Tag Archives: Whitestone

EXCLUSIVE: Incoming Whitestone beer garden reveals drink menu

| asuriel@queenscourier.com

Photo via Facebook

Whitestone’s incoming beer garden Jägerhaus Gastropub & Biergarten has finally revealed its long-awaited beer and cocktail menu exclusively to the The Courier.

Jägerhaus Gastropub & Biergarten will open at 15-16 149th St. this summer and serve authentic Austrian and German fare in the style of European biergartens, which serve beer and food at outdoor tables shared among multiple parties of guests.

The Jägerhaus team is aiming for authenticity in their Austrian and German fare. Both the draft and bottled beer menus are exclusively made up of beer brewed outside the U.S, with most originating directly from Germany.

The draft menu includes three sizes of up to a liter with price points that are the same according to size, regardless of selection. Each draft option is accompanied by a brief description to illustrate their flavor and summarize the methods of their production, such as the Krombacher Dunkel, which has “solid bread and chocolaty notes with roasted coffee malt undertones,” or the Radeberger, a “light, floral German Pilsner with a clean and refreshing taste.”

Cocktails will also prominently feature European liquors and liqueurs. The Black Forrest Tea is made with iced black tea and Stroh Jagertree, which is a concentrate that is diluted with hot water and is only produced in Austria. Another drink, the B&B, combines savory and sweet flavors by having apple liqueur, Bulleit Bourbon and bacon garnish.

Oliver Keegan, a chef who has worked at the prestigious Princeton Club on 43rd Street and the Hudson Hotel outside Columbus Circle, is on the Jägerhaus team, along with restaurateurs Bill Gross Christopher Keegan and Christopher Lohnes.

The developers of Jägerhaus have been slowly releasing information about the beer garden on social media, and a big chunk of their food menu can already be viewed on the Instagram page, @jagerhaus_gastropub. According to Gross, around 30 to 40 curious locals come by daily to see what is going on at the site of the pub.

“We’re trying to build the anticipation if you will,” said Gross. “We want to build something and do it right.”

The tentative opening date for Jägerhaus Gastropub & Biergarten is Aug. 8.


Whitestone pageant queen pursues charity causes and higher education

| asuriel@queenscourier.com

Photos courtesy of Margaret Skourlis

Whitestone resident Margaret Skourlis may be a pageant queen, but she’s a beauty with a brain and a killer resume.

The former Miss Supermodel USA-Petite was back on the pageant circuit this month as the New York representative in the national Ms. UNITE pageant, a charity event to benefit victims of domestic violence. While she did not raise enough donation money to place in the top spots of Ms. UNITE, Skourlis, 34, is a seasoned competitor who won her first title in the Miss Greek Independence Pageant as Miss Messina 2001, and has competed in a total of 15 pageants in her career.

“I’ve grown drastically in that [with] every pageant title I’ve held throughout my life, I was able to do different things to help different communities,” said Skourlis.

Although Skourlis herself has deep roots in Queens, having been born in Astoria and then moving to Whitestone at age 4, her father is originally from the Greek city of Kalamata and her mother is of Greek descent as well. The beauty queen promotes Greek tourism while competing in pageants in order to help stimulate the country’s economy during its current times of international debt and financial crisis.

Skourlis is also involved in giving back to the local Greek community by serving as the vice president of the Intercollegiate Hellenic Society, a nonprofit aimed at bringing together young people to promote Hellenic culture. The organization helps students get firsthand experience studying abroad and has a longstanding relationship with Montreal, a city that Skourlis has promoted in pageants in an effort to increase tourism.

“For years, we’ve been sending students to the city of Montreal, to experience the beauty of Montreal and to learn about the antiquity,” said Skourlis, who enjoys visiting restaurants and cafes in the old port of the Canadian city.

While the average person might feel satisfied if they had all of Skourlis’ accomplishments, she is always striving to learn more and broaden her own skill set. She is currently making her way through an online course with Harvard University to learn computer programing, but she already has a bachelor’s degree, two master’s degrees, and 16 certifications from Cornell University, along with paralegal, modeling and real estate sales certifications.

“When you meet different people you learn different things, but then getting background knowledge helps you change the world,” said Skourlis. “And my real goal is to be able to help the world and change people’s lives.”


Alleged drunk driver from Whitestone has run-in with sanitation truck

By Queens Courier Staff | editorial@queenscourier.com

File photo


There wasn’t a clean getaway for a Whitestone man charged with reckless endangerment and DWI after driving the wrong way on the Long Island Expressway and slamming into a sanitation truck, prosecutors announced.

Salvatore Ferrara, 34, reportedly claimed he did not realize he was driving on the wrong side of the road when his 2009 Mercedes-Benz collided head-on with a city Department of Sanitation truck at around 2:30 a.m. Wednesday on the Greenpoint Avenue exit ramp of the Long Island Expressway in Long Island City.

Police on the scene allegedly observed Ferrara standing unsteadily on his feet near his totaled vehicle with bloodshot eyes, slurred speech and a strong odor of alcohol on his breath.

According to the criminal complaint, Ferrara allegedly told officers that he had been driving his car from the city, and that he had had two mixed drinks, a couple of beers and two bumps of cocaine several hours before the accident occurred.

Both Ferrara and the sanitation driver were injured in the crash. The truck driver suffered pain to his arm, while Ferrara was hospitalized for chest pain and rib injuries.

Ferrara faces charges of first-degree reckless endangerment, operating a motor vehicle while under the influence of drugs or alcohol, and an infraction of vehicle traffic laws. If convicted, he could serve up to seven years in prison, according to the Queens district attorney’s office.


Identify this place in Queens

By Queens Courier Staff | editorial@queenscourier.com


Do you know where in Queens this photo was taken? Guess by commenting below! The answer will be revealed next week.

Last week’s answer to “Identify this Place”: St. Nicholas Orthodox Church in Whitestone




Whitestone beer garden opening in upcoming weeks

| asuriel@queenscourier.com

Photo via Facebook

Whitestone will soon be getting a new hotspot where locals can sample German cuisine in a trendy beer garden.

Jägerhaus Gastropub & Biergarten is set to open at 15-16 149th Street this summer at the former site of a Greek restaurant, Exo, which closed earlier in 2015. The spot aspires to serve authentic Austrian and German fare in the style of European biergartens, which serve beer and food at outdoor tables shared between multiple parties of guests.

Culinary veteran Bill Gross is involved with the incoming project, adding a wealth of experience and training to the restaurant’s development team. Gross has worked in major NYC restaurants such as Le Cirque, Eleven Madison Park and Cafe Gray, and is also a graduate of the Baking and Pastry Program at the Culinary Institute of America.

Construction is still underway at the beer joint, which will likely open in the upcoming weeks, and owners have already begun getting the word out on social media with Facebook and Instagram pages although Jägerhaus does not yet have an official opening date.

For updates on the pub’s progress, follow them at facebook.com/jagerhausnyc or check out their Instagram account at @jagerhaus_gastropub.


Whitestone resident develops website for local helicopter noise complaints

| asuriel@queenscourier.com


All they want is some peace and quiet.

A Whitestone resident is taking the issue of overhead helicopter noise into the hands of the community by developing a website for residents to digitally submit complaints.

Technology consultant Daniel Aronoff launched the beta test version of his site, “Stop the Chop NY,” on June 24 in an effort to fight back against sound pollution from helicopters and small airplanes flying over north Queens. Information gathered on the site will be sent to local city, state and federal representatives to appeal for their help in seeking relief.

“We wanted to have a community engine that we could control to try to effect change,” said Aronoff, who has lived in Whitestone in 2013 after purchasing a house his grandparents owned in the 1950s.

The site is being spread to the Whitestone community by Aronoff and civic group We Love Whitestone, and has already garnered more than 130 noise complaints. It will be open to other affected communities in mid-July after troubleshooting for operational issues which may occur during the initial trial period.

Features set to be added to the site in the near future include maps of collected complaints and the ability to submit reports of multiple incidents at the same time.

While a site designed by aircraft noise complaint company PlaneNoise is used by the Port Authority to officially collect complaints about airplane, Aronoff saw a need for an additional page because citizens are not able to easily access data collected from that site. Some residents have also said that they are frustrated with not being able to enter in multiple complaints at the same time, and that the page is generally not user-friendly.

The choppers passing over residential areas in north Queens are largely used by tourists from out of town and wealthy patrons chartering speedy transportation to the Hamptons. A study published by Bloomberg News shows that helicopter trips have significantly gone up in East Hampton Airport in 2014. Thanks to the increasing popularity of cellphone applications which allow chartered flights to be summoned almost instantaneously, this number is not likely to go down any time soon.

We Love Whitestone president Alfredo Centola says that he and his neighbors have noticed the increase in air traffic and the resulting noise, noting that sometimes he has even seen two separate aircrafts passing overhead at the same time.

“What happens is, Queens has been all of a sudden assaulted by these helicopters and small planes flying overhead,” said Centola, “and it’s progressively gotten worse.”


Maspeth woman celebrates over a century of life on 102nd birthday

| asuriel@queenscourier.com

THE COURIER/Photos by Alina Suriel

As the birthday song goes, “Are you one? Are you two? Are you…102?”

Former Maspeth resident Florence Galas celebrated her 102nd birthday Friday in Whitestone at The Grand at Queens, where she receives day-to-day care. Her friends and family were on hand to honor her long life and wish her well.

“She’s a beautiful woman. She’s been in my corner for years,” said her son, Michael Galas. “Everything I went through, she pulled me through.”

“She is a great mother, a great grandmother, and we’re happy that she’s still with us,” said her daughter, Penny VanMaldeghem.

The guest of honor herself was so overwhelmed with the attention that she kept repeating a single, simple phrase of gratitude.

“I’m so lucky,” she said. “I’m so lucky.”

Galas was born in Greece in 1913, and came to the U.S. a short while later in 1920 at 7 years old. After getting married in 1931, she spent most of her time caring for her family as a wife and mother, and had a total of four children.

Although her eyesight and hearing have been weakened due to her age, Galas still has a sharp mind which does not show signs of slowing down. She credits this to the fact that she had been a voracious reader for most of her life, reading as many as 12 books in a week.

Galas is fortunate enough to have a close companion who takes the time to read to her so she can still know the joy of a good book. Alan Capper, also a resident of The Grand, reads to her every day from a variety of novels and newspapers, and in that time he has gotten to know her own story very well.

“I find that she is extremely intelligent, very interesting to talk to about her life and the times that she’s lived through ” said Capper.

Galas was not only a reader in her earlier days, but also a painter.

She taught herself to paint in her ’70s by watching the television show of artist and painting instructor Bob Ross, and Galas was eventually so good that Ross asked her to come work for him as an art teacher after seeing a sample of her work. Ultimately, she refused, citing difficulties because of her advanced age.


Flushing development update: lack of space, increasing demand

| stephen.preuss@cushwake.com

Rendering courtesy of TDC Development International

In March, we discussed the development market in Flushing. Over the past couple of years, Flushing has been experiencing a rapidly increasing development market.

Approvals for multiple mega mixed-use projects were carried through — for example, the Willets Point project, Flushing Commons, and multiple hotel sites, including the Intercontinental Hotel at 36-18 Main Street, are in the development works.

Another topic of discussion in 2014 was potential upzoning for West Flushing, which would allow for increased residential development in order to provide for the dense flow of residents in Flushing. But although we have been seeing record pricing in 2015 as previously discussed, recently we have seen a lag in available land for development while demand is still rising.

Flushing has long been considered as a development Mecca in northern Queens. Its population is rapidly and consistently rising. Predominantly Asian, it is a thriving city for Asian culture, earning the name “the Chinese Manhattan.” Residential condos are selling at record prices — up to $700 per square foot for a two-bedroom condominium — and apartment rentals are seeing up to $2,000 and beyond per month for a one-bedroom. So it is no wonder downtown Flushing and its greater area has kept developers bullish over the potential.

Flushing Commons and the Willets Point project reach a square footage capacity upwards of 500,000 square feet. The amount of land left in Flushing to accommodate another project like that of Flushing Commons is significantly lacking.

We have been recently retained to sell 30-05 Whitestone Expwy. in Flushing. The site boasts 80,510 square feet of lot area with proposed plans for rezoning for a potential 523,315 buildable square feet for a mixed-use project or hotel development. Its location is within minutes from LaGuardia Airport and blocks away from downtown Flushing with great visibility from the Whitestone Expressway.

As previously discussed, the lack of space available has been a hindrance for developers — this site could serve as a rare opportunity for developers looking to capitalize on the little space Flushing has left.

Stephen R. Preuss is an executive director in the Capital Markets Group of Cushman & Wakefield, where he focuses on investment sales for various Queens neighborhoods. He has transacted in over $1 billion of investment and commercial real estate over his 15 year career. During his tenure, he has sold over 125 properties to date with an aggregate value of over $650 million.

Stephen Preuss

Stephen Preuss


Popular Rainbow clothing store in Whitestone to close

| asuriel@queenscourier.com

Photo courtesy of Kevin Fuchs/Welcome To Whitestone

Teen clothing chain Rainbow will be closing its location in the Whitestone Shopping Center.

Residents were disappointed to view a large banner in front of the store and posters in the window declaring the impending closure, which store employees believe will happen sometime in late July.

Devon O’Connor, president of the Welcome to Whitestone Civic Association, believed that competition from online retailers could be partially to blame for the chain shuttering its Whitestone outpost at 153-39 Cross Island Pkwy.

“It’s sad to see that a business that has been in the community for so many years is closing down,” said O’Connor. “It’s hard for retail stores to remain in business when it’s getting easier and easier to purchase items online from the comfort of your own home.”

Rainbow Shops opened up their first location in New York City in 1935, and the company has since expanded to 1,100 locations within 37 states, Puerto Rico, and the U.S. Virgin Islands. The chain is known for providing clothing and accessories to women and teenage girls at a low price point.

Representatives for Rainbow did not immediately respond to The Courier for comment.


Queens student busted for alleged terrorist support

| ctumola@queenscourier.com

Photo courtesy of Scott Bintner/Property Week

A 20-year-old college student living in Queens is accused of trying to help a terrorist group after he was arrested in an alleged confrontation with law enforcement, according to federal court documents.

The criminal complaint, filed in the Eastern District of New York, charges Munther Omar Saleh with knowingly conspiring to provide material support and resources, including service and personnel, to the foreign terrorist organization Islamic State of Iraq and the Levant (ISIL).

The U.S. citizen enrolled in January as a student at a college described as specializing in aeronautics located in the borough, and started coursework and laboratory work in electrical circuitry, court records said.

An investigation by the New York Joint Terrorism Task Force (JTTF) revealed that Saleh, also known as “Abu Omar al Ramil” and “Abu Omar ar-Ramil,” “espouses violent jihadists beliefs and is a fervent supporter” of ISIL, the complaint said, which has been demonstrated by his online activities in 2014 and 2015.

That support allegedly consisted of trying to make an explosive device to set off in the New York City area on behalf of ISIL and offering them help by translating propaganda materials to English.

Saleh’s online activity included tweets in support of the Charlie Hebdo terrorist attacks, the beheading of Japanese journalist Kenji Goto by ISIL, the establishment of an ISIL military presence and Sharia law in New York City, and more recently the terrorist attack in Garland, Texas, according to court records.

A search of his computer and electronic surveillance of his online activity, including tweets, also revealed his translation work.

On March 15, a Port Authority police officer spotted Saleh walking toward the George Washington Bridge from the New Jersey side, court records said. He asked the officer for a ride across, and was told he could take a bus to the New York side of the bridge, but it was later determined that he never took the bus.

The following day, the same officer allegedly saw him walking on the bridge from New Jersey as Saleh was looking around repeatedly. The officer asked Saleh to accompany him back to the Port Authority office in Fort Lee, where he was later interviewed by a JTTF law enforcement officer.

During the interview, he reportedly said had gone to New Jersey to visit a friend and, when asked what he thought of ISIL, first said was not sure, but then expressed disapproval and stated he did not condone violence. He also consented to a computer search.

Authorities also believe that his activities revealed a “continuing effort to conduct a terrorist attack on behalf of ISIL, including by learning how to construct and detonate an explosive device,” according to the criminal complaint, and that his coursework in electrical circuitry could be “useful in the construction of an explosive device.”

Among his Internet activity that pointed to his alleged intent included a May 7 email to himself that contained information about the construction of a pressure cooker bomb and searches for parts that could be used in an explosive device.

On May 10, law enforcement members surveilling Saleh also observed him enter a spy store in Queens, which they believe sells products that could be used in a device.

There were also searches of New York City landmarks and tourist attractions, surveillance cameras, weapons, ammunition, remote control helicopters and drones that piqued law enforcement interest.

In the early morning of June 13, a co-conspirator was driving Saleh and another co-conspirator, both of whom were not identified, when law enforcement members, performing surveillance, allegedly observed the Jeep running stop signs and driving quickly through a parking lot with the vehicle’s lights off.

At about 4 a.m. while stopped at red light on 20th Avenue near the Whitestone Expressway, Saleh and the other passenger exited the car and took several steps toward the law enforcement vehicle before returning to the Jeep, court documents said. Moments later, the pair then got out of the car again and ran toward it, one going at each side. The car had to reverse to avoid them.

Saleh and the passenger were arrested at the scene and a search turned up a Smith & Wesson folding tactical knife in the waistband of the passenger’s pants. While they were detained, the two allegedly said they knew they were being followed for several days by several vehicles.



Whitestone street dedicated to former resident

| asuriel@queenscourier.com

THE COURIER/Photo by Alina Suriel

The Whitestone community had a strong turnout on June 12 for the dedication of a local street in honor of a late veteran known for his volunteer efforts.

The residential street on 145th Place and 17th Avenue will now be known as Robert C. Lohnes Way after Robert Lohnes, a former first class seaman in the United States Navy and retired NYPD detective.

He had lived on the street with his family for over 40 years before dying last year.

During his lifetime, Lohnes received a National Defense Medal for his nine-year stint in the U.S. Navy, and later served 34 years as a detective in the NYPD.

He was also involved in numerous volunteer efforts in the community, including the Whitestone Community Ambulance Service, Boy Scouts of America and Girl Scouts of America, in addition to helping out with response efforts during and after the Sept. 11, 2001, terrorist attacks.

Lohnes passed away unexpectedly in late winter 2014 after being stricken with a form of blood cancer.

Councilman Paul Vallone and Assemblyman Edward Braunstein stood with Lohnes’ family and friends to unveil the street’s new name.

“Today, and every day, we remember and thank Bob for his service to our great country, our great city, and northeast Queens, and I am proud to join Bob’s wife and children on this very special day,” said Vallone.

“Whitestone, in many senses, is like a small town in a big city: everybody knows each other,” Braunstein added. “If it wasn’t for people like Robert Lohnes, this community wouldn’t be the special place that it is.”

According to Magaly Lohnes, Robert’s wife of 44 years, neighbors overwhelmingly supported the petition to dedicate the street to her late husband.

“A couple of the people even said they’re going to miss the mayor of 145th Place,” Magaly Lohnes said. “Because Bob was out there, he knew everybody, and everybody knew him.”

There was a solemn bagpipe performance of patriotic songs and members of the nonprofit organization Veterans of Foreign Wars were in attendance to honor their fallen comrade.

Many former members of Lohnes’ Boy Scout troops and their families were also among those paying their respects in the crowd of 50 people.

“We want to pay tribute to a man who dedicated his life to service,” said family friend Pat Connolly, who credits Lohnes with mentoring her two sons in their Eagle Scout troops. “He is sorely missed.”


Whitestone community raises funds online for sick 2-year-old

| asuriel@queenscourier.com

Photos courtesy of Michaela Giragosian

The Whitestone community has come together in a big way to raise funds for the family of a toddler with a rare form of cancer.

Two-year-old Lola Rose Giragosian of Whitestone was found to have a cancerous mass at the bottom of her skull after weeks of usually sluggish behavior culminating in a trip to the emergency room in February. The tumor had been pushing down on her spine, making her legs feel very weak and causing a great deal of pain to the little girl.

Testing showed that Giragosian was suffering from a chordoma, a rare type of cancerous tumor that can occur anywhere along the spine, from the base of the skull to the tailbone. According the National Library of Medicine, chordomas are so rare that they affect only one in a million people, and comprise fewer than 1 percent of tumors affecting the brain and spinal cord.

“It was just my worst nightmare. We’re over here trying to be happy about having another baby and you’re hit with this bomb,” said Lola Rose’s mother, Michaela Giragosian, who was then eight to nine months pregnant with the family’s second child. “We didn’t know how to react.”

Lola Rose’s parents found that they would need to take daily trips back and forth to the doctor’s office in Manhattan to deal with her diagnosis, and juggle this responsibility with the care of newborn Lucy, who was born shortly after her older sister’s health problems began.

Lola Rose’s mother said that although many new parents find it stressful to have young children, she and her husband treasure time when their family can finally be under the same roof experiencing their children’s early years and growing pains.

“We love the screaming and crying,” Michaela Giragosian said. “Parents can’t take that sometimes, but when we hear both of them screaming [together], we embrace those moments.”

In an effort to help with the family’s medical bills, household bills and traveling costs, a cousin set up an account with Gofundme.com, a crowdfunding site where donations can be solicited to raise large amounts of cash in a short time. The money raised for Lola will also cover a trip to Disney World for the family, since the little girl always has a smile when she sees her favorite character, Minnie Mouse.

To date, the GoFundMe account for Lola Rose has only been active for two days and has already raised more than $4,200 from 69 donors, although it is still short of its $20,000 goal. Online publicity and support by local community groups are largely to thank for the speedy fundraising, with the civic group We Love Whitestone continuously sharing information about the campaign through multiple media platforms.

Michaela Giragosian, who was born and raised in Whitestone, said that the outpouring of support from people in her community was overwhelming, and that she thanked the community for their generosity, support and prayers.

“As a parent sometimes you think you can do things on your own, and when people step in and see that you need help and be so supportive it’s an amazing thing,” said Giragosian, who hopes little Lola will be well enough to go on her Disney adventure by the end of 2015.

To donate funds for Lola Rose’s GoFundMe account online, click here.


Whitestone’s defunct little league program gets new life

| agiudice@ridgewoodtimes.com

Photo courtesy Mets Sandlot Baseball League

The Mets Sandlot Baseball League, founded in the 1960s, was once an outlet for kids and young adults to continue playing past the summer months — but for almost two decades, it’s been inactive. Now, two coaches are helping to resurrect the league with a new generation of players.

In 2012, John Guarneri and Arthur Lagrega wanted to extend the Bayside Little League summer season into the fall. At that time there were no fall programs in Bayside and the fall programs from other local leagues were canceled. In response, they introduced the Whitestone, Bayside, Flushing (WBF) Baseball Program “where the players will not only play games, but also learn about the game and the proper way to play it,” Guarneri said.

By 2014, the WBF league had reached 133 registered players, enough for nine teams. The speedy growth of the program led the coaches to bring back the Mets Sandlot Baseball League.

After a successful 2014 campaign, the board members decided to start a new travel league, called New York City Elite (NYCE). Now, both the WBF Baseball Program and NYCE are incorporated under the Mets Sandlot Baseball League.

As the program keeps developing, its leaders look back to the league’s history. At its height, elite little league teams such as the Bayside Yankees, Flushing Tigers, Youth Service Bonnies, Whitestone Knights, Astoria Youth, Elmjack and Long Island Mets used to participate, and divisions ranged from 10 and up to 21 and up.

“Our vision is to improve the overall baseball talent in the Whitestone, Bayside, Flushing and surrounding areas,” Guarneri said. “We also look to give the players a positive experience that they will remember the rest of their lives and also learn many different life lessons that they will use throughout their life.”



Mosquitoes, graffiti and uncertainty: history of problems for Whitestone site

| lguerre@queenscourier.com

Photos THE COURIER/by Liam La Guerre and courtesy of Artie McCrossen

Retired firefighter Artie McCrossen, his wife, their son, and the family’s dog are the only residents on their side of a Whitestone block.

Their former neighbors moved out and sold their properties decades earlier to the Catholic Charities Diocese of Brooklyn and Queens for part of the Cresthaven Country Club near the intersection of 150th Street and 6th Avenue. The club, which closed in 1989, was situated on 22 acres and consisted of a catering hall for weddings and other events, pools, and tennis and handball courts.

Catholic Charities once operated a large summer camp on the land where hundreds of children played daily. About 16 acres were sold in 2000 and more than 100 homes were developed, leaving a pesky six-acre plot that surrounds McCrossen’s home on three sides.

The lot has resurfaced in the news lately as developer Fulcrum Real Estate Advisors LLC recently purchased it for about $14 million through a foreclosure auction and plans to begin construction of a 45-home project this summer. But for about a decade McCrossen and his family have been living with the property, which has attracted rodents and garbage, and while developing it could be good, it comes with a level of uncertainty that troubles him.

“I don’t know what’s going to happen next door, so should I put more money into this house?” McCrossen said. “I don’t know where I stand here.”

McCrossen, 61, was born and grew up in the home. As a teenager, he worked part time cleaning tennis courts on the land. He was devastated when all the trees were removed from the land for a 50-home plan proposed by Whitestone Jewels LLC, which bought the land from the Catholic Charities in 2006 for $23.3 million.

Whitestone Jewels started construction on a few homes on the property, before running out of money and slipping into foreclosure.

For years, the six acres stayed untouched and the family lived with an imposing baby-blue-colored fence that surrounds the site.

By 2012, the unkempt land fostered swarms of mosquitoes in weeds as high as 5 feet. It also attracted garbage, raccoons, opossums and hard-nosed graffiti artists that made certain to leave their marks across the blue fence. After battles with raccoons and enough mosquito bites for a lifetime, McCrossen enlisted help from state Senator Tony Avella to eventually get the site cleaned up.

McCrossen as well as the rest of the Whitestone community, has been fighting for only single-family homes on the site, and at an even larger vacant site nearby.

While he feels optimistic that this time Fulcrum will be able to develop the site as the community envisions, McCrossen is a little exhausted with the issues of the site over the past decade and hopes to see action soon.

“My main concern is how bad is it going to get before it gets better,” he said. “I’m to the point of just get it over with.”


Attempted robbery, car chase ends after crash into Whitestone home

| ctumola@queenscourier.com

Photos courtesy of Jackeline Garcia

A dramatic car chase through Queens Wednesday night ended with a getaway car slamming into a Whitestone home and two suspected robbers in handcuffs, police said.

The trouble began at about 7:45 p.m. at a cellphone store in Flushing.

According to authorities, three men entered the Verizon store at 191-30 Northern Blvd. while wearing masks and simulating a firearm, and announced they were robbing the place.

The suspects then fled without taking anything, with one escaping on foot and the other two getting away in a van.

Police were able to spot the van near the Cross Island Parkway and Willets Point Boulevard a short time later and a chase reportedly ensued. As the cops went after the suspects, the van struck two parked cars before crashing into a nearby home on Willets Point Boulevard.

One suspect, 20-year-old Xavier Oneal of Brooklyn, was arrested at the scene. The van’s other occupant, 38-year-old Andrew Taylor, also of Brooklyn, was nabbed not far from the scene at Utopia Parkway and 17th Road after fleeing on foot. Both have been charged with robbery, reckless endangerment, criminal mischief, fleeing an officer in a motor vehicle and menacing, police said.

According to the FDNY, five people were hurt as a result of the chase. Four were taken to North Shore-LIJ with minor or non-life threatening injuries. One person refused medical attention at the scene.