Tag Archives: Sunnyside

Campaign started to bring new performance series to Sunnyside plaza


| aaltamirano@queenscourier.com

THE COURIER/ Photo by Angy Altamirano

Two groups are coming together to raise funds to bring a new performance series underneath the elevated 7 train in Sunnyside this summer.

The Sunnyside Shines Business Improvement District and the coalition ReCreate Queens, which aims to build more creative spaces in Sunnyside and Woodside, launched a crowdfunding campaign on Friday in hopes of bringing a new series to Bliss Plaza.

Bliss Plaza is a new pedestrian plaza that opened last October in Sunnyside underneath the elevated 7 subway line at the intersection of 40th Street and Queens Boulevard.

The campaign, which has a goal set at $5,000, will fund a new monthly performance series called “Third Thursdays in Bliss Plaza” scheduled to start in June and run through October. It will provide local professional musicians and performers a public venue, making the plaza home to free concerts and a new site for culture and performance.

“Now that we have this great public space in the neighborhood, its time to program it,” said Rachel Thieme, executive director of Sunnyside Shines. “Bringing arts programming to Bliss Plaza helps create a more dynamic place and generates foot traffic and activity in the neighborhood, which benefits businesses, residents and visitors alike.”

ReCreate Queens launched a public call at the beginning of the month for performing artists, submissions are due Friday.

“As a coalition of neighbors and creative professionals who want to ensure that the arts thrive in the area, it’s critical to us to showcase local artists and make their work accessible for everyone,” said Nancy Kleaver, founding member of ReCreate Queens. “With support from the community we will be able to pay our artists what they deserve, create a professional, festive performance area, and establish an annual series that will grow over time.

The series received initial funding from the Queens Council on the Arts and the first $1,000 donated through the online campaign will be match by the Neighborhood Plaza Partnership.

To donate, click here.

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Sunnyside parents, students, teachers protest against Gov. Cuomo’s proposed education reform


| aaltamirano@queenscourier.com

THE COURIER/Photos by Angy Altamirano

One Sunnyside school came together to let their teachers know that they support them in the fight against what they call Gov. Andrew Cuomo’s controversial proposed education changes.

Parents and students of P.S. 150, located at 40-01 43rd Ave., gathered with teachers on Thursday afternoon to rally against Cuomo’s plans, which include making teacher evaluations depend heavily on state tests and increasing the number of charter schools.

Once these changes are approved, then $1.1 billion in funding will be added for public schools.

“By increasing the stakes of these high-stake tests you are increasing the pressure on the teachers which then increases pressure on the students to perform,” said Karen Schumacher, a parent of a third-grader at P.S. 150. “There’s more to children, there’s more to teaching than a test score. We want our teachers to know that we love them, we think that they’re doing a great job and that they’re the most important thing and not a standardized test.”

According to Schumacher, along with being a way to show the teachers that the parents and students support them, the rally also serves as a way to let parents know what is going on and understand what the changes mean.

“We want to raise awareness. A lot of parents are busy and not active on social media and politics so they want to let them know what’s going on,” Schumacher added.

During the rally, teachers and students formed a human chain around one-half of the front and side of the school. Participants also handed out flyers with information on the proposed changes and asked parents to sign a postcard to send to Cuomo that read, “Stop waging war on public schools!”

Those who participated during the protest held signs that read messages such as “Protect our schools,” “Hear our (1.1 million) voices,” “We believe in public schools, “Our teachers are more than tests,” and “We support our teachers.”

“We want Gov. Cuomo to listen,” said Joann Rodeschin, UFT chapter leader at P.S. 150, who added that they invite Cuomo to come visit the Sunnyside school. “Kids are not just a test.”

The protest at P.S. 150 is just one of hundreds that took place throughout the five boroughs on Thursday, where parents gathered to form human chains around schools.

“We are proud of being a public school, we love our public schools and we are the parents and the teachers and the students that are affected by these proposals, so we are the ones that should be heard,” said Deborah Alexander, a parent of a student at P.S. 150 who helped organize the rally. “It’s all a political dance and we’re just the pawns, except the pawns are children. It’s very disconcerting.”


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Sunnyside comedy group to hold fundraiser for LIC community farm


| aaltamirano@queenscourier.com

Images courtesy of Sunnyside Comedy

A Sunnyside comedy organization is hoping laughter can help one Long Island City community farm grow.

Sunnyside Comedy, a group that brings stand-up comedy from throughout the city to Queens, is getting together with Long Island City urban community farm Smiling Hogshead Ranch, located at 26 Davis Ct.,  to put on a stand-up comedy fundraiser called “Funny by Nature” on March 27 at the Flux Factory located at 39-31 29th St. in LIC.

The event will serve as a benefit for Smiling Hogshead Ranch, as all proceeds from the show will go toward funding the farm’s infrastructure improvements, insurance and free programming in 2015.

“Smiling Hogshead Ranch helps cultivate community by gathering people around shared interests,” said Gil Lopez, co-founder of the Ranch. “Many of these interests are outside of gardening, and this comedy show is a perfect example. We hope to discover other common threads and encourage guests to explore the art on the gallery walls, our newly published zine ‘The Feed’ and talk to our members to learn more about what Smiling Hogshead Ranch is all about.”

The fundraiser, which starts at 8 p.m., will feature acts from a lineup of New York City comics, many of whom live in Queens and have appeared on late night shows such as “Conan,” “Late Night with David Letterman” and specials on Comedy Central.

The comedians taking part in the event are Ted Alexandro, Aparna Nancherla, Joyelle Johnson, Charles McBee, Harrison Greenbaum, Frank Liotti and Katherine Williams. The show will be hosted by Liz Magee.

The night will also feature themed raffles and prizes, and refreshments from city craft breweries.

“The whole point of Sunnyside Comedy is to bring laughs and promote all that’s wonderful in western Queens,” said Colin Anton Samuel, who co-founded Sunnyside Comedy with Lindsay Goldwert. “This fundraiser is the perfect embodiment of everything Lindsay and I want to do.”

Tickets for the show are $20 online at www.SunnysideComedy.nyc or funnybynature.brownpapertickets.com and $25 at the door, which opens at 7:30 p.m. on March 27.

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7 line is ‘endless nightmare’ for western Queens community


| aaltamirano@queenscourier.com

THE COURIER/ Photo by Angy Altamirano

The western Queens community is demanding that the MTA make drastic changes in hopes of soon waking up from the “endless nightmare” that the 7 train has become.

Local elected officials, community leaders and residents gathered Wednesday morning underneath the elevated 7 train at the 40th Street station in Sunnyside to rally against the MTA and the deteriorating service of the subway line.

Along with ongoing weekend disruptions, in the past months the 7 line has seen trains breaking down, constant signal malfunctions and overcrowded platforms.

“We as a community are trapped in a bad dream that never seems to end, but worse than not ending, it has gotten much worse,” Councilman Jimmy Van Bramer said. “This bad dream has turned into an endless nightmare, one that we cannot wake up from.”

During the rally, which comes a little over a week before the MTA base fare increases to $2.75 a ride, commuters shared their stories of riding the subway line and its impact on their daily lives.

“I am just very concerned. I understand that it must not be an easy job for the MTA, but on the other hand we need to get to work,” said Charlotte Neuhaus, a lifelong Sunnyside resident who uses the 7 line almost every day. “I hope that [the MTA] makes changes. They seem to come in, make some changes, but they aren’t dealing with the core problem. The fundamental problem is not being solved.”

Neuhaus said she has dealt with numerous train delays, signal problems, and long waiting periods.

Fellow subway rider Linda Burns said that for the 10 years she has lived in Sunnyside, almost every year has been met with deteriorating service on the 7 line. Some days instead of waiting for the train she decides to take a bus and walk to her job in Manhattan.

“[The MTA] keeps saying they are making these improvements but in fact the service has gotten worse,” Burns said. “It doesn’t really feel like they’re being honest with us.”

Van Bramer called the subway service problems “painful” not only for riders but also local businesses and communities.

“My question to the MTA, if you are spending billions and if you are forcing us to have no train service on the weekend for the purpose on improving 7 train service reliability, why is it that in the past four months service has sunk to lows we’ve never seen before?” Van Bramer said. “It has been outrageous, it is potentially dangerous, [and] the level of service is disgraceful. Why is it getting worse and not better?”

At the rally, riders and local leaders asked the MTA to be more transparent in their decisions and to open communication with the communities being affected by the 7 line subway disruptions and service issues.

“Unacceptable just isn’t the word with what is going on with the delays, overcrowding and maintenance issues,” said Patrick O’Brien, chair of Community Board 2. “The MTA might call it the 7 line but for those of us who live here, it’s the lifeline that gets you back and forth to work, kids to school, doctor’s appointments, all the activities of daily life that are essential to the quality of life.”

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Selling point: Joe Abbracciamento site sells again and more big sales


| lguerre@queenscourier.com

THE COURIER/File photo

The closing and sale of the nearly seven-decade-old Joe Abbracciamento Restaurant in Rego Park caused an emotional stir in the neighborhood last year.

The buyer, Criterion Group, had plans to demolish and build on the property, but nearly one year after the eatery closed, the new owner has sold the property. That transaction is just one of the big sales in the borough over the week.

Address: 62-98 Woodhaven Blvd., Rego Park
Price: $10,850,000

Plans to transform the former site of Rego Park’s beloved Joe Abbracciamento Restaurant haven’t gone anywhere. The restaurant and adjoining buildings were sold to 62-98 Realty LLC, a firm based in Flushing, for $10.8 million, according to city records filed on Friday.

After the family-owned eatery closed and was sold along with the adjoining buildings on the block for $9 million to Criterion Group, according to property records, permits were filed by the new owners to demolish the buildings and build a seven-story residential building on the lots with nearly 120 apartments and 60 parking spaces. The stores attached to the restaurant were closed last year for the impending demolition, which has not occurred as yet.

Address: 39-34 43rd St., Sunnyside
Price: $8,100,000

This warehouse building near Torsney/Lou Lodati Playground traded hands for $8.1 million, according to city records filed on Tuesday. Jay Kestenbaum is the buyer.

Last year, the FDNY tried to acquire this site to store about 100 spare and reserve fire engines, according to published reports. The plan needed Uniform Land Use Review Procedure approval from the city. Although it was approved by Community Board 2, the plan was met with some opposition. Residents cited potential problems of increased traffic and noise. The FDNY withdrew its application and plans for the site in August.

Address: 39-50 24th St., LIC
Price: $5,675,000

Greiner-Maltz Investment Properties closed on this apartment building on Tuesday. The four-story, 30-unit building has 21,680 square feet of space. There are also two vacant retail spaces in the building on the ground floor. The sale has yet to hit city property records.

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St. Pat’s for All parade includes Mayor de Blasio


By Queens Courier Staff | editorial@queenscourier.com

Photo by Demetrius Freeman/Mayoral Photography Office / Gallery photos by William Alatriste

Snow didn’t stop Mayor de Blasio from marching through Sunnyside on Sunday during the traditionally gay-friendly St. Pat’s for All parade.

“Here’s an example of a parade that’s inclusive of all and celebrates Irish heritage in a way that everyone can be a part of,” said de Blasio, who wore a green Department of Sanitation jacket to the parade down Skillman Avenue in the spirit of the day and the snow clearing that followed.

The mayor, who didn’t march in the Fifth Avenue St. Patrick’s Day parade last year because of its former policy barring gays, said he isn’t planning to participate this year either. He said concessions made this year to allow gays to participate are too limited. The Fifth Avenue parade will be held on March 17.

“I’m not ready to commit to marching because all we’ve heard is that one delegation related to NBC will be allowed to have members of the LGBT community in it,” he told reporters at the Sunnyside parade. “A lot of people feel, I think rightfully, that that is too small a change to merit a lot of us participating who have wanted to see an inclusive parade.”

De Blasio is the first mayor to have skipped the Fifth Avenue parade since former Mayor David Dinkins did so two decades ago, also in protest for excluding marchers carrying any displays of gay pride.

But the mayor said he would be marching in the St. Patrick’s Day parade in the Rockaways. He skipped it last year, mistakenly believing that it was exclusionary.

“That was an error on our part; it is inclusive,” de Blasio said yesterday. “There was a misunderstanding.”

Rockaway residents were offended last year when the mayor skipped their St. Patrick’s Day parade. This year’s parade in the Rockaways will be held on March 7. Uniformed Firefighters Association President Steve Cassidy will be the grand marshal.


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City collecting proposals for Sunnyside Yards feasibility study


| lguerre@queenscourier.com

Photo via NYCEDC Sunnyside Yards Feasibility Study RFP

Mayor Bill de Blasio is moving full steam ahead with his plan to create 11,250 housing units over Sunnyside Yards, although Gov. Andrew Cuomo has voiced opposition to it.

The city’s Economic Development Corporation (EDC)  announced Friday a request for proposals for a yearlong comprehensive feasibility study for building over the rail yards. The agency is collecting proposals until March 20.

The study will examine the prospect of decking the enormous rail yard, and building homes, schools, open spaces and community facilities for the neighborhood as well as improving public transportation and infrastructure, while not interfering with train operations in the yards.

“This is the first step in understanding whether development of the Sunnyside Yards is possible, and what it could contribute to the city and surrounding communities,” de Blasio said. “This is a tremendous opportunity to deliver on our vision of a more affordable city and smart development that responds to the needs of surrounding neighborhoods.”

De Blasio first announced his plan for the yards during his second State of the City address in January, but hours later Cuomo disagreed with using the yards because of long-term plans for it.

But Cuomo is not the only politician to oppose developing Sunnyside Yards. When an idea to build a new Jacob Javits Center over the rail yards surfaced last year, Councilman Jimmy Van Bramer and Assemblywoman Catherine Nolan didn’t immediately respond favorably to that plan.

Both shared concerns of major development in the area without first addressing issues current residents are facing, including lack of sufficient public services. State Sen. Michael Gianaris addressed Community Board 2 earlier this month about the proposal as well, and stated similar concerns.

“Any talk of thousands of new housing units at Sunnyside Yards should be secondary to meeting our significant existing infrastructure needs,” Senator Gianaris said. “Western Queens is already in need of many more schools, parks and open spaces, and vastly improved mass transit, particularly on the 7 line. As this process unfolds, I look forward to working with the community to ensure our voices are heard loud and clear when it comes to Sunnyside Yards.”

Building over the yards is a key part to de Blasio’s goal of building and preserving 200,000 affordable housing units — 80,000 of which will be new construction — in the next 10 years.

There are nearly 200 acres of land at the site, 113 acres that are owned by Amtrak, 66 by the MTA and the remainder by private owners, according to the EDC’s request for proposals.

The EDC is working with Amtrak, which is in favor of development over its section of the yards.

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George Onorato, former Queens state senator, dies


| aaltamirano@queenscourier.com

THE COURIER/File Photo

Updated 5:00 p.m.

Lifelong Queens resident and former state Senator George Onorato, who served the 12th Senate District in western Queens for over two decades, died on Saturday. He was 86.

Onorato began serving the district, which encompasses Astoria, Long Island City, Sunnyside and parts of Woodside and Maspeth, in 1983 until he announced his retirement in 2010. He was succeeded by state Senator Michael Gianaris, who currently holds the position.

“George Onorato will always be part of the fabric of western Queens,” Gianaris said. “He dedicated his long and happy life to serving others and making the communities he represented better places to live. George Onorato served our country, our state and our neighborhoods in a way that made a positive difference in people’s lives. I will miss him. My thoughts are with his family at this difficult time. May his memory be eternal.”

Onorato graduated from Long Island City High School and served in the United States Army from 1950 to 1952.

Former state Senator Serphin Maltese, who served with Onorato in the state senate for many years, remembered him as a ” true man of the people.”

“He gave a special view on things,” Maltese said. “I’m sorry to lose him.”

Onorato was married to Athena Georgakakos and had three children, Joanne, George and Janice.

Visitation is scheduled at the Joseph Farenga & Sons Funeral Home at 38-08 Ditmars Blvd. in Astoria on Tuesday and Wednesday from 2 to 5 p.m. and 7 to 9 p.m.

A funeral mass is scheduled to be held on Thursday at 10:30 a.m. at St. Francis of Assisi Church at 22-17 45th St., followed by burial at St. Michael’s Cemetery at 72-02 Astoria Blvd. in East Elmhurst.

With additional reporting by Robert Pozarycki

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Sunnyside and Woodside parents petition for a new middle school


| aaltamirano@queenscourier.com

Map courtesy of Sunnyside Woodside MSP

A group of parents from Sunnyside and Woodside have started a petition calling on city and school officials to bring a new middle school into District 30, which is known for its overcrowded schools.

Debra McGowan, a parent of a first-grader at P.S. 11 in Woodside, presented the petition during a “State of Our Schools Town Hall” meeting on Tuesday organized by Assemblywoman Catherine Nolan, chair of the state Assembly Education Committee.

The petition, started on Feb. 12, comes after the parents starting calling on the School Construction Authority and Department of Education last year for a new middle school in the area which serves elementary schools P.S. 150, P.S 11 and P.S. 339, slated to open in the fall.

McGowan said since last year, parents have come up with potential sites and have presented it to the SCA. However on Feb. 6, the parents were told by the agencies that according to the latest census there are not enough children in the area to justify a new middle school.

“The children in [District] 30 are zoned to I.S. 125, which is in technically [District] 24, but there are 1,700 children in that middle school and that is a thousand too many,” Nolan said. “So to suggest that situation should continue is ridiculous, to say there are not enough kids, when there are going to be more.”

Along with having to attend middle schools that are overcrowded, McGowan added that students from Sunnyside and Woodside have to cross dangerous thoroughfares such as Queens and Northern boulevards to get to their designated middle schools.

McGowan said she is trying to get as many signatures as possible by the end of the month and will present the petitions at the next Panel for Educational Policy meeting scheduled for Feb. 25. She added that the goal is to not miss out on the 2015-2019 capital plan, which would look to build three middle schools in Queens.

“We’re here and I need signatures to prove that we’re here,” McGowan said. “I feel that we need to let them know that we need to build a school in the area.”

More information about the petition can be found on the Sunnyside Woodside MSP Facebook page

The DOE did not immediately respond to request for comment. 

Along with the petition, during the town hall meeting, Nolan and education advocates described how the state owes the city school system $5.9 billion as a result of underfunding, and they criticized Governor Cuomo’s education agenda. 

Some of the issues voiced by those present at the meeting included problems with the emphasis on high stakes standardized tests, lack of funding for arts and music, and asking to keep the current cap on the number of charter schools in the city. 

Representatives from the coalition Alliance for Quality Education, which calls for quality education for city schools, plan to march and lobby for public education in Albany on March 11 and have started using the hashtag #wecantwait to gather supporters. 

“There may be some bad things happening but we do have a chance to make some good things happen,” Nolan said. 

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Hybrid batteries stolen from 12 cars in 108th Precinct


| aaltamirano@queenscourier.com

Photo via Flickr Creative Commons/Shoreline

In the past few months, car thieves have been walking away with more than just personal items when breaking into the trunks of some hybrid vehicles in western Queens.

According to the 108th Precinct, which covers Long Island City, Sunnyside and Woodside, since November expensive hybrid batteries have been stolen out of the trunks of 12 hybrid Toyota Camrys in the area. The majority have been taken from Long Island City.

All of the vehicles, which can run on electrical power as well as a gasoline engine, have been taxis and include 10 yellow cabs and two livery vehicles.

The batteries cost from $2,000 to $3,000. They also have no serial numbers, making them untraceable, according to Debra Markell Kleinert, district manager of Community Board 2.

“The 108th is being proactive and working with the community to try to resolve this issue,” Markell Kleinert said.

The incidents are currently under investigation by the Grand Larceny Squad and 108th Precinct’s Detective Squad.

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Siblings to open Sunnyside restaurant serving authentic Chinese dumplings


| aaltamirano@queenscourier.com

Photo courtesy of Sunnyside Shines BID

Sunnyside will welcome a new restaurant to the neighborhood this weekend, offering authentic Chinese dumplings and other menu items expected to “melt in your mouth.”

Dumplings & Things is set to open its doors this Sunday at 45-26 46th St., just under the iconic Sunnsyide arch.

The restaurant is owned by siblings Lorraine and Sam Li, who opened their first location of Dumplings & Things in Park Slope, Brooklyn.

“We chose Sunnyside for its diversity and we think we can offer something new and different to the neighborhood,” Lorraine said.

The Dumplings & Things menu features five types of Chinese dumplings, including pork, chicken and vegetable selections. Aside from the dumplings, the menu also includes a large selection of noodles — such as “melt in your mouth” pork belly noodles — soups, baos and rice platters.

“We are delighted to welcome Dumplings & Things to Sunnyside,” said Rachel Thieme, executive director of the Sunnyside Shines Business Improvement District. “Sunnyside is fast becoming known for fantastic dining options from all over the world, and Dumplings & Things is a welcome addition.”

Starting this Sunday, Dumplings & Things will be open seven days a week. The hours will be Sunday through Thursday from 11:30 a.m. to 10 p.m. and Friday through Saturday from 11:30 a.m. to 11 p.m.

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LIC-based grocery delivery service aimed for mom and pop stores


| aaltamirano@queenscourier.com

Images courtesy of Pickup Later

One new delivery service is trying to level the playing field for local mom and pop shops battling the big, online food delivery companies by offering customers the option to have groceries delivered within hours of placing an order at neighborhood stores.

PickUpLater, a Long Island City-based online grocery service started at the end of 2014, allows customers to go on their website and order from a local store’s inventory.

As a resident of Long Island City for the past six years, owner Kodjo Hounnaké said the idea was born after he was ordering from GrubHub and he asked himself why such a service was not available for groceries from local stores. 

Although Hounnaké says he aims for the service to go nationwide, PickUpLater currently only offers customers groceries from Foodcellar & Co. Market, located at 4-85 47th Rd. The service is available for residents in Long Island City, Hunters Point, Astoria, Greenpoint, Sunnyside and Woodside. It has also started to deliver in Manhattan, below 59th Street. 

PickUpLater owner Kodjo Hounnaké

PickUpLater owner Kodjo Hounnaké

The delivery areas are expected to expand, once Foodcellar opens its second location in Court Square. 

Unlike giants like Fresh Direct, Hounnaké added that PickUpLater has groceries directly from the store, not from a warehouse. Also unlike grocery delivery service, Instacart, which delivers from large stores such as Whole Foods Market and Costco, the idea of PickUpLater is to stick to the local mom and pop shops. 

“We’re not [the grocery store’s] competitor; what we offer them is to remove that extra cost and that extra stress,” Hounnaké said. “We’ll come in and do everything for them. In a sense we are their ally not their competition.”

Once the customer places an order on www.pickuplater.com, a personal shopper then does the work of purchasing the items on the list. Keeping an emphasis on “real time interaction with customers,” the personal shopper will text or call customers with any updates or replacement options.

The groceries will then be delivered in two hours, or more, depending on the customer’s request. They also have the option to pick up the products from Foodcellar.

For orders over $35, pick up fees are $0.99. Deliveries scheduled for more than two hours, the fee is $3.99 and $5.99 for deliveries scheduled within two hours.

PickUpLater opens at 7 a.m. and deliveries are scheduled between 9 a.m. and 11 p.m. Pickup hours are from 9 a.m. to 9 p.m.

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Sunnyside map updated to attract more visitors to neighborhood


| aaltamirano@queenscourier.com

Photo courtesy of Sunnyside Shines Business Improvement District

Navigating the streets of Sunnyside just got better.

The Sunnyside Shines Business Improvement District, in partnership with the Sunnyside Chamber of Commerce and LaGuardia Community College, has released this year’s updated map for the neighborhood.

The map features full-color illustrations and an updated business directory of Sunnyside. A total of 15,000 maps were printed and will be distributed at hotels in Long Island City, Sunnyside and Woodside, local businesses and real estate offices, and community events.

The introduction of this map is an effort to bring in new people to the neighborhood while also familiarizing new residents with the area.

“The Sunnyside map is a great piece to promote the neighborhood,” said Rachel Thieme, executive director of the Sunnyside Shines Business Improvement District. “I was glad to see how well it was received last year, and we are grateful [to our] local businesses for supporting it again this year.”

The map, which will be updated every year with a new business directory and is printed locally at Paper Plus Printing, was started last year following a design competition among students at LaGuardia Community College. The artwork featured on the map for both this year and last year belongs to former student Carmen Zhu.

“Like Sunnyside itself, [the map] is both retro and fresh, and a useful, free, tangible gift to visitors and residents in this era of all online resources,” said Rigoberto Cardoso, president of the Sunnyside Chamber of Commerce.

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Brooklyn artist reveals interactive public art project on Sunnyside billboard


| aaltamirano@queenscourier.com

Photos courtesy of Margeaux Walter

Keep calm and look up, Sunnyside. That’s the message behind one artist’s new interactive project hitting the skies of the western Queens neighborhood.

The organization 14×48 revealed its latest public art project with Brooklyn artist Margeaux Walter on Tuesday on a billboard located on Greenpoint Avenue between 45th and 46th streets.

The project, “Keep Calm Billboard,” features a collection of different uses of the slogan “Keep Calm and Carry On” covered all over the vacant space and will be up for a minimum of four weeks.

Walter decided to use the slogan in reference to advertising and consumer culture. The slogan originated in the British Stationary Office during World War II and was created as war propaganda but never distributed.

She added that she was given several options for locations, but chose Sunnyside because it is close to where she lives and a community she frequently visits.

“The slogan is not one that fits into a specific class or ethnicity of people, but rather is universally recognized and used,” Walter said. “I wanted the billboard to be in a neighborhood that was both multicultural, and also in a commercial and heavily trafficked pedestrian area.”

Walter is also inviting people to tweet their own “Keep Calm” message with the hashtag #keepcalm14x48. The tweets will then be made into postcards and distributed along Greenpoint Avenue and at Ave Coffee House, located at 45-01 Greenpoint Ave.

The messages will also be available as a Twitter feed at http://www.14×48.org/campaigns.html#campaign7.

“My hopes is that people will tweet their messages, and then grab a postcard from another community member, turning this advertising slogan into a personalized message,” Walter said. “In turn the voices of community members will be a form of advertising campaign, one that is actually about the individual and not the consumer.”

This installation is 14×48’s seventh project in the city. The organization repurposes vacant billboards as public art space in order to open the door for emerging artists to have more opportunities in public art and to brighten the urban environment.

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Sunnyside Shines BID names holiday window photo contest winners


| aaltamirano@queenscourier.com

Photos courtesy of Sunnyside Shines BID

Christmas might be over but the holidays are still being celebrated in Sunnyside.

The Sunnyside Shines Business Improvement District (BID) announced on Tuesday the winners of this year’s Holiday Window Contest, which brought it more than 1,100 votes.

The contest began on Small Business Saturday on Nov. 29, with the BID hoping to encourage local stores to decorate their windows for the holidays.

First place went to Sunnyside Thrift Shop, located at 45-14 Greenpoint Ave., which took home $300. Sunnyside Florist at 40-05 Queens Blvd. won second place and $200, and Pure Spa and Salon at 40-15 Queens Blvd. won third and $100.

“We hoped to encourage Sunnyside stores to create a festive holiday shopping environment,” said Rachel Thieme, executive director of Sunnyside Shines. “The holiday window contest was a fun way to engage businesses and local residents to get into the ‘shop local’ holiday spirit.”

In its second year, the contest served as a competition for not only businesses but also local photographers, who are asked to submit their photos of Sunnyside holiday windows to the Sunnyside Shines BID’s Facebook page.

To enter, participants had to take a photo of a business in the Sunnyside Shines district and its holiday window decorations. Then they uploaded the image to the contest section on the Facebook page, and people began voting.

Photographer Mehdi Smita of Woodside won $250 for receiving the most votes for his photograph.

Mehdi Smita of Woodside won for his photograph.

Mehdi Smita of Woodside won for his photograph.

“The holiday window contest improved business. I saw more people coming in to look at our windows because of the contest,” said Ayman Kasem, manager of Sunnyside Thrift Shop.

This contest was part of the BID’s plan to promote local shopping during the holidays. On Small Business Saturday, the BID held an event and also released the first-ever Shop Local Holiday Gift Guide, which featured gift ideas and coupons.

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