Tag Archives: Whitestone

CB 7 demands size restriction to renew permit on Whitestone development

| asuriel@queenscourier.com

File photo

Make a promise, keep a promise.

Members of the Community Board 7 Zoning Committee on the Whitestone Waterpointe redevelopment project recommended last week renewal of the project’s special permit on one condition: that the deed include a restriction that no more than 52 homes could be built on the 18-acre site.

“My feeling is that I’m not going to spend years and years on this and then be put into a corner with a gun to my head saying, ‘You know what, you’d better approve this,’” Zoning Committee Chair Joe Sweeney said.

The Waterpointe development has faced community opposition in the past due to proposed changes that would have seen 107 townhouses built on the space instead of the originally planned 52 single-family homes. As most of the townhouses would have been two-family buildings, this would have resulted in a total of 203 units in the space, or around four times the original amount.

The changes were abandoned after an uproar from community board members and civic groups, and developers have since gone back to the original plan.

The project’s architect, Joe Sultana, was at the meeting representing the site owners, the Edgestone Group. He brought with him a letter of intent from owner Gavin Feng, in which he indicated that Edgestone would not build more than the agreed-upon 52 homes. Sweeney, however, said that he would not accept anything less than a legal deed restriction to allow the renewal of the special permit with the City’s Board of Standards and Appeals.

A decision on whether or not to endorse its renewal must be made as soon as possible so that the project can be presented to the public in the next CB 7 meeting scheduled for Monday, Oct. 19.

According to Sweeney, the zoning committee will meet again several hours before the meeting to take a final vote on whether to approve the special permit based on whether the deed restriction has been filed. He said that if the deed restriction is not procured, the community board may take their fight to the borough president and try to downzone the area to codify a smaller scale of development.

The special permit for the project’s construction expires on Dec. 9. If it is not renewed, the Edgestone Group will have to undergo a lengthy process to reapply for another permit to develop the property.

When contacted by The Courier, Sultana was not available for additional comment.


See It: Whitestone home with landscaped grounds, underground pool listed at nearly $1.7M

By Queens Courier Staff | editorial@queenscourier.com

Photos courtesy of Douglas Elliman

On a tree-lined street nestled in Whitestone lies a house that could make any person feel at home.

Douglas Elliman is offering the one-family home located at 149-32 Third Ave., which is move-in ready. Encompassing almost 4,967 square feet, the colonial home includes four bedrooms – with a master suite including a fireplace and Jacuzzi bathtub – three and a half designer bathrooms, and a backyard featuring an in-ground swimming pool and outdoor kitchen.

The home, which was built in 1960, lies less than two blocks away from a private beach and just minutes away from various local amenities.

Whether entertaining guests or just enjoying a family dinner, the home’s kitchen features granite-top counters with stainless steel appliance including a built in oven.

Along with the four bedrooms, the home also includes a dining room, office, library, mud room, family room and laundry room.

There is also a parking garage attached to the home and a partial basement.

Taxes run about $11,252 annually; the owner will also have to pay a Homeowners Association Fee of $964 per month.

Visit this website for more information.


Whitestone firehouse celebrates 100 years of service

| amatua@queenscourier.com

THE COURIER/Photos by Angela Matua

Firefighters past and present gathered at the headquarters of Engine Company 295 and Ladder Company 144 in Whitestone on Thursday to celebrate the units’ 100 years of service in the community.

The ceremony commemorated the service of every person who walked through the doors of the firehouse at 12-49 149th St. Active and retired firefighters, along with elected officials, spoke about the important duty this line of work demands.

Chief of Department James E. Leonard addressed the crowd to relay the impact that each individual has on Whitestone and surrounding communities.

“We’re the largest fire department in the country, but it still comes down to individual firefighters and companies protecting individual neighborhoods,” Leonard said. “So to the retired firefighters here, thank you for laying the foundation and we are standing on the shoulders of giants. You created where we are today.”

During the ceremony, the stories of three firefighters who lost their lives were relayed to the crowd to illustrate the sacrifice that is ultimately a part of the job. Frederick Zeigler and William Austin were killed while responding to a boat fire in the East River in 1947. The gas tank on the boat exploded, badly injuring Zeigler and Austin. Both men died of their injuries at Flushing Hospital. Walter Voight, a first responder during 9/11, died from illness related to the attacks.


“Though they served in far different times, each firefighter served in the exact same way — with true bravery and valor,” FDNY Commissioner Daniel A. Nigro said. “They never hesitated in their sworn duty. They went towards the danger trying to save others. That is act which defines this department — and it is a tradition, much like their memory, which will always live within these walls.”

Firefighters were honored with a plaque to hang in their 100-year-old fire house. Captain Ken Ruggerio of Engine Company 295 said he knew he wanted to be a firefighter when, as a young boy living in Greenpoint, Brooklyn, he would see firefighters rush to the scene of a tragedy and use their problem-solving skills to diffuse any situation.

“To me it’s the dedication, the commitment, the bravery and knowing that any problem that arises in the neighborhood, a firefighter is ready to help,” Ruggerio said. “When you call the Fire Department, we’re here to fix the problem.”


Family fun day draws 5,000 to Whitestone park

| asuriel@queenscourier.com

Photos courtesy of George Mirtsopoulos, Alfredo Centola and We Love Whitestone

Saturday was a fun day taken to another level in Whitestone.

More than 5,000 people were packed into Francis Lewis Park on Saturday for the 109th Precinct’s second annual Whitestone Family Fun Day.

The festival—co-sponsored by the We Love Whitestone civic group—was fun for all ages but particularly geared toward the youngest members of the community.

Activities included face painting, an on-site balloon artist, two inflatable bouncy houses, fresh cotton candy, a DJ and an NYPD rock wall. The biggest attractions of the day were the pony ride feature and an on-site pumpkin patch with pumpkin painting activities. Additionally, Mets mascot Mr. Met himself made an appearance.

Precinct Community Council President Chrissy Voskerichian said that drawing out so many people effectively gained positive public exposure for the police department. It was the first opportunity to meet local police officers for many attendees, and the station aims to facilitate especially strong relationships with young people to teach them to feel safe in the hands of law enforcement.

“These events are all about community-police partnerships and relationships,” Voskerichian said. “It’s about working together in good times and bad and showing that one can’t exist without the other.”

Assemblyman Edward Braunstein appeared at the event with his wife and newborn son.

“Thank you to the 109th Precinct Community Council & We Love Whitestone for sponsoring Family Fun Day, which was a great event and had a tremendous turnout,” Braunstein said.

According to We Love Whitestone Vice President George Mirtsopoulos, a massive amount of food was provided and served to participants, with a total of 1,500 hotdogs, 800 hamburgers and 500 cupcakes eaten throughout the day.

Mirtsopoulos said that it was a pleasure working and partnering with 109th Precinct Deputy Inspector Thomas Conforti and the 109th Precinct Community Council led by Voskerichian.

“The weather was great and a fun time was had by all,” Mirtsopoulos said.


Suspects wanted for stealing from woman in Whitestone after puncturing car tires

| aaltamirano@queenscourier.com

Photos courtesy of NYPD

Police are asking for help in identifying four suspects wanted for stealing from a 68-year-old woman in Whitestone last week after they punctured one of her car’s tires and later pretended to help her out.

On Friday, Sept. 18, at about 2:50 p.m., police said, the victim parked her car in front of 25-17 Parsons Blvd. and exited the vehicle. While she was away, the first male suspect – described as wearing a gray T-shirt, shorts and sneakers – approached the car and punctured the rear passenger tire with an unknown object, according to authorities.

The victim returned a short time later and drove only a short distance before discovering the flat tire. She parked in front of 25-03 Parson Blvd. to change the tire.

Authorities said she was then approached by two more suspects – both men wearing baseball caps – who offered their help and distracted the victim while a female suspect – described as wearing a dress and sandals – took the victim’s purse containing $1,175, a cellphone and several credit cards from the car. All the suspects then fled the scene.

One of the suspects who offered his help to the victim was last seen wearing a light-colored shirt, white pants and baseball cap, while the other wore a white T-shirt, blue jeans and a black baseball cap.

Police released photos of three of the suspects: the first suspect who punctured the tire, one of the men who offered their help, and the female suspect.

Anyone with information in regards to this incident is asked to call the NYPD’s Crime Stoppers Hotline at 800-577-TIPS. The public can also submit their tips by logging onto the Crime Stoppers website or texting their tips to 274637 (CRIMES) then enter TIP577. All calls and messages are kept confidential.


Two men found dead in Whitestone home bathroom

| asuriel@queenscourier.com

Photo via Google Maps

Two men were found dead in a Whitestone apartment on Thursday, according to police.

Cops would not release the identity of the men, but say they were found in an apartment building on the corner of 28th Road and the Whitestone Expressway at 12:14 p.m.

The medical examiner is still determining the cause of death and official identification is pending family notification.

According to the Daily News, the men were a couple and were identified by family as Carl Tannenbaum, 60, and John Janssen.

According to the report, investigators believe that Tannenbaum died of natural causes and Janssen had committed suicide after discovering his partner’s body in their shared bathroom.


Fun for all at Whitestone Family Day

| asuriel@queenscourier.com

Photos courtesy of George Mirtsopoulos/We Love Whitestone

From rides to arts and crafts, plenty of excitement is in store during the second annual Family Fun Day in Whitestone‘s Francis Lewis Park scheduled for later this month.

Organized by the 109th Precinct Community Council and the We Love Whitestone civic group, the event will take place on Saturday, Sept. 26, from noon to 4 p.m.

Planned features and activities include pony rides, face painting, an on-site balloon artist, two inflatable bouncy houses, a pumpkin patch with pumpkin painting, fresh cotton candy, a DJ and an NYPD rock wall. The Whitestone Volunteer Ambulance, fire department and local elected officials are also expected to attend.

Community Council President Chrissy Voskerichian said that Family Fun Day is just one event in the 109th Precinct’s yearlong effort to connect with the community, and the council makes an effort to have large-scale community programming every quarter.

These events aim to help residents feel comfortable with the officers in their precinct, especially younger children still learning about the important role of police in maintaining public safety.

“It’s a great way to work together, and for the community to get to know their police officers,” Voskerichian said. “It gives children positive interaction with police at a very early age.”


We Love Whitestone president Alfredo Centola has been working with the civic group to procure donations for Family Fun Day, and did so in a smaller capacity last year.

According to Centola, a total of 22 business have donated in addition to funds collected from private citizens, and Pepsico has pledged to provide beverages for the day.

“It’s really a nice feeling. It brings the community together with the precinct, merchants and children,” said Centola. “It’s kind of like a culminating event to end the summer.”

Anyone interested in donating to Family Fun Day can contact the We Love Whitestone group by email at welovewhitestone@gmail.com.


Whitestone woman missing since Saturday: police

| asuriel@queenscourier.com

Inset courtesy of NYPD/Image via Google Maps

Police are asking the public for any information related to the disappearance of a Whitestone resident missing since Saturday.

Authorities say that Maria Brabazon, 55, was last seen on Sept. 5 at around 10 p.m. in her home on 151-11 14th Ave. She was wearing black leggings and a white shirt.

Brabazon is blonde with blue eyes, stands at 5 feet 5 inches tall, and weighs 125 pounds.

Anyone with information should 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.


Teen caught after hoverboard theft in Whitestone

| asuriel@queenscourier.com

Photo via Twitter/@NYPD109Pct

It’s a must-have item, even for thieves.

A 17-year-old was apprehended in Whitestone Sunday only 30 minutes after stealing a trendy self-balancing electric scooter, according to authorities.

Edward Diee, 17, first encountered the victim — another minor whose name and age were not released by police — riding the scooter on the 147th block of 15th Drive at 8:30 p.m.

Police said Diee initially approached the victim and began speaking to him, asking a number of questions before finally hitting him, shoving him to the ground and taking the scooter.

The victim’s family quickly called 911 to notify police of the incident, and the suspect was found less than 30 minutes later by patrol cars cruising the area.

After being positively identified, Diee was arrested and charged with one count of robbery in the second degree.

Self-balancing electric scooters are popularly known as “hoverboards” despite not actually levitating off the ground, and consist of a foot rest between two wheels which propel themselves forward without any effort from the user.

Wired.com reports that boards can cost between $600 to $1,800 each and that celebrities such as Nicki Minaj, Justin Bieber and Chris Brown have all been seen using them.


Four ATM skimming devices found in past two weeks in 109th Precinct

| asuriel@queenscourier.com

Photos courtesy of the NYPD

Police are cautioning the public to be mindful of erroneous charges on their accounts after four ATM skimming devices were found in the past two weeks in the 109th Precinct.

Two of the devices were discovered in automated teller machines located inside a Flushing Duane Reade store at 136-02 Roosevelt Ave., according to a statement released over social media by Deputy Inspector Thomas J. Conforti. Two additional devices were found affixed to gas pumps at the gas stations located in Whitestone at 17-55 Francis Lewis Blvd. and on the Bayside border at 29-16 Francis Lewis Blvd.

Police said that the devices were respectively discovered by workers at Duane Reade and gas station owners, who then immediately called NYPD to investigate.

Deputy Inspector Conforti said police do not know how long the devices were in place.

The Inspector further stated that it is usually a couple of months after finding the device that victims may begin to notice suspicious charges on their bank accounts.

The NYPD is advising consumers who may have used charge cards on these ATM machines or gas pumps since Aug. 1 to call credit card or bank companies and inform them of cards which may have been compromised.

The case is being investigated by the Financial Crimes Task Force. Any suspicious activity or crime should be immediately reported to the 109th Precinct.


Elmhurst man sentenced for fatal stabbing of wife

| aaltamirano@queenscourier.com

The Elmhurst man who stabbed his wife to death in 2014 and went on with his day, after faking her suicide note, has been sentenced to serve 18 years in prison, prosecutors announced.

Luis Paguay, 43, was sentenced Tuesday after pleading guilty to first-degree manslaughter this past June. After his 18-year sentence, the judge also ordered five years of post-release supervision.

According to court documents, Paguay admitted to stabbing his 39-year-old wife, Maria Paguay, in their basement Elmhurst apartment between the night of Dec. 3, 2014, and just before 6 p.m. on Dec. 4, 2014. A large kitchen knife was found near the victim’s body.

After killing his wife, Paguay wrote a note in his wife’s name claiming that her death was a suicide, according to Queens District Attorney Richard Brown. He then went to his job as a dishwasher at Ducale Restaurant in Whitestone.

Once arriving at the restaurant, Paguay noticed blood on his shoes and video surveillance from the site shows what looked like him washing his shoes in a sink, authorities said.

Maria Paguay’s body was found around 6 p.m. on Dec. 4, 2014, by her 19-year-old son who had just come home from school.

“Although the defendant ultimately took responsibility for his violent crime by pleading guilty to manslaughter, he first tried to make it appear that his wife took her own life by writing a suicide note in her name and letting her 19-year-old son discover his mother’s bloody remains upon returning home from school,” Brown said. “The lengthy sentence imposed by the court is a just resolution to this case.”


Whitestone teen crowned USA National Miss 2015

| asuriel@queenscourier.com

Photos courtesy of Katherine McQuade

Whitestone resident Katherine McQuade beat out 29 other beauty queens to be crowned USA National Miss 2015 in Walt Disney World earlier this month.

McQuade, a 19-year-old sophomore at Marymount Manhattan College, began participating in pageants at the age of 10 and has competed in about 150 in her career. She says that pageants played a huge part in helping her growth from a timid young girl into a confident adult.

“I was such a shy child growing up, I couldn’t even talk on the telephone,” McQuade said. “Pageants instilled in me communication skills, confidence, poise and grace, and helped me become the person I am today.”

McQuade’s main platform in the USA National Miss pageant was to promote and raise funds for pancreatic cancer research in honor of her grandmother, who died from the disease.

McQuade has been working for the cause since age 9 by selling handmade pot holders and donating all proceeds to the Lustgarten Foundation. She was inspired to use the craft for charity because it had been an activity she enjoyed with her late grandmother, who gave her a pot holder kit as a holiday present.

While McQuade has raised over $5,000 for pancreatic cancer research by selling pot holders in 16 states, she is far from finished with helping out the cause. The beauty queen is determined to have her pot holders reach all 50 states and raise $25,000 for pancreatic cancer research by the time she’s 25.

Raising funds for pancreatic cancer is not the only civic service the young beauty performs. She also created her own mentoring program at St. Luke’s school in Whitestone for pre-K students, among numerous other volunteer efforts which total over 5,264 hours of community service.

Thanks to her extensive community involvement, she has been the recipient of a Lifetime Presidential Award for Volunteer Service, featured on Time Warner Cable NY1 “Queens Person of the Week,” and has been on the cover of Supermodels Unlimited Magazine’s Role Model edition.

McQuade, a competitive dancer who aims to someday be a Radio City Music Hall Rockette, says that winning this pageant is only the beginning of her crowning dreams.

“I’ve been doing this for so long it would be a little silly not to keep going all the way,” she said. “I want to be Miss Universe, Miss America, Miss United States. I’m going to go for it all.”


West Nile spraying to target northeast Queens

By Queens Courier Staff | editorial@queenscourier.com

Image courtesy of NYC Health Department

Another round of West Nile spraying is set for parts of Queens next week in an effort to reduce mosquito activity and the risk of the virus.

The treatment, which will include spraying pesticide from trucks, will take place on Monday, Aug. 24, between the hours of 8:30 p.m. and 6 a.m. the following morning. In case of bad weather, the application will be delayed until Tuesday, Aug. 25, during the same hours.

Last weekend, the Health Department reported the season’s first human case of West Nile virus in a Brooklyn man. The patient, who was hospitalized with viral meningitis and over the age of 60, has been treated and discharged.

Though no cases have reported in Queens this season, the following northeast neighborhoods are “being treated due to rising West Nile virus activity and because they have high mosquito populations”:

Parts of Auburndale, Bayside, Bay Terrace, Beechhurst, College Point, Flushing, Linden Hill, Malba, Murray Hill and Whitestone (bordered by Cross Island Parkway, Clearview Expressway and the East River to the north; Flushing Bay to the west; Northern Boulevard, 153rd Street, 35th Avenue, Utopia Parkway, 42nd Avenue, Clearview Expressway, 33rd Avenue, 215th Place and 31st Road to the south; and Cross Island Parkway to the east).

For these sprayings, the Health Department will use a very low concentration of the synthetic pesticide Anvil 10+10, which poses no significant risks to human health when properly used.

The Health Department recommends that people take the following precautions to minimize direct exposure:

  • Whenever possible, stay indoors during spraying. People with asthma or other respiratory conditions are encouraged to stay inside during spraying since direct exposure could worsen these conditions.
  •  Air conditioners may remain on; however, if you wish to reduce the possibility of indoor exposure to pesticides, set the air conditioner vent to the closed position, or choose the re-circulate function.
  • Remove children’s toys, outdoor equipment and clothes from outdoor areas during spraying. If outdoor equipment and toys are exposed to pesticides, wash them with soap and water before using again.
  • Wash skin and clothing exposed to pesticides with soap and water. Always wash your produce thoroughly with water before cooking or eating.



Whitestone beer garden to open Saturday

| asuriel@queenscourier.com

Photos via Jägerhaus Gastropub & Biergarten's Facebook page

After weeks of anticipation from residents all over northeast Queens, Jagerhaus Gastropub & Biergarten in Whitestone is set to open this Saturday, Aug. 22.

The spot will begin its grand opening at noon with a keg tapping and ribbon-cutting ceremony. The day will continue with a special opening menu, games, live music and prize giveaways.

The beer garden, which is located at 15-16 149th St., aspires to serve authentic Austrian and German fare in the style of European biergartens, which offer beer and food at outdoor tables shared between multiple parties of guests.

Both the draft and bottled beer menus are exclusively made up of beer brewed outside the U.S, with most originating directly from Germany. Cocktails will also prominently feature European liquors and liqueurs.

Jagerhaus is currently accepting reservations for space in its dining room area. For more information, call 718-767-3486.


Whitestone Waterpointe site listed for sale

| asuriel@queenscourier.com

Photo courtesy of Cushman & Wakefield

An 18-acre waterfront property in Whitestone earmarked for the development of 52 single-family homes has been listed for sale by commercial realty company Cushman & Wakefield.

The property — located at 151-45 Sixth Road in Whitestone and known as Waterpointe — is currently owned by Edgestone Group, which paid $11.3 million for it in 2012. Cushman & Wakefield broker Stephen Preuss confirmed that the agency has been exclusively retained to arrange the sale, which is marketed to buyers looking to carry on Edgestone’s plan of building 52 homes and a waterfront park.

The property is listed to be sold “as-is.” Buyers would take up the burden of arranging for environmental cleanup of soil vapor which has been recorded to have elevated concentrations of aromatic and non-aromatic chemical compounds. Additionally, new owners would be tasked with mitigating any potential threat these vapors could pose to a residential community.

According to Preuss, the sellers did not name an asking price and are requesting proposals from potential buyers.

“Like any smart property owner, they’re seeing what the market has to yield currently,” Preuss said. “We’re in a very active market and there’s not a lot of large-scale, bulk land available in the boroughs.”

When contacted by The Courier, Waterpointe architect Joe Sultana disputed that the property was for sale and implied that he believed the listing to be unauthorized by the development team. Sultana said that to his knowledge the project was continuing as planned, with a meeting to discuss details of the development scheduled for September with members of Community Board 7.

Representatives of Edgestone Group LLC were outside of the United States when contacted by The Courier, and unable to be reached as of press time. Sultana was also unable to be reached to respond to statements made by Preuss.

Community Board 7 member Joe Sweeney said that he was troubled but not surprised by the conflicting accounts on the possible sale of the property.

“There’s no transparency even with the people that are working with them, this is obvious,” said Sweeney, a member of the zoning committee who has dealt closely with the project. “That’s what we’ve been battling with these people for years.”

The Waterpointe development has faced community opposition in the past due to proposed changes that would have seen 107 townhouses built on the space instead of the original 52 single-family homes. As most of the townhouses would have been two-family buildings, this would have resulted in a total of 203 units in the space, or around four times the original amount.

The changes were abandoned after an uproar from community board members and civic groups, and developers have since gone back to the original plan.

Sultana has said that the 52 single-family units would retail for about $2 million each. Forty of the homes will be between 2,000 to 3,000 square feet, and the remaining 12 will be bigger, more luxurious and situated closer to the waterfront.