Tag Archives: queens plaza

Teen bicyclist fatally struck by car at Queens Plaza

| rpozarycki@queenscourier.com

Photo via Google Maps

A Long Island City teenager died this week after being struck by a car while riding his bicycle through Queens Plaza last month, police announced on Friday.

Kevin Lopez, 18, of 10th Street died Wednesday of injuries he sustained in the accident that occurred on the afternoon of July 28 along Queens Plaza North and 29th Street.

At about 2:14 p.m. that day, authorities said, Lopez was riding his bicycle northbound on 29th Street in a designated bike lane when he was struck by a 2010 Mercedes-Benz 550, driven by a 35-year-old man, traveling westbound on Queens Plaza North.

Police said the impact threw Lopez from his bike onto the hood of the car. Lopez struck the windshield of the Mercedes-Benz before finally landing on the pavement.

Officers from the 108th Precinct and EMS units rushed to the scene and found Lopez with severe head trauma. Paramedics brought him to Cornell Medical Center, where he died on Wednesday.

Neither the driver nor a 39-year-old male passenger inside the Mercedes-Benz were injured.

No charges have been filed, and an investigation is ongoing.


Crook steals bags from sleeping woman in Queens Plaza station

| rpozarycki@queenscourier.com

Photos courtesy of NYPD

Police are looking for a man who swiped valuables from a 61-year-old woman who fell asleep on a bench inside the Queens Plaza subway station earlier this month.

The theft occurred at 6:15 a.m. on July 7 in on the mezzanine level above the E train tracks at the station located below Jackson Avenue and Queens Boulevard in Long Island City.

According to authorities, the perpetrator — described as a black man between 30 and 35 years of age, standing 5 foot 8 inches tall and weighing 160 pounds — walked up to the victim after she nodded off and removed her bags, which contained her cellphone, jewelry and papers.

The crook was last seen wearing a black hooded sweatshirt, a navy V-neck sweater and light-colored pants.

Anyone with information regarding the suspect’s whereabouts 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 will be kept confidential.


LIC woman starts tour company to share her love for Queens

| aaltamirano@queenscourier.com

Photo courtesy of Connie Murray

One Long Island City resident has decided to share her love for her neighborhood and borough through a new tour company aimed at giving participants a real Queens experience.

Connie Murray, the woman behind the Twitter account @fuelgrannie, has launched her own business called QueensStomp, which offers tours of LIC to locals and tourists.

Murray led her first tour in April as a Hunters Point bar crawl but now wants to incorporate her love for photography, walking and local architecture in areas such as Hunters Point, Court Square, Queens Plaza and Dutch Kills into future tours.

Her new tours will look to take participants throughout the western Queens neighborhood and experience it in a way locals do.

“It’s not just bars, not just food, it’s having a real Queens experience because it’s such a sweet and nice and cute area,” Murray said.

The idea for the tour company came after a friend suggested Murray get into the business and while she thought about the idea, travel guidebook company Lonely Planet named Queens as the best place to visit in the U.S. in 2015, and she knew the universe had aligned for her.

Currently, Murray is working on her brand and networking with other locals who offer tours — such as Joe DiStefano and Jeff Orlick — to create a tour model.

She added that she wants to incorporate her love for the city’s industrial architecture, sunsets off the East River and her taste for Queens-produced craft beer to create the perfect Queens experience to bring tourists back again and again.

“I think a lot of people are now coming specifically to Queens. They’re not just staying in the hotel hub in Long Island City,” Murray said. “They are actually coming to hang out in Queens.”

Although she grew up in Manhattan, Murray has been living in Long Island City for the past 17 years and said she fell in love the moment she made the move into Queens.

“I absolutely love it. I’m a New York gal, but I fell in love with New York hard when I moved into Queens,” Murray said. “Queens has so much to offer. It’s an extraordinary borough and I think it’s such an unsung hero in our city.”

At the moment — as she gets her feet wet — Murray said she is offering her tours for free as a way to get feedback and also get a better understanding of what she can expect once she starts charging for the tours.

Anyone interested in taking part in the tours can contact Murray via the QueensStomp website or reach out to her via social media.

In the future, Murray also said she hopes to get to know other Queens neighborhoods better so she can expand her tours deeper into the borough.

“I’m just really excited to see what is happening with my borough and I’m happy to be a part of it,” Murray said. “If I ever won the lottery, if I had a billion dollars I would not move back to Manhattan. I just love it here. I’m just so happy to be here.”

Murray plans to officially launch her tours by the end of July or early August and tours will take place seven days a week. For more information and updates, visit queensstomp.com or @queensstomp on Twitter.


New LIC ‘amenity-rich’ 21-story building set to celebrate grand opening

| aaltamirano@queenscourier.com

Images courtesy of World Wide Group

A new amenity-rich residential building is joining the growing real estate market in Long Island City.

Investment group Word Wide Group has announced that QLIC, located at Queens Plaza and 24th Street, will celebrate its grand opening next week on July 25. Advanced previews of the tower began on Thursday.

The 21-story residential tower features over 28,000 square feet of amenities, including a state-of-the-art fitness center, swimming pool, outdoor barbecues and picnic areas, a private garden, indoor parking and a bike room.

“We are thrilled to celebrate the grand opening of QLIC,” said David Lowenfeld, chief operating officer of The World Wide Group. “This is a significant milestone not only for World Wide Group, but for this neighborhood. With beautiful apartments and a host of amenities, QLIC is setting a new standard for residential living in Long Island City.”

QLIC, which is expected to welcome its first residents in September, includes a variety of 421 studio, one-, two- and three-bedroom rental units.


Since the building’s pre-leasing began in May, World Wide Group has received more than 2,500 inquires regarding QLIC, according to the investment group.

The site is also within a five-block radius of eight subway lines and one stop away from Manhattan.

For more information on QLIC and available listings, visit www.qlic.com.


Police looking for suspect in attempted daytime mugging at Queens Plaza

| rpozarycki@queenscourier.com

Photo courtesy of NYPD

Police released a sketch Thursday morning of a suspect wanted in connection with an attempted daytime mugging of a teenager at Queens Plaza in Long Island City last month.

According to authorities, the incident occurred at 5:45 p.m. on June 22 in front of a location on Queens Plaza South near 28th Street.

Reportedly, the suspect and four unidentified males approached the 19-year-old male victim as he walked through the area. Police said the group attempted to remove the victim’s property, then struck him repeatedly about the face and body with a metal object.

The incident was reported to the 108th Precinct; the victim was treated for minor injuries.

Anyone with information regarding 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.


LPC votes unanimously to landmark LIC Clock Tower

| aaltamirano@queenscourier.com

THE COURIER/Photo by Cristabelle Tumola

The decision is finally in, and the beloved Clock Tower in Long Island City is not going anywhere.

On Tuesday the city’s Landmarks Preservation Commission voted unanimously to landmark the 11-story tower in Queens Plaza, formerly the Bank of the Manhattan Company building.

“For nearly a century, the Queens Clock Tower building has been one of Long Island City’s most recognizable structures, greeting hundreds of thousands of commuters as they enter the borough,” said Landmarks Preservation Commission Chair Meenakshi Srinivasan. “The commission is proud to recognize this iconic building, which represents a significant period of development in Long Island City.”

Designed by Queens-born architect Morrell Smith, the tower, located at 29-27 Queens Plaza North, was built in 1927 and at the time was described as “the first skyscraper in Queens.”

According to the LPC, in 1927 the building’s design received first prize from the Queens Chamber of Commerce as the borough’s best business building.

The decision to landmark the site comes as residents have been speaking out and calling for the LPC to make the decision that would keep the tower in the community.  A petition was also started on change.org and signed by 1,606 supporters.

“This is a tremendous victory for New York City preservationists and local residents who contacted my office to convey their overwhelming support to retain the character of this great neighborhood,” Councilman Jimmy Van Bramer said. “I was proud to help give this community coordinated grassroots campaign the additional pressure it needed to ensure the Clock Tower Building stands for another 90 years.”

The building, which is now owned by Property Markets Group, will be surrounded by a 70-story 930-apartment building at 29-37 41st Ave. – expected to be the tallest building in Queens.


Identify this place in Queens

By Queens Courier Staff | editorial@queenscourier.com


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”: Queens Plaza 



R train rider busted for committing lewd act

| ctumola@queenscourier.com

Photo courtesy of NYPD

A smiling straphanger caught on camera after allegedly fondling himself on a Queens R train last month has been arrested, cops said.

The man was on the train, which was near the Queens Plaza station in Long Island City, about 5:40 p.m. on Jan. 23, when he committed the lewd act.

While sitting on the train, he put his hands in his pants and started to fondle himself in front of a 47-year-old woman, cops said. The man then got off the subway at the next stop.

Before exiting the train, he was caught on camera, with one shot capturing him “saying cheese.”

The man allegedly shown in the photos that were released by police — 33-year-old Wilmer Busto —  was charged with public lewdness, police said Wednesday.




LIC Clock Tower and vacant site sell for $77M

| lguerre@queenscourier.com

Photo courtesy of Scott Bintner/PropertyShark

Those looking to preserve the Long Island City Clock Tower may be running out of time.

Queens Plaza Park Development LLC bought the tower, which was the former Bank of Manhattan building, and an adjoining vacant site for a combined $77 million, according to property records filed with the city on Saturday.

Community members are hoping to landmark the building on 29-27 Queens Plaza North to avoid its development, according to recently published reports, after LIC Clock Tower LLC bought the tower in May for $15 million, city records show.

In just a few months, the price of the tower doubled and sold for $30.9 million. The buyer also purchased the vacant land at 29-37 41st Ave. for $46.3 million.

The vacant site has more than 205,000 buildable square feet. Queens-based developer Steve Cheung purchased the vacant site for $8 million in 2011, city records show, and last year he filed with the Department of Buildings for a 30-story residential tower with 242 units at the vacant site.

Plans for the Clock Tower site have yet to be filed with the Buildings Department.


Real estate roundup: Property Markets Group receives $130M for planned LIC rental tower

| lguerre@queenscourier.com

Photo courtesy of Property Markets Group 

Property Markets Group gets $130M financing for LIC tower

“Kevin Maloney’s Property Markets Group has locked down more than $130 million in construction financing for its planned 44-story rental tower in Long Island City, property records filed with the city today show.” Read more [The Real Deal]

New sushi restaurant to open on Vernon

“A new sushi restaurant is opening on Vernon Blvd. The restaurant will be located at 46-44 Vernon Blvd between Alobar and  Petey’s Burger.” Read more [LIC Post]

Homeless shelter sparks heated debate at Police Precinct meeting

“The Westway Motor Inn, which was converted into a full-time homeless shelter in July, was at the center of some heated discussion at this month’s 114th Police Precinct meeting on Tuesday. Several residents claimed that there had been an uptick in crime near the 71-11 Astoria Blvd. shelter and that the quality of life for nearby residents is on the decline.” Read more [Astoria Post] 

Report: LIC land prices nearly hit $300 per buildable square foot

| lguerre@queenscourier.com

Chart courtesy of Modern Spaces

Soaring land prices in Long Island City are hitting record highs for the neighborhood, according to the Moderns Spaces 3Q report released Thursday.

The price per buildable square in LIC jumped to an unheard of $250-$300 in this past quarter for some properties, the report said. The average land prices are above $200 in prime areas.

The price surge is mainly due to the demand for bigger projects aimed at larger family-size apartments, according to the report.

“The properties that are being acquired at those price points will most likely all be condos as they don’t make financial sense as a rental product with that high of a land base,” the report said. “But as condo prices rise in Manhattan and in Brooklyn, it’s naturally going to drive the buyer who is getting priced out of the areas to Long Island City or Queens as a whole.”

Meanwhile, for commercial and investment properties, the report found that in south Long Island City — areas near the waterfront, Hunter’s Point, Court Square, and Queens Plaza — land values eclipsed an average of more than $200 per buildable square foot and some properties have hit prices almost as high as $300.

But Modern Spaces predicts this trend will not continue.

“Despite demand being as strong as it has ever been, we predict the market will level in the $225 – $250 per buildable square foot range depending on exact location,” the report said.

Although land prices in Astoria have not hit an average of $200 per buildable square foot yet, not to be left too far behind, land prices in the neighborhood doubled in the past year with some properties eclipsing $200 per buildable square foot, according to the report.




Vacant lots of prime buildable land in LIC sell for $44M

| lguerre@queenscourier.com

Map courtesy of Google Maps

Three vacant lots in Long Island City near Queens Plaza that have potential for major development sold for $44 million, according to city records filed Thursday.

The seller is 42-26 28th St. LLC and the buyer is Eastern Star Development, city filings show.

No new plans or permits to build have been filed as yet for the lots, which are located on 42nd Road between 28th and 27th streets, but the property is surrounded by several tall buildings, such as the 22-story commercial glass building across the street at 42-01 28th St. and the 27-story residential tower adjacent to the lots at 42-25 27th St.

Also, directly north of the vacant lots, Heatherwood Communities is building a 58-story skyscraper at 42-12 28th St., which will become the tallest residential tower in the borough.

Excavation has mostly finished on that job, according to The Court Square Blog, and foundation work is beginning.  

The lots are zoned for mixed use so new developments could be a mixture of residential and commercial use.

The combined size of the property is 13,500 square feet. And a five-story building on the property was demolished in 2007, according to building records.

5-story development

Photo courtesy of Scott Bintner/ PropertyShark


Op-ed: Make traffic safety a priority

| oped@queenscourier.com


The 21st Street corridor between Queens Plaza and 20th Avenue has always been notorious for pedestrian fatalities.  It serves as a conduit between the Queensboro and Robert F. Kennedy Bridges, resulting in cars, trucks, and other heavy vehicles using the street to move quickly between these two points.

21st Street is also home to major senior and youth developments, such as I.S. 126, Long Island City High School, Bishop Iakovos Senior Housing, Vallone Family Senior Residence, Variety Boys & Girls Club, Queensview and North Queensview.  The increase in youth and senior populations, combined with increased commercial and cycling traffic, brings a need for improvement of traffic flow and an awareness of pedestrian safety.

According to data analyzed from the New York State Department of Transportation, New York State Department of Motor Vehicles and the New York Police Department, traffic on this stretch of 21st Street caused seven deaths and left 102 people with injuries from 2002 to 2011.

And these statistics have not improved since then. That data also showed that Queens had the highest incidents of fatalities due to traffic accidents in the city in 2013.

It’s easy to see why these deaths and injuries are occurring.

Some intersections along 21st Street have no crosswalks or countdown clocks at all. Many pedestrian crosswalks are bumpy, obscured with gravel or cracked asphalt, or otherwise impossible to cross if you’re in a wheelchair or pushing a stroller.  Some crosswalks are impossible to cross because the lights are non-existent or don’t allow for enough time to make it to the other side of the street.

This is an issue that plagues our entire city.  According to a Daily News analysis of NYPD reports, pedestrian deaths from vehicles, especially the number of children, are increasing and we are on pace to outnumber 2013 deaths in 2014.  So far, there have been 11 pedestrian deaths in 2014 across the city.

We clearly need a solution.

Earlier this month, we held a press conference on 21st Street, calling on the New York City Department of Transportation (DOT) for action. State Senator Michael Gianaris, Assemblymember Aravella Simotas, Councilmember Jimmy Van Bramer, local advocacy group Transportation Alternatives, Community Board 1,  parents from local schools, neighborhood community groups and senior centers, and other local activists joined. They agreed that real change is required to make 21st Street safer for everyone.

I therefore ask that the DOT conduct a traffic study of the 21st Street corridor, with the goal of creating a more safe and accessible street for all.

We need calming measures, such as countdown clocks and traffic lights for pedestrians, as well as well-maintained flattened crosswalks with no physical impediments for pedestrians with disabilities or children in strollers.

Our growth in population and small businesses is a boon to our local economy, but we need to make sure our infrastructure keeps up with increases in traffic. There is no excuse for us not to reduce the number of pedestrian fatalities by vehicles to zero.

Costa Constantinides represents the New York City Council’s 22nd District, which includes his native Astoria along with parts of Long Island City, Woodside, East Elmhurst, and Jackson Heights. He serves as the chair the City Council’s Sub-Committee on Libraries and sits on seven standing committees: Civil Service & Labor, Contracts, Cultural Affairs, Environmental Protection, Oversight & Investigations, Sanitation, and Transportation.



Off-duty NYPD officer killed after car hits storefront near Queensboro Bridge

| ctumola@queenscourier.com

File photo

Updated 4:30 p.m.

An off-duty NYPD office was killed when her car smashed into an exit ramp of the Ed Koch Queensboro Bridge before striking a storefront in an accident-prone area of Long Island City.

Elisa Toro, 36, 10-year NYPD veteran who was assigned to Manhattan’s 17th Precinct, was heading off the bridge’s exit ramp around 1:50 a.m. Tuesday when she struck a guardrail, followed by a cement barrier, said police. The car then flipped onto its passenger side, hitting a vacant storefront on Queens Plaza South at Crescent Street.

Toro, a Bronx resident, was pronounced dead at the scene.

No one else was injured in the accident, said police.

The investigation is ongoing.

Kristina Shrestha said she saw the smashed up car when she came into work Tuesday morning at Panini Tozt Cafe located at 25-02 Queens Plaza South next door to the accident site.

“It was two years ago that the same thing happened in the same spot,” said Shrestha, who works as a cashier at the cafe. “I don’t know what’s wrong with the road.”

Following Tuesday’s accident, State Senator Michael Gianaris is calling for the Department of Transportation (DOT) to make greater traffic safety efforts at Queens Plaza South.

Gianaris asked the DOT to improve traffic safety in the area and redesign the bridge’s exit ramp after a series of accidents in 2011. But a redesign of the exit ramp was “ignored” and only “additional signage and minimal barriers” were added, according to Gianaris. The barrier, which was destroyed in a 2011 crash was never replaced, he said, and could have protected the storefront in Tuesday’s accident.

“How many more people have to die before the DOT understands that the Queensboro Bridge exit ramp must be redesigned? The city has known that this area is in dire need of traffic safety improvements for years, and the DOT has simply not done enough. I renew my call for a complete redesign of the bridge off-ramp, and implore the city to take swift action before another tragedy occurs,” said Gianaris.

According to Seth Solomonow, DOT spokesperson, as of 2011, the ramp has been equipped with a large variety of traffic management devices, including three 20 mph word messages and “sharks teeth” markings on the roadway, 14 yellow and 12 white 36”-by-8” aluminum-backed reflectors, plus another 150 yellow and white prismatic reflectors on the bridge rail uprights, four sets of rumble strips to warn drivers that they are approaching a reduced speed zone and an electronic sign that displays the speed of passing motorists using radar technology.

Additional reporting by Angy Altamirano