Tag Archives: Myrtle Avenue

Improvements coming to dangerous Myrtle Avenue intersection


| agiudice@ridgewoodtimes.com

Image via Google Maps

The Department of Transportation (DOT) is about to begin scheduled improvements for the intersection at Forest Avenue, Myrtle Avenue and George Street in Ridgewood.

The plans were originally presented to Community Board 5’s Transportation Services and Public Transportation Committees during a meeting in April.

The upcoming improvements include installing a concrete curb extension on the south side of the intersection on George Street, realigning and shortening the skewed south crosswalk in order to shorten pedestrian crossing distances, installing high visibility crosswalks at all crossing to increase visibility of pedestrians and adding markings to clarify direction of travel for vehicles on Forest Avenue.

The improvements are slated to begin within the first week of June.

This intersection was brought to the DOT’s attention because it is located within the Myrtle Avenue priority corridor and has seen a number of vehicle and pedestrian crashes since it is such a high-traffic area.

“Judging from the frequency and severity of crashes that occurred here between 2009 and 2013, the intersection has been designated a high pedestrian crash location,” said Arban Vigni, project manager with the DOT, at the April meeting.

During that five-year period, there were a total of 18 crashes, six of them involving pedestrians. Two of those crashes led to severe injuries.

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Ridgewood civic focuses on bike lanes and local businesses


| editorial@ridgewoodtimes.com

TIMES NEWSWEEKLY/Photo by Kelly Marie Mancuso

BY KELLY MARIE MANCUSO

Transit, tenants and trees took center stage during a three-part presentation hosted by the Ridgewood Property Owners and Civic Association (RPOCA) on Thursday at the Ridgewood Older Adult Center.

Community Board 5 Public Transit Committee Co-Chair John Maier explained plans for new bike routes connecting Ridgewood and Glendale with other parts of Queens, including Rego Park. The RPOCA first requested the bicycle routes back in 2011. The Department of Transportation and Community Board 5 created a forum in 2013 to gather community input and feedback regarding preferred routes.

The first option for the proposed bike route plan would connect Ridgewood to Rego Park via various roadways in Middle Village. According to Maier, special road markings would be installed along Metropolitan Avenue and 69th Street. Eliot Avenue, however, is slated to receive actual designated bike lanes.

Option two would connect Glendale to Rego Park via 80th Street. Maier voiced safety concerns over the use of Dry Harbor Road for part of the proposed route and cited the narrowness of the roadway as being potentially problematic.

New pedestrian and bike passageways are also part of the Kosciusko Bridge Project, which began in 2014. Improvements also include the installation of a double suspension bridge aimed at increasing traffic flow.

Maier also announced that work may begin within the next one and a half years on long-awaited progress on the reconstruction of the bridge carrying Metropolitan Avenue and Fresh Pond Road over Long Island Rail Road tracks on the Ridgewood/Middle Village border. Originally planned in 2005 but delayed repeatedly, he told residents the project has been fully funded and is in the final design phase.

Maier also pleaded for help from the community in getting the stalled Wyckoff Avenue reconstruction moving. The project would implement much-needed street repairs and sewer/water line replacement along Wyckoff Avenue between Flushing and Cooper Avenues.  He asked community members to act as advocates for the project and request sponsorship from local elected officials.

Ted Renz, Community Board 5 member and executive director of the Myrtle Avenue Business Improvement District (BID), also spoke about changes and initiatives in Ridgewood’s busiest commercial district. According to Renz, the BID is experiencing an influx of new tenants and residential construction.

Renz cited ongoing residential development, including the 135-unit building slated for St. Nicholas Avenue, as well as two fully occupied 45-unit buildings on Putnam and Myrtle Avenues, as evidence of the commercial district’s popularity among a new wave of younger tenants.

“We want a balanced community,” he said. “If you don’t have young people, then you’re a dying community. Living over a store, which nobody wanted years ago, is now becoming chic and popular.”

In addition to attracting new residents to the BID, Renz also hopes to apply for a grant from the New York Main Street Program, a state-sponsored revitalization effort, in the future. Renz hopes to pursue the program once he receives a strong commitment from local retail owners.

Finally, RPOCA Director Maryellen Borello sounded the call for volunteers to help with the Parks Department tree count in a 200-block radius in Ridgewood. According to Borello, the Ridgewood tree count will take place from June through August. Those interested in volunteering can visit www.rpoca.org for details.

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Ridgewood getting its first Starbucks


| ctumola@queenscourier.com

Photo via Dome Poon/Flickr  Creative Commons

Updated Saturday, May 9, 12:36 p.m.

Starbucks is setting up shop in Ridgewood later this year, according to the coffee company.

After initially saying that there were no immediate plans to announce a store opening in the area, a Starbucks spokesperson later confirmed to The Courier on Friday that the chain will be opening a location at 329 Wyckoff Ave., on the Bushwick border.

“We are committed to being a good neighbor in Ridgewood and to having an open dialogue with the community,” Starbucks said in a statement. “We look forward to acting as a gathering place for citizens and visitors of the community for years to come as well as sharing strong connections with the community both inside and outside our stores.”

The coffee place will be the first Starbucks in the neighborhood. Currently, the closest Starbucks to the area is in Glendale at The Shops at Atlas Park.

Construction can be seen on the lower level of the Planet Fitness. (Photo by Angela Matua)

Construction can be seen on the lower level of the Planet Fitness. (THE COURIER/Photo by Angela Matua)

Ridgewood Social, which first reported the opening, said the Planet Fitness on Wyckoff Avenue near Myrtle Avenue is renting out its space and being converted into the coffee shop. The gym has the same address as the one given by Starbucks for the future Ridgewood location.

“The construction/remodeling is well underway” and has been “confirmed with the manager of the Planet Fitness,” according to its website.

The gym declined to comment on the opening of the Starbucks to The Courier, but said there was construction going on in its building.

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Candlelight vigil held in Ridgewood for Nepal earthquake victims


| agiudice@ridgewoodtimes.com

Photo by Anthony Giudice

Many of the Nepalese residents in Ridgewood joined together Wednesday night for a candlelight vigil to show their support for the victims of the 7.8-magnitude earthquake that hit their home country last weekend.

Candles were placed on the ground at Clemens Triangle at the intersection of Myrtle and Cypress avenues, while residents held up signs reading, “Pray for Nepal” and showed the strength of their community.

Assemblyman Mike Miller was in attendance, as well as Vincent Arcuri and Ted Renz of the Myrtle Avenue Business Improvement District, which helped organize the vigil along with Bikash Kharel of the Nepalese American Youth Association and the Ridgewood Nepalese Society.

 

 

 

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DOT proposes changes to dangerous Myrtle Avenue intersection


| agiudice@ridgewoodtimes.com

Image via Google Maps

Representatives from the Department of Transportation (DOT) offered a plan during the Community Board 5 combined Transportation Services and Public Transportation committees meeting Tuesday night to fix problems at a dangerous Myrtle Avenue intersection.

The Forest Avenue/Myrtle Avenue/George Street intersection was brought to the DOT’s attention because it is located within the Myrtle Avenue priority corridor.

This intersection “is listed among the corridors for which the Department of Transportation will design and implement safety projects as part of the mayor’s Vision Zero initiative, which aims at eliminating all traffic-related fatalities,” said Arban Vigni, project manager with the DOT.

The high-traffic area sees an abundance of not only vehicles, but also pedestrians, with high volumes of seniors and students using the crosswalk. Two buses, the Q39 on Forest Avenue and the Q55 on Myrtle Avenue, also pass through the area, adding to congestion.

“Judging from the frequency and severity of crashes that occurred here between 2009 and 2013, the intersection has been designated a high pedestrian crash location,” Vigni said.

During the five-year period, there were 18 crashes, six of them involving pedestrians. Two of those crashes led to severe injuries.

“It’s also worth noting that 50 percent of pedestrians that were involved in crashes were hit while crossing with the signal, whereas the average for Queens is as low as 37 percent,” Vigni said. “This basically shows that turning vehicles do not yield properly at this intersection.”

Vigni pointed out the odd geometry of the location as one reason for the high levels of pedestrian crashes at the intersection. The star-shaped intersection has Myrtle Avenue running east to west, Forest Avenue going north to southeast and George Street going southwest.

The DOT’s proposed changes include adding a concrete curb extension on the south side of the intersection.

“The curb extension would help realign the intersection somewhat and it would shorten the southwest crosswalk by seven feet,” Vigni explained.

This would not interfere with parking on George Street because there is a fire hydrant located on that corner, which restricts vehicles from parking there.

High-visibility crosswalks were already installed on April 15 to increase visibility of pedestrians.

Finally, “peg-a-tracks,” which are yellow dashed lines, will be installed in the center of the intersection to clarify direction of travel for vehicles on Forest Avenue.

The DOT plans to implement these changes in June.

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Early plans indicate a large residential tower is coming to Ridgewood


| lguerre@queenscourier.com

Rendering courtesy of AB Capstone

The owner of properties on Myrtle and St. Nicholas avenues in the heart of Ridgewood is planning to construct a 17-story residential rental tower with 130 apartments, according to a source close to the project.

Construction permits have yet to be filed with the Buildings Department for the sites at 54-27 Myrtle Ave., and 336 and 350 St. Nicholas Ave., but early plans indicate that the project will have 200,000 square feet.

The building will also be mixed-use with retail space, the source said, but since the project is in the “very early stages,” designs and details may change.

Developer AB Capstone, which purchased the sites last year, filed demolition permits late last year for the sites, and recently posted an early rendering of the tower on its website.

The image shows the residential building with its entrance facing St. Nicholas Avenue. Other details about the building could not be confirmed yet, including price ranges or sizes for the units.

The development site is located a block from the L and M Myrtle-Wyckoff Avenues subway station, which will be a big benefit for future residents.

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Identify this place in Queens


By Queens Courier Staff | editorial@queenscourier.com

WHERE

Do you know where in Queens this photo was taken? Guess by commenting below! The answer will be revealed next week.

Last week’s answer to “Identify this Place”: Outside the Ridgewood Theatre on Myrtle Avenue
WHERE-IS-THIS-PLACE-624x395

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Developing Queens: How investors are looking at the borough


| lguerre@queenscourier.com

THE COURIER/Photo by Liam La Guerre

Berko & Associates is a 9-year-old New York City-based investment real estate brokerage firm that specializes in investment sales, structured finance and advisory. The firm focuses on the five boroughs and the surrounding Tri-State area, and closed with more than $340 million in financing and sales in 2014. Queens native Alan Simonowitz, a director in the firm and a 26-year industry veteran, spoke with real estate editor Liam La Guerre about the firm’s recent actions in the borough and how they look at the area.  

La Guerre: Looking back at the investment your firm made in financing the Paper Factory Hotel in Long Island City, what do you think of what it has become?

Simonowitz: Well, it’s been a great investment. We like the hotel that we see. We arranged the financing for it but the hotel has been very successful. We financed it twice. Once, we did a bridge loan, which functioned as a construction loan for the hotel developer, and once he completed the renovation and opened up, we got him permanent financing. And the hotel is doing very well. The debt on the permanent financing is being paid every month—it’s a success story.

La Guerre: It kind of reflects the ability of what can be done in Queens now that the market is hot, right?

Simonowitz: Absolutely. Long Island City is one of the strong markets in Queens, but all of Queens right now is heating up.

It’s only been very recently that everybody is opening their eyes to Queens. Longtime residents like myself know this, but it’s actually a very convenient place to live. It’s a great jumping off point to go out east to Long Island, to go north to upstate, and there is easy access with public transportation into Manhattan.

La Guerre: And as people make this discovery, it attracts more investors to the borough, much like the case of the rental building called The Roosevelt in Jackson Heights, which your firm was able sell for about $20 million. Before that it was supposed to be condos, but that wasn’t working out right. So what happened?

Simonowitz: We got to the property just when the original developer had it about 98 percent built. He didn’t know what he wanted to do with it, whether he wanted to go condo or he wanted to have a rental building, but he had a 421a (tax abatement incentive) on the building. We had a very intelligent buyer come in and [see] the opportunity, especially the fact that it was by the No. 7 train. He finished the building, and took over and got $43-per-square-foot rents on average for that building, which is a record for the area.

La Guerre: In terms of the approach to Queens, how has that changed within the nine years that your firm has been investing? Is there a realization now that there are some good deals that can be made here?

Simonowitz: Absolutely. We actually brought in someone who is concentrating in Queens right now. As a broker you go where you think the inflow is and where you think the buyers are going. We are a function of what the market place is. And we clearly realized that Queens has heated up. Everyone now knows about Astoria and Long Island City, but the whole corridor through Forest Hills to Rego Park is heating up.

La Guerre: You’re marketing a building right now in Ridgewood, an area that’s seeing some change as well in the market. How do you view that neighborhood?

Simonowitz: There is a lot of demand for development opportunities, which is a little bit more difficult because Ridgewood is a little bit older area in Queens. It’s denser than some of the other areas. So whenever we are finding opportunities in Ridgewood there is very strong interest, because of its proximity to Manhattan, it’s an established neighborhood, and people like the shopping on Myrtle Avenue.

La Guerre: Is there is an area in Queens that you wouldn’t seek to invest in?

Simonowitz: There is no area that we wouldn’t look at all. All areas make sense at a given level.

A simonowitz

Photo courtesy of Alan Simonowitz

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Man wanted in Ridgewood assault of 82-year-old woman


| aaltamirano@queenscourier.com

Video courtesy of NYPD

Police have released surveillance footage of a man suspected of punching an elderly woman as she was walking in Ridgewood Thursday morning.

On Sept. 25 at about 6:35 a.m. the 82-year-old victim was walking near the intersection of Myrtle Avenue and Seneca Street when the suspect came up behind her and struck her to the side of her face with a closed fist, causing bruising and swelling, according to cops.

The suspect is described as a Hispanic or black man, between 25 to 30 years old and 5 feet 7 inches tall. He was wearing blue jeans and a black T-shirt with a design in white.

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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Restoration project for Glendale library unveiled


| ejankiewicz@queenscourier.com

Courtesy of Queens Library

Queens Library announced its plans to restore Glendale’s library to its former glory and make it more  accessible to the handicapped.

The library on 73rd Place was built in 1935 and since then little has been done to alter or improve the building, according to the project’s architect Matthew Baird. The budget for the project is $2.8 million and with this money, Baird plans on installing an elevator and restoring the interior and the attached garden.

The restoration team, which is part of the Department of Design and Construction, expects to start construction in 2017.

“It’s an incredible facility and we’d like to restore it to its grandeur,” Baird said during a Community Board 5 meeting. “It will be a fantastic place to be.”

The restoration project will also open up some windows that had been covered in bricks over the years, preventing light from entering the second floor. The bookshelves are battered and worn, something Baird wants to change by cleaning the shelves as well as much of the building.

When the library first opened, the garden was well-manicured but since then, the vegetation has become overgrown and Baird wants to not only trim the overgrowth but also install chairs so people can read outside.

The installation of a new elevator is an attempt to make the building more accessible to handicapped people. There will also be a new handicapped entrance on the Myrtle Avenue side.

Councilwoman Elizabeth Crowley secured the $2.8 million through the City Council’s budget but the funds fall short of satisfying all of the library’s needs.

On the first floor there is a once vibrant mural that is now dull and dirty, but the project does not include funds to restore the artwork.

 

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Ridgewood thrift store finds new home for precious junk


| ejankiewicz@queenscourier.com

THE COURIER/ Photo by Eric Jankiewicz

For over three years, Alberto and Nanci Caceda squeezed antiques and clothes into their thrift shop on Myrtle Avenue in Ridgewood until they could squeeze no more.

So now they’re moving a few doors down the street to a store that is twice the size of the current Gotham Thrift Shop.

The new store can hold everything they’ve accumulated over the years, much of which is currently piled in their store’s basement, the backyard and a two-car garage.

“We have too much junk,” said Alberto, who spent 10 years in the military, including two tours in Iraq. “Well, I call it junk but it’s not really junk. It’s precious junk to me and a lot of people.”

Rather than move everything from the old store to the new one, they’re going to try and sell as much as possible by marking everything down by 20 percent in June.

They hope to open the new location on June 14 and mark the opening with a huge sale.

On Monday, Alberto stood in the front of the gutted, empty new store on Myrtle Avenue. Nanci was inside hanging a sign on the glass display that said “Future Home of Gotham Thrift.”

As Nanci put the sign up, Diego Gonzalez, a local, approached Alberto with a blue bike. It was an English-made Dunelt bike, and Alberto arranged to sell it for Gonzalez with a seller’s commission.

With the new space and its 4,000 square feet, the married couple would be able to display more and bigger things like bikes. They also hope to hire a longtime customer. Their current store is hardly 2,000 square feet, according to Alberto, and is crammed with all sorts of things, including a cigarette vending machine, lamps from the ‘50s and ‘60s, cassettes tapes and typewriters.

The store also serves to preserve old things in the community. In 2011, when the thrift shop first opened, the couple bought shoes at an auction that were made in a shoe factory in Maspeth. And in storage, they have stained-glass windows from the almost-century-old Ridgewood Theater. The theater has since been bought by a development company, according to Curbed, and is expected to be converted into a condo.

“It’s fun to go around and see this cool stuff,” Alberto said. “I sometimes see really amazing things.”

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DOT unveils new proposal for intersection between Queens and Brooklyn


| ejankiewicz@queenscourier.com

Photo courtesy of DOT

The Department of Transportation (DOT) is trying to untangle an intersection where Wyckoff Avenue, Myrtle Avenue and Palmetto Road meet.

By restricting car turns, the department hopes to prevent the many injuries and some deaths that have occurred because of the “confusion and chaos” of the area, according to a representative from the DOT. They presented all of these problems and possible solutions to Community Board 5 on Wednesday.

“This is a problem area, to say the least,” a DOT representative told the board. “So we’re looking very closely at this area. The injuries and deaths need to stop.”

Like a tangled clump of yarn, there are 25 different turns that cars can make, with just as many pedestrian injuries. Between 2008 and 2012, 29 people were injured in some combination between the intersections. In the last five years two people died on the eastern side of the intersection, according to NYPD records collected by the transportation department

Along with banning five turns, they also want to extend curbs for pedestrians in order to shorten the distance needed to cross the many streets where Queens and Brooklyn meet. The labyrinth of intersections also holds a huge transit hub with access to M and L subways and B13, B26, B52, B54, Q55 and Q58 buses. All of which creates huge volumes of people competing with huge volumes of cars all trying to reach their final destination.

The intersection that straddle the Brooklyn-Queens line has always posed a problem for the transportation department and for members of the community board.

“We have looked at this intersection twice in 10 years,” Chair of the Community Board Vincent Arcuri said. “And we just can’t seem to figure out the best solution yet so hopefully we can figure something out this time around.”

The DOT is also considering installment of flashing yellow warning lights on the subway support columns and in January they installed more lights under the train overpass.

The final decision will be made next Tuesday during the board’s transportation committee meeting.

 

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Second Myrtle Avenue pedestrian plaza gets community support


| lguerre@queenscourier.com

Rendering courtesy of the Department of Transportation

Call it the Myrtle Avenue makeover.

Community Board 5 (CB5) is in favor of the Department of Transportation’s (DOT) plan to transform the corner of Myrtle and 71st Avenues into a pedestrian plaza.

The plan to makeover the space was almost fully accepted at the board’s most recent transportation committee meeting, except for a few minor changes.

Photo courtesy the Department of Transportation 

“It’s a nice attribute for the community,” said Ted Renz, executive director of the Myrtle Avenue Business Improvement District (BID) and a member of the community board. “Pedestrian plazas have become very popular throughout the city.”

The DOT will install new lighting, bike racks, plants, chess tables, chairs and umbrellas for shade, and raise the sidewalk for the new square.

Renz said the BID will look to create art and music programs and variety of services at the plaza for the community to enjoy when it is completed.

But before that, the DOT has to tweak the plan and present the final designs to the community board’s transportation committee for approval at an upcoming meeting.

The plaza is just one of two coming to Myrtle Avenue. The city’s Department of Design and Construction is in the final design phase for another public square at the intersection of Myrtle and Cooper Avenues in Glendale, which is known as the Glendale Veterans Triangle. It is expected to go out to bid and start construction by next year, according to Renz.

Rendering courtesy of the Department of Design and Construction

 

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Unlicensed teen driver hits, kills child in Ridgewood


By Queens Courier Staff | editorial@queenscourier.com

A 19-year-old, driving with just a learner’s permit, struck a 7-year-old boy in Queens last night, said police.

Around 6:50 p.m., the woman was heading east on Myrtle Avenue when she hit the child as he was crossing on Madison Street.

The victim was taken to Wyckoff Hospital and pronounced dead.

The driver remained on the scene of the accident and produced a valid New York State learner’s permit. After a preliminary investigation, she was issued a summons for an unlicensed operator.

The NYPD is still investigating the accident.

 

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Community Board 9 votes down block conversion


| tcullen@queenscourier.com

Residents living on a stretch of 84th Avenue have reason to rejoice.

Community Board 9 unanimously voted on Tuesday, October 9 in opposition to a Department of Transportation (DOT) proposal to convert the street between Myrtle Avenue and Lefferts Boulevard from a two-way to a one-way eastbound street.

“Let’s get a rational study by the DOT,” said Andrea Crawford, the board’s transportation committee chair, when introducing the vote.

At the board’s September meeting, 84th Avenue residents spoke in opposition to the proposal, saying the DOT had not conducted a proper study on the street. By becoming a one-way, they said, the street could become a thoroughfare for speeders and divert traffic to other streets. Several residents returned, along with new speakers, for the October meeting to ask the board again to oppose the block conversion.

DOT representatives were not able to respond to requests at press time regarding the next step. A spokesperson said in Septemberthat an analysis from the agency showed the conversion was feasible, but DOT was waiting for the board’s vote before moving forward.

Residents, on the other hand, didn’t seem to agree with the feasibility, and are happy their community took a stand against it.

Laurence Levy lives on 84th Avenue and spoke to the board last week about his unhappiness with the DOT’s proposal for the block.

“I felt that we were pretty persuasive at the meeting,” he said afterward.

Levy noted that by changing the street to a one-way, it would only divert traffic to other blocks, causing an even bigger problem for more residents.

Should the street have changed, drivers would feel more inclined to speed and threaten the families and elderly living on the street.

“It’s a safety issue number one. You would make a dangerous situation, now already dangerous, by increasing the speed of the cars coming up the road,” Levy said. “Basically we would be making it easier for everybody in South Richmond Hill, Ozone Park to get where they want quicker. The burden would be on us essentially by sacrificing a direction in the road.”

The reroute would have also pushed traffic to other surrounding blocks, he said, and not really offering a solution.

“All you would be doing is shuffling the deck,” he said.