Tag Archives: Ridgewood Local Development Corporation

Plaza a place to relax in Ridgewood


| brennison@queenscourier.com

THE COURIER/Photo by Billy Rennison

A quarter century after the idea originated, the plan for a Ridgewood pedestrian plaza finally came to fruition.

The plaza, situated on 71st Avenue between Myrtle Avenue and Stephen Street, was closed to traffic during the first week of October. Chairs and tables were expected to be delivered to the street as The Courier Sun was going to press.

Granite blocks and planters line the plaza in the center of the Myrtle Avenue retail corridor. A pedestrian triangle with benches already existed as a barrier between Myrtle and 71st avenues.

When Venditti Square and Ridgewood Memorial Triangle were built 25 years ago, the 71st Avenue Triangle was to be constructed as well, but city cutbacks caused the plan to be scrapped.

The design was reset in motion when a proposal was submitted in 2011 to the city’s plaza program.

“After 25 years, we’re finally coming full circle and creating what was supposed to have been built back in the 80s,” said Ted Renz, executive director of the Ridgewood Local Development Corporation and the Myrtle Avenue Business Improvement District.

After the plan was approved, the DOT offered to construct the temporary plaza instead of the community waiting a couple of years for the permanent space to be designed. The temporary plaza allows the space to be utilized while a permanent one is planned. Renz said workshops will be held in the coming months regarding the permanent plaza.

“I like the idea, I’m interested in how it will be used,” said Ridgewood resident Debra Fairs.

The triangle will be home to local events — such as pictures with Santa — as well as a spot people can congregate to sit and relax, Renz said.

The space will be maintained by the Ridgewood Local Development Corporation and the Myrtle Avenue BID.

Ridgewood Theatre may become home to music venue


| brennison@queenscourier.com

THE COURIER/Photo by Billy Rennison

A burgeoning Ridgewood music scene may soon have a new outlet in a historic locale.

CPEX Real Estate Managing Director Ryan Condren said the firm is aggressively marketing the Ridgewood Theatre — which closed in 2008 — and is trying to determine an ideal user for the space, though there is no timetable for the sale.

“Obviously [a concert venue] is one of the candidates that we think would be suitable tenants for the space,” Condren said.

Ted Renz, executive director of the Ridgewood Local Development Corporation, said the exorbitant price to renovate the theater may deter potential tenants. An architect for the previous owners pegged the renovation at $25 million, Renz said.

If economically feasible, he believes a music venue would be a boon for the influx of artists into the community in recent years.

Friends of The Ridgewood Theatre founder Michael Perlman said he would welcome concerts in the 17,000 square-foot space as long as the tenant recognizes the theater’s history and is committed to restoring “the site’s historic interior.”

Opened in 1916, for nearly a century the theater stood as an entertainment beacon in Ridgewood. It was the longest continually operated first-run cinema in New York, bridging the silent film era to Hollywood blockbusters.

Now an anachronism among awninged retail stores along Myrtle Avenue, the theater’s façade and marquee are protected as a city landmark, something potential tenants would have to work around.

Many parties have expressed interest, Condren said, with a multitude of visions for the site, not only as a concert venue.

“We’re not ruling anything out right now,” he said.

Empty for more than four years, Renz said he just wants an occupant in the space that would benefit the area.

“It’s an eyesore, it’s a vacant property,” he said. “The BID is committed to working with anyone who could do something there. As long as it’s something that the community wants, and is compatible to complement the district.”

Historic Rudy’s Pastry Shop celebrates grand reopening


| brennison@queenscourier.com

THE COURIER/photo by Billy Rennison

For around 70 years, Rudy’s Pastry Shop in Ridgewood has displayed the German word “Konditorei” on its awning, which roughly translates to “pastry shop with a place to sit and eat.” But for much of those seven decades dining was difficult — Rudy’s only had room for a single table.

Now, with bakery owner Toni Binanti recently redesigning the famed bakery, expanding the shop to include a dining area and espresso bar, this is a problem no more.

The historic bakery celebrated its grand reopening on Saturday, March 10, drawing crowds of residents and politicians who came out to commemorate the Seneca Avenue pastry shop’s return — and to dine on some confectionaries.

Councilmembers Diana Reyna and Elizabeth Crowley, Assemblymember Mike Miller, Congressmember Nydia Velazquez and State Senator Joe Addabbo were in attendance. They, along with Binanti, eschewed the standard reopening ceremony for a more appetizing alternative.

“Everyone has a ribbon cutting, but not everyone has a pastry store like this,” said Paul Kerzner, president of the Ridgewood Local Development Corporation.

Instead of yielding oversized scissors, officials dined on fresh, homemade apple turnovers to mark the bakery’s grand reopening.

A neighborhood mainstay since the 1940s, Rudy’s harkens to a time when the area was the heart of the city’s German community and featured Deutsch establishments Zum Stammtisch, Niederstein’s, Gebhardt’s, Von Westernhagen and Gottscheer Hall, among others. Only Rudy’s, Zum Stammtisch and Gottscheer Hall remain.

Planting its roots in the community for the better part of a century, the bakery has established personal connections with many of the area’s residents, including Miller, whose father worked as a baker at Rudy’s more than three decades ago.

“It was a big part of our community then, it still is now,” the assemblymember said. “We look forward to [it] being here forever.”

“When I celebrated my inauguration, I went to the greatest bakery in town,” said Crowley. “And that was Rudy’s Bakery.”

Mayor Michael Bloomberg, who was unable to attend, sent a letter of congratulations to Binanti who also received a city council citation from Reyna and a certificate of special congressional recognition from Velazquez.

Pedestrian plaza proposed for Glendale


| brennison@queenscourier.com

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A proposed pedestrian plaza may be placed in Glendale, but not before plans are processed by pols and the public.

The proposal from the Ridgewood Local Development Corporation would turn 70th Street between Myrtle and Cooper Avenues into a pedestrian plaza. The street runs next to famed German restaurant Zum Stammtisch — which said it would maintain the outdoor seating area and provide camera security, according to the DOT — and adjacent to the Glendale Veterans Triangle.

As is often the case when a street is closed, traffic was one of the first issues broached by locals.

“This street is dangerous as it is, I’m not sure how closing it would help,” said local Maureen Wiles.

Potential traffic is also among the concerns of the local community board.

While Community Board 5 District Manager Gary Giordano said the plan is still very early in the process, he wants to see traffic counts for 70th Street and determine if emergency vehicles’ response time would be affected by the street closure. These two questions must be resolved before the community board supports the plan, he said.

Before any plans, which are still in the review stage, are finalized, the area’s councilmember also wants to make sure residents’ concerns and opinions are heard.

“The creation of a new plaza in Glendale must include public input and be welcomed by the community,” Councilmember Elizabeth Crowley said. “As future plans for the plaza are discussed, I’ll continue to work closely with Ted Renz of the Ridgewood Local Development Corp. and the Department of Transportation to ensure that any concerns from the Glendale community are answered.”

The DOT assured that there will be workshops and other opportunities for the local community to provide feedback, according to a spokesperson.

Renz and the local business group proposed the plan, which has yet to be rendered. Renz could not be contacted as of press time.

Some locals are already imagining the space’s potential.

“As long as it would not disrupt the traffic in the area, I think it’s a great idea,” said resident Mark Potts.

Senator Joseph Addabbo also supports the plaza, calling it a “wonderful addition to this community,” in a letter to the DOT.

“An outdoor space seems like it would liven up the area, especially on nice days” said Vic Owens, a Ridgewood resident who frequents the neighborhood. “I’m for it.”