Tag Archives: main street

Serial burglar wanted in Flushing


| ctumola@queenscourier.com

Photos courtesy of NYPD

Updated 11:39 a.m.

Police are searching for a burglar suspected in seven commercial break-ins around the busy Main Street area of Flushing, starting in late May.

The NYPD has released photos of the suspect — described as a Hispanic male last seen wearing a white long-sleeved shirt — from the latest incident on Sunday.

According to authorities, at about 5 a.m., the perpetrator entered an employment agency located at 135-23 40th Rd. through a rear window, but fled before taking any property.

The same suspect is also wanted in the following burglaries, where he sometimes targeted businesses in the same building:

  • On Sunday, May 24, around 5 p.m., the suspect entered a commercial establishment located at 39-02 Main St. through a fourth-floor window. He then removed a Panasonic projector, wall screen and a speaker system before fleeing.
  • On June 3, at about 8 p.m., the alleged burglar broke into Boss Dental at 37-08 Main St. by forcing open the front door. He then removed an undetermined amount of cash and fled.
  • On June 13, just after 6 a.m., the suspect entered King Spa located at 135-28 40th Rd. by using an unknown object then forcing the door open. The suspect then removed an undetermined amount of cash before fleeing.
  • On July 7, at about 5:30 p.m., the perpetrator entered HT Insurance located at 37-08 Main St. by forcing and breaking the front door open. The suspect then removed an undetermined amount of cash before fleeing.
  • On July 7, around 6:30 p.m., the suspect entered Travel Inc. located at 37-08 Main St. by forcing and breaking the front door lock. He then removed documents and an undetermined amount of cash before fleeing.
  • On July 7, at about 7:50 p.m., the suspect entered NM Travel located at 37-08 Main St. by forcing the door open and removed an iPad before fleeing.

According to the 109th Precinct, there is a $2,000 reward for the suspect’s name.

Anyone who can identify the suspect or has any other information about the incident is asked to call Crime Stoppers at 800-577-TIPS, visit their website or send a text message to 274637 (CRIMES), then enter TIP577. All calls and messages are kept confidential.

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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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Pickpocket targets women at Flushing stores: NYPD


| ctumola@queenscourier.com

Video courtesy of NYPD

A serial pickpocket is going after female shoppers in the busy Main Street-Roosevelt Avenue area of Flushing — swiping their cellphones, cash and credit cards since late January, police said.

Each time, the suspect steals the woman’s valuables from her pocket or handbag while she is shopping or making a purchase.


According to police, the suspect is wanted in nine thefts, all of which took place at the J-Mart supermarket located at 136-20 Roosevelt Ave. or at other businesses within about a few blocks of that store:

  • On Jan. 29, at 8:30 p.m., the suspect approached a 22-year-old woman as she was shopping at a Duane Reade located at 136-02 Roosevelt Ave. and took her wallet containing an undetermined amount of cash and various credit cards.
  • On Feb. 8, at 5:20 p.m., the suspect approached a 29-year-old woman as she was shopping at J-Mart, and removed her iPhone 6 from her jacket pocket.
  • On Feb. 10, at 9 a.m., a 77-year-old woman was shopping at J-Mart when she was bumped into by an unknown person, causing her vegetables to fall to the floor. As the victim approached the checkout counter, she discovered that her wallet, which contained cash and various cards, had been stolen.
  • On Feb. 14, at 5:30 p.m., the suspect came up to a 30-year-old woman as she was shopping at the Jiang City Supermarket located at 40-38 Main St. and removed her wallet from her bag containing $300 and various credit cards.
  • On Feb. 27, at 5:30 p.m., the suspect came up to a 56-year-old woman as she was shopping in front of a market located at 40-34 Main St. and removed her wallet from her bag containing cash and various cards.
  • On March 2, at 2:30 p.m., the suspect approached a 65-year-old woman as she was shopping at the CJ Supermarket located at 40-33 Main St. and removed her wallet from her bag containing cash and various cards.
  • On March 3, at 12 p.m., the suspect approached a 28-year-old woman as she was buying coffee at a Starbucks located at 38-05 Main St. and removed her iPhone 6 with a case containing various credit cards from her bag.
  • On March 3, at 12:30 p.m., the suspect came up to a 41-year-old female victim as she was shopping at EW Studio located at 41-40 Kissena Blvd., and took her iPhone from her bag.
  • On March 8, at 1 p.m., the suspect approached a 65-year-old woman as she was shopping at the CJ Supermarket located at 40-33 Main St., and removed her wallet from her bag containing cash and various cards.

Police describe the suspect as a Hispanic man in his 40s and have released a video from the Feb. 8 incident at J-Mart.

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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MTA to lift 7 train weekend suspensions for Lunar New Year


By Queens Courier Staff | editorial@queenscourier.com

File photo

Flushing will usher in the Year of the Sheep without any obstacles from weekend shutdowns of No. 7 subway service, thanks to pressure from local elected officials.

The MTA has announced that it will forego weekend service disruptions during the week of and week before the Lunar New Year. It’s the first time in the MTA’s years-long winter construction that the No. 7 train will run uninterrupted during Lunar New Year.

The two weekends are Feb. 14-15 and Feb. 21-22. The first weekend is to accommodate people who travel to Flushing for holiday preparations and shopping. Lunar New Year follows on Feb. 22.

“While I understand the immense scale of overhauling the entire No. 7 line, I want to applaud the MTA for heeding the concerns of the Asian-American community and planning construction around the Lunar New Year holiday,” Senator Toby Stavisky said. “They’re sending a message that keeping this line open without interruption for this holiday is just as important as transporting fans to a Mets game or the U.S. Open.”

Stavisky was joined in the effort to persuade the MTA to change its weekend service schedule by Assemblyman Ron Kim and City Councilman Peter Koo.

“Flushing is known worldwide for its Lunar New Year celebrations and brings people far and wide to New York City every year,” Kim said. “The 7 train is essential for all those traveling to Flushing, and the Main Street hub is one of the busiest in New York City.  I hope that the MTA will continue to keep this tradition throughout the rest of the 7 line construction in the next few years.”

 “It is vital to many that the 7 line run at full capacity,” Koo said. “Families and friends can come together and celebrate without having to worry how they will get to their destination. And our local small businesses, many who rely on the holiday to boost sales, won’t lose customers due to any service disruptions.”

The MTA is in the midst of a $550 million capital project to upgrade the No. 7 line’s signal system to a state-of-the-art communications-based train control system. The project, which has been underway for several years, requiring the seasonal weekend disruptions, is set to be done in 2017.

Weekend disruptions in service began this month and will continue into May, with the exception of the two February weekends.

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Calls for boycott, plans for lawsuit after man says he was attacked at Flushing McDonald’s


By Queens Courier Staff | editorial@queenscourier.com

Photo via Wikimedia Commons

Following the release of a video showing a fight between a customer and an employee at a Flushing McDonald’s, Korean-American groups are calling for a boycott of the restaurant, and the customer — who says he was physically attacked by an employee — is planning on suing for millions, according to published reports.

The video footage of the February incident, first broadcast by CBS New York, shows the customer, James Jin Kim, recording video with his cell phone after he said an employee at the Main Street McDonald’s, Rooshi Sajjad, wasn’t serving him, reports said. Sajjad then appears to strike Kim with a broom handle.

In court filings, Kim claims after waiting 10 minutes to order coffee, he complained, and Sajjad started shouting at him, “We don’t serve coffee to people like you” and “Get out of my restaurant,” according to published reports.

On Tuesday, a protest, held by several Korean-American groups, took place outside the McDonald’s, the Daily News reported. The groups are also threatening to boycott the eatery until it trains its employees to be more sensitive toward Asian customers, the paper also said.

Kim, meanwhile, is planning on suing McDonald’s for $10 million, arguing he suffered injuries to his hand and unlawful discrimination, according to published reports.

Sajjad was charged with attempted assault and criminal possession of a weapon, both misdemeanors, and one violation, harassment, but her record will be cleared if she stays out of trouble for another month, reports said. According to CBS New York, Sajjad still works at the McDonald’s.

In a statement to CBS New York, the franchise owner of the McDonald’s, Luigi Solimeo, said: “Nothing is more important than the safety and well-being of my customers and employees,” adding that “the video does not capture all of the details surrounding that event.”

This incident at the Main Street fast food restaurant is not the first time that Korean groups have threatened to boycott McDonald’s.

Last January, Korean activists called for a worldwide boycott of McDonald’s following a feud between a group of Korean seniors and the owner of one of its eateries on on Parsons and Northern boulevards.

The dispute began when around 20 seniors would use the restaurant as their personal hang out space, spending about eight hours a day there. The owner, wanting the seats for other customers, called police several times.

A compromise was reached, with the owner agreeing to hire Korean-speaking staff members and extending the 20-minute sitting limit to one hour, except from 11 a.m. to 3 p.m.

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Police looking for thief who stole gold necklace off victim’s neck in Flushing


| lguerre@queenscourier.com

Photo courtesy the NYPD

Police are searching for a suspect in connection with a bizarre theft in which the victim was tricked into modeling scarves so the suspect could steal her gold necklace.

The suspect, described as a 40-year-old Asian woman, approached the victim, a 56-year-old woman, about modeling scarves for her on July 20 at about 1:45 p.m. in front of a retail store at 41-43 Main St. in Flushing, cops said.

Both women entered the store, and while the suspect was placing scarves on the victim’s neck, she removed a gold necklace from the older woman and fled the store in an unknown direction, according to authorities.

The suspect was last seen wearing a white shirt and blue jeans, and has black hair and a thin build.

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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Board approves variances for 12-story hotel, 14-story office building in Flushing


| mchan@queenscourier.com

Photo rendering courtesy of Richard Lobel

A luxury hotel, under parent company InterContinental Hotels Group, may be coming to downtown Flushing.

Community Board 7 gave developer CA Plaza its advisory approval Monday to build a 12-story Hotel Indigo on Prince Street and a 14-story general office building on Main Street.

The board granted two variances to change the use of the office space from medical to general and to reduce the number of required parking spaces from 377 spots to 305.

Developers bought the 36-18 Main St. site in 2006, according to attorney Richard Lobel. They already had two special permits, approved by the board last November, to include a spa in the hotel and to build the office to 189 feet and the hotel to 154 feet.

The project now goes to the Board of Standards and Appeals (BSA) for the final green light, though the hearing has not yet been calendared.

Community board officials said the project is heavily dependent on whether the city decides to install a traffic light on 36th Avenue and Prince Street to ease traffic the development is expected to bring.

Construction is slated for 2015.

 

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MTA granted eminent domain powers for Flushing LIRR project


| mchan@queenscourier.com

Photo rendering courtesy of the MTA

The MTA has been given eminent domain powers to move forward with a long-awaited plan to upgrade the Long Island Rail Road (LIRR) station in Flushing.

The agency’s board voted Jan. 29 to approve the potential use of eminent domain to acquire a one-story building at 40-36 Main St., currently owned by Ou Jiang City Supermarket, an MTA spokesperson said.

It may be a necessary measure in order to continue with a plan to reconfigure the Flushing-Main Street station’s east and westbound entrances.

“We’re hoping not to have to take that step,” said MTA spokesperson Aaron Donovan, adding that a State Supreme Court judge in Queens would still need to sign off on the use. “We are hoping to negotiate with the building owner to arrive at a way to acquire that property.”

The MTA wants to construct elevators and wide staircases to make platforms more visible and handicapped accessible — a plan long welcomed by local leaders.

“The LIRR’s Main Street facility was built in the 1950s and is in dire need of an upgrade,” said Councilmember Peter Koo.

Koo said he has received multiple complaints from elderly and disabled riders of the station’s dim lighting and lack of accessibility.

Dian Yu, executive director of the Flushing Business Improvement District, said the “hideous” blight has also become a nightmarish “dumping ground” for garbage.

“Our community has had to deal with these terrible conditions for way too long,” Koo said. “I’m glad this train is finally pulling out the station.”

Design work is underway, and construction is slated to begin in 2015, Donovan said. It is unclear when the project is expected to end.

The station is not expected to be impacted during morning and evening rush hour commutes, Donovan said, but there may be temporary closures during off-peak hours.

The project was expected to cost $8.5 million in 2012, MTA-LIRR President Helena Williams previously said. MTA officials now say the project’s budget is under review.

 

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Celebrate the Year of the Horse with Lunar New Year events in Queens


| mchan@queenscourier.com

THE COURIER/Photo by Mike DiBartolomeo

The Year of the Horse is galloping in with an array of exciting cultural festivities. 

This Lunar New Year, celebrated on Jan. 31, marks the 4,712th year on the Chinese calendar.

Regarded as one of the most important holidays in the Far East, Lunar New Year is customarily celebrated with a lively parade — complete with fiery, ornate dragons — and a colorful fireworks display.

CLICK HERE TO SEE LAST YEAR’S LUNAR NEW YEAR PARADE IN FLUSHING

Each year is named for one of the 12 figures of the Chinese zodiac.

To many, the horse is a symbol of competition, victory and the pursuit of freedom and passion.

“The spirit of the horse is recognized to be the Chinese people’s ethos — making unremitting efforts to improve themselves,” said Councilmember Peter Koo. “Such is also the spirit of the Flushing community.”

“With several projects taking off in northeast Queens, 2014 will bring exciting changes to Flushing and its surrounding area,” Koo said.

New Yorkers hoping to celebrate the Lunar New Year need not look very far.

Chinatown in Manhattan will ignite with New Year spirit Feb. 2, as the 15th annual parade dances downtown, starting at Little Italy through Chinatown at 1 p.m.

In Queens, on Feb. 8, Flushing will flood with festival-goers watching the 18th annual Lunar New Year Parade as it makes its way down Main Street.

Booths dishing out ethnic treats are set to line the streets for attendees hoping to grab a tasty snack while watching a beautiful fireworks display.

It is expected to start around 10 a.m. on Union Street and 37th Avenue. It usually ends at Main Street and 39th Avenue.

Last year, thousands flocked to the celebration to ring in the Year of the Snake.

Flushing Town Hall (FTH) also has a two-month lineup of music, art, dancing, calligraphy and mask making to celebrate the holiday and its rich history that dates back centuries.

“Since the inception of this festival at Flushing Town Hall, the Lunar New Year events have been able to bridge generational divides and unify cultures throughout Queens and abroad,” FTH Executive Director Ellen Kodadek said. “It’s a wonderful way to kick off the dawn of a new year.”

 

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Police: Suspects wanted for Flushing bank robbery


| mhayes@queenscourier.com

Photo courtesy NYPD

Police are looking for two suspects who allegedly robbed a bank at gunpoint Friday night.

About 7:10 p.m., the pair entered a TD Bank on Main Street in Flushing. The first suspect took out a firearm, announced a robbery and ordered a bank employee to the ground, police said. The second jumped over a counter, took $142 and both suspects fled.

One robber is male, around 6 feet tall, and was wearing a blue-hooded wind breaker with an “NY” logo, black jeans and black gloves. His face was covered by a scarf. The second suspect is also male, around 5 feet 10 inches tall with a dark complexion and medium build, police said. He was wearing a hat, sunglasses, a dark jacket, black gloves and dark jeans with dark-colored boots.

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.

Suspect wanted in Flushing restaurant robbery


By Queens Courier Staff | editorial@queenscourier.com

Photo courtesy of NYPD

Police are looking for a man wanted for taking cash from a Flushing restaurant earlier this month.

According to the NYPD, the suspect entered the Oceanica Seafood Restaurant, located at 37-02 Main Street, around 8:15 a.m. on Saturday, May 11 and removed money from the cash register.

The suspect is described as a male Hispanic, and was last seen wearing blue and white striped pants, a gray baseball cap, gray hooded sweatshirt and was carrying a gray backpack.

Anyone with information is asked to call Crime Stoppers at (800) 577-TIPS (8477). The public can also submit their tips by logging onto Crime Stoppers website by texting their tips to CRIMES (274637), then enter TIP577. All calls are strictly confidential.

 

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New $1 Flushing buses may be illegal


| mchan@queenscourier.com

THE COURIER/Photo by Melissa Chan

A battle is brewing in downtown Flushing between recently emerged $1 buses that are taking away customers from a cutthroat competitor, and authorities who say the new set of wheels could be operating illegally.

Hordes of passengers lined up single file on 41st Avenue and Main Street for a $1 trip to Chinatown in Manhattan on Monday morning, July 9. Some said the new “big bus” was a more convenient, cheaper and roomier ride than an already established and authorized commuter van service across the corner.

“Before, in the small bus, the service was very bad. They don’t let us eat and drink, and they drove very fast,” said Michelle Dhu, 26. “It wasn’t safe.”

The smaller commuter buses are operated under Flushing Commute Van Management Corp. and can only hold up to 19 passengers. It is licensed by the city’s Taxi & Limousine Commission (TLC) to shuttle people to Chinatown, Brooklyn and Elmhurst.

Fees for the commuter bus were as high as $2.75, Dhu said, before the company dropped the price to $1 to keep up with its newest rival.

Still, Dhu said throngs of people opted to swap services when the new ride rolled into town less than a month ago.

Passenger Claire Chen said she rode the minibus for six months, touting its faster excursions, and originally defended the company when she told The Courier it was not fair for the bigger bus to encroach on its settled turf.

But Chen, 21, quickly jumped ship and leaped off the line during the interview, when a collector asked her for double the price, straying from the latest $1 promise posted on nearby signs.

“If they just stayed the same price, I would have stayed with the small bus, but it keeps changing,” she said.

Councilmember Peter Koo said the large buses pose severe problems for both pedestrians who cannot pass through the large crowds waiting on line, and for drivers on the street whose vision is impeded by the large buses.

“We contacted all the agencies. In the very near future, they will do something to stop them,” Koo said.

A police source said the 109th Precinct has issued summonses to the buses for obstructing traffic. One bus, the source said, even crashed into the NYPD’s SkyWatch observation tower located outside of the Flushing library on 41st Avenue and Main Street.

The new $1 bus loads passengers in a “No Standing” zone, but vehicles considered commuter buses are allowed to do so. However, authorities said the new buses — which carry more than 50 passengers — are likely not commuter buses and are violating more than just traffic laws.

According to TLC spokesperson Allan Fromberg, under New York City law, commuter van services are only permitted to operate vehicles of up to 19 passengers. Larger vehicles exceeding that limit fall under the jurisdiction and licensing of the city’s Department of Transportation (DOT), he said.

DOT spokesperson Nicholas Mosquera said city agencies are initiating an investigation and will pursue relevant legal or regulatory channels, including the possibility of state or federal enforcement.

The new bus service is said to be operated by New Oriental Tour, Inc., under the ownership of Tony Luo, who could not be reached. Drivers and fare collectors on site also declined to comment.

 

No. 7 train expansion to New Jersey may steam ahead


| brennison@queenscourier.com

The next stop on the No. 7 train may soon be New Jersey.

After Mayor Michael Bloomberg first announced his intention to extend the Flushing line into New Jersey, the plan had gone through ups and downs, but now the idea seems to be on the express line.

The mayor has reportedly spent $250,000 on a preliminary feasibility study.

The plan would extend the No. 7 train into Secaucus at the Secaucus Junction railroad station, connecting New Jersey to Manhattan’s East Side and Queens.

“The idea of having good transportation and mass transportation is something that’s very appealing to this city,” Bloomberg said at a recent press conference.

The idea originally came after a similar plan, the ARC – Access to the Region’s Core – was shelved by New Jersey Governor Chris Christie last year over worries of budget overrun. Reports have estimated the extension could be built for less than $10 million.

Christie, in an interview on WCBS 880, said he thinks the project will be able to come together, calling it a partnership between New Jersey, New York City, New York and the federal government.

The train, which now stretches between Main Street in Flushing and Times Square, is already being extended to Manhattan’s West Side with a stop being added at 34th Street and 11th Avenue, one block from the Hudson River. It is expected to be completed by the end of 2013.