Is it summer yet? This news makes us pine for warmer months: DNAinfo reports that 16 months after Hurricane Sandy, Fort Tilden Beach will finally open this summer. The Parks Department just started work on Thursday to clean up storm damage; the goal is to open in time for the 2014 beach season. Parks will remove large pieces of debris, including hunks of roadway, from the beach. The cleanup took longer than average — staying shut for the beach season last year — because of the large amount of hurricane damage and the sprawling size of the park.
That was fast! Icon 52, the “affordable luxury” rental development located at Queens Boulevard and 52nd Street, surpassed the 50 percent mark. The building started leasing in late January with a total of 66 studio, one- and two-bedroom apartments. Prices start at $1,500 a month. The Real Deal broke the news with this sound bite from Eric Benaim, of Modern Spaces: “As prices skyrocket and inventory continues to get absorbed in nearby neighborhoods like Long Island City and Astoria, renters are now looking into Woodside which has been rapidly growing and is now a new focus for developers. The Icon52 is definitely setting a new standard for luxury living in the Woodside area and it’s perfect for renters looking to live just minutes away from Manhattan.” Woodside, we’ve got our eye on you…
This week, the Forest Hills/Rego Park Times wondered if the main commercial drag of Forest Hills, Austin Street, was at risk of losing its independently owned boutiques, novelty shops and restaurants. Here’s a rundown of the recent changes on the thoroughfare:
Over the past decade, the retail district has been marked by the closure of many small businesses, including Daniella Boutique, Santa Fe Steakhouse, Stoa Jewelry, Buster Brown Shoes, Homestead Gourmet Shop, and Art World. Pasta Del Giorno at 70-49 Austin Street, which opened in 1989 and offered fine Italian dining, closed in mid-February.
The closed shops made way for large corporations, including banks, chain pharmacies, clothing shops, and cell phone stores, to move in after landlords imposed hefty rent increases upon some longtime tenants.
The Times particularly wonders if the area is starting to look like “medical center row.” There are rumors that a medical business will replace the movie theater at 70-20 Austin Street, and it’s confirmed that an urgent care center will replace the former Second Time Around clothing shop and the new glass building at 71-53 Austin Street will house a ProHealth Urgent Care. It’s worth nothing that there isn’t an Austin Street BID to help incentivize and spur commercial growth in the area. Do you think Austin Street needs a BID? Do you think these changes are anything to worry about at all?
It’s time to break away from winter and jump into the great outdoors! Good thing the borough is ready. Tomorrow, the Queens Botanical Gardens will host two programs for nature lovers. At 10 am, the Flushing green space will launch its intergenerational garden (above). Interested individuals will be able to tour the facilities, meet gardeners of all races and ages, and learn the ropes with the coordinator. Then at noon, QBG will offer an introductory workshop on how to grow summer vegetables indoors. Meanwhile just south of Little Neck Bay, Urban Park Rangers will teach wilderness survival at the Alley Pond Park Adventure Center. Participants of all ages will learn how to build shelter, start a fire without matches, and find water sources in a forest. The fun continues on March 10th at the Rockaway Community Park Coastal Clean-Up, where do-gooders will work with Natural Areas Volunteers from the Parks Department to remove debris from the shoreline and protect Jamaica Bay’s natural habitat.
Start Your Summer Veggies Indoors, Queens Botanical Gardens, 43-50 Main Street, Flushing, March 8th, noon, $6, advance registration and payment required at firstname.lastname@example.org or 718-886-3800 ext. 230.
Wilderness Survival, Alley Pond Park Adventure Center, vicinity of Little Neck Bay, Long Island Expressway, Union Turnpike, Springfield Boulevard, Douglaston Parkway and Hanford Street, March 8th, 11 am, free, but call 718-352-1769.
Ash Avenue moves through Flushing in fits and starts. It goes a block, is interrupted for a block, then runs a block more. The section between 147th and 149th Streets, though, looks transplanted from another part of town into Flushing. Its centerpiece is a brilliant white three-story building at 147-38 with a complicated set of front porches, including a many-windowed circular corner porch. The house was originally the Charles Pearl Mansion.
The mansion, probably built in the mid-1800s, dates back to eastern Flushing’s development as a bedroom community as the Long Island Rail Road was extended east. At the time Flushing was still dominated by the horticultural industry and the land was owned mostly by the Samuel Parsons family and by Nathan Sanford, the Chancellor of New York State. Sanford Avenue was developed in the 1830s-1870s with grand mansions and estates, some of which were summer-only. Charles Pearl built the Italianate house on a 5-acre tract facing today’s Sanford Avenue and 149th Street. Beginning in the 1880s Flushing began to be more greatly populated, and by the 1910s the mansion’s then-owner, the reverend George Eccles, sold off much of the 5-acre property and moved the house approximately 150 feet to its present location. The buildings developed on the sold-off property are still there for the most part, giving Ash Avenue an aura rather unlike its surrounding blocks.
Though the Eccles family occupied the building for most of the 1930s, it gradually fell into disrepair and was a boarding house for a time. Building contractor Matthew Kabriski, who had worked in the White House during the Truman administration, purchased the home for $12,500 in 1954 and set to work restoring its clapboards and repainted and restored the old house. The interior boasts oak and pine floors, marble sinks, and floor to ceiling windows.
Three Queens City Councilmen are participating in Participatory Budgeting this spring: Mark Weprin, Donovan Richards and Eric Ulrich representing Districts 23, 31 and 32. Residents of those districts already proposed projects to be included in the budget and voting will happen from March 29th to April 6th. Keep track of the voting dates and locations at the Participatory Budgeting website. According to the Daily News, “Projects range from new fitness equipment at an Oakland Gardens park to a Rockaway boathouse.” Last year, 4,500 Queens residents voted on participatory budget projects; in District 32 residents funded renovations to a dog park and outdoor space at the Broad Channel Community Library.
The Times published a very nice profile of the Vander Ende-Onderdonk House, the oldest Dutch Colonial stone house in New York City located at 18-20 Flushing Avenue in Ridgewood. The home, not to everyone’s knowledge, admit visitors every Saturday from 1 to 4 pm for a suggested donation of $3. The house museum mostly displays artifacts from its past, and in the summertime is open for picnics and weddings. It sits on two acres with gardens and a coop housing six hens. As the Times says, “In contrast to the bordering graffiti, the gambrel-roofed farmhouse is so lost in time it looks as if it should shelter hobbits.”
As the area grows, especially nearby Bushwick, more young people discover the historic home and come to ring the bell. And nearby dining options are also products of the bourgeoning neighborhood: the paper of record suggests trying out Bun-Ker Vietnamese on Metroplolitan and Pearl’s Social and Billy Club near the Jefferson Street train stop.
Today at 11 am the Greater Jamaica Development Corporation, Congressman Gregory Meeks and other local pols will hold a press conference to announce a $225,000,000 residential and commercial development planned next to the Air Train Station in downtown Jamaica. The location in question is the corner of Sutphin Boulevard and Archer Avenue. Times Ledger shares more info on this mega development, which will be developed by BRP Development Corp. and is the largest private investment in Downtown Jamaica in decades. The 22-story tower will hold 400 apartments and 80,000 square feet of retail space. It’s expected to have similar amenities to nearby rental development Moda, which has a fitness center, outdoor deck, resident lounge and laundry room.
According to the Ledger, “The project, which Greater Jamaica calls Site 6, is in an area of the downtown characterized at the street level by a traffic-choked intersection and a hodgepodge of low-rent retail properties that promises to be unrecognizable in a few years.” That’s true: a massive retail center’s already planned for the eastern side of the downtown area, as well as a 26-story hotel on the south side of the LIRR station. Stay tuned for more details and photos from today’s press conference…