04/23/14 3:00pm

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Yesterday a group of volunteers from Bike New York, the New York Restoration Project, and other organizations planted over 60 trees in Astoria Park in honor of Earth Day. They picked the location because it will be a rest area for the upcoming Five Boro Bike Tour, happening on Sunday, May 4th. The Greening Western Queens Fund sponsored this effort in “greening” the tour. The trees planted include a mix of tuliptree, red maples, eastern white pine and other species. You can see a few more photos of the planting event right after the jump.

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04/23/14 2:00pm

mexico-boulevard

The popular Mexico Blvd. food truck, which travels through Queens, Brooklyn and Manhattan, is putting down roots in Astoria. We Heart Astoria and DNAinfo report that the owners plan to open a restaurant under a different name on the corner of 36th Avenue and 33rd Street. The truck now serves tacos, tortas and flautas; the restaurant will offer an expanded menu of tacos as well as Mexican appetizers. The spot should be ready by late April or early May, and the food truck will keep on truckin’ after the restaurant is open.

Mexico Blvd. Food Truck Owners to Open Restaurant in Astoria [DNAinfo] GMAP

Photo via Facebook

04/23/14 10:30am

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On Monday, the City Planning Commission gave the go ahead to the the five-building residential complex proposed for the Astoria waterfront. That means, as Crain’s reports, “the project with its proposed 1,698 residential units can now begin the roughly six-month public review process.” The plan moving ahead includes 295 units of affordable housing, a public school, a supermarket and a waterfront park accessible to the public. As reported earlier, the number of affordable units dropped from 340 to 295. The proposal also calls for 100,000 fewer square feet of residential space than in previous plans, meaning that the lower number of affordable units still makes up 20 percent of the total residential floor area.

The public review process is to grant the developers zoning changes to build up to 32 stories along the waterfront. In total, there will be three towers that could be as high as 32 stories near the water and two six-story buildings away from the water. The proposal will now go on to the Community Board (who will probably have something to say about that loss of affordable housing), Borough President Katz, and then back to the City Planning Commission and finally to the City Council.

5-Building Complex on Queens Waterfront Begins Review [Crain's]
All Astoria Cove coverage [Q'Stoner]

Rendering by Studio V and Ken Smith Workshop

04/22/14 2:00pm

twist-and-smashd-sports

Twist and Smash’d Sports — an offshoot of the Twist and Smash’d burger joint located in Forest Hills — has an official opening date. The new sports bar will open on May 1st at 34-02 Steinway Street in Astoria. Here are a few details on the expansion from a press release: “Twist and Smash’d Sports will elevate the concept of the “sports bar” by incorporating their unique fast casual dining experience with innovative technology, green space practices and fun for people of all ages. Sports enthusiasts will be able to take part in their nightly events, Bocce Ball tournaments, and casual socializing.”

It’ll be open from 11 am to 4 am serving lunch, dinner, 50 beers on tap and a variety of wine and liquor. It’s worth noting that this outpost is going to be huge, with 5,000 square feet total, two Bocce Ball courts and 54 flat screen TVs. Great news for Astoria sports lovers, eh? UPDATE: Check out a few sneak preview pics after the jump.

Twist and Smash’d Burger Joint will Expand to Astoria This Spring [Q'Stoner] GMAP

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04/18/14 1:00pm

Kaboom

Decisions, decisions, decisions and decisions. Or to be more specific: science, kites, film noir and eggs. There are some great options for family fun, entertainment and enrichment in the borough tomorrow, April 19th. It’s probably easiest to list them in bullet form.

  • Doktor Kaboom! This loveable nut performs original interactive “science comedy” for audiences of all ages. Blending the dramatic with the wonders of scientific exploration, the Good Doktor (above) keeps the crowd riveted with interest and rolling with laughter going on a sidesplitting journey of increasingly spectacular (and often successful) experiments designed to involve, excite, educate, and entertain. Back by popular demand, he returns to Queens Theatre (14 United Nations Avenue South, Flushing Meadows Corona Park) for 1 pm and 3 pm shows on Saturday$14 per ticket or $100 for a Family Series Flex Pass (10 tickets to use however you want.)
  • Let’s Go Fly a Kite! It’s National Kite Month, and the King Manor Museum (150-03 Jamaica Avenue, Jamaica) is offering a chance to learn about these objects that can be used for scientific discovery, fun or design. Attendees will create, decorate, fly and take home kites. Noon to 3 pm, free.
  • Spring Egg-Stavaganza! Easter weekend at Queens Botanical Garden (43-50 Main Street, Flushing) is known for two things: blooming flora and egg hunts. Due to popular demand, there will be two sessions that will include games, crafts, scavenger hunts and prizes. noon to 1:30 pm and 2 pm to 3:30 pm, $5.
  • The Real Mann! Hollywood legend Anthony Mann was one of the greatest directors of two genres that seem very disparate: film noir, featuring nocturnal and claustrophobic dramas; and the Western, with dramas set against wide-open landscapes. The Museum of the Moving Image (36-01 35th Avenue, Astoria) launches an eight-film retrospective on Mann with two movies on Saturday. T-Men at 4 pm is about treasury agents who go undercover to penetrate a gang of Los Angeles counterfeiters. Raw Deal at 7 pm tells the story of a woman who helps spring her boyfriend from a state prison so they can flee to South America. If these movies inspire, the museum will screen two more —  The Great Flamarion and Border Incident — on Sunday.

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04/17/14 4:00pm

vision-zero-queens-town-hall

Next week Speaker Melissa Mark-Viverito, Queens Borough President Melinda Katz, local pols and Department of Transportation officials are hosting a Vision Zero Queens Town Hall. It’ll be a forum for the public to discuss traffic safety in Queens, particularly related to Mayor de Blasio’s Vision Zero street safety initiative. Guests are also invited to share ideas on improving traffic safety and identify problem locations in their neighborhood. The Town Hall meeting will be held Wednesday, April 23rd, from 6 to 8 pm at LaGuardia Community College, 31-10 Thomson Avenue.

04/17/14 2:00pm

saigon-cafe-astoria

Saigon Cafe is now serving up Vietnamese food at 25-90 41st Street, off 28th Avenue. We Heart Astoria shares the news, saying that there are iPads at the restaurant to surf the web. As for the food, the menu includes sandwiches, soup, pho, meat and rice plates, Vietnamese coffee, bubble tea, and salty plum soda. So far, the Yelp reviews for the food are quite good.

Vietnamese Food Alert! Saigon Cafe Opens in Astoria [We Heart Astoria] GMAP

04/17/14 10:00am

astoria-cove-rendering

Alma Realty filed plans with the city last month for its massive Astoria Cove development, and the actual number of affordable units planned is less than what was promised. The Daily News reports that Alma Realty promised a minimum of 340 units of affordable housing over five buildings at this mega development — in the application, that number is 295. And according to the News, “Housing advocates worry that the reduced number could float under the radar when a city review begins this month to rezone a handful of prime waterfront blocks from industrial to residential.”

The land use lawyer working for Alma Realty argues that development plans were formed under pro-development Mayor Bloomberg, and should not adhere to Mayor de Blasio’s promise to preserve affordable housing. Alma Realty also argues that the new number of affordable units still meets the 20 percent required to receive city incentives. As for the city, an official from the Planning Department tells the News that they will “do their best to ensure that a ‘significant portion’ of the housing in Astoria Cove is set aside as affordable.”

Planners Drop 45 Affordable Units from Astoria Cove Development [NY Daily News]
All Astoria Cove coverage [Q'Stoner]

04/15/14 4:00pm

socrates-sculpture-park-spring-exhibition

Socrates Sculpture Park is preparing for its spring exhibition, which will open on May 11th. Last week they broke ground on the largest installation in the park’s 28-year history — according to Socrates, it’s “a 250-foot-long, thirteen-foot-high kinetic pathway composed of 200 stainless steel, mirrored poles connecting energetic slopes of silver Mylar ribbon overhead.” The work, titled Scarecrow, is by the LIC-based, Lithuanian-born artist Zilvinas Kempinas. This is the artist’s first outdoor installation in the United States. You can read more details about the sculpture here, and also see photos of the installation process happening now at the park at the Socrates Facebook page. Also beginning in May, the park will provide a free weekend shuttle service to and from nearby cultural attractions.

04/15/14 1:00pm

NLJ

It’s the New York City marathon for word lovers. Queens Writes Weekend 2014 will facilitate more than 12 literary events at a minimum of six venues throughout the world’s most diverse borough over the last weekend in April. The fun will start on Friday, April 25th, with an open reading at The Astoria Bookshop featuring contributors to the third issue of Newtown Literary, a semi-annual journal. On Saturday and Sunday, the events will differ, but authors of all kinds — young, old, novice, expert — will simply sit down together and write for a few hours. Participants will then share the products of their efforts at an open mic event at Terraza 7 in Elmhurst on Sunday night.

Details: Queens Writes Weekend 2014, begins with Kick-Off Reading at The Astoria Bookshop, 31-29 31st Street, Astoria, April 25th, 7 pm, click here for times and venues on April 26th and April 27th, ends at Wrap-Up Open Mic at Terraza 7, 40-19 Gleane Street, Elmhurst, April 27th, 6 pm, suggested donations at all times to defray the costs of publishing Newtown Literary‘s fourth edition and other good works. So far, events are set for Astoria, Bayside, Corona, Forest Hills, Jackson Heights and Kew Gardens, but more sites are expected to be confirmed before the weekend begins. Schedule and venues will be posted and updated regularly on this page.

Photo: Audrey Dimola