Tag Archives: Willets Point

Sen. Tony Avella, park advocates sue to stop Citi Field mega mall


| mchan@queenscourier.com

Rendering courtesy NYCEDC

State Senator Tony Avella and a long list of Queens park advocates are suing the city to stop a mega mall from coming to Citi Field.

The 1.4 million-square-foot shopping center is part of a major $3 billion project by Sterling Equities and Related Companies to redevelop Willets Point.

The ambitious and controversial plan, approved Oct. 9 by the City Council, also includes the cleanup of 23 acres of contaminated land and the eventual construction of housing units with commercial and retail space.

The group filed the suit Feb. 10 in New York County Supreme Court, saying the project cannot proceed without state Legislature approval under a doctrine that protects state parkland.

The suit also seeks annulments of city approvals.

“It’s a serious principle here,” Avella said. “If the city is allowed to get away with this, what’s to stop them next time? If we keep giving it away, someday we’ll wake up and there will be no parks.”

 

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City still tallying Willets Point business owners who took final payout to relocate


| mchan@queenscourier.com

THE COURIER/Photo by Liam La Guerre

The city is still tallying the number of Willets Point business owners who took a final payout to relocate, officials said.

A pooled $3.5 million was up for grabs for auto shop owners in the Phase 1 area of the development site who agreed to leave the Iron Triangle by the end of January.

The city’s Economic Development Corporation (EDC) offered shop owners a payout equal to one year’s rent, if they relocated by Nov. 30, and six months’ rent, if they left between December and the end of January.

The city was still making final counts Wednesday, an EDC spokesperson said, adding that a more concrete number would be available next week.

In December, nine businesses agreed to vacate by Jan. 31 and 22 took a payout to relocate by November, according to Megan Montalvo, a spokesperson for Councilmember Julissa Ferreras, who represents the area.

At the end of November, 30 relocated, signed new leases or are close to doing so, she said.

About 50 business owners from the Sunrise Co-op, a large group fighting to relocate together, are inching closer to signing their own lease with the city to move as a group to the Bronx, Sunrise leader Sergio Aguirre said.

“We will have good news soon,” he said.

The city has been urging shops to leave in order to make way for a $3 billion project to redevelop Willets Point, which includes cleaning up 23 acres of contaminated land, and eventually constructing housing units and a mega mall near Citi Field.

 

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Convention center and 25-story hotel headed for Corona


| mchan@queenscourier.com

Renderings courtesy of Fleet Financial Group

A convention center complex as big as a city block, with a 25-story hotel and apartments, may be coming to Queens. 

Fleet Financial Group plans to build a roughly 106,000-square-foot convention center, the largest in the East Coast, at 112-21 Northern Blvd. in Corona.

The $200 million real estate project also includes 292 river-view hotel rooms, 236 luxurious apartments, a shopping center and a high-class restaurant.

“That area is really booming. It’s going to be great for Queens,” said Fleet president Richard Xia.

The site is near Citi Field, where a major $3 billion redevelopment project, including a mega mall, is slated for Willets Point. It is also by the Grand Central Parkway, about two miles from LaGuardia Airport.

“People pass by, but they never stop here,” said Xia, who lives and works in Flushing. “It’s going to be something that will create a lot of jobs and, in the meantime, bring a lot more business activity to Queens.”

Fleet purchased the 1.67-acre property — currently the site of the DiBlasi Ford dealership — last month for $17 million, according to Xia.

The company is also in the midst of completing an 18-story Westin Element hotel, with a medical center, at 42-31 Union St. in Flushing.

Construction of the massive complex in Corona, dubbed the Eastern Emerald Center, would create nearly 3,000 jobs, Xia said.

Work is expected to start this June and end in 2017, though the proposal still needs approval from Community Board 3, the Queens borough president and the city.

The project has support from Queens Economic Development Corp. Executive Director Seth Bornstein and Queens Chamber of Commerce President Al Pennisi.

“It sounds like a really good idea,” Bornstein said. “We lack quality, large-scale space for events. It would really be a benefit to the borough.”

Pennisi said the city “could use more than one” facility like the Javits Center in Manhattan.

“[The Chamber] thought of this project,” Pennisi said. “It’ll bring conventions of all sizes into a modern facility. Everybody will benefit from it.”

Councilmember Julissa Ferreras and Victor Rodriguez, a Corona resident who owns a mini market near the proposed complex, hope the development will be a boon for the neighborhood.

“I think it’s good for us,” Rodriguez said. “It’ll bring more people here.”

But a local educator, who did not want to be named, said the slated site is near too many schools on an already accident-prone portion of Northern Boulevard.

“To have something of that magnitude, and all these people coming to town, I can’t see how that improves anything,” she said. “Money is good and people need jobs, but there are so many other things not fixed as is.”

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City OKs $43M in tax breaks for Willets Point developers


| mchan@queenscourier.com

Photo rendering courtesy of NYCEDC

The city has approved $43 million in tax breaks for developers who plan to transform Willets Point into a retail and entertainment destination. 

The New York City Industrial Development Agency (NYCIDA) voted Tuesday to give the incentives to the Queens Development Group, a joint venture between Sterling Equities and Related Companies.

“That’s one of the most terrible things the city is doing,” said Arturo Olaya, president of the Willets Point Defense Committee of Small Businesses and Workers.

“The city is giving the money to the billionaires. And you know what they’re doing to the people here in Willets Point? They’re evicting the people and closing the businesses to give them this land for free,” Olaya said.

The city’s Economic Development Corporation (EDC) has offered more than $12.5 million in relocation aid to business owners in the first phase of the development site.

As of the end of last month, 30 have already relocated, signed new leases or are close to doing so, according to a Megan Montalvo, a spokesperson for Councilmember Julissa Ferreras, who represents the area.

The city also plans to give the land to developers for $1 after the Queens delegation of the City Council approved the sale in November.

State Senator Tony Avella said aiding developers with the additional millions was “an absolute disgrace.”

“The city is taking advantage of those property owners, who are really getting the shaft,” he said. “The city is giving that land to them for a dollar, and now they want $43 million in tax breaks.”

The major $3 billion project to redevelop Willets Point, now made up of hundreds of auto shops, includes cleaning up 23 acres of contaminated land.

Plans also eventually call for constructing housing units and a 1.4 million-square-foot shopping center west of Citi Field.

“While I remain confident that this development, as a whole, will greatly enhance the quality of life for my constituents, I will respect whatever decision the IDA deems appropriate for this application,” Ferreras said.

 

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More than 30 business owners take payout to leave Willets Point


| mchan@queenscourier.com

THE COURIER/Photos by Liam La Guerre

“We’ve moved” signs are popping up in Willets Point, as 22 business owners took a payout to relocate by the end of last month, city officials said.

The city’s Economic Development Corporation (EDC) in August offered a pooled $3.5 million to auto shop owners in the Phase 1 area of the Willets Point development site who agree to leave the Iron Triangle by the end of January.

Shop owners who relocated by November 30 will be given a payout equal to one year’s rent, while those who leave between December and the end of January will get a payment equal to six months’ rent.

Nine businesses have agreed to vacate by January 31, according to a Megan Montalvo, a spokesperson for Councilmember Julissa Ferreras, who represents the area.

As of the end of last month, 30 have already relocated, signed new leases or are close to doing so, Montalvo said.

About 50 business owners from the Sunrise Co-op, a large group fighting to relocate together, are in talks with the city to move to the Bronx, according to Sunrise leader Sergio Aguirre.

“We are in negotiations,” Aguirre said. “We don’t know when we’re going to finish. Until we have that agreement, we can’t say anything.”

But some have no plans to leave the site, including Yoni Chazbani, who owns ACDC Scrap Metal on Willets Point Boulevard.

“If they were to give me 12 times the monthly rent, I wouldn’t be able to move a few cars out of here. That’s for sure,” he said. “Honestly, I hope I could stay here for another 20 years. That’s what I’m trying to do.”

Chazbani said customers are pouring in daily, hoping the auto shops will stay put.

“They look at the place and they say, ‘I can’t believe you guys are moving. I’m going to need you. I’m going to need to fix my car for a good price,’” he said. “Everywhere, out of this yard, prices are more expensive. This does everyone good. It benefits everybody but the city.”

Businesses have long said they can only survive if they are moved as a whole and can continue as a one-stop shop for motorists.

“I already invested a lot of money in my business, but to the city it’s garbage,” said Arturo Olaya, owner of Arthur’s Upholstery on 36th Avenue and president of the Willets Point Defense Committee for Small Businesses and Workers.

The city has been urging shops to leave since February, in order to make way for a $3 billion project to redevelop Willets Point. But, the entire Phase 1 area must first be vacated before environmental remediation can begin.

Plans for the larger project include cleaning up 23 acres of contaminated land and eventually constructing housing units and a mega mall near Citi Field.

The first-come, first-served payouts were added onto the $9 million in relocation aid already offered.

With additional reporting by Liam La Guerre

 

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Borough Board approves $1 sale of Willets Point


| aaltamirano@queenscourier.com

The project to build a shopping center next to Citi Field is on the move.

The Queens Borough Board voted on November 18 to allow the city’s Economic Development Council to sell the 23 acres of land for $1 to the Queens Development Group. The land is needed for the Willets Point project and would be cleaned up to make way for a 1.4 million-square-foot complex which will consist of a mall and housing units with commercial and retail space.

“After carefully reviewing the Willets Point proposal and taking my district’s needs into account, I am confident that this development will be a win for my constituents, a win for Willets Point, and a win for the great City of New York,” said Councilmember Julissa Ferreras, who represents the area and voted yes to the proposal.

All seven councilmembers on the board who were present during the meeting and Borough President Helen Marshall voted yes to the proposal. The only no vote came from Community Board 7’s Chair Eugene Kelty.

“The votes in favor of this proposal give us the unique opportunity to remove the blighted history of Willets Point and ensure it is a place for families to enjoy living and shopping for years to come,” said Ferreras.

The City Council approved the $3 million Willets Point project in October.

 

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A Willets Point wish list for de Blasio


By Queens Courier Staff | editorial@queenscourier.com

Photo by Thad Komorowski

THAD KOMOROWSKI

The $3 billion plan to transform Willets Point from a grungy haven for auto shops into a slick shopping mega center has sparked protests, petitions and even a hunger strike since the Bloomberg administration announced the project.

But opponents largely fell silent after the City Council voted to approve the plan on October 9. Now, they’re waiting to see what the incoming mayor might do.

Willets Point United, an organization that has protested the proposal since it was announced, has kept quiet in the wake of the Council’s decision. Normally updating its blog and Twitter feed with the frequency of a teenager, the group has been unresponsive to reporters’ calls and emails.

The silence has even extended to the group’s attorney Michael Rikon, who also represents business owners in Willets Points, located in the shadow of Citi Field.

“Maybe the organization is so exhausted from the fight that they would not come up to my office,” Rikon said. “They may be in a really bad bind. But I can’t represent an organization that won’t meet with its attorney.”

While Willets Point United may be quiet, resentment of the plan is alive and well among the affected business owners.

Arturo Olaya, proprietor of Arthur’s Auto Trim, said the city is displacing him and other Willets Point business owners without giving them enough money or understanding the area’s way of life.

“People here can’t pick up a business and move it,” Olaya said. “Willets Point grew up by itself with no help from the government. Now Bloomberg is just concerned with big business and wants to level everybody out.”

Queens residents are suffering from the redevelopment plan too, said Alan Gross, a Census Bureau field representative who lives in North Flushing.

“Those shops provide an important service to people in Queens, and I experienced that firsthand,” Gross said. “People can’t afford to go to the dealerships and get parts from part stores themselves.”

Locals say they would have preferred to improve the neighborhood in small ways. If simple sewage, street and gas repair were done, Rikon said, Willets Point would repair itself.

But John Choe, director of One Flushing Community Economic Development Center, said that smaller community needs getting abandoned in favor of large-scale development is a hallmark of the Bloomberg era.

“We have fallen by the wayside,” Choe said. “Maybe the next administration could do a better job addressing the needs of the surroundings here.”

Newly elected Mayor Bill de Blasio has not commented on the Willets Point redevelopment, and didn’t respond to inquiries.

The construction of the project’s mall is set for completion by the time of the next mayor’s second term or exit in 2018. Choe said locals can only hope Bloomberg’s successor will take the small communities’ needs seriously as the project progresses.

“We’re looking for more of a presence of the mayor, where they’re actually coming to the neighborhood besides in election time,” Choe said. “We’re hoping the next mayor will have a longer outlook of what’s going on here and an active interest in us.”

 

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Willets Point developers discuss affordable housing, ramps at meeting with community board


| mchan@queenscourier.com

Ramps and affordable housing were at the heart of the first quarterly meeting between a local community board and developers of a major Willets Point redevelopment project.

Related Companies and Sterling Equities briefed Community Board 7 on October 17. The meeting was the first of four this year required under a last-minute pledge they made to sway the board towards approval. The joint venture must put $100,000 into a traffic fund for each one missed.

CB 7 Vice Chair Chuck Apelian said the city officially allocated $66 million in its capital budget for the design and construction of traffic ramps that will lead into the transformed Willets Point mixed-use development.

The ramps off the Van Wyck Expressway were necessary to fulfill the affordable housing portion of the major $3 billion redevelopment project.

“The key is that we didn’t have in our hearings any confirmation that there would be money to build these ramps,” Apelian said.

There was also some insight into housing site plans, including affordable units for seniors, Apelian said.

The joint venture is eyeing one location in Flushing near Main Street by the Long Island Rail Road (LIRR) station and plans to build about 235 units in Corona, Jackson Heights and Elmhurst, according to CB 7.

Developers promised the City Council in October they would move up construction of the total 2,500 housing units — 35 percent of which will be affordable — from its original set 2025 date.

They are also discussing plans to expand LIRR service to Willets Point, according to Apelian.

The city currently owns 95 percent of 23 acres in the project’s first phase, according to New York City Economic Development Corp. There is no timetable as to when the remaining properties will be acquired, Apelian said.

“They still don’t own it all and until that time, they can’t transfer the property to the developers, so nothing will move forward,” he said. “It’s going to be an all or nothing proposition.”

 

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Banksy piece appears briefly in Willets Point before taken away to Ozone Park home


| aaltamirano@queenscourier.com

Photos courtesy of Instagram/dr_lou

British graffiti artist Banksy made his way back into Queens, but then was taken out.

According to reports, the ghost-like and notorious artist, who has been going around New York and leaving various types of art works as part of his one-of-a-kind show titled “Better Out Than In,” created a small replica of the great Sphinx of Giza out of smashed cinderblocks near a mechanic auto shop on 35th Avenue and 127th Street in Willets Point.

The sculpture was reported to be seen early Tuesday but in only a few hours was dismantled onto a truck and taken away.

A driver for the moving company that picked up the Banksy piece on Tuesday said the mechanics of the nearby auto shop asked to have it moved to a home in Ozone Park, where it was placed inside of a garage.

The driver said he was worried about the statue, but was told by the mechanics they would be made responsible for it as they carefully placed the figure inside the truck.

“I didn’t really know what was going on,” said the driver who wished to remain anonymous.

Along with tagging up Manhattan and Brooklyn, Banksy made his first Queens appearance on October 14 in Woodside.

On a blank wall located on 69th Street and 38th Avenue, the artist wrote the quote, “What we do in life echoes in Eternity” from the movie “Gladiator” and stenciled a man trying to wipe off the words. Another graffiti artist painted over the piece that same night.

The artist began his “exhibit” on October 1 with his first piece appearing in Manhattan with reports saying it was on a building in Chinatown. Each day the official website for Banksy, www.banksyny.com, gets updated with images of the new stencils.

On Wednesday, instead of a new piece being published, a post appeared on the artist’s official website that said “Today’s art has been cancelled due to police activity.”

 

Willets Point mega mall gets final City Council green light


| mchan@queenscourier.com

Photo rendering courtesy of NYCEDC

The City Council approved a major $3 billion Willets Point project Wednesday, clearing the way for a mega mall near Citi Field.

Developers Sterling Equities and Related Companies needed the council’s permission to move Citi Field parking to Willets Point in order to build a 1.4 million-square-foot shopping center west of the baseball stadium.

It was the last hurdle the joint venture needed to jump over after Community Board 7, Queens Borough President Helen Marshall and the City Planning Commission gave the project the green light this summer.

The ambitious project includes the cleanup of 23 acres of contaminated land east of Citi Field and eventual construction of housing units with commercial and retail space.

It was long stalled as Councilmember Julissa Ferreras, who represents the area, waited for better relocation plans for soon-to-be-displaced Willets Point business owners.

Auto shop owners who make up the Iron Triangle said they can only survive if they are moved as a whole and can continue as a one-stop shop for motorists.

The pooled $12.5 million offered in total relocation aid payouts were not enough for the approximate 100 auto shops in the first phase of the redevelopment site, advocates said.

The city agreed to spend $15.5 million on moving expenses and relocation of Willets Point business owners as part of a deal struck with the City Council, Ferreras said.

About $17 million more will be given to the Flushing Meadows-Corona Park Alliance for upkeep and maintenance of the park and construction of a green rooftop farm on top of the entertainment center.

“This deal would be a win for our constituents, a win for Willets Point and a win for New York City,” Ferreras said. “This vote has always been about improving the lives of our constituents.”

Construction of 2,500 housing units — 35 percent of which will be affordable — will also be moved up from its original set 2025 date, officials said.

“It is important to note that never before has a council district seen this much affordable housing,” Ferreras said.

“For years, this area has gone without many of the resources the rest of the city has regularly received,” she continued. “Our district deserves to have the same treatment as any other area in New York City.”

About $66 million in the city budget will be set aside to put up new ramps off the Van Wyck Expressway, Ferreras said. Developers also agreed to shell out $7 million for traffic improvement and mitigations.

Written commitments by the joint venture also include funding traffic mitigation measures, building a 1,000-seat K-8 public school, giving $1.87 million to the Willets Point Infrastructure and Traffic Mitigation Fund and hiring locally.

Critics of the plan still say the area needs affordable housing before a colossal shopping center.

Hundreds marched to oppose the project late last month, and at least eight auto shop owners held a hunger strike in August.

“It’s been a long time coming,” said Councilmember Mark Weprin, chair of the Zoning and Franchises Subcommittee. “We’ve heard from everyone who wanted to testify right until the end. Not everyone got everything they wanted … [but] the process works. It is great when the community voices can be heard and the members can sit and advocate on behalf of their constituents.”

Officials said the project would provide 7,100 permanent jobs and generate more than $310 million in tax revenue.

“Today’s approvals mean that the historic vision for a redeveloped Willets Point is finally going to become a reality,” the joint venture said in a statement. “Thanks to today’s actions, we are going to transform a contaminated site into a new community with thousands of new jobs, affordable housing, retail and open space.”

 

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Willets Point business owners hold hunger strike as vote is delayed


| mchan@queenscourier.com

THE COURIER/Photo by Melissa Chan

The hunger strike being held by a group of auto shop owners at Willets Point is a “look into the future” for soon-to-be displaced families who could be left fending for food and a sustainable job, advocates said.

At least eight business owners are fasting and staying put inside an auto shop at 37-03 126th Street until they can be relocated out of the Iron Triangle as a group. They began the strike on Friday, August 30.

“I have to do it,” said Julia Sandoval, a 56-year-old business owner who is diabetic and striking against her doctor’s orders. “I have to do something. It’s my place, my business.”

The city has been urging shops to leave in order to make way for a $3 billion project to redevelop Willets Point, which includes cleaning up 23 acres of contaminated land and eventually constructing housing units and a mega mall near Citi Field.

Developers need the City Council’s final approval to move Citi Field parking to Willets Point in order to construct a 1.4 million-square-foot shopping center west of the baseball stadium.

However, the Council’s Subcommittee on Zoning and Franchises did not vote on the project during a September 3 hearing and is not expected to do so this month, sources said.

Councilmember Julissa Ferreras, who represents the area, instead grilled city officials and developers for more answers and better relocation plans.

“I want to ensure the proposed development is fair and balanced,” Ferreras said. “Before making any decision, we must know all the facts and the community must feel reassured that this is the best decision.”

Soon-to-be displaced businesses say they can only survive if they are moved as a whole and can continue as a one-stop shop for motorists.

“The motor, body work, glass — all these things get damaged [in a car accident],” said Marco Neira, an advocate for the businesses. “They come in with a car over here and they find everything in one place. They pay half of the price they could pay somewhere else.”

Ferreras, at the hearing, said she was told in 2009 the businesses could be moved in a group.

“We are now here in 2013 and I’m being told it’s impossible – the economy, all the reasons why it can’t happen,” she said. “That is not a plan that we can just scrape off the table now.”

Neira said business owners have been eyeing a $9 million spot in Maspeth which would house 60 to 80 shops, but they have heard no guarantee from the city.

City officials said they were open to group relocations and proposed moving smaller clusters of five to seven businesses.

Economic Development Corporation executive Thomas McKnight said the city has found 140 potential relocation sites in the last year.

So far, there are only relocation plans in works for 10 businesses of the 120 eligible, officials said.

The project has been given the green light by the City Planning Commission, Queens Borough President Helen Marshall and Community Board 7, but both the board and borough president had conditions for its endorsements.

They said surrounding communities and its leaders must be kept informed of the project’s progress and traffic problems that arise.

The city and the facility’s developer must also fulfill written commitments they made, which include funding traffic mitigation measures, building a 1,000-seat K-8 public school, giving $1.87 million to the Willets Point Infrastructure and Traffic Mitigation Fund, and hiring locally.

 

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$3.5M in payouts on table for Willets Point business owners


| mchan@queenscourier.com

A pooled $3.5 million in payouts is on tap for some Willets Point business owners who agree to leave the Iron Triangle by the end of January.

The city’s Economic Development Corporation (EDC) sent letters earlier this month to 90 auto shop owners in the Phase 1 area of the Willets Point development site, alerting them of the extra millions now on the table.

Shop owners who relocate by November 30 will be given a payout equal to one year’s rent, city officials said. Those who leave between December and the end of January will receive a payment equal to six month’s rent.

Under the payment plan, if a business owner who currently pays the city’s Department of Housing Preservation and Development $2,000 a month in rent leaves by the end of November, he or she would get $24,000.

The new pooled funds are on a first-come, first-serve basis, city officials said, and are added onto the $9 million in relocation aid already offered.

The EDC, which has said the entire Phase 1 area must be vacated before environmental remediation can begin, has been urging shop owners to relocate since this February.

Only one has left the Phase 1 site so far, an EDC spokesperson said, but two others have struck relocation deals and others are in “serious negotiation.”

Plans for the larger $3 billion project to redevelop Willets Point include cleaning up 23 acres of contaminated land and eventually constructing housing units and a mega mall near Citi Field.

“I think we’re getting pushed out,” said Tommy Cohen, who owns ACDC Scrap Metal. “We don’t have a choice.”

Willets Point United said on its website the deal is “fool’s gold and is little more than a bus ticket out of town for these immigrant Hispanic business owners.”

About 120 people attended a city-hosted informational meeting in Corona last week to discuss the new payouts and additional free services.

Representatives were available at booths to talk about relocations, business loans, job and education training.

There are still ongoing talks between the city, developers and Willets Point shops, said Councilmember Julissa Ferreras, who represents the area. These include possibly relocating the affected businesses as a group.

 

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Road closure hurting Willets Point businesses, say owners


| mchan@queenscourier.com

THE COURIER/Photo by Melissa Chan

Business has come to a screeching halt for about 20 auto shops stunted by construction near Citi Field, The Courier has learned.

“It’s crushing us,” said store owner Sal Yaloz. “We’re really, really suffering. I just want to work, and you don’t hear that too often.”

The city shut out business for nearly two dozen storefronts down 34th Avenue when it closed off the roadway at 126th Street entirely about three weeks ago, store owners said.

Construction from the first phase of a major $3 billion project to transform Willets Point has been gradually cutting down income for area businesses since last October, they said.

But the strip of stores in the project’s second phase was brought to a complete standstill when the major street was barricaded.

“This is a main road. If you close it, it’s like closing a main artery to your heart,” said David Antonacci, co-owner of Crown Container.

Asad Zamayar, who runs Lightning Auto Service, said the stores heavily depend on street traffic.

“If there are no cars, there is no money,” he said. “When the road is closed, there is no business.”

Determined motorists could instead loop around and enter from 127th Street, but shop owners say few take the detour.

“If you can’t get into this area, you’re going to go somewhere else,” Antonacci said.
Yaloz, who almost single-handedly runs Fast Tire Shop, estimates losing 80 percent of his business since the street closed.

“My tax bill is still coming. I still have to pay rent, but I don’t have regular income coming in,” he said.

Business owner Charles Akah, who has a corner alignment shop, totaled his losses to at least $80,000. He said he used to see between 10 and 15 customers daily.

“If I get one or two now, I’m very lucky,” he said. “I feel bad for a business that’s been there for 20 years. I’m hardly paying my rent, let alone my taxes to the city.”

The street temporarily reopened on August 22 for the US Open but closes again September 10 when the international tennis tournament is over.

The day after the concrete street barriers were lifted, Yaloz said he saw more customers that morning than he had all week.

“There was a huge difference,” he said.

But the two week break is not enough, store owners said.

“I’m hoping they’ll have some sympathy and open up the streets for good so we have access for our customers to come in,” Akah said.

The city’s Economic Development Corporation said officials are “currently reviewing possible steps towards mitigation,” which includes possibly adding more signage for “increased visibility.”

“We have been in contact with these businesses for several weeks,” said spokesperson Patrick Muncie, “including speaking with the owners directly at last week’s public informational meeting.”

Traffic and business resumed for the strip of auto shops on 34th Avenue one day after the street temporarily reopened.

 

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One injured in school bus crash in Willets Point


| lguerre@queenscourier.com

A school bus with as many as 20 children crashed this afternoon in Willets Point, fire officials said.

One person, who has yet to be identified, was injured in the crash at around 4:30 p.m. at the Van Wyck Expressway and Whitestone Expressway.

The injured person is being taken to North Shore LIJ, officials said.

 

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Queens’ Morning Roundup


| ctumola@queenscourier.com

morning roundup

TODAY’S FORECAST 

Wednesday: Partly cloudy. High of 84. Winds from the NW at 5 to 15 mph shifting to the SSW in the afternoon. Wednesday night: Partly cloudy. Fog overnight. Low of 72. Winds from the SSW at 5 to 15 mph.

EVENT OF THE DAY: The Edge of Heaven

Socrates Sculpture Park and AT&T host an eight-week outdoor film festival that includes dance, food, musical performance and film. Food offerings include regional cuisine and films in their original language with English subtitles. The festival concludes this Wednesday with the film The Edge of Heaven, which explores the lives of six characters, including a female Kurdish political activist wanted by the authorities and Lotte, a naïve student who becomes sexually entangled with her. Click here for more info or to submit an event of your own

Willets Point tenants offered rent subsidies to make way for mall next to Citi Field

Small businesses in the blighted area near Citi Field, where the Mets play, are being offered payment equal to a year’s rent if they vacate by the end of November to make way for a retail-and-entertainment mall. Read more: CBS New York/AP

Suspect in 2011 Queens barbecue shooting arrested in NC

A New York City man has been arrested in North Carolina in connection with a 2011 shooting at a Queens house party in which 11 people were wounded, including a 14-year-old girl who was struck in the back and paralyzed. Read more: NBC New York

Queens officials want cut of tourism revenue to help attract visitors 

Queens lawmaker has proposed giving the outer boroughs more money from the state hotel occupancy tax. Read more: CBS New York

Taxicab hits British tourist, severs her leg, in Midtown Manhattan: witnesses

A taxicab that swerved to avoid hitting a bike messenger struck a British tourist, severing her leg, before jumping a curb in busy midtown Manhattan, witnesses said. Read more: NBC New York

Proposal: 10 cent charge on plastic and paper bags

New legislation that is aimed to dramatically reduce bag use in New York City would put a $.10 surcharge on plastic or paper carry out bags at grocery and retail stores. Read more: Fox New York

WikiLeaks soldier Manning to learn his fate today

Bradley Manning, the U.S. soldier convicted of the biggest breach of classified data in the nation’s history, will be told on Wednesday how much of his life will be spent in a military prison. Read more: Reuters