Tag Archives: project

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.

 

RECOMMENDED STORIES

Developers close on Flushing Commons deal: report


| editorial@queenscourier.com

Rendering Courtesy of New York City Economic Development Corporation

Developers of the near decade-old $850 million Flushing Commons project have closed on a deal to buy the parking lot where the housing and retail complex will be built, according to Crain’s.

TDC Development International, the Rockefeller Group, AECOM Capital and Mount Kellett Capital Management with financing from Starwood Property Trust purchased the site for $20 million, the business publication reported Wednesday.

The two-phase project, when complete, will include a total of more than 600 residential units, 500,000 square feet of retail or commercial space and a new YMCA, according to the New York City Economic Development Corporation (NYCEDC).

It was broken into two phases as to not disturb nearby businesses and ease parking problems.

The 62,000-square-foot YMCA, with two pools, a full-size gym and an indoor running track, was slated to headline the first phase of the project, along with a 1.5-acre space with a fountain plaza and amphitheater, officials said.

It will now be built in the project’s second phase, Crain’s said, with more housing, commercial and community space.

The development is expected to create more than 2,600 construction jobs and 1,900 permanent jobs, according to the NYCEDC.

 

RECOMMENDED STORIES

Mount Sinai Queens breaks ground on $125 million expansion project


| aaltamirano@queenscourier.com

THE COURIER/ Photo by Angy Altamirano

Mount Sinai Queens is becoming the “hospital of tomorrow” as it breaks ground on its $125 million expansion project.

Hospital officials, community members and elected officials gathered on Monday, October 21 to break ground on the project that will help improve health care in the Astoria community.

“Today’s groundbreaking signifies more than just a new building for our hospital,” said Caryn A. Schwab, executive director at Mount Sinai Queens. “I’m grateful to Mount Sinai leadership, our elected officials, and the community partners with whom we worked most closely to make this project a reality.”

The expansion, which began in August, will include a larger state- of-the-art emergency department to be name the Starvos Niarchos Foundation. It will feature 35 patient bays, eight observation beds, an off street “drive-through” ambulance bay, a separate walk-in entrance and a new imaging suite.

The project will also bring seven new operating rooms and an expansion of the hospital’s outpatient medical services featuring a multispecialty medical practice, new primary care physicians, new specialists in cardiology, orthopedics and other departments, and integrated laboratory services.

“We’re going to be building the hospital of tomorrow,” said Dr. Kenneth L. Davis, president and CEO of Mount Sinai Health System. “In just a few more years, this part of Queens will be home to a state-of-the-art health care institution that will further enhance the quality of care and improve patient outcomes.”

Rendering Courtesy Mount Sinai Queens

New windows will be installed in the existing building and central air conditioning will be provided to all patient rooms.

“The people of Western Queens are fortunate to have a hospital that is adapting the changes taking place in medicine today, and that will soon be offering a new level of 21st century care as we create this spectacular new building,” said David L. Reich, president and COO of The Mount Sinai Hospital.

Once it is completed, it is estimated that the expansion will create close to 460 construction-related jobs, 340 additional jobs and 160 staff jobs, it will also add approximately $166 million to the local economy, officials said.

“As other hospitals are closing and being cutback, this one is growing and being added to,” said Councilmember Peter Vallone Jr., who has provided funding for the hospital through the City Council throughout the years. “Medicine keeps progressing and we have to stay up with that and that’s what this is about, staying up with the new needs of this growing community.”

The expansion project is expected to be completed by 2016. NK Architects and Davis Brody Bond were the architects. Skanska USA is the builder on the project. 

 

Recommended Stories

New modern library opens in Glen Oaks this May


| mchan@queenscourier.com

Photo courtesy of Queens Public Library

Glen Oaks is getting a sleek new library that opens in the third week of May, officials said.

The $17 million facility at 256-04 Union Turnpike is 18,000 square feet­­—nearly double the size of the neighborhood’s temporary library at 255-01 Union Turnpike. The new, three-story building will have more customer service features including computer workstations, an outdoor reading space and separate areas for adults, teens and children.

The library will also have a sweeping interior staircase, a sky-lit reading lounge and a partial glass exterior.

As construction wraps up, the temporary branch will close on May 3, officials said.

Bookworms can visit nearby libraries in Bellerose or Windsor Park until the grand opening. Materials can be renewed online at www.queenslibrary.org or by phone at 718-990-8508.

 

RECOMMENDED STORIES

Library expansion breaks ground in memory of Queens activist


| mchan@queenscourier.com

THE COURIER/Photo by Melissa Chan

Their eyes looking to the skies in memory of a lost beloved leader, elected officials drove their golden shovels into the dirt to break ground on a long-anticipated library expansion project.

“It feels so good to be standing here today, knowing that construction is beginning,” said Queens Library President Thomas Galante at the Friday, April 19 ceremony.

The $10 million renovation project at the Kew Gardens Hills Library was a longtime pet project of Pat Dolan, a Queens activist who was struck and killed by a car last November. She was 72.

“Her memory lives on,” Galante said. “The library she loved so much is now officially located on Pat Dolan Way, and this [expansion] will be her legacy to the community. We will always know she is looking on.”

There will be an extra 3,000 square feet of space when the branch at 72-33 Pat Dolan Way reopens in 2015, officials said.

The library will also have twice as many computers, a bigger meeting room, an energy-saving roof and larger, separate spaces for adults, teens and children.

“This will be a fantastic library. It’s going to be a great place,” said Borough President Helen Marshall. “Libraries are important because they’re full of knowledge. Little children, teenagers, seniors—they’re good for everyone to absorb knowledge.”

The branch closed for construction on February 22. A temporary library is open at 71-34 Main Street, library officials said. Nearby branches are also located in Hillcrest, Briarwood and Pomonok.

 

RECOMMENDED STORIES

 

branch

$7M in renovations for Queens Library branch


| mchan@queenscourier.com

Photo rendering by Queens Library

The Kew Gardens Hills library will soon close to make way for a $7 million renovation.

An extra 3,000-square-feet of space will be added to the 72-33 Vleigh Place branch, library officials said. There will also be twice as many computers, a bigger meeting room, larger separate spaces for adult, teens and children and an energy-saving roof.

“Queens Library at Kew Gardens Hills serves so many people who have a diverse range of educational and informational needs,” said Queens Library President Thomas Galante. With a “dramatic façade and green roof, it will be like a new library for the community.”

David Kirschner, co-president of the Kew Gardens Hills Civic Association, said the expansion could not have been done without longtime community leader Pat Dolan, who was struck and killed in November 2011 while crossing the street.

“We’re thrilled primarily because this was one of [her] pet projects,” Kirschner said. “She really worked for years to obtain approval for an expansion of the library. She was finally able to get it but never able to finally see it happening.”

The branch will close on February 22 and reopen in 2015. A temporary library will be available mid-March at 71-34 Main Street during construction. Nearby branches are also located in Hillcrest, Briarwood and Pomonok.

 

RECOMMENDED STORIES

RKO Keith Theater develops


| smosco@queenscourier.com

RKO

The rebirth of the RKO Keith Theater is more reality than Hollywood fantasy – reports that it will be redeveloped into apartments and shops are based on a true story.

Developer Patrick Thompson purchased the Flushing landmark for $20 million and plans to restore the historic lobby while building a 17-story tower with stores, 357 rental apartments and a community center. Thompson’s spokesperson Michael Nussbaum said that most of the necessary approvals have been obtained and that demolition will most likely begin in the first quarter of 2012.

Nussbaum also said previously published reports stating that the Federal Aviation Administration (FAA) rejected the project due to its height were misleading. The project is in close proximity to LaGuardia Airport, but Nussbaum believes that the FAA will find that the development does not disrupt flight patterns.

“The previous owner submitted a proposal to the FAA and got their approval. The plans we submitted are the same as the ones they submitted,” said Nussbaum, explaining that the previous owner’s approval from the FAA had expired and that Thompson simply needs to resubmit. “This process was triggered by us because we had to apply for a new approval.”

Nussbaum said that he is confident that Thompson will get the same approval that the previous owner, Shaya Boymelgreen, got in 2003. The FAA did send a letter to Thompson calling the height “hazardous,” but both Nussbaum and a spokesperson from the FAA said doing so is standard operating procedure for any new structure that has not yet been approved.

Thompson has hired an FAA consultant, who will go through the process – and said that it should take anywhere from 30 to 60 days to get an approval.

“The building’s height has not changed one inch and as far as we know LaGuardia’s flight pattern has not changed,” said Nussbaum. “We expect the FAA to come to the same conclusion they did in 2003.”

The project already has approvals from the Board of Standards and Appeals, as well as Community Board 7. Thompson has said that he expects completion of the project in early 2015.

Astoria construction project draws community ire


| mpantelidis@queenscourier.com

doc4e8cb4b5035b1364131794

Astoria’s community leaders are outraged over a 50-unit condominium development for mentally challenged, homeless people that is currently being constructed in the area.

Councilmember Peter Vallone Jr. has campaigned against the project, which is located at 27th Avenue and 2nd Street, since it was initially proposed in 2008.

“For years I have advocated for better resources in this community,” said Vallone. “A supermarket, grocery store, bank or even book store would have been appropriate and helpful. We can’t sustain the additional strain of a 50-unit development for homeless people with special needs. Astoria’s waterfront is one of the most beautiful stretches in the five boroughs. We should be helping our existing residents with more facilities rather than using state funds for a new development that will only hinder the community.”

The condominium project is being developed by Urban Pathways, an organization aimed at providing homeless New Yorkers with the assistance necessary to become stable and move into permanent housing.

Vallone believes that the project’s location contradicts Urban Pathways’ objectives due to the lack of services available in the surrounding community, which the councilmember calls “largely underdeveloped” and “an isolated area.”

Repeated calls to Urban Pathways went unreturned as of press time.

Community Board 1, which represents Astoria, voted against the project on December 16, 2008.

“The immediate community is lacking the necessary services to accommodate the new residents,” said Lucille Hartmann, district manager of Community Board 1. “Currently, the community supports Goodwill Industries, which is about one block east of the new development and contains 202 units for approximately 350 residents. The New York City Housing Authority is also across the street from the development and they house approximately 8,000 residents. The amenities available to the community, such as affordable supermarkets, banks and hospitals, are a minimum of a mile away. Public transportation is also very limited, with only buses.”

Vallone claims that “every community group in Astoria opposes” the plan. He also says that he has made numerous efforts to negotiate with the developers, but that his requests have fallen on deaf ears.

“As the state prepares for massive layoffs, millions of dollars are now being used for an unwanted project in a struggling neighborhood,” Vallone said. “We attempted to discuss a compromise with them – a 15-person community-living residence similar to those that exist everywhere else in Queens – but the state refused to even respond.”

The councilmember estimates that the monetary difference between a 15-person and 50-person development could be as high as $20 million in state funds.

The New York State Office of Mental Health declined to comment regarding the project.

Members of the community appear divided on the issue, with some insisting their neighborhood is not the appropriate setting for the development.

“I’m not happy about it,” said Vanessa Finch, a 40-year-old resident of Astoria Houses, which is located directly across the street from the site. “Nobody is happy to have that in their neighborhood, but what can we do?”

Others appear more accepting of the project and hope the center will help the less fortunate by providing them with shelter.

“We are all humans,” said 25-year-old Alan Hughes, another resident of Astoria Houses. “Everyone has to have a place to live. Who are we to say they can’t live here?”

Additional reporting by Alana Manning.