Tag Archives: Ridgewood

Woodhaven man arraigned after allegedly dealing narcotics below day care, within drug-free school zones


| rpozarycki@queenscourier.com

Photo by Anthony Giudice

A Woodhaven man remained behind bars in lieu of $20,000 bail Friday afternoon for allegedly dealing drugs from his apartment below a day care center his mother owns and operates, prosecutors said.

Michael Gomez, 24, was arrested Thursday morning on drug possession charges after police raided his apartment located under the My Precious Moments day care facility at 85-09 88th Ave. A friend with him at the scene, Selestino Rodriguez of Ridgewood, was also taken into custody.

My Precious Moments opened in May 2009 and cares for 16 children — 12 of whom are between 6 weeks and 12 years old. Queens District Attorney Richard Brown noted that the day care center is located less than 1,500 feet from two parochial schools that serve pre-kindergarten through eighth grade: St. Elizabeth Catholic Academy at 94-01 85th St. and St. Thomas the Apostle Academy at 87-49 87th St. Both are in drug-free school zones.

The NYPD Queens Narcotics Squad executed a search warrant at the 88th Avenue location following an investigation in which Gomez allegedly sold quantities of MDMA (Molly) and/or marijuana to an undercover officer on Feb. 3 and Feb. 17. Both transactions reportedly occurred at Gomez’s residence while children were inside the day care center.

During Thursday’s raid, police recovered 7 ounces of Molly, 4 ounces of marijuana and more than $2,400 in cash.

Gomez and Rodriguez were charged with criminal possession of a controlled substance, criminally using drug paraphernalia, criminal possession of marijuana  and endangering the welfare of a child. Gomez was additionally charged with criminal sale of marijuana and criminal sale of a controlled substance.

Both suspects were arraigned Thursday night in Queens Criminal Court before Judge Toko Serita. Gomez was ordered held on $20,000 bail, while Rodriguez was released on his own recognizance. They are scheduled to return to court on Mar. 9.

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Ridgewood Y director knows community service


| a.giudice@timesnewsweekly.com

Photo by Anthony Giudice

As the executive director of the Ridgewood YMCA, Lakeisha Harris knows what it means to serve her community.

Serving the community comes naturally to Harris, having earned her master’s degree in social work.

“I have always been interested in giving back to children and families … and it’s exciting to be able to do it in Ridgewood, Glendale, Middle Village and the communities that we serve,” Harris said. “That’s why I became a social worker to begin with, is to work in the community and be able to provide needed services to people who are unable, for whatever reason, to provide it themselves.”

Harris credited her mother for being her inspiration for getting into social work. Having worked hard to be where she is today, Harris emulates her mother and her work ethics.

“Because of what she went through is why I decided to be a social worker to begin with, to really help other kids and families who might also be struggling and need some encouragement, some support to get through. I think I’ve been able to do the things I’ve been able to do because of her,” Harris said of her mother.

“She’s just really resilient, really strong, and really passionate,” she added. “I still emulate her and when I get to be her age, I want to be where she is.”

One of the challenges Harris faces as executive director of the Ridgewood Y is having “high expectations.”

“I think the organization has high expectations and I think it’s making those expectations happen with limited resources,” she said.

But meeting those challenges leads to great success. Seeing and hearing the success stories of the people who use the Y is one of the best parts of her job, Harris said.

Being a prominent woman of color in the community, Harris said, “I love that we have Black History Month. It’s definitely an opportunity for me to hear more about what black people have done.”

“I definitely hope that what I do at the Y is an example for other brown and black children,” Harris said. As a mother, Harris hopes that her son is informed of the people of color who have done amazing things in the past, and even today.

Tucked away off Fresh Pond Road at 69-02 64th St., the Ridgewood Y (formerly known as the Catalpa YMCA) has been there since 1931 and previously served as the Queens County Magistrate’s Courthouse. The YMCA of Greater New York purchased the building from the city in 1965.

Renovations were made to the building in 2011, transforming it into a state-of-the-art facility complete with a gym, an early childhood educational facility and other amenities.

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Ridgewood pol to state: Stop shortchanging public schools


| a.giudice@timesnewsweekly.com

Photo by Anthony Giudice

Assemblywoman Catherine Nolan of Ridgewood, along with fellow lawmakers, educators, parents and students, rallied on the steps of City Hall Thursday morning demanding that Gov. Andrew Cuomo and state lawmakers pay $2.5 billion owed to New York City public schools.

Of that $2.5 billion, according to the Campaign for Fiscal Equality (CFE), every state Senate and Assembly district is owed tens of millions of dollars in funding for their schools. State Sen. Joseph Addabbo’s district is owed nearly $137 million, the most of any Senate district.

Historically, advocates stated, NYC public schools have been woefully underfunded, as the NYS Court of Appeals determined in the CFE ruling. The CFE lawsuit was brought by parents in 1993 against the State of New York claiming that children were not getting an adequate education.

In 2006, the NYS Court of Appeals found that New York State violated students’ constitutional rights to a “sound and basic education” by underfunding public schools.

According to the Alliance for Quality Education (AQE), a 2015 longitudinal study done by the National Bureau of Economic Research found that when spending increases by 10 percent each year during low-income students’ tenure in school (K-12), those students earn 9.5 percent more as adults. Furthermore, graduation rates jump 4 percent, to 26 percent, and the likelihood of adult poverty is reduced.

“It’s very important that we’re here today to keep the focus on fulfilling the promise of CFE,” said Nolan, who chairs the Assembly Education Committee. “The court decision … said we have to provide our young people with a meaningful education that equips them for the future.”

“The economy has turned around, the funds are there. It’s time to keep our promises to the children and families of New York and for us, as state Legislatures, to continue to push for full funding for our wonderful young people,” Nolan added.

Currently, there is no proposed increase for school funding in Cuomo’s 2015-16 budget plan, unless the Legislature agrees to a series of new laws put forth by the governor.

The CFE launched a website which breaks down how much each public school is allegedly shortchanged, www.howmuchnysrobbed.nyc.

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Queens film series to focus on immigrant experience of women in New York City


| aaltamirano@queenscourier.com

Photo by Zahida Pirani

A new Queens film series is giving foreign-born women a voice and showing what it means to be an immigrant within the five boroughs.

The nonprofit organization New York Women in Film & Television (NYWIFT) will be showcasing the series called Immigrant Women: Sharing Our Voice Through Film starting on Feb. 27 in Maspeth and will continue each month through June in other parts of Queens.

The series, which is put together through funding from the city’s Department of Cultural Affairs and Councilwoman Elizabeth Crowley as part of the Cultural Immigrant Initiative, features works of female immigrants and first-generation American filmmakers. The pieces in the series focus on the immigrant experience within New York City.

“The immigrant experience is something really important and doesn’t really have the representation in mainstream media,” said Elizabeth Estrada, executive assistant at NYWIFT and project manager for the film series. “I think it’s great to know the stories of people that you live around and pass on the street.”

The first screening, scheduled to take place at Maspeth Town Hall at 53-37 72nd St. from 6:30 to 8:30 p.m., will focus on the intersection between immigrant women and activism, and will feature three short documentaries.

The documentaries included are “Judith: Portrait of a Street Vendor” directed and produced by Zahida Pirani; “Claiming Our Voice” directed and produced by Jennifer Pritheeva Samuel; and “Living Quechua” directed and produced by Christine Mladic Janney.

Screenshot from the documentary "Claiming Our Voice." (Photo by Jennifer Pritheeva Samuel/Courtesy Fine Grain Films)

Screenshot from the documentary “Claiming Our Voice.” (Photo by Jennifer Pritheeva Samuel/Courtesy Fine Grain Films)

Following the screening, there will be a Q&A reception with the filmmakers and women in the documentaries.

“I want people to walk away more interested or inspired, and with this specific first screening, for them to be involved in something bigger than themselves,” Estrada added.

The following screenings of the series — dates and exact locations are still to be determined —  will take place in the surrounding neighborhoods of Glendale, Maspeth, Middle Village and Ridgewood, each represented by Crowley.

“All of these women and filmmakers have important stories to tell, and I want people to know that,” Estrada said. “Women as a collective, especially immigrant women, have a story to tell and if they are given an opportunity to tell, that might be a way to change the way we think about women and immigrant women.”

NYWIFT is still accepting submissions for the film series and anyone interested can email info@nywift.com.

The first screening, “Immigrant Women Screening Series: Activism,” is free to the public.

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Late night closures on L to affect Ridgewood area


| rpozarycki@queenscourier.com

Photo via Wikimedia Commons

Overnight service disruptions will hit the L line between Ridgewood and Williamsburg beginning next week, the MTA announced.

L train service will be suspended between Myrtle-Wyckoff Avenues and Lorimer Street late nights, Monday through Friday, from 11:15 p.m. to 5 a.m. The disruption begins Monday night, Feb. 23, and will continue for the following three weeks through Friday, Mar. 13, weather permitting.

Free shuttle buses will replace L train service between both points, with bus stops located near all affected stations.

Meanwhile, L train service will operate in two separate sections — between Myrtle-Wyckoff Avenues and Canarsie-Rockaway Parkway and between Lorimer Street and Eighth Avenue in Manhattan. However, trains running on these sections will operate every 20 minutes in each direction.

Those wishing to travel between Brooklyn/Queens and Manhattan were advised to use the A or J train, available at the Broadway Junction station, as alternate routes.

According to an MTA spokesperson, crews will upgrade and test the line’s Communications Based Train Control system, which tracks car movements along the line and controls train speed and braking.

For up-to-date information on scheduled train and bus service changes, visit www.mta.info or call 511.

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Brewery in Ridgewood seeks Beer Week prize


| info@timesnewsweekly.com

THE COURIER/Photo by Liam La Guerre

BY KELLY MARIE MANCUSO

Ridgewood’s Bridge and Tunnel Brewery will be launching a new beer at a gala event next week as part of the annual New York City Beer Week “Rupert’s Cup” events.

The beer, aptly titled “Bound By Chains,” is a tribute to legendary illusionist Harry Houdini, whose famous gravesite is located in nearby Machpelah Cemetery off Cypress Hills Street.

As a tribute to Houdini, the special event — which will take place next Wednesday, Feb. 25, at Houdini Kitchen Laboratory — will also feature local performers from the Coney Island Sideshow. The live performance will include a live straightjacket escape, sword swallowing, The Human Blockhead, various feats of strength and The Human Pin Cushion, which involves a perilous bed of nails.

The event is a collaboration between Bridge and Tunnel Brewery founder Rich Castagna, Houdini Kitchen Laboratory founder and chef Max Bartoli and Nao Matsumoto, co-owner of the Lorimoto Gallery, located at 16-23 Hancock St. in Ridgewood.

“I’m hoping the event will be an introduction to Decatur Street for people in the neighborhood,” Castagna explained.

Bridge and Tunnel Brewery recently found a permanent home on Decatur Street, down the block from Houdini Kitchen Laboratory, and is slated to open to the public later in the year.

“Bound By Chains,” described as a double rye IPA, was created specifically for this special event. According to Bridge and Tunnel, the beer itself is one of many “NY S.M.A.S.H.” (New York State Malts and State Hops) beers launching during NYC Beer Week by breweries in all five boroughs.

“There is going to be a vote at the end of NYC Beer Week for the best event launched. The winner gets a trophy called the Rupert Cup,” Castagna explained. “Maybe we can win it for Ridgewood?”

The Rupert’s Cup is a “people’s choice” voting competition and fundraising event. According to Bridge and Tunnel, participating breweries are required to host a “value-added event during the 2015 NYC Beer Week highlighting something like an extremely rare beer release, a beer dinner or a Meet-the-Brewer night.” The winner is voted “Best Brewery at NYC Beer Week.”

Votes cost $5 each, with all proceeds going to City Harvest. According to its website, City Harvest estimates that each $5 donation could feed roughly twenty people, with every dollar donated feeding four people per day. Anyone can sign up to vote at www.rupertscup.com.

In addition to the new beer launch, event goers can also sample some of the many unique pizza offerings at Houdini Kitchen Laboratory. For $6 at the door, patrons can choose a 16 oz. pour of “Bound By Chains” IPA or pizza samplers from Houdini Kitchen. The website eventbrite.com also offers a package of four tickets, good for four beer or pizza offerings.

According to Bridge and Tunnel, the event will also include a short presentation on pairing beer with pizza by Braving the Brew founder and sommelier Joanna Carpenter.

“Other surprises are in the works as well,” Castagna said.

The “Bound By Chains in Ridgewood” beer launch event will be held on Feb. 25 from 6 to 11 p.m. at Houdini Kitchen Laboratory, located at 1563 Decatur St. Click here to find out more about this event.

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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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Middle Village bank robber strikes again


| rpozarycki@queenscourier.com

Photo courtesy of NYPD

Showing his love for stolen cash, a bandit robbed a Middle Village bank on Valentine’s Day morning — the fourth such heist in the neighborhood since last November, authorities said.

According to law enforcement sources, the crook — described as a black male wearing a green hooded jacket — walked into the Capital One bank at 74-11 Metropolitan Ave. at 10:54 a.m. Saturday morning, approached a teller and demanded cash.

Reportedly, the employee handed over an undetermined amount of cash to the suspect, who fled the scene on foot in an unknown direction.

Officers from the 104th Precinct responded to the scene; no injuries were reported.

Law enforcement sources stated that the suspect allegedly held up the Astoria Bank at 75-25 Metropolitan Ave. — just a few steps from the Capital One branch — on Dec. 30 and Feb. 4.

Police believe the same crook robbed the same Capital One in Middle Village on Nov. 24 and a Capital One branch on Forest Avenue in Ridgewood on Dec. 9.

In the previous capers, it was reported, the crook passed demand notes to tellers.

The NYPD Major Case Squad is investigating the robbery pattern.

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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Community Board 5 nixes Ridgewood street fair’s permit


| info@timesnewsweekly.com

festival-file-photo

BY KELLY MARIE MANCUSO AND ROBERT POZARYCKI

After hearing complaints from Ridgewood residents, Community Board 5 recommended Wednesday night that the city deny a street fair application for this summer’s Fresh Pond Road Street Festival.

Twenty-two of 34 members voted against the Federazione Italo-Americana di Brooklyn and Queens’ application for the feast that shuts a five-block section of Fresh Pond Road, from Woodbine to Menahan streets, on four consecutive evenings.

At previous meetings, area residents complained the festival brought quality-of-life problems including increased traffic, fewer available parking spaces and some rowdy behavior.

The board narrowly recommended last year’s street fair permit, 18-15. Wednesday’s vote marked the first time since 1996 that the board recommended the permit’s denial.

During Wednesday’s meeting at Middle Village Christ the King Regional High School, Board 5 chairman Vincent Arcuri said the board’s Executive Committee was deadlocked on making a decision about this year’s festival.

“We had the most information we’ve ever received from an applicant for any event,” he said, “but the committee came up with no consensus.”

Board 5 member John Maier, who sits on the Executive Committee, proposed the motion to vote against the street festival permit: “Since I was unable to be there [last month] due to travel issues, I would have been the deciding vote and there would have been a vote on the table to deny the festival.”

Lifelong Ridgewood resident Margaret Chance reiterated previously voiced concerns over the festival during the board’s public forum.

“For the past 20 years, we’ve had negative impact from the Italian festival,” Chance said. “It’s way too long. Every year, it’s increased for longer days and longer hours.”

Chance also cited the relocation of bus stops and an excess of traffic and illegally parked cars on streets as major concerns surrounding the festival.

“Fresh Pond Road is way too narrow,” she said. “The vendors set up too early and the trucks and rides are way too wide to fit comfortably on Fresh Pond Road to allow two-way traffic to go along while the feast is not happening.”

Board 5 member Lucy Dolce, who is also a member of the Federazione, made an impassioned plea to the board to approve the festival permit.

“We have complied with everything this board wanted and more. We’ve done it all,” Dolce said. “This is a festival for families. These are four days for a working class community to be able to take their children and enjoy something at a very cheap cost.”

Proceeds from the festival benefit the Ridgewood-based nonprofit that provides free services to local senior citizens. According to Dolce, the organization no longer receives city and state funding and uses the proceeds from the festival to offset operating costs.

Dolce refuted the charges of police complaints and crime at prior festivals. “There have been no complaints. The police department would not allow us to continue if there were complaints,” she said.

Dolce abstained from the vote due to her membership with the nonprofit organization.

The 22nd Fresh Pond Street Festival is tentatively scheduled to begin on Thursday, Sept. 3, and run until Sunday, Sept. 6. The Mayor’s Street Activity Permit Office will have the final say on the matter.

The board did, however, recommend approval for several other local street festivals scheduled to take place this year on Myrtle Avenue in Ridgewood, Metropolitan Avenue in Middle Village and Grand Avenue in Maspeth.

Editor’s note: A previous version incorrectly stated the vote was the first time Board 5 voted against the Fresh Pond Road street festival.

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Ridgewood may soon be home to a full-scale brewery


| slicata@queenscourier.com

THE COURIER/Photo by Angy Altamirano

The Queens Brewery could be hopping over to Ridgewood.

A new lease could be signed sometime this week by Nelson Rockefeller, the owner of the Long Island City-based Queens Brewery, for a warehouse building in Ridgewood, close to the Bushwick border, Community Board 5 District Manager Gary Giordano said during a board meeting Wednesday night.

If plans go through, this would be the first full-scale brewery, producing beer for distribution, to open in the neighborhood. Bridge and Tunnel Brewery, more of a brew pub, recently opened in Ridgewood.

Giordano said that Rockefeller wants to use the space for brewing and to offer beer tastings.

Rockefeller’s signature beer, Queens Lager, is currently produced at a brewery in Saratoga Springs even though his headquarters and most of his customers are in Queens. The Maspeth resident has always had a love for beer, which motivated him to first open up a micro-brewery in Long Island City. He has since expanded to brewing for commercial distribution.

Rockefeller could not be reached for comment, but in a previous interview with The Courier, he described his interest in the borough.

“Queens is forgotten. We’re bringing back Queens,” said Rockefeller. “You take care of your home base first.”

His first line of beer distributed was coined Queens Lager, which can now be found in over 40 bars around Queens.

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Port Authority director, BP Melinda Katz, industry leaders to headline first QNS Real Estate Conference


By Queens Courier Staff | editorial@queenscourier.com

Real Estate Conference logo edit

Pat Foye, the executive director of the Port Authority of New York and New Jersey, will be the keynote speaker at the first QNS Real Estate Conference on Feb. 26.

As head of the bi-state agency that oversees the borough’s airports, LaGuardia and John F. Kennedy, Foye is positioned to speak about the major transformation coming to the airports, including the proposed LaGuardia AirTrain, which Governor Andrew Cuomo recently announced.

Foye, who was deputy secretary for economic development for Cuomo, headlines speakers from key firms in the real estate industry who will attend the networking event, which Star Network and The Queens Courier are hosting in association with the Real Estate Board of New York (REBNY). Real estate website PropertyShark, Flushing Bank, Mattone Group and Meridian Capital Group are sponsoring the symposium.

“This event is a great opportunity for the public to learn about the latest trends and investment information in Queens from the top people in our industry,” said Jamie McShane, REBNY senior vice president for communications. “Queens is becoming increasingly important as we have seen projects from Astoria Cove to Hallets Point, and projects at Queens Plaza South and the LIC waterfront, as well as Willets Point. And the members of the REBNY are very involved with a growing number of exciting projects in Queens, our largest borough and the most ethnically diverse county in America.”

Borough President Melinda Katz, who branded Queens the “World’s Borough,” will deliver the opening remarks at the event, which will take place at Terrace on the Park at Flushing Meadows Corona Park and begin at 8 a.m.

Following Katz’s opening comments and Foye’s keynote speech, members of the real estate industry from top firms will break into three panel discussions.

The panels will focus on different themes of the real estate industry in the borough, such as why big investments are being made in Queens, experiences in the borough from real estate companies, and expert perspectives on developments in Ridgewood and nearby Bushwick.

“The Queens market has huge opportunity and this event will shed light on the power of the Queens real estate market,” said Josh Schneps, co-publisher of The Queens Courier. “Our goal is to inform people and network. This event is a perfect platform to do so for the industry. We hope people interested in the Queens market will attend and hopefully make investments in the borough.”

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Ridgewood community talks preservation, discovery and redefinition


| slicata@queenscourier.com

THE COURIER/Photo by Salvatore Licata

Few neighborhoods in Queens are changing faster than Ridgewood, where new cafes and bars seem to spring up every week as a new generation floods into a community of longtime residents who’ve been around for decades.

Balancing that mix of old and new is the mission of a group of residents, both newcomers and old-timers, who met recently to talk about how to make the neighborhood work for all.

At Topos Bookstore Cafe, concerned residents joined six panelists, on Feb. 4, who all brought different knowledge of the neighborhood to a discussion about the future of it. The meeting focused on the important history that needs to be kept in the neighborhood, some of the new things on the rise there and ways for residents to control the future outlook of the neighborhood.

“Developers have a plan for Ridgewood,” said Stephanie Wakefield, one of the panelists at the meeting. “That plan is not necessarily good for us. We all know how it plays out, but we will only lose things in the neighborhood if we do nothing.”

Paul Kerzner, a longtime Ridgewood resident who was sitting on the panel, said that he and some other community activists anticipated this type of change over 20 years ago, which is why they took matters into their own hands at the time. He said that back then, he worked with government agencies to get most of the neighborhood rezoned in order to keep out any large developments and high-rise towers.

But he said with the increased demand for housing stock in the neighborhood, this rezoning is no longer enough to protect the community.

“We have to take the economic incentive away from the outside developers,” Kerzner said. “We have to get renters on a building-by-building basis to turn the buildings into a tenant co-op which would drive these big developers away.”

Another thing that the panelists discussed was that the neighborhood was becoming much less homogeneous. Ted Renz, another panelist at the meeting, said that this has done wonders for the Myrtle Avenue shopping district, which he believes can become a vibrant stronghold in the neighborhood’s local economy.

“With the new European cultures moving into the neighborhood, we got new night life on Myrtle,” said Renz. “Many of the old 99-cent stores are moving out and Myrtle Avenue is becoming a place to come shop and enjoy the entertainment.”

Henry Cross, the panelist who led the meeting, said he wanted to give residents ideas about how to move forward while keeping the community their own. He talked about the importance of social media and how the neighborhood has to use their digital presence to more of their advantage.

“As a community, it comes down to us working together to get what we want,” Cross said. “[Ridgewood] is a really great place to be in. It is incumbent upon us to adapt and change.”

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Man returns to Ridgewood drugstore to steal more over-the-counter meds: NYPD


By Queens Courier Staff | editorial@queenscourier.com

Photos courtesy of NYPD

Police are looking for a man who they say stole over-the-counter medications from the same Myrtle Avenue drugstore more than once last year.

The suspect first took the drugs from the Duane Reade at 54-11 Myrtle Ave. in Ridgewood about 5:25 p.m. on Nov. 8.

He returned to the same drugstore about 4:40 p.m. on Dec. 29, again taking multiple over-the-counter medications before fleeing, cops said.

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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Man suspected in fourth Queens bank robbery


| ctumola@queenscourier.com

Video courtesy of NYPD

A man who police say robbed three Queens banks late last year is suspected of returning to one of those banks to continue his crime spree.

The suspect entered the Astoria Bank at 75-25 Metropolitan Ave. in Middle Village on Wednesday about 11:35 a.m., passed a note and demanded money, police said. The teller handed over the cash and the man fled eastbound on Metropolitan Avenue with about $8,300.

Cops believe the same suspect robbed the same bank, at the same time, on Dec. 30, taking off with $7,400.

The suspect is also wanted in two other bank robberies, including one just down the street.

On Nov. 24, he is accused of robbing a Capital One Bank at 74-11 Metropolitan Ave., near 75th Street in Middle Village, just after 3 p.m. After entering the bank, the suspect passed a demand note and fled on foot with about $750.

He also robbed a Capital One Bank, at 70-01 Forest Ave., near 70th Avenue, in Ridgewood on Dec. 9 about 11:30 a.m., police said. The suspect fled the bank on foot with $2,617.

Police have released a video of the suspect from the Feb. 4 robbery and describe him as black, about 5 feet 6 inches tall and 190 pounds.

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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Real estate investors shelled out $3.6 billion for Queens properties last year


| lguerre@queenscourier.com

Photo courtesy of Scott Bintner/PropertyShark

Queens’ relatively low land prices, access to public transportation and growing popularity has helped the borough attract a significantly larger amount of money from real estate investors in 2014 than in previous years, according to a new report.

Firms and individuals shelled out about $3.65 billion last year to buy Queens investment properties—large-scale real estate costing at least $850,000—which is a 25 percent increase from 2013, according to a report by Ariel Property Advisors.

The study pointed out that about one-third of the investment properties in Queens last year were development sites, which alone accounted for more than $1 billion, or a 191 percent gain when compared to 2012.

“Queens still presents developers with the opportunity to produce large-scale developments, and they are willing to pay a premium for prime sites,” said Daniel Wechsler, vice president of Ariel Property Advisors.

Photo courtesy of Ariel Property Advisors

Photo courtesy of Ariel Property Advisors

Wechsler pointed out that land parcels with at least 50,000 square feet of buildable rights were purchased all over “The World’s Borough,” including Astoria, Long Island City, Elmhurst, Woodside, Glendale, Jamaica, Ridgewood and Flushing, “further indicating the bullish attitude of investors on the entire borough. “

The report found that 925 properties were traded during the year, which is also a 25 percent year-over-year increase.

Some of the year’s highest profile transactions include the $110 million sale of the Standard Motors Building in Long Island City, which traded for just $70 million in 2008, and the sale of a 53-building portfolio in Kew Gardens Hills for $216 million.

There was also the $26.5 million sale of a garage near Queens Place mall in Elmhurst, which has about 227,352 buildable square feet.

Click here to read the full report.

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