The Secret Theatre, an arts organization in Long Island City, just kicked off a fundraising campaign. The theatre is known for hosting two annual short play festivals, a variety of in-house shows and weekly children’s theater. The organization, however, has run into problems with its building and needs $10,000 to take care of it. Here are more details from the Indiegogo fundraising campaign:

After a tough year when we discovered that the building we were in was not compliant we were hit with Dept of Buildings fines, architect fees and we had to move the Little Theatre to a different location with all the attendant moving and construction costs. Our budgets are tiny and with no real reserve to speak of we are dealing with a cash hole that threatens our existence. The Secret has become a major contributor to the cultural life of Western Queens and LIC and has been responsible for creating a theatre scene in LIC where none previously existed. With your help we can continue to win plaudits from The New York Times [multiple critics pick awards] also many shows and artists have won or been nominated for the New York Innovative Theatre Awards, we can continue to support awesome artists and to push the envelope of what can be achieved in a borough that needs us.

The $10,000 will go toward the theatre closing its funding gap and making crucial building upgrades. There are rewards for donating, like becoming a sponsor of one of the annual festivals. To check out the full campaign, go here.

08/19/14 3:00pm


A piece of the condo-retail project Sky View Parc, located in Flushing, is up for sale. Today the New York Post reports that Muss Development will list the development rights for the unbuilt second phase of the project with Massey Knackal. (Onex Real Estate Partners, who are partnered with Muss, seemed not to know about these plans and were planning to begin construction on Phase Two in November.) According to the Post, “Industry sources speculated it could bring up to $150 million based on the sell-out success of the first three towers mainly to Chinese and Asian-American buyers.”

The project broke ground in 2005 and struggled through the recession. Due to an influx of Chinese buyers after the recession, it became the #1 condo-sale site in New York for 2013. Word is that Onex Real Estate Partners offered to buy out Muss’s Phase Two share, but Muss wanted more money — hence the development rights going to market.

Seeking a Posh Spot in Flushing? This Condo’s Rights are for Sale [NY Post]

08/19/14 2:00pm


Bikers connecting between Brooklyn and Ridgewood take note: your commute got a little easier. The Department of Transportation installed bike lanes along Woodward Avenue, noted by this tweet from Ridgewood Beat. This is part of a five-mile plan to install bike lanes from Flushing Avenue in Brooklyn through Woodward Avenue in Queens. (It’s an extension of an already existing bike lane network along Flushing.) Most of the five-mile route consists of shared bike lanes, which you see pictured above. Other sections of the route will have curbside bike lanes with more protection between the cars and the bikers.

Bike Lanes Proposed Along Flushing Avenue Into Ridgewood [Q'Stoner]

Photo via Twitter

08/19/14 1:00pm

There will be dancing in the streets. This Thursday, the Louis Armstrong House Museum will hold its annual Jazzmobile Block Party, an end-of-summer blowout with live music, great food and countless activities. With the street free of vehicular traffic, the fun will begin at 4 pm with a children’s art workshop presented by the Queens Museum. At the same time, a hula-hoop specialist will share her twirling skills, spirit and stash. At 7 pm, the Ray Mantilla Septet will perform. Born in the Bronx, Mantilla has a unique jazz style, replete with Afro-Cuban and Neo-Nuyorican influences. A short list of this legendary percussionist and bandleader’s credits includes gigs with Tito Puente, Charles Mingus, and Eddie Palmieri.

Details and another photo after the jump. (more…)

08/19/14 12:30pm


The Spot: fresk’o, 31-19 30th Avenue, Astoria.

The Deal: The newest frozen yogurt shop in Astoria, which opened June 1st, is nestled between a Baskin Robbins and a 16 Handles on 30th Avenue. The independently owned fresk’o sets itself apart through owner Gus Prentzas’ dedicated search for the perfect frozen yogurt and Greek yogurt flavors.

Prentzas is from Greece, where his grandparents and great grandparents owned a farm with sheep and goats and yogurt was a staple on the dinner tables. He translated that love of fresh and wholesome flavors into a three-and-a-half-year endeavor to find the ultimate frozen yogurt flavor. Fresk’o even translates from Greek to mean “fresh.”

The Greek heritage also influenced the shop’s location in Astoria, considered the heart of the Greek community. The frozen yogurt shop has already generated a large Greek following. Café tables outside attract a crowd on a warm afternoon, and Prentzas is in full swing greeting customers. “When someone walks in, they’re a customer, but they leave a friend,” he says.

In addition to the traditional frozen yogurt shop set up with soft serve fro-yo and a wide selection of nuts, chocolates, and fruits (bought fresh daily) as toppings, fresk’o also serves up a creamy Greek yogurt made from a combination of cow and goat’s milk and served with olive oil, walnuts, or Greek honey. With Greek yogurt for breakfast and frozen for dessert, the two options fulfill the shop’s motto of “Once a day is never enough.” The shop’s 10 am to midnight hours mean there are plenty of opportunities to come multiple times a day.

As the temperatures drop, Prentzas plans on adding waffles and hot cocoa to the menu.

Read about the Signature Dish from fresk’o after the jump… (more…)


Earlier today, we wrote about Long Island City’s tiled Passive House getting the star treatment in the New York Times. Probably not very coincidentally, Douglas Elliman just listed the ground floor unit of the building for rent. There are no interior photos, but the listing is loaded with energy-friendly babble. (The building apparently uses 85 percent less energy than a similar rowhouse.) The kitchen has energy saving appliances, the flooring is non toxic and the bedrooms overlook an organic vegetable and flower garden. The New York Times article previously stated that despite the eye-catching exterior, “Inside, Mr. Paino’s new house looks like any other modern townhouse renovation.” We’re still dying for interior photos, though. The asking rent for two bedrooms and two bathrooms comes in at $4,400 a month.

45-12 11th Street, #1 [Douglas Elliman] GMAP

08/19/14 11:00am


The former Queens County Court House (now home to the Queens Supreme Court) has been in this location since 1870, and sparked a political dispute that led to the creation of Nassau County.

Long Island counties, beginning in the late 1600s, were Kings, Queens, and Suffolk. Six towns in Kings consolidated in the late 1800s to create the City of Brooklyn, which was annexed (residents voted to consolidate it) to Greater NYC in 1898. Queens’ history is a bit more complicated. Queens originally comprised western Queens (the towns of Newtown, Flushing, Jamaica and in 1870, Long Island City) and what is now Nassau (Hempstead and Oyster Bay; North Hempstead was created in 1784). The eastern towns began agitating for “independence” from Queens County beginning in the 1830s, when a dilapidated courthouse in the Mineola area was to be replaced. Factions from the western and eastern parts of Queens vied for the new courthouse, which was ultimately built in Long Island City at the present Court Square in 1870. Differences, political and cultural, between the east and west ends of the vast county were accentuated during the debate. In the 1890s, proposals for Greater New York did not include Queens’ eastern towns.


08/19/14 10:00am


Great news for Smiling Hogshead Ranch, a community garden at 25-30 Skillman Avenue, at Pearson Place, in LIC. We Heart LIC reports (via 596 Acres) that the organization just signed a lease with the MTA, taking official ownership over the lot. This is after two years of, according to 549 Acres, “organizing, negotiating, and growing.”

The community really turned this into a beautiful and green public space, and if you haven’t seen it in person yet, here’s your opportunity. This Saturday On Saturday, September 6th Smiling Hogshead Ranch is holding a ribbon cutting ceremony to celebrate the lease signing. The Facebook event says, “We are proud to announce our official leap from guerrilla garden to official urban farm in NYC. Join us for a fun afternoon of celebratory merriment!” It’ll last from 3 to 5 pm.

Big Congrats to Smiling Hogshead Ranch, Plus Ribbon Cutting [We Heart LIC]

Photo via Facebook

08/19/14 9:00am


Could the tiled Passive House at 45-12 11th Street, in Long Island City, get any more attention? We don’t think so. Yesterday the New York Times profiled the rowhouse architect, Thomas Paino. This isn’t the first time Paino has made the papers — earlier this year he defended his unique design to the Daily News. The home before Paino’s renovation boasted a terrible facade, and wasted tons of energy. Paino wanted an energy-saving building with a design that would catch the attention of neighbors. As for the critics: “I don’t really care what people say, so long as they’re talking about the house and the environment,” he told the Times.

His original plan was to restore the facade to its former glory. But because the home is in Zone B — the second-lowest flood plain — the city forced him to either keep the garden apartment empty or raise the building three feet. He raised the building and renovated it to Passive House standards, also adding a green roof and solar-powered water heater. He says his total budget was in the mid-six figures. The blue facade was inspired by the clouds and 18th-century Portuguese facade work. As the Times says, “Outside, the house looks like something dropped from the heavens. Assuming God was really into Legos.”

Easy on the Environment, but Not Necessarily the Eyes [NY Times]
All 45-12 11th Street coverage [Q'Stoner]

Photo by New York Shitty