Tag Archives: Queens Chamber of Commerce

Award-winning Forest Hills Gardens Tudor home sells for $2M


| lguerre@queenscourier.com

Photos courtesy of Terrace Sotheby’s International Realty

An award-winning Tudor-style home in Forest Hills Gardens has a new owner.

The residence at 60 Greenway North, a house that was awarded first prize in architectural design from the Queens Chamber of Commerce in 1928, sold for $2,060,000, according to city records filed Tuesday.

The 2,900-square-foot home, which was listed by Terrace Sotheby’s International Realty, has four bedrooms, three full bathrooms and an additional two half-baths.

It features a heavy-panel oak front door, hardwood floors, custom cabinetry and a large kitchen.

Take a look at the interior photos below.

 

 

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Community expresses concerns about Astoria Cove development


| aaltamirano@queenscourier.com

Renderings Courtesy STUDIO V Architecture

The process to bring an approximately 1.7-million-square-foot mixed-use development to the Astoria waterfront got off to a bumpy start as developers presented their proposal to the local community board.

Architect Jay Valgora of STUDIO V Architecture presented the proposed development known as Astoria Cove to Community Board (CB) 1 Tuesday night as the first step in the Uniform Land Use Review Process (ULURP) for the project.

“Today this waterfront is not accessible,” Valgora said. “It’s really not an amenity or asset for the community and we would like to tie that back in and create a wonderful extension to the community.”

The proposed Astoria Cove by developers Alma Realty is expected to consist of five buildings, three on the waterfront ranging from 26 to 32 stories and two on the upland portion of the site, including a six-story residential building and 456-seat public elementary school.

The project, which is expected to take more than 10 years to complete in four different phases, will also include about 84,000 square feet of publicly accessible open space, featuring a waterfront esplanade, children’s playground for various ages and streetscape design through the site.

“We think it’s just going to bring life and activity to this neighborhood,” Valgora said.

However the project was met with concerns from community board members who brought up issues of safety, handicap accessibility, affordable housing, parking, a medical center at the site, and construction and permanent jobs.

Along with the board members, more than 50 people signed up to speak on the project including members of Build Up NYC, an alliance of construction and building service workers. The alliance called on the community board to recommend Alma Realty ensure good and safe jobs with fair wages and benefits, protect workers and the community by removing asbestos and other toxins, create opportunities for local residents and much more.

“Alma Realty has an opportunity to create good, safe jobs with priority hiring for local residents and opportunities for local businesses,” said Gary LaBarbera, president of Build Up NYC. “But they haven’t made a commitment to do so. We need good jobs and affordable housing to keep the middle class strong.”

One of the main concerns shared by speakers was the number of affordable housing units at Astoria Cove. The site is expected to have 295 affordable housing units throughout the entire site, down from initially reported 340 units.

“We might be middle class but we’re not idiots and we can see the writing on the wall; we are not wanted at Astoria Cove,” said Astoria resident Tyler Ocon. “The community board is the first line of defense now against these underhanded tactics. Without the originally promised affordable housing units and a guarantee that these units will remain forever affordable, this project will be the first gust of wind that ships Astoria’s middle and working class up the East River.”

Howard Weiss, attorney for Alma Realty, said developers are in talks with the Department of City Planning to increase the number of units but will not have the number in time for the community board’s decision.

Residents also said they are concerned the development would increase rents, pushing out those currently living in the community.

On the other end, some speakers expressed excitement on the idea of the economic benefits and opportunities of the development. Both Jack Friedman, executive director of the Queens Chamber of Commerce, and Brian McCabe, COO of New York Water Taxi, spoke on the possibility of a ferry terminal being located at the site.

After the last speaker took the podium, CB 1 Chair Vinicio Donato said the board’s land use committee would vote on the proposal the following week. If the board approves it, the proposal will head to the borough president and make its way to the City Council by the late fall.

“Remember, the key word is recommendation. We have no authority to force anyone to do anything,” Donato said.

 

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EXCLUSIVE: P.S. 117 finds its heroes, $7K donated by community organizations


| lguerre@queenscourier.com

THE COURIER/Photo by Liam La Guerre


 

P.S. 117 may not need to wait for Superman any longer to save graduation.

The Queens Chamber of Commerce and the Briarwood Latchkey Generation Facebook group stepped up to contribute about $7,000 together to help save the cash-strapped school.

Nearly 170 graduating fifth-graders were in danger of losing caps and gowns, yearbooks and a senior prom, which are usually sponsored by the school’s PTA, because the Department of Education is investigating $30,000 missing from the accounts of the school’s Parent Teacher Association. While the investigation is ongoing, the organization is not allowed to fundraise and is barred from all financial dealings.

At a school meeting on Monday, Jack Friedman, the executive director of the Chamber, and Nick Tomizawa, who represented the Facebook group made of Briarwood residents and alums of P.S. 117, announced the donations to a room full of parents and teachers.

“I feel ecstatic,” said Nicole Lopez, a parent from the school. “If I could go to the top of a mountain and scream, ‘Thank you,’ I would. I think it’ll get done in time for them to have a nice prom and ceremony.”

The money will pay for expenses for the senior items and dance. Parents are currently creating a list of needs, which they will present to principal Paula Cunningham for approval.

However, because of the short time the children may still not receive physical yearbooks. Instead, the school is considering CD yearbooks with class pictures, and getting autograph books for the children.

The members of the Briarwood Facebook group donated more than $1,000 through the crowdfunding site Giveforward.com.

The Chamber collected $6,000 in donations from Melrose Credit Union, New York Community Bank, TD Bank, Plaza College, Greater New York Automobile Dealers Association and Thermos & Thomiavia, PC.

The Chamber will hold a press conference to officially announce the donation on Friday.

 

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Katz rebrands Queens as center of the city in speech


| lguerre@queenscourier.com

THE COURIER/Photos by Liam La Guerre

Follow me @liamlaguerre

 

Queens is the center of New York City, according to new Borough President Melinda Katz, and she wants people from the “outer-boroughs” to know that.

Katz gave a patriotic lecture on Tuesday, explaining her economic initiatives and rebranding Queens as the city’s prime tourist destination.

“Manhattan should be known for recommending Queens restaurants and shopping, and all the cultural events that we have to offer,” Katz said.

Katz vowed to restart predecessor Claire Shulman’s “War Room” to help solve overcrowding in school, and also voiced her support for universal pre-kindergarten.

“Space is needed, pre-k is needed,” she said. “We need to at least have our children start on equal footing and get the education they need.”

The Borough President pledged that her administration will help future small businesses owners to navigate the process of creating their companies, and she plans to use real estate development projects to spur job growth.

She wants to assist Long Island City become the next major tech hub so more entrepreneurs, especially those graduating from the forthcoming Cornell-Technion school, stay in Queens.

Katz additionally expressed her excitement for Governor Andrew Cuomo taking the lead to renovate the area airports.

“You come to the city of New York, we should have the top flight– excuse the pun– airports in the entire world,” she said.

Turning to the Rockaways, Katz voiced support for permanent ferry service and said she wants reconstruction on the boardwalk “done before 2017.”

She also reiterated in the speech that she will save the New York State Pavilion.

“The speech hit all the right notes,” said Rob MacKay of the Queens Economic Development Corporation. “I feel that Queens is ready to steal Brooklyn’s mojo.”

 

 

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Glen Oaks Library branch up for national honor


| lguerre@queenscourier.com

Photo courtesy Queens Library

After reopening a few months ago, the Glen Oaks Library branch has received more than new books.

The new building, which cost $17.1 million and opened in September, has been the recipient of a few honors, including being a recent winner at the Queens Chamber of Commerce’s annual Building Awards on Thursday.

Now the Glen Oaks Library will represent New York State for 2013 Building of the Year by American-Architects.com. Voting will continue online until Jan. 31.

“We’ve contributed to public architecture of the city. This is a public project. It is for the people of the neighborhood,” said Scott Marble, co-founder of Marble Fairbanks, the architect firm that designed the building. “I feel like we are part of the legacy of great architecture in Queens.”

The new library branch was funded by the city and doubled the space of the previous building. With clear panels all around, it is flooded with natural light on every level.

The building is also very eco-friendly. It was certified Gold LEED (Leadership in Energy & Environmental Design), the second highest level for a standard of environmental sustainability by the U.S. Green Building Councils.

Click here for more information on Building of the Year award by American-Architects.com

 

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Op-ed: Prohibit the installation of tolls


| oped@queenscourier.com

 STATE SENATOR TONY AVELLA

Once again, congestion pricing plans, which include the imposition of tolls on the East River bridges, have been circulating throughout the city.  Since Mayor Michael Bloomberg first began to push his own congestion pricing plan in 2008, I have been vehemently against congestion pricing in any form whether it is through charging drivers a fee to enter Manhattan or through the implementation of tolls on the East River bridges.  Congestion pricing in any form is nothing more than an undue tax on working and middle class families and small businesses. That is why I recently held a press conference with Assemblymember David Weprin, the Queens Chamber of Commerce and the Queens Civic Congress, announcing legislation I will be introducing in the State Senate that would prohibit the installation of tolls on any bridges controlled and operated by the City of New York, which include the East River bridges.

The imposition of tolls on the East River bridges, including the Willis Avenue, Third Avenue, Queensborough, Williamsburg, Manhattan and Brooklyn Bridges, is not a revenue-generating option that the residents of this city should be forced to endure.  Such tolls would place an unfair burden upon Queens, Brooklyn, Bronx and Manhattan residents who would be forced to pay to travel between the boroughs.  Given the always increasing cost of living in the city and with constant bus and subways fare hikes, city residents are in no position to again face another huge increase in their daily living expenses.

Penalizing businesses, especially small businesses, and individuals for using their cars is not a viable option or solution for reducing traffic.  New Yorkers still need to get to work and conduct business and raising taxes should never be the first option.  It would have a devastating effect on those families near or at the poverty level.  Everyone agrees that we need to address traffic congestion problems throughout the city, but the first step has to be improving mass transit.

A popular plan being circulated by an organization called Move NY, led by former Transportation Commissioner Sam Schwartz, would charge all drivers that enter Manhattan by crossing either the East River or 60th Street a toll, while drivers on bridges linking the other boroughs, would see their tolls go down.  According to Move NY, this would lead to more funds dedicated to transportation in the region, with the majority of it going to improved transit service.

In a perfect world, this plan could work.  Unfortunately, we don’t live in a perfect world; we live in the real world, where the next fiscal crisis could be just around the corner.  What happens to this plan then?  What happens when the legislature raids the funds dedicated to transportation, which has happened time and again? How can this plan guarantee that the tolls for the outer borough bridges don’t go up again, when more funds are needed?  As the saying goes, there are only two guarantees in life-death and taxes.

In the end, congestion pricing and any plan to impose tolls on the East River bridges is merely another revenue generating plan, not a traffic-reducing plan.  It should be the responsibility of the leaders of the city to find ways of decreasing traffic congestion without placing a new fiscal burden upon those who can least afford it.

Avella represents the 11th Senate District

 

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Queens legislators balk at plans to toll East River bridges


| mchan@queenscourier.com

THE COURIER/Photo by Melissa Chan

A plan to reduce five Queens bridge fares by nearly half is not worth tolling free city crossings, some borough lawmakers say.

Under a proposal by transportation coalition, Move NY, drivers in the cash lane would have to pay $7.50 one way and $15 round trip to travel across the Brooklyn, Manhattan, Williamsburg and Ed Koch Queensboro bridges. 

It would also cost the same amount to cross 60th Street in Manhattan, north and southbound.

As a trade-off, E-ZPass tolls on the Robert F. Kennedy Bridge, Bronx-Whitestone, Throgs Neck, Marine Parkway-Gil Hodges Memorial and Cross Bay Veterans Memorial bridges would be lowered by 47 percent. Cash fares on those bridges would go down by 33 percent.

“We toll nearly every single crossing between every borough in the five boroughs of New York City already, yet we’re giving over half a million folks a free ride,” said Move NY Director Alex Matthiessen. “It’s not fair to transit riders and certainly not fair to other drivers, who are paying through the nose in tolls.”

The electronic tolling plan, which would require no booths, would raise $1.5 billion in net revenue toward improving the state’s mass transit infrastructure, create 35,000 new jobs and restore bus service cut in 2010, Matthiessen said.

Motorists paying cash would be billed by mail, easing gridlock by dispersing traffic throughout the city, according to Matthiessen and Kendra Hems, president of the New York State Motor Truck Association.

But some Queens legislators balked at the idea.

“I am skeptical about tolling the free bridges because once the free bridges are tolled and the infrastructure is in place, we all know from experience that it would be very hard to reverse that,” said Assemblymember David Weprin.

The plan also failed to get support from Councilmember Eric Ulrich and State Senator Joseph Addabbo, who have been fighting to eliminate the $3.75 cash toll residents have to pay on the Cross Bay Bridge to enter the Rockaways.

“Imposing tolls on motorists on bridges that are currently free is not the right way to go,” Ulrich said. “The two are not mutually exclusive. It’s not ‘take this or that.’”

While the Cross Bay Bridge toll has been a “major thorn” in the community’s side, Addabbo said the swap is not enough.

“At this point, cutting it in half would ease the pain by half,” he said. “It would still be half the pain.”

It also costs residents on the peninsula the same amount to get into Brooklyn on the Gil Hodges.

State Senator Tony Avella said the rates, while discounted in the first year, would only increase annually. He plans to introduce a bill that would prohibit tolls on East River bridges.

“The two things for sure in this world are death and taxes,” he said.

Move NY is led by Sam Schwartz, a former city traffic commissioner. The ambitious tolling plan is in its drafting stage, officials said, and still requires public input.

“In a perfect world, we wouldn’t have tolls at all,” Hems said. “But, unfortunately, we do and we have this inequity right now.”

THE COURIER/File photo by Walter Karling

 

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Star of Queens: Maria Odysseos, Greek American Housing Association, Greek Childrens’ Fund, Ronald McDonald House


By Queens Courier Staff | editorial@queenscourier.com

InvstrsBnkMariaOdysseosBrdwyAstoriaBrnch-1

COMMUNITY SERVICE: Maria Odysseos lends her efforts and enthusiasm to a number of organizations and causes in the community. She is a dedicated member of the PTA at her son’s school as well as the Pancyprian Youth Soccer League. Whether bank sponsored or by her own individual effort, she allocates time and resources to the Greek American Housing Association, the Greek Childrens’ Fund and the Ronald McDonald House. On November 13 she will be participating in the Long Island City Partnership tradeshow.

“I love to be involved in the community in any way I can. I’m especially drawn to organizations that benefit children.” said Odysseos.

Odysseos is praised by her co-workers and members of the community for her professional excellence and dedication to the community.

BACKGROUND: Odysseos, an AVP/Branch manager at Investors Bank and organizer of the inaugural Investors Bank Queens County Conference for Nonprofits, has been involved in banking for the past 25 years. She previously held posts as VP/Branch Manager at Community National and Sovereign Banks. She has been involved in the Astoria market and a community volunteer for the last decade and is an active member of the Queens Chamber of Commerce.

INSPIRATION: Odysseos indicates her strong love of helping people as her prime inspiration.

“If I can do something to help someone else better his or her career, to help him or her in any way, I’m happy,” she said. “I enjoy encouraging and mentoring; watching people grow.”

FAVORITE MEMORY: Despite not having a particular memory in mind, Odysseos cites a particularly fulfilling consequence of community service as her “favorite memory.”

“If I see beneficial results come out of an event or organization I committed my time to or help spur, I feel so good,” she said. “It’s deeply satisfying.”

BIGGEST CHALLENGE: “Balancing a career and family life,” she said. “You have to work at it. You want to be there for everything.”

RACHEL LANDAU

 

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New mural represents revitalization on Beach 129th Street


| lguerre@queenscourier.com

THE COURIER/Photos by Liam La Guerre

One Belle Harbor resident has helped her community paint a brighter future.

Local leaders unveiled a new mural on Beach 129th Street on Wednesday to signify the revitalization of the neighborhood nearly a year after Sandy, following the efforts of Colleen Brady, who lives in front of the artwork.

Brady rallied the community to create the mural during the summer on the commercial strip near Cronston Avenue, which replaced an older, smaller one.

“I’m a resident here, I work on the block and I just thought of what we could do to bring the art back, freshen it up,” Brady said.

This spring she got the idea and rushed to community leaders to get the ball rolling on refreshing the mural. Elected officials acknowledged her plan and quickly contacted New York City Small Business Services (SBS) for financing.

SBS Commissioner Robert Walsh, who secured funding, and elected officials saw the artwork as a symbol for the regrowth of businesses and the community.

“Sometimes you just need a good symbol,” said Assemblymember Phil Goldfeder. “This mural is exactly that, this is a sign to people coming here that our shops are open for business, that Rockaway is going to be back again and that no storm is going to keep us down.”

Officials called local artist Geoff Rawling, who painted the original in 1996, to draw the new mural. Rawling kept the same message as the initial artwork “community minded merchants,” but expanded the mural to use the entire wall and drew a beach theme with surfboards and a child playing with seashells in the sand to represent the seaside neighborhood.

“The beauty of this is now is that it’s beautiful, but in the winter it’s going to make people feel better,” Rawling said.

The mural is also the first project that the new Beach 129th Street Merchants Association helped to get accomplished. The old mural helped businesses owners welcome people into area, but many believe the restored version will help to reenergize them for the future.

“Ten months after the storm there are still businesses that have not reopened,” Jack Friedman, executive director of the Queens Chamber of Commerce, said. “Some have, but businesses haven’t gotten back to where it was before. This lifts spirits.”

Before  photos courtesy of Colleen Brady

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QueensWay study moving forward


| mhayes@queenscourier.com

Photo courtesy of the Woodhaven Residents Block Association

Over three miles of abandoned railway could become the much-debated, yet eagerly anticipated, QueensWay Park for the borough.

The nonprofit Trust for Public Land introduced a design team on Tuesday, August 20 set to study the 3.5-mile greenway that was once the Rockaway Beach LIRR line, running from Rego Park to Ozone Park.

If approved and the project moves forward, the QueensWay would be double the size of Manhattan’s High Line, The Courier reported in December.

The year-long study, starting after Labor Day, will be conducted by WXY architecture + urban design and dlandstudio and will look at a variety of ways to convert the abandoned rail line into parkland, including engineering requirements, environmental impact and community feedback.

“The QueensWay is going to be New York’s next great park,” said Marc Matsil, New York state director of the Trust for Public Land. “Our mission is to protect land for people, and this is a perfect fit with that goal.”

The walkway will connect multiple communities and provide green space for 250,000 people in the borough, said Trust for Public Land officials. Art, sculptures and food from around the world will also be included.

Jack Friedman, Queens Chamber of Commerce executive director, said this initiative will provide a “much-needed boost” to the borough’s economy and local businesses.

The study will be funded by a $467,000 grant from Governor Andrew Cuomo as well as $140,000 from the Department of Environmental Protection and private donors.
However, not everybody is on board with the study, or the QueensWay itself.

Assemblymember Phillip Goldfeder said he believes local residents would greatly benefit from “a complete restoration of the Rockaway Beach Line.”

“I am confident that any objective study regarding the best use for the abandoned rail line will conclude that a transportation option is the only real choice,” he said. “The current lack of public transit options in Queens is strangling our businesses and hurting our families.”

 

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Queens expects money boost from All-Star Game


| lguerre@queenscourier.com

Photo courtesy of MLB

With the Major League Baseball All-Star Game in Queens this year, local businesses are expecting a boost from the fans who will attend the game on July 16 at Citi Field, as well as the many events in the days before.

“The All-Star Game brings in more people than just the 45,000 people for the game itself,” said Jack Friedman, executive director of the Queens Chamber of Commerce. “They [fans] use hotel rooms, they use restaurants. And the beauty about the All-Star Game is that it’s not just one game, it’s a whole weekend.”

The Queens Chamber of Commerce created the “This is Queens” app to showcase the restaurants, hotels, sites and events in the borough after receiving $100,000 in state funding. Using the app tourist and fans can search for things to do and places to go in the borough and stay in Queens longer instead of traveling to Manhattan.

“The whole reason we got the money to build the app was because of the All-Star Game and the U.S. Open,” said Friedman. “We wanted to be sure that people coming in from the All-Star Game would find things to do.”
Restaurants around Citi Field are preparing for the influx of customers and hotels are already filled for the All-Star Weekend.

“The Z NYC Hotel is 71 percent filled this Friday [July 12] and 85 percent this Saturday [July 13],” said Lisa Gneo, director of sales and marketing of Z NYC Hotel. “The occupancy at the hotel has been consistent all summer long and as we approach the weekend, we could see an increase in bookings due to the All-Star Weekend.”

Some feel that the economic effects of the All-Star Game will extend beyond the country and have an international impact. With all the media attention the game will get, Queens will be talked about on television sets nation-wide and because of the Internet, around the world.

“In the long run it will be very positive for us,” said Rob Mackay, director of public relations for the Queens Economic Development Corporation. “Everybody loves Queens.”

 

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Op-Ed: State grants go to boost Queens tourism


| oped@queenscourier.com

BY ASSEMBLYMEMBER MARGARET MARKEY

With 52 million visitors to New York City last year, Queens is already the city’s second most important borough for the tourist and travel industry. This year, thanks to economic development funding from New York State, the Queens Chamber of Commerce and the Queens Tourism Council we are setting out to unlock even more of the tremendous potential of this economic sector for our borough.

There are currently more than 43,000 tourism-related jobs in Queens, nearly 100 hotels and a host of museums, cultural organizations, restaurants and such major venues as Citi Field, the U.S. Tennis Association and Resorts World Casino.

To help spread the word about this array of attractions and services in what must be the most diverse county in America, I am proud to have provided a grant of $70,000 to the Queens Tourism Council for the coming year.

This funding from the NY State Department of Economic Development’s “I Love NY” program will enable the Council to conduct an aggressive multi-media marketing campaign to promote businesses and cultural attractions to residents of the Tri-State Area and to establish a presence at international travel and hospitality conferences.

Another major tourism program that will debut this summer is the “This is Queens” smartphone app, developed with $100,000 in tourism funding from the New York State Department of Economic Development.

Launching in time to capitalize on the many thousands of new visitors who will come to Queens for the U.S. Open and the Major League All-Star Game, the free service will tell visitors where they can stay and eat and will also suggest additional activities for them at locations throughout the borough. It will also provide photos and information on the borough’s cultural and entertainment attractions and provide directions by train, bus or walking.

Unlocking the enormous economic potential of the tourism industry in Queens has long been an important goal for me.

When I was a member of the senior staff of Borough President Claire Shulman in 1990s, I created the first tourism program for Queens by establishing the Queens Tourism Council.  From that beginning with an emerging array of museums and cultural destinations and only a handful of hotels, the Council now has 50 entities and continues to grow.

As we see the continuing enhancement of Queens cultural facilities and historic sites and the expansion of tourism and entertainment opportunities in locales as diverse as Long Island City and Flushing, we can expect the travel industry to continue to produce new jobs and economic vitality for our borough and I am delighted that the State of New York State is helping.

Assemblymember Margaret Markey, who represents the 30th District of Queens, is Chair of the Assembly Committee on Tourism, Parks, Arts and Sports Development.

 

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82nd Street Partnership unveils new look for Roosevelt Avenue


| aaltamirano@queenscourier.com

Renderings courtesy of 82nd Street Partnership

Take a look at what the 82nd Street Partnership has in store for Roosevelt Avenue.

On Wednesday, June 19, the group revealed streetscape renderings for public spaces within the Jackson Heights-Corona Business Improvement District (BID) expansion area.

In March, the 82nd Street Partnership announced plans to expand its BID to include corridors of Roosevelt Avenue, Junction Boulevard, 103rd Street and National Street. This expansion will become a community-driven effort including property owners, businesses, residents, public officials and other stakeholders. The goal is to improve the strip’s sense of place.

In the past four months, the 82nd Street Partnership has met with businesses and collected more than 300 surveys from residents as well as property and business owners. The undertaking received support from community and economic development groups including the Queens Chamber of Commerce, Queens Economic Development Corporation, Corona Community Action Network (Corona CAN), Make the Road NY and Immigrant Movement International.

After gathering the information, the partnership created conceptual renderings depicting the vision of the community for the Jackson Heights-Corona commercial district once the BID gets underway in 2014.

In the renderings, Roosevelt Avenue is shown with improvements including new planted trees, street tables and chairs, flowers, outdoor café seating, lighting, banners, benches, bicycle racks, brighter lights and renovated storefronts with new awnings and swings.

“The business community envisions sidewalks and public spaces along the commercial corridor to be inviting, enjoyable places where people of all ages and backgrounds can relax and feel comfortable – as is depicted in the rendering,” said Seth Taylor, executive director of the 82nd Street Partnership. “The community envisions a commercial corridor where people can comfortably and safely stroll all hours of the day and night.”

The BID hopes to improve the quality of life and support the local economic activity in the neighborhood by making the area cleaner, safer, brighter and more enjoyable.

“The Jackson Heights – Corona BID looks forward to helping the community realize its exciting vision for the future,” said Taylor.

For more information, visit www.JHCoronaBID.org.

 

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‘This is Queens’ app launches


| lguerre@queenscourier.com

THE COURIER/Photos by Liam La Guerre

All of Queens is now available right in your pocket.

The Queens Chamber of Commerce announced the launch of the “This is Queens” app for Android and iPhone mobile devices on June 27, in time for tons of tourists at upcoming major events in the borough.

The app, which can be downloaded at ThisisQueens.com, is free and lists numerous Queens sites, restaurants, hotels and adventures that tourists and even residents can experience.

“This is going to help people around the world learn about all the great things they can do in Queens,” said Jack Friedman, executive director of the Queens Chamber of Commerce. “And we’re not talking about the normal things. We talking about visiting 5 Pointz in Long Island City, we’re talking about taking kayak rides on the East River.”

The New York City Regional Economic Development Council supported the application and pushed for funding from the New York State Department of Economic Development, which gave the chamber $100,000 to develop it.

The app is expected to attract fans attending the upcoming MLB All Star Game at Citi Field next month, the U.S. Open at the Billie Jean King National Tennis Center in August and the 2014 Super Bowl at the Metlife Stadium next year.

After viewing the events visitors can use the app learn about unique sights, diverse restaurants or get exclusive deals from businesses in Queens.

“People use the Internet today for just about every part of their life and so to have this app sends a message to people all around the world that we are on the map,” said Deputy Borough President Barry Grodenchik. “It will bring a lot of tourism dollars here, a lot of investment and we are looking forward to that investment as the years go forward.”

“This is Queens” was developed in two-and-a-half months by Digital Natives, a digital marketing agency in Long Island City. The app is real time and will be upgraded to reflect changes to businesses and sites, such as the designation of Forest Park Carousel in Woodhaven as a landmark, which occurred the day before the app was launched.

Businesses and Queens sites already seem to be excited about the app.

“We have so many events, programs for the entire family, this [app] is great so that people know what is going on in Queens,” said Malika Granville, a spokesperson from Flushing Town Hall.“If they’re looking for something to do on a Sunday they zoom through the app and ‘oh Flushing Town Hall has free yoga.’”

The app is not optimized for iPads, however, so pictures and passages won’t appear as they should. And although the app represents the most diverse borough in New York, English is the only language currently available, while plans to add Spanish, Chinese, Korean and other languages are in the works.

 

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Call for full gaming at Resorts World Casino


| tcullen@queenscourier.com

File photo

Politicians and leaders in the Queens business community are calling for the state to ante up on full gaming in Queens.

State legislators and the Queens Chamber of Commerce called for a better plan to give Queens a casino if voters approve table gaming this November. They said Resorts World Casino New York City could become a full casino just months after the referendum is passed.

Governor Andrew Cuomo has said if complete gaming is approved, an upstate casino will be the first to reap the benefits and drive tourism north. Queens might not get a casino until five years after the referendum passes.

The Queens Chamber of Commerce’s Executive Director Jack Friedman said both upstate and downstate New York will have an opportunity for full casinos if voters approve them.

“We’re saying to the governor, this is not an either-or proposition,” Friedman said. “There’s room for both. Let’s do it now. Resorts World is ready, willing and able to take on table gaming, and it would be a big, big boost to the Queens economy.”

The Racino has boasted more than a billion dollars in total revenue – a large amount of which goes back to the state for education – along with employment opportunities for locals.

Councilmember Leroy Comrie said the Racino has hired many people in his district. He added that more jobs from full gaming would help unemployed people in Queens, especially those affected by Sandy.

State Senator Joseph Addabbo, whose district includes Resorts World, said the Racino could have table games as early as January 2014 if Queens is approved under the state’s plan.

Both Addabbo and Assemblymember Phillip Goldfeder said they and their communities could not wait up to five years for full gaming to come to Queens.

Addabbo said he is pushing for a sooner start time if a casino is cleared for south Queens. In the remaining five weeks the legislature is in session, the senator said there are still considerable discussions that have to take place.

“We are in uncharted territory here,” Addabbo said. “This is an unpaved road for our state. We’ve never been in a position like this before for full gaming.”

Goldfeder said the tools were already at Resorts World to set up expanded gaming at the facility.

“Infrastructure is already in place,” he said. “Anybody who’s been there knows there’s a third floor ready to expand, to house the table games. You have a trusted partner that is willing. You have a location that is perfect and now is the time.”

 

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