Tag Archives: Long Island City

Report: Queens rental prices increase


| lguerre@queenscourier.com

Charts courtesy of MNS Real Estate

Rental prices are continuing to rise in the borough, according to the Queens Rental Market Report by MNS Real Estate.

Rents in Queens jumped about 1.76 percent from approximately $2,077 in June to $2,113 in July, according to the report, which targeted several Queens neighborhoods, including Long Island City, Astoria, Ridgewood, Flushing, Forest Hills, Jackson Heights and Rego Park.

The largest percentage increase in rent prices was seen in studios in Jackson Heights, which saw a 21 percent jump over a month. Studios in the neighborhood shot up from $1,238 in June to about $1,500 in July.

Two-bedrooms in Flushing also experienced a huge surge as prices soared more than 15 percent—an increase of $345 from $2,254 in June to $2,599 in July.

web Market report Jax Hts

The most expensive neighborhood was Long Island City. Although prices fell 0.65 percent for the month because of “a maturing luxury rental market,” according to the report, the average rent prices ranged from $2,410 for a studio to $3,908 for a two-bedroom apartment.

“The rental market throughout Queens is still following the patterns of recent months as the borough continues to see major growth, particularly in Long Island City and Astoria,” the report points out. “With new developments and conversions hitting the market recently, renters have flocked to these areas seeking more options and value for their money.”

Market report page 2 beds web

Studios in Forest Hills had the largest percentage decrease. Prices for a studio in the neighborhood dropped 27 percent ($501) from $1,851 in June to $1,350 in July.

To see the full report, click here.

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Children’s Room renovations coming to Queens Library’s Broadway branch


By Queens Courier Staff | editorial@queenscourier.com

Photo courtesy of Queens Library

BY ASHA MAHADEVAN

Starting Monday, Sept. 8, the Children’s Room at the Queens Library’s Broadway branch in Long Island City will remain closed for four months as it undergoes renovations. An alternate children’s room will open on Sept. 15, but it will offer limited services.

The renovated Children’s Room will include more computers for children to use, brand new furniture, more space for librarians to attend to customers and a self-checkout station. The room will also feature a model train set that will circulate in the front of the room, suspended from overhead tracks.

While the Children’s Room remains closed, the rest of the Broadway library will stay open during the renovations.

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Flea in full swing


By Queens Courier Staff | editorial@queenscourier.com

Ping Pong Winners

Just days before the US Open kicked off, the competition was in full swing at the LIC Flea & Food.

The popular Long Island City flea market, located at the outdoor lot on the corner of Fifth Street and 46th Avenue, held its 2nd Annual LIC Flea & Food Ping Pong Open Tournament on Aug. 23.

Many contestants competed throughout the day and the overall winner was Japanese high-ranking table tennis player Kazuyuki Yokoyama, who also goes by Kaz. The runner-up of the tournament was Wolfgang Busch, who co-founded the Pink Pong Foundation New York Chapter in 2002 in Brooklyn to promote table tennis, fitness and health in the LGBT community.

The winners were given Flea Bucks to use at the market and also took home bragging rights.

LIC Flea & Food is open every Saturday from 10 a.m. to 6 p.m. and will be back on Sundays starting the following weekend and run through the end of October.This Sunday, Aug. 31, in Astoria, the Astoria Flea & Food at Kaufman Astoria Studios will be celebrating its final day of the summer at the outdoor backlot of Kaufman Astoria Studios at 36th Street and 35th Avenue.

Visitors to the Astoria Flea will enjoy a beach theme Sunday with kiddie pools and games spread throughout the market.

Since May, the flea market has offered the best in food, drinks, antiques, clothing, art, accessories and much more. Initially the Astoria Flea was expected to run for only eight consecutive Sundays.

The market will be open this Sunday from 10 a.m. to 6 p.m.For more information visit www.licflea.com.

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11-story condominium building planned for LIC


| lguerre@queenscourier.com

Rendering courtesy of Fogarty Finger Architects

New condos are coming to the Hunter’s Point section of Long Island City.

Local companies Charney Construction & Development and Ascent Development are working on an 11-story mixed-use residential and commercial building, which will have 56 apartments, according to New York YIMBY.

The building will be located on 11-51 47th Avenue, blocks from 5Pointzwhich is being torn down for massive apartment towers— and near MoMA PS1.

Designed by Fogarty Finger Architects, the proposed 125-foot structure will be comprised of 52,728 square feet of residential space and an additional 1,280 square feet of commercial space, according to filings with the Department of Buildings.

The building will also have 23 enclosed parking spots, and will also come complete with various amenities, including a kids room, a gym and a lounge. There is also a terrace that allows views of Manhattan.

An architect on the project said the condos, which will have lots of two and three-bedroom apartments, indicate a change in Long Island City of families moving into the neighborhood .

“Because you can’t buy anything in Manhattan, people are looking at these neighborhoods and realizing how great they are,” Chris Fogarty of Fogarty Finger said. “These are people looking to stay a while.”

 

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Street cleaning initiative expands to Dutch Kills


| aaltamirano@queenscourier.com

Photo courtesy of Councilman Jimmy Van Bramer's office

More streets of western Queens will continue to shine as The Doe Fund expands into Dutch Kills.

The move into the Long Island City neighborhood comes a month after it was announced the nonprofit organization’s reach would be expanding to other areas of Long Island City and Hunters Point, and would also be remaining in Woodside.

The Doe Fund, which employs recently homeless or formerly incarcerated people as part of its Ready, Willing and Able transitional work program, will keep the sidewalks clean and clear corner trash cans on 36th Avenue from 27th to 36th streets.

Two workers will be on-site two days per week from 9 a.m. to 5 p.m.

“We continue to tackle the issue of street cleanliness head-on,” said Councilman Jimmy Van Bramer who secured $33,000 to begin The Doe Fund program in Dutch Kills. “The maintenance of our commercial corridors and residential streets is a top priority for me.”

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LIC’s Secret Theatre turns to fundraising campaign to survive


| aaltamirano@queenscourier.com

Photo by Orestes Gonzalez

One Long Island City theatre is looking to raise enough money to help keep its doors open.

Richard Mazda, founder of the Secret Theatre, located at 44-02 23rd St., has started an Indiegogo fundraising campaign after having to deal with financial difficulties starting in late 2012.

The difficulties came after the Department of Buildings found the landlord’s certificate of occupancy was out of date, which meant that Mazda had to pay DOB fines, hire architects to get correct permits in place and also move the site’s Little Theatre to an alternative spot in the 23rd Street building.

“We were under the threat of closing one space and just having the big theatre, or closing both spaces and literally calling it a day,” Mazda said. “No matter how hard we tried we couldn’t dig our way out just from our normal thin profit margin.”

Mazda continued to explain that the Secret Theatre breaks even with the money coming in from ticket sales, but to pay for the “unexpected costs” they now had to turn to the community to help cover some debts and also continue offering programs to the community.

The Secret Theatre opened in 2007 and has since produced weekly children’s theatre shows, held classes for students, provided coaching services, and produced in-house and co-produced productions.

“I am comfortable that we will raise a good amount of money,” Mazda said. “I am very moved by the support we are receiving so far and I look forward to being able to thank more people.”

Along with raising the money to pay for expenses, Mazda also said he hopes to bring change to the Secret Theatre and turn it into a nonprofit organization.

The Indiegogo campaign has a goal of $10,000 and will run until Sept. 4.

“At this point in time I don’t think we will close. We are still in trouble, but the reaction from people has been incredible,” Mazda said.

For more information visit secrettheatre.com. To donate to the Secret Theatre’s fundraising campaign, click here.

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New owner buys Queens’ tallest building


| lguerre@queenscourier.com

THE COURIER/Photo by Liam La Guerre

The tallest building in Queens— and New York State outside of Manhattan— has a new owner.

Savanna, a real estate investment firm, announced on Monday that together with a partnering company it acquired a controlling interest in One Court Square, the 51-story building in Long Island City occupied by Citibank.

“We are thrilled to announce the acquisition of this terrific asset in Long Island City,” said Nicholas Bienstock, managing partner of Savanna. “One Court Square not only features attractive building amenities and convenient transportation access, but is also located in the heart of Long Island City, which has transformed over the past 10 years into one of the most attractive up-and-coming residential and office markets in the city.”

The group of investors led by David Werner, who previously owned the 1.5 million-square-foot building, will remain a smaller partner of the building.

Savanna did not release the price it paid for the tower, but Crain’s reported that the purchase would have been a much greater value than the nearly $500 million that Werner paid for it in 2011.

One Court Square was designed by Skidmore, Owings & Merrill LLP, and built by Turner Construction in 1989.

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New Dutch Kills coffee shop looks to become community spot


| aaltamirano@queenscourier.com

THE COURIER/ Photo by Angy Altamirano

One new shop owner hopes to bring the Dutch Kills community together over a cup of joe.

Beatrix Czagany will soon open Our Coffee Shop in the Long Island City neighborhood at 38-08 29th St. with plans to sell a variety of pastries, including Hungarian delicacies, coffees and teas.

The name of the spot comes from Czagany’s hope to become a coffee shop for the neighborhood.

“Personally owned coffee shops have more character than the coffee chains,” Czagany said. “I want to bring the people together again, like a community. I really want people to sit down, drink a coffee and have a normal conversation.”

The Astoria resident, who has been in the fitness and health business for 15 years, said she found the spot for her shop after passing by the vacant storefront while helping a friend move late last year.

Although she has no prior experience in owning a business, Czagany said her decision to open the coffee shop came from working at a friend’s pizza restaurant and realizing she enjoyed the interaction with customers better than at her current job.

She said she has also gone to numerous coffee shops throughout the city to get a taste of coffee types and an idea of site set-ups.

“I never ever thought I would be in the restaurant business. Many years ago I was thinking I would have my little own gym. And this is the opposite of that,” said Czagany, who immigrated to the United States from Hungary in 2002. “If someone told me, ‘You’re going to come to America and sell Hungarian stuff,” I would say, ‘Are you crazy?’”

Met with bills from having to fix up the site by herself and buying all equipment and items needed, Czagany has turned to Kickstarter to raise funds with hopes to open the shop by the end of September.

“I really just need a little backup,” she said. The goal of the campaign, which ends on Sept. 16, is set at $1,800.

For the time being, Our Coffee Shop will be selling pastries from Astoria bakeries as Czagany searches for local commercial kitchens where Hungarian delicacies could be handmade. She hopes to begin serving the Hungarian treats by December.

“I hope [customers] will get to know each other. It’s more like a little family spot. They are going to bring their own ideas here,” said Czagany, who hopes to hold community events at the shop. “It’s going to be shaped every month and every season there will be something new.”

Czagany plans to open Our Coffee Shop seven days a week starting at 6 a.m.

To donate to the Our Coffee Shop Kickstarter campaign, click here.

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Men rescued after jumping into East River in Long Island City  


| ctumola@queenscourier.com

THE COURIER/Photo by Angy Altamirano

Three men ended up in the East River off of Long Island City Monday night after one of the men jumped into the water to try and save the other two, police said.

On a challenge the pair leaped into the East River, but one of the men apparently didn’t know how to swim and both struggled in the water, according to published reports,

A good Samaritan passing by the area near 48th Avenue at about 8 p.m., went in to rescue the 21-year-old and 22-year-old, cops said. All three were then pulled to safety by police.

The good Samaritan refused medical attention at the scene.

The two other men were taken to Mt. Sinai Hospital in stable condition.

 

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Demolition begins at 5Pointz


By Queens Courier Staff | editorial@queenscourier.com

THE COURIER/Photo by Liam La Guerre

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

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

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

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

Jackson Ave 5

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

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

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

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

Jackson Ave 8

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

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

 

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New accusations versus LIC art fraudster


| aaltamirano@queenscourier.com

Photos courtesy of Richard Etts

The owner of a Queens foundry, who pleaded guilty early this year to selling a counterfeit sculpture worth $11 million, is allegedly behind another scam, according to a former New York City artist.

Brian Ramnarine, owner of the Empire Bronze Art Foundry in Long Island City, was arrested in 2012 for attempting to sell a sculpture advertised as genuine work by American artist Jasper Johns. In January, he pleaded guilty to three counts of wire fraud. He also pleaded guilty to falsely representing works from artists Robert Indiana and Saint Clair Cermin while he was out on bail.

Now, artist Richard Etts, a former New York City sculptor who has been living in California for the past 30 years, alleges one of his early pieces has met the same fate.

Etts was contacted by an art collector from Dallas, Texas, requesting authentication on a bronze Etts hand lamp, which the collector had purchased at an estate sale, the artist said. The artist was confused by the call because he says he never made any body sculptures out of bronze. All were made of plaster.

etts 101 hand desk lamp-003

Richard Etts’ original plaster sculpture

“Instead of denying that I made it, I requested photographs of stamps, signatures and dates,” Etts said. “And I was shocked to find that someone had forged my signature and put a different year on it and had the nerve to put their own stamp on it.”

In the photos he received, the sculpture is stamped with “Roman Bronze Works Inc.,” a company Ramnarine worked for before opening up his own foundry.

However at this point there is no direct evidence linking Ramnarine to the hand lamp.

Also, even though the original plaster sculpture was completed in 1972, the date 1983 also appears on the piece.

“What he has done is criminal and I’m getting no compensation for it and I want to prosecute if I can find the right person to handle this,” Etts said. “I want some money out of it and I want him to stop doing this.”

Etts also said he was thrown off by his large signature on the side of the piece.

“I would never deface my artwork with making my name so prominent on a piece of art,” Etts said. “He has made an effort of plagiarizing my signature.”

According to the U.S. Attorney for the Southern District of New York’s office, Etts must contact the Victims Witness Line to further investigate this incident.

Ramnarine’s attorney, Troy Smith, declined to comment.

Ramnarine’s sentencing on the earlier case has been adjourned until Sept. 19.

 

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Successful charity auction at LIC Flea, Ping Pong Open this weekend


By Queens Courier Staff | editorial@queenscourier.com

File Photo

The LIC Flea & Food saw great success this past weekend as the LIC Flea Charity Auction raised $1,000 for autistic and developmentally challenged children in Queens.

The popular Long Island City flea market, located at the outdoor lot on the corner of Fifth Street and 46th Avenue, held a charity auction on Aug. 16 with the duo known as The Locker Rockers and auctioneer John Luke of A&E’s “Storage Wars: New York.”

The Locker Rockers are made up of Cary “The Flipper” Zimbler and Thomas “The Nose” Preston. Just like in “Storage Wars,” the duo finds units that are being foreclosed or seized and they bid to win the contents of the storage containers. The duo currently has storage facilities of their own with items such as jewelry, furniture, sports memorabilia and antiques.
Auctioneer John Luke, born and raised in North Harlem, has been in the auction business for 15 years.

During the charity auction, the group auctioned off vintage and unique items they have found in storage lockers and also items furnished and donated by LIC Flea vendors Frittering Away, Jewel Dripped, Fiza Fashion, C3Brix, Bazaar à GoGo, Imran Jewels, A Spoonful of Brownies, Drink More Good, Razor Day, Queens Pop Photo and The Locker Rockers.

They were able to help raise $1,000 which will all go to support Life’s WORC, a private, nonprofit organization offering care for people with developmental disabilities in Queens and Long Island.

This upcoming Saturday, Aug. 23, the LIC Flea & Food will be holding its 2nd Annual Ping Pong Open just days before the US Open launches in Queens. Winners will get great prizes and bragging rights. To sign up click here.

LIC Flea & Food is open every Saturday from 10 a.m. to 6 p.m. and will be back on Sundays starting in September.

In Astoria, the Astoria Flea & Food at Kaufman Astoria Studios will only be open for two more Sundays at the outdoor backlot of Kaufman Astoria Studios at 36th Street and 35th Avenue.
The flea market offers the best in food, drinks, antiques, clothing, art, accessories and much more.

Initially the Astoria Flea was expected to run for only eight consecutive Sundays starting in May, but it now will stay open until Aug. 31.

The market is open Sunday from 10 a.m. to 6 p.m.

This weekend Astoria native DJ Johnny Seriuss will be spinning tunes once again at both flea markets.

 

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Plans filed for 33-floor, mixed-use residential building in LIC


| lguerre@queenscourier.com

Photo courtesy Property Shark

Another towering residential structure is planned for Long Island City.

Plans for a 33-story residential and commercial building have been filed with the Department of Buildings  on a vacant lot blocks away from Court Square Park and the subway station on Jackson Avenue.

The building, which is planned for 44-26 Purves St., will comprise 270 units in 206,546 square feet of residential space, according to Department of Buildings records.

FXFOWLE Architects is designing the residential tower, which will also include 517 square feet of commercial space.

The 33-floor building will join not only the 50-story One Court Square building in the LIC skyline, but also another mammoth mixed-use residential building that is planned for the burgeoning neighborhood.

Rockrose Development Corporation is working on a 50-story building at 43-25 Hunter St. with 767,305 square feet of residential space and 18,800 square feet of retail space. There will be 974 units and 67 enclosed parking spots.

Excavation work recently began on this development, according to The Court Square Blog.

 

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LIC chef to compete in Food Network’s “Beat Bobby Flay”


| aaltamirano@queenscourier.com

THE COURIER/Photo by Angy Altamirano

Natasha Pogrebinsky is at it again and this time she is looking to take on an iron chef.

The Long Island City chef, who has appeared twice on the Food Network’s “Chopped,” will now go head-to-head with chef Esther Choi on the network’s new series “Beat Bobby Flay” on Sept. 4 in hopes to move on and battle celebrity chef Bobby Flay himself.

“They were really impressed with me as a chef and as a personality on TV,” said Pogrebinsky, who is also the owner of Bear Restaurant located at 12-14 31st Ave., about getting offered a chance to appear on the show. “They wanted me back.”

In the episode called “Ladies First,” Pogrebinsky and Choi will “thrown down in the kitchen” creating one dish, which must feature a mystery ingredient given by Flay. The dishes will then be judged by chef Marc Murphy from “Chopped” and Katie Lee, co-host of “The Kitchen.”

“It was a lot of fun and it was great to be able to show off what I could do,” Pogrebinsky said.

Whoever comes out the winner in the first round will then be able to challenge Flay with her very own surprise signature dish.

“If I get to win the first round then I can go on to the next round and challenge Bobby Flay to cook a dish that is my specialty,” Pogrebinsky said. “If I make it to the second round then I get to throw him a curve ball.”

Pogrebinsky said her third appearance on the Food Network was a lot more intense because of the competition, yet it was fun because during the taping there was a live audience that included some Queens fans.

“In ‘Chopped’ you have a little more of a chance, here you have a 50-50 shot,” she said. “It’s a lot of fun to hear your fans from Astoria and LIC cheer you on.”

Just like her two previous “Chopped” premieres, Pogrebinsky said she plans on having a viewing party at Bear Restaurant, but details are still pending.

The “Ladies First” episode of “Beat Bobby Flay” will air on Sept. 4 at 10 p.m.

 

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Plans filed for 150-room, 26-story LIC hotel


| lguerre@queenscourier.com

THE COURIER/Photo by Liam La Guerre

A 26-story mixed-use hotel is coming to Long Island City.

The hotel, which will be located at 32-35 Queens Blvd., will have 150 rooms, New York YIMBY reported.

Raymond Chan Architect is designing the building.

The hotel will be just over 104,000 square feet, with a 44,400 square-foot community facility, according to filings owner Fongtar Realty made with the Department of Buildings.

A two-story commercial structure that currently sits on the property will need to be demolished before construction can begin.

 

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