in a neighborhood that currently lacks even one, and a playground [where] students have no official schoolyard will enrich the lives of families and children throughout Astoria.”

Photo via Twitter/@JimmyVanBramer

Councilman Jimmy Van Bramer announced the results of this year’s participatory budgeting process for District 26 on Wednesday night at LIC Bar. (Photo via Twitter/@JimmyVanBramer)

In Van Bramer’s District 26, covering Woodside, Sunnyside, LIC and parts of Astoria, the winning projects include a Long Island City Bikeway, a 10-person van for the Jacob Riis Settlement House for seniors and a playground upgrade at Queensbridge.

A total of $500,000 would go toward the Long Island City Bikeway, which would be an improved, safe and reliable bikeway system in the neighborhood. The Jacob Riis Settlement House van is a $55,000 project that would help transport seniors to and from programs. The third project is a $500,000 upgrade at a playground in the Queensbridge housing development that would replace rubber matting in five jungle gym areas.

During the announcement of the winners Wednesday night, Van Bramer also announced that because of the large voter turnout his office would be funding five more projects. These include $50,000 in accessibility improvements each for the Sunnyside and Woodside libraries, $200,000 for the Woodside Reforestry project, $100,000 for district-wide real-time passenger bus countdown clocks and $75,000 in technology upgrades for P.S./I.S. 78 in LIC.

In total, Van Bremer will be dedicating over $1.5 million in funding for projects chosen by the community.

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Enjoy LIC Springs! and get Mother’s Day gifts at the LIC Flea


By Queens Courier Staff | editorial@queenscourier.com

Photo via Instagram/@licflea

As you make your way to the LIC Flea & Food this weekend to pick out something out for mom, make sure to get your groove on at the LIC Springs! block festival.

The LIC Partnership will host its second annual LIC Springs! free community block festival this Saturday from noon to 5 p.m. on Vernon Boulevard between 50th and 46th avenues.

Throughout the day there will be live music, dance and theater performances, art and sculpture making, fitness classes, outdoor dining, sport games and much more open to all ages.

When you are done checking out the block party, make your way to the popular LIC Flea & Food, located just blocks away at the waterfront outdoor lot at the corner of Fifth Street and 46th Avenue.

Visitors can find that special gift just in time for Mother’s Day, whether it be unique soaps and candles, one-of-a-kind handcrafted or vintage jewelry and clothes, sweets and more.

Along with over 80 vendors each day, the LIC Flea also has a beer garden, exclusively serving beers brewed in Queens from local breweries including Rockaway Brewery, Queens Brewery, Finback Brewery and SingleCut Beersmiths. The bar will also offer a great selection of wines.

LIC Flea & Food runs every Saturday and Sunday from 10 a.m. to 6 p.m. through the end of October.

For updates on the LIC Flea & Food market, follow on Facebook.com/LICFlea, Instagram.com/LICFlea and @LICFlea on Twitter.

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5Pointz artists to transform hallways of August Martin HS in Jamaica


| aaltamirano@queenscourier.com

Photo via Instagram/@queensdreamers

The spirit of 5Pointz will be reborn this weekend, as over 150 artists from near and far are expected to come together to bring life to the hallways of one Jamaica high school.

On Saturday and Sunday, a team of students of the nonprofit The Future Project Dream Team at August Martin High School called “Operation Skittles” will team up with 5Pointz curators Jonathan “Meres One” Cohen and Marie Cecile Flageul to cover the hallways, elevator doors and staircases with one-of-a-kind artwork exploding with color.

“To us it’s kind of like making the pass to knowledge attractive and exciting,” Cecile Flageul said.

For the two days, more than 150 aerosol artists, all invited by Cohen, will volunteer their time and paint to transform the interior of the school, located at 156-10 Baisley Blvd.

According to the curators, this project symbolizes a “rebirth” of 5Pointz with a large number of people gathering together to create art pieces that will tell stories.

The Long Island City home of the graffiti mecca was ordered to be whitewashed by the property’s owner in 2013, just days after artists and supporters held rallies looking to save the site and requested the site be landmarked. Since then, the entire building has been demolished.

“It’s really awesome and symbolically it’s in Queens, it’s our initial borough. It’s kind of like a tribute to the spirit of 5Pointz and I don’t think we could have picked a better place than this school,” Cecile Flageul said.

5Pointz curators Marie Cecile Flageul and Jonathan Cohen with August Martin High School Principal Gillian Smith (center). (Photo courtesy of Marie Cecile Flageul)

5Pointz curators Marie Cecile Flageul and Jonathan Cohen with August Martin High School Principal Gillian Smith (center). (Photo courtesy of Marie Cecile Flageul)

She added that the response from participating artists has been intense and positive, with many wanting to continue having a relationship with the school and students even after the project is complete.

“To me it is incredible to be part of this project,” she said. “To be able to connect with those kids, help this school and start this relationship.”

The artists all want to inspire the students, help them achieve their dreams, and bring beauty to a school that some have called “the worst in Queens,” according to Cecile Flageul. Some artists have offered to participate in workshops for the students, and the 5Pointz curators also hope to continue being a “part of the family” with the school.

“Isn’t it ironic that what they call the worst high school in Queens and the so-called vandals of Queens are collaborating for something to better the future of the youth,” Cecile Flageul said.

In addition to the 20 kids from “Operation Skittles,” other students and teachers will also be volunteering their time during the weekend.

Although the painting on both Saturday and Sunday is closed to the public, the completed project will be revealed in June with a large art show.

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Reporter from LIC writes book on inside look at New York’s ongoing gang war


| aaltamirano@queenscourier.com

Photo by Steve Pfost

Street gangs have been fighting against each other for years in New York, and now one Long Island City author is sharing an inside look at the ongoing war between these gangs in his new book.

Kevin Deutsch, a crime reporter for Newsday for the past three years, is the author behind “The Triangle: A Year on the Ground with New York’s Bloods and Crips,” which tells of the war between the two street gangs, centered around a Long Island intersection.

Deutsch first encountered members of the Bloods and Crips as a crime reporter for the NY Daily News and would see them battle it out in court rooms. He became interested in the subculture of the gangs and later learned from a source about the gang war going on between the two groups.

After taking a drive out to Hempstead, Long Island, he encountered what he called “an open-air, thriving drug market” where the two gangs fought over the territory.

Once Deutsch became a reporter Newsday, one of his first stories was on the ongoing war at the Linden Triangle, which later inspired the name of his book.

“I had never really thought much about doing a book until I encountered the story on the gangs,” Deutsch said.

After writing the article for Newsday, Deutsch had so much information left over that he felt he needed to tell the full story. That’s when he decided to put together the book.

Courtesy of Kevin Deutsch

Courtesy of Kevin Deutsch

“The story needed to be told,” he said. “I felt it was a story that no one had told before of young men living lives so far removed from what most of us understand American lives to be.”

The book, which took Deutsch a year of on-site reporting in 2012 and was released last December, follows members of the two gangs, anti-violence activists who would go on prayer marches to try to stop the violence, and police.

As he created one of the first inside accounts of this ongoing gang war, Deutsch had to build relationships with gang members from both sides in order to truly understand everything behind the conflict.

“I had to spend a lot of time assuring them that I had no skin in this game. I was not rooting for anyone. I was an objective observer here to chronicle their lives,” he said.

During his interaction with gang members, he learned how these young men lived in a world surrounded by death, drugs and rape, feeling that this was the only option for them.

“It’s easy to get into a gang but it’s so hard to get out, and most of the guys get out in a box or they get out in a cell,” Deutsch said. “It’s so engraved in the atmosphere of these neighborhoods that it’s a cycle impossible to break.”

Although Deutsch built relationships with a large number of members from both sides of the gangs, he added that there were others who questioned his motives and what he was doing.

In one instance one gang member, who had been high on drugs, got paranoid and believed Deutsch was an undercover cop. This led the young man to take out a gun and point it at Deutsch’s face. Another gang member had to talk the other down to put the gun away, and the gun-wielding member later apologized to Kevin.

Although he was face-to-face with danger, Deutsch said that that moment served as an eye-opening experience to the threat and lifestyle the gang members have to face each day.

“They could tell me all day what it is like, but until I had that gun to my face I didn’t really understand what these kids’ lives are really like,” he said. “I just got a little taste of what they go through every day.”

Through his research for the book, Deutsch said that in 2012 about 56 people were shot in Long Island and the five boroughs in gang-related incidents. He added that in Queens, there is a large Bloods and Crips presence in the Rockaways.

At the end of the year of investigating and after putting the book together, Deutsch handed out copies of the book to members of both gangs. Some responses were really positive, because they felt their stories were finally being told, while others were upset because they felt the other side was being portrayed better.

However, Deutsch said he tried to be as objective as possible when writing the book and tried to cover the gang war just like a war correspondent would.

“They were glad that their story was finally told because they felt America was ignoring them,” he said. “They felt that they were living in a war zone right here in America and no one cared about them.”

Deutsch added that he hopes the book also helps readers understand that gang violence is occurring throughout the nation and is prevalent to in so many communities, even if they don’t necessarily see it.

“The Triangle: A Year on the Ground with New York’s Bloods and Crips” is available at bookstores and through Amazon.

Deutsch will be doing a reading of the book at The Astoria Bookshop, located at 31-29 31st St., on June 4 at 7 p.m.

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Former LIC factory building creating retail and office hub with help from an old rival


| lguerre@queenscourier.com

THE COURIER/Photos by Liam La Guerre

Old rivals are meeting on a new playing field in Long Island City, but not necessarily on different teams.

The Factory, a 10-story, block-long industrial building at 30-30 47th Ave., formerly known as the Long Island City Business Center, was built in the mid-1920s and used as a warehouse for Macy’s. A few years earlier, the five-floor, block-long Falchi Building was built and was a storage and distribution facility for the former Gimbels department store, a rival of Macy’s.

In today’s Long Island City, where many old warehouse and industrial buildings are being converted for other uses, owners of the Falchi Building created a mixed-use office center with ground-floor eateries that now enjoys healthy foot traffic from employees, residents and students from nearby LaGuardia Community College.

Owners of The Factory are actively marketing the building to similar tenants, an effort that both parties say will build a thriving hub on 47th Avenue and increase demand for retail and innovative office companies.

“The Factory district has achieved great traction and we are seeing an increase in tour velocity from all types of tenants,” said Brian Waterman of Newmark Grubb Knight Frank, which is marketing the building.

Real estate firm Jamestown bought the 658,049-square-foot Falchi Building in 2012 and a year later embarked on its renovation and leasing plan — food retailers with production elements were added to the ground floor, and office space for technology, advertising, media and information (TAMI) companies took space on upper levels.

As a result of the campaign, only 45,000 square feet of vacant space remains in the building. Last year about 150,000 square feet was signed over, including Queens’ first Doughnut Plant and the country’s first Stolle, a Russian-based café chain.

Atlas, which bought The Factory in 2014, began a $20 million revitalization soon after, which includes electrical and elevator upgrades, and renovating the lobby with public seating, art and historical artifacts, such as a 19th-century map of Long Island City. New lighting has been added, and there are further plans for improvements including wayfinding signage.

The exterior is also undergoing a façade renovation that will be complete by the summer to modernize its look and upgrade energy efficiency.

The building features industrial high ceilings and wide-open floor plans. Furniture and appliances have been added in some vacant spaces, as well as glassed conference rooms for TAMI tenants. The building also now has super-fast broadband connectivity, and earned a silver ranking from WiredScore, a certification program.

“The Factory is primed for any type of user,” Waterman said. “We expect continued success at The Factory, with planned growth throughout Long Island City.”

Concrete floors on upper levels have been polished, brick walls restored and large windows replaced, as Atlas wants to leverage the building’s character.

The firm is also keeping the funky art installation known as the “Dragon Elevator.” The work by artists John Carter, J.J. Veronis, and Johnny Swing is like walking into a Disneyland attraction, as it has been retrofitted with yellow and green paint and monsters coming out of holes. Adjacent to the elevator is a reconfigured school bus with a large hand by the same artists.

There are already some 18 tenants in The Factory, which has more than 1.1 million square feet. Atlas is marketing 550,000 square feet of office space and 30,000 square feet for retail— practically another Falchi. Although there will be competition, each side sees it as a benefit rather than a threat.

“They are sister buildings, there is no way around it,” said Mitchell Arkin, an executive director of Cushman & Wakefield, which is handling marketing for the Falchi Building. “If someone comes to look at us they will look at them. All in all, I think it’s a good friendly, neighborly kind of relationship. We are happy to see if they succeed, because it’ll create higher rates.”

Rent values in both buildings are currently in the $30 to $40 per square foot range.

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Astoria Flea & Food at Kaufman Astoria Studios to pop up again this summer


By Queens Courier Staff | editorial@queenscourier.com

THE COURIER/File Photo

Something is ready to pop up in Astoria this summer.

The organizers of the Astoria Flea & Food at Kaufman Astoria Studios, which launched last year as the city’s first-ever backlot market, have announced that the market is expected to make its grand return.

The Astoria Flea, a partnership between the LIC Flea & Food and Kaufman Astoria Studios, will operate from the studios’ outdoor lot, the first off its kind in the city.

This year, instead of running for a consecutive number of weeks, the Astoria Flea will be popping up at the studios’ lot on different dates.

Upon arrival at the Astoria Flea entrance at 36th Street and 35th Avenue, visitors will be welcomed by a 40-foot-high steel gate, designed by David Rockwell and the Rockwell Group.

Visitors of all ages and from all over the city will be able to enjoy the best in food vendors, antiques, collectibles, arts, crafts, fashion and much more.

Anyone looking to be a vendor at the Astoria Flea can apply at www.licflea.com.

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Five Queens high school students treated to culinary scholarships


By Queens Courier Staff | editorial@queenscourier.com

Photos courtesy of Jerry Ruotolo Photography

BY ANGELA MATUA

Queens students were served culinary scholarships and internships from the Careers Through Culinary Arts Program (C-CAP) to pursue careers in the restaurant industry.

C-CAP, a national nonprofit that prepares at-risk high school students for college and careers in the restaurant and hospitality industry, held its New York Awards Breakfast to award high school seniors with scholarships and culinary opportunities on Friday, April 17, at the Pierre Hotel in New York City.

A cooking competition at the International Culinary Institute on Thursday, April 2, finalized the winners. Each student prepared a dish for a panel of judges, which was critiqued on taste and presentation, organization, sanitation, timing and technique.

Two Queens students won the biggest awards of the night — a $100,000 full-tuition scholarship to attend the school of their choice.

Photo 6 Queens

Corona resident Darwin Acosta, who is a senior at Food & Finance High School in Manhattan, received a full-tuition scholarship to pursue his associate’s degree at the Culinary Institute of America (CIA).

Acosta’s parents owned a restaurant in Brooklyn and he would often visit the restaurant to help. His passion for the restaurant industry began there and he is now pursuing baking and pastry arts at the CIA and hopes to earn his bachelor’s degree in culinary management.

Long Island City High School student Emily Tepoz will use her scholarship to study at Johnson & Wales University.

Tepoz, who is an East Elmhurst resident, became interested in the culinary arts after her sister told her about a visit Chef Bobby Flay made to Long Island City High School. Tepoz decided to attend the high school for the culinary program and has received real-world experience by working in places like the Union Square Café and Catch Restaurant.

Tepoz will major in baking and pastry management so she can open a pastry shop in the future. She also plans on traveling to “become more familiar with different ingredients and how different regions incorporate them into their food.”

Three other students from Long Island City High School received scholarships and internship opportunities including Daniel Goodridge, who won $58,110 including full tuition to earn his associate’s degree at the Culinary Institute of America.

Leon Joshua Delos Reyes was awarded the Dr. Patricia S. Bartholomew Scholarship, the Daniel Boulud New York City College of Technology Apprenticeship and the Avero Externship. Giovanni Angel Torres received the Jeff Samuels Scholarship and the Daniel Boulud New York City College of Technology Apprenticeship.

Soledad Navarette, a Jackson Heights resident who attends the School of Cooperative Technical Education in Manhattan, won a $37,000 full-tuition scholarship to the Institute of Culinary Education.

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Apartments now available in new LIC luxury tower with rooftop pool


| lguerre@queenscourier.com

Photos courtesy of World Wide Group

Leasing has begun for apartments in the luxury residential rental tower QLIC in Long Island City, which is stock-pilled with amenities, including everything from a rooftop pool with cabanas and views of the Manhattan skyline to a dog grooming station.

QLIC, owned by World Wide Group, has more than 28,000 square feet of amenities. There is a gym, indoor parking, a bike room, an open-air theater and barbecue, a landscaped courtyard with a fire pit, and a game room with billiards and ping pong tables.

There are 421 apartments in the 21-story building, but prospective renters should hurry, because there have been more than 1,500 inquiries for units in the building at Queens Plaza North and 24th Street, according to Dave Maundrell, president of aptsandlofts.com, which is marketing the building.

“QLIC is one of the most highly anticipated developments to join the Long Island City market,” Maundrell said. “With an impressive amenity package, QLIC is expected to reset the bar in the boroughs.”

The Perkins Eastman-designed building will offer a mix of apartments with varying sizes. Studios start at $2,026 per month, one-bedrooms from $2,285, two-bedrooms from $3,595 and three-bedrooms from $4,592.

QLIC topped out in September last year. Tenants can expect to move into QLIC in July.

 

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George Clinton to perform as part of free summer festival at Queensbridge Park


| ctumola@queenscourier.com

Photos courtesy of City Parks Foundation

SummerStage, the city’s largest performing arts festival, is marking its 30th anniversary with six-day mini festivals at eight local parks, including one on the Long Island City waterfront.

Queensbridge Park, located along Vernon Boulevard adjacent to the Queensboro Bridge, will host the event from July 14 to 19, featuring the “godfather of funk” George Clinton, local musicians, dance, theater and more.

“As an organization we are dedicated to working in traditionally underserved neighborhoods across the city,” said Heather Lubov, executive director of City Parks Foundation, which produces SummerStage. “By presenting artists and genres that reflect the cultures and communities in these parks, introducing disciplines such as dance or theater alongside musical performances, and providing all of this fantastic art free of charge, we are building new audiences and fostering a broader interest in the arts here in New York City.”

The musical group Chi-Lites will be kicking off the Queensbridge Park festival at 7 p.m. on July 14. The group originated from the ’70s Chicago R&B scene, and in 2000 were inducted into the Rhythm & Blues Hall of Fame.

The following night, at 7 p.m., George Clinton and Parliament Funkadelic, which was inducted into the Rock and Roll Hall of Fame in 1997, will perform.

Large Professor

Large Professor

 

Local flavor will come to the park on July 16 with Large Professor (LP) a hip-hop songwriter, producer and DJ who comes from Flushing. Also performing that night is Marley Marl, a producer and DJ hailing from Queensbridge who has made a mark on the hip-hop world.

On July 17 and 18, the festival will shift gears to theater on Friday night and dance the following evening, featuring several collaborative and creative performers.

The final day of the festival will start with family-friendly programming from 4 to 7 p.m., including award-winning and critically-acclaimed jazz trombonist Wycliffe Gordon, B-Love’s Hip Hop Jazzy Groove, and Karisma Jay and AbunDance.

Wycliffe Gordon

Wycliffe Gordon

That night the festival will close with a performance by hip-hop artist Pete Rock and a screening of “Time Is Illmatic.” The feature-length documentary examines the making of rapper Nas’ 1994 debut album “Illmatic” and his development as an artist and his influences — including a visit to his childhood home in Queensbridge.

SummerStage is also expanding its season to commemorate its 30th anniversary, from May 18 through Oct. 4, when it will offer more than 140 free music, dance, comedy, family and theater programs in 16 parks across all five boroughs.

In Queens, there will also be SummerStage events at Flushing Meadows Corona Park and Socrates Sculpture Park.

As part of the World’s Fair Anniversary Festival at Flushing Meadows on June 7, starting at 4 p.m. there will be three musical performances as part of SummerStage by singer Charles Bradley and His Extraordinaires, Hollis Brown, a rock ‘n’ roll band formed by two Queens natives, and another Queens native, violinist Damien Escobar.

Later in that month, on June 24, The Metropolitan Opera Summer Recital Series featuring Kiri Deonarine, Ginger Costa-Jackson, John Moore and pianist Dan Saunders will come to Socrates Sculpture Park in Long Island City.

For more information about SummerStage events, visit www.summerstage.org.

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Average Long Island City condo price nearing $900K


| lguerre@queenscourier.com

Chart courtesy of Modern Spaces 

Prospective buyers of condos in Long Island City will need to have deep pockets — that are hopefully getting deeper.

With the heavy demand for condos in the burgeoning neighborhood, the price of a condo in the market crossed the $1,000 per square foot marker in the first quarter of the year, according to a report by broker Modern Spaces, which expects prices to continue to rise even higher.

Homebuyers pay an average of $877,778 for a condo in Long Island City now, according to the brokerage’s Q1 2015 Market Report.

“Long Island City home prices have been increasing steadily over the past few years,” said Eric Benaim, CEO of Modern Spaces. “The demand for new homes here remains strong and will continue to drive prices higher.”

Last year, no new condos came to the market, according to Benaim. But some condo buildings planned for construction will begin sales of units this year, bringing an influx of new inventory.

Modern Spaces recently announced the beginning of marketing for the 39 units in Liv @ Murray Park North at 11-35 45th Ave., and the 23 units at The Corner planned for 47-28 11th St.

Rendering courtesy of Modern Spaces

Liv @ Murray Park North

Specific prices in these buildings have yet to be announced, but representatives said studios will start in the $400,000s in Liv @ Murray Park North.

That will be a deal for prospective homeowners, since the average price for condominiums in LIC is $678,333 for a studio, $820,000 for a one-bedroom unit, and $1.1 million for a two-bedroom apartment, according to the report.

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LIC Partnership offers a snapshot of Long Island City’s growth now and for the future


| lguerre@queenscourier.com

Photos courtesy of Jessica Frankl

It’s no secret that real estate in Long Island City is booming.

Thousands of apartments have been built within the last decade and land prices have risen to historic highs. With the influx of residents, the retail side is witnessing growth and more offices are moving across the East River.

In front of hundreds of real estate industry members at the LIC Partnership’s ninth annual real estate breakfast on Wednesday, experts agreed that it’s a good time for the area as it blooms into one of New York’s most desirable neighborhoods, and that real estate activity is set to multiply.

“Today’s breakfast featured a very enthusiastic discussion among some of the area’s industry leaders on the growth and demand for real estate in Long Island City,” said David Brause, president of Brause Realty, who moderated the panel discussion at the event. “The general consensus is that it’s a great time to be in this market, and that the area will only continue to take off in the coming years.”

More than 8,600 residential units have been completed in LIC since 2006, and more than 22,500 units are in the planning or construction phase, according to a LIC Partnership analysis released simultaneously with the event.

Some additional growth may come by way of the Sunnyside Yards — a rail yard used by Amtrak, the MTA and New Jersey Transit — where Mayor Bill de Blasio hopes to develop 11,250 affordable housing units, schools, open spaces and community facilities. The city’s Economic Development Corporation will announce the company that will perform a yearlong feasibility study for that plan in the coming weeks.

If accomplished, the Sunnyside Yards plan could again expand LIC, but panelists at the event weren’t immediately on board with the ambitious idea, which has been pitched for decades by various figures.

“My attitude is every time everyone gets all these visions, I’m like you know what I don’t have time for this,” said panelist David Dishy, president of development and acquisition at L+M Development Partners.

DSC_1810B

LIC Partnership President Elizabeth Lusskin addressing the crowd.

One thing that is clear is that more and more people want to buy homes and stay in LIC.  To meet the high demand for homes — and rising land values — developers are pushing to build more condos.

However, buying residential property in the neighborhood is also becoming a pricey endeavor. The average price for condominiums in the first three months of 2015 was $678,333 for a studio, $820,000 for a one-bedroom apartment, and $1.1 million for a two-bedroom unit, according to the LIC Partnership analysis.

The neighborhood has also emerged as a hotel destination for New York City. More than 20 hotels have opened in the area in seven years and 26 more are planned or currently under construction, the Partnership said.

The foot traffic increase in LIC has helped fill in vacant spaces on retail corridors, but for most it’s still hard to pinpoint the neighborhood’s Main Street.

“It’s hard to point it out, but I would say Vernon [Boulevard],” said Matthew Baron, president of Simon Baron Development. “There’s really no Main Street, but I think that’s okay.”

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MTA will boost service on 7, L and M lines later this year


| rpozarycki@queenscourier.com

File photo

With overall subway ridership up 2.6 percent across the city, the MTA is set to meet the increased demand by boosting service on three local subway lines this December.

Most of the changes will take place during off-peak hours, as the MTA reported ridership between or after rush hour periods reached its highest rate in 65 years in 2014, with more than 1.75 billion riders systemwide.

The biggest boost will take place on the L line, with seven additional round trips added between 10:30 a.m. and 2 p.m. on weekdays. Ridership on the L line — which services Ridgewood and Bushwick — grew 4.7 percent last year, the largest increase of any line in the system.

According to the MTA, the seven additional trains will reduce wait times on the L line to five minutes between the morning and evening rush hours. Last fall, the MTA similarly enhanced L train service during weeknight and weekend periods.

The MTA will also introduce two additional round trips on the 7 line — which services the rapidly-growing neighborhoods of Long Island City, Sunnyside, Woodside and Flushing — between 8 and 10:20 p.m. on weeknights. The agency said this will reduce wait times to under 4 1/2 minutes.

This service increase is expected to ease commuting, in particular, out of the Vernon Boulevard-Jackson Avenue station in Long Island City, which experienced a 12 percent growth in weekday ridership in 2014; and at the Flushing-Main Street terminal, which averages about 60,000 riders each day.

Finally, the M line will get an extra round trip just after the morning rush hour, between 9 and 9:30 a.m., reducing wait times to an average of 7 1/2 minutes. Since the line was rerouted in 2010 through Midtown Manhattan and northwest Queens (replacing the defunct V line), M train ridership is up about 31 percent, with an average increase of 6.2 percent at stations between Metropolitan Avenue in Middle Village and Marcy Avenue in Williamsburg.

“New York is a dynamic city and it continues to grow as new or better housing options become available and more people come here for jobs or school,” said MTA New York City Transit President Carmen Bianco. “By making these schedule changes, New York City Transit is making the most of its resources to deliver service that accurately reflects ridership in growing areas.”

The MTA plans to spend $1.6 million to implement the additional service.

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CB 1 chair, district manager to retire in the summer after almost four decades of service


| aaltamirano@queenscourier.com

Map via CB1 Website

Astoria will soon say goodbye to two Community Board 1 leaders as they get ready to retire from their posts after nearly eight decades of combined service to the area.

Vinicio Donato, chair of CB 1, and Lucille Hartmann, district manager of the board, have announced they will both be retiring. Donato will stay on the board until August, while Hartmann will remain until July. 

Donato has been chair of the community board, which covers all of Astoria, and parts of Long Island City and Woodside, since 1979 and in January was re-elected to the position without any opposition. 

Hartmann has been on the board for about 38 years, during which she left for a brief period of time to work for the mayor’s office. 

However, the decision to announce their retirement at the same time was a coincidence and was made because it was just time for both of them to make the move, according to a community board representative. 

Lucille Hartmann (File Photo)

Lucille Hartmann (File photo)

Local elected officials thanked both Donato and Hartmann for their service and dedication to the community.

“Vinny and Lucille deserve our thanks for their long and dedicated service to our neighborhood,” state Senator Michael Gianaris said. “I have worked hand in hand with both of these community leaders throughout my career in public service and am proud to have stood side by side with them as we fought to make Astoria the wonderful place it is today. I wish both Vinny and Lucille the best in all that they do in the future.”

Councilman Jimmy Van Bramer also thanked both of the community leaders for their commitment over the years.

“I thank Vinicio Donato for his four-plus decades of public service with Community Board 1 and acknowledge him for his commitment as an educator while at I.S. 10, where I attended as a kid,” Van Bramer said. “I commend Lucille Hartmann for her dedication to the communities of Community Board 1. Together, Vinny and Lucille cared deeply about the communities they served and worked hard every day to make western Queens a better place.”

Community Board 1 is expected to elect a new chairman at its September meeting after returning from the summer break.

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Zagat to set up voting booth at LIC Flea & Food


By Queens Courier Staff | editorial@queenscourier.com

THE COURIER/File Photo

Visitors to the LIC Flea & Food this weekend will have their voices heard and be able to win some money.

Zagat, known for its ratings of restaurants and nightlife, will be setting up a booth at the popular Long Island City market where visitors will have the chance to review their favorite New York restaurants and vote for the top LIC Flea vendors.

Voters will be rewarded with money to spend the same day at the flea market, and LIC Flea vendors who win most votes will be awarded with the title of Zagat Voters’ Choice at LIC Flea. For more information visit www.zagat.com/reviewNYC.

LIC Flea & Food is located at an outdoor lot by the waterfront at the corner of Fifth Street and 46th Avenue, and offers items for sale including food and drinks, collectibles, antiques, arts and crafts, handcrafted jewelry and fashion, and much more.

Along with over 80 vendors each day, the market also has a beer garden, exclusively serving beers brewed in Queens from local breweries including Rockaway Brewery, Queens Brewery, Finback Brewery and SingleCut Beersmiths. The LIC Flea is the only location to carry beer from all six breweries. The bar will also offer a great selection of wines.

LIC Flea & Food will run every Saturday and Sunday from 10 a.m. to 6 p.m., through the end of October.

For updates on the LIC Flea & Food market, follow on Facebook.com/LICFlea, Instagram.com/LICFlea and @LICFlea on Twitter.

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