Our love for Open House New York weekend runs deep, and we already gave you a preview of what will be happening in Queens on October 11th and 12th. Today at 11 am, OHNY opened up reservations for specific sites, which tend to fill up fast. (Many other events do not require reservations.) We Heart Astoria compiled an awesome list of all your options in Western Queens — Astoria, LIC and Sunnyside. Events include tours of the Greater Astoria Historical Society, the Welling Court Mural project (partially pictured above), Smiling HogsHead Ranch and the Sunnyside Gardens Historic District. Check out the full list, which includes around 20 sites, here.
You’ve got lots of eating to look forward to this month, with two different restaurant weeks happening in the borough. The first takes place in Sunnyside, from October 20th to the 24th. There are 32 restaurants participating — twice as many as last year — including Venturo, Salt & Fat, Tibetan Dumpling Cafe and Murphy’s Lobster Grill. Check out the full list of participating restaurants at Sunnyside Shines. Each restaurant will serve a three-course dinner menu for $25; other spots will offer a special lunch menu. The arts collaborative No Longer Empty will also bring site-specific art installations to five of the participating restaurants, and three will feature local artists in Sunnyside. The five restaurants participating are Bucharest Restaurant, Los Verdes, PJ Horgan’s, Salt and Fat and Venturo.
Then from October 13th until October 31st, it’s full-on Queens Restaurant Week. More than 100 different restaurants in 30 different neighborhoods will offer special prix fixe meals — most places will set up a three-course dinner for $25 and lunch for $14. Check out the long list of participants at the It’s In Queens! website.
Andrea Lynn’s book “Queens: A Culinary Passport: Exploring Ethnic Cuisine in New York City’s Most Diverse Borough” was just released today — all interested Queens foodies can pick it up on Amazon. The book is a guide to more than 40 borough restaurants and food carts; it also includes chef profiles and favorite recipes. Here’s more from the summary: “Also included are highlights of not-to-be-missed hidden spots, like ethnic grocery stores stocked with Greek essentials, fish markets that boast of visitors like chef Lidia Bastianich, and delis that turn out freshly made mozzarella and sopressata.”
The book details subway directions and offers walking tours of each neighborhood for those who aren’t familiar with certain areas of Queens. The author, who also works as a freelance food writer and recipe developer, lives in Astoria.
The restaurants at Elmhurst’s new “Restaurant Row,” a formerly vacant lot next door to the Queens Center Mall, plan to open in October. DNAinfo writes that an Olive Garden, Longhorn Steakhouse and Joe’s Crab Shack are all hiring workers, then the Olive Garden is scheduled to open October 27th and the Longhorn Steakhouse will open October 11th. There’s no set date for Joe’s Crab Shack yet.
The Mattone Group started construction on the new development earlier this year. (Their original plans called for a movie theater here, but it fell through.) The “restaurant row” plans caused controversy with local pols, who believed the developers weren’t upfront about the development to the community. There was also concern about increased traffic in the area.
The Deal: Over the last year, the site of a former French restaurant on Broadway in Astoria has become the bustling craft beer gastropub. A main focus of Oliver’s Astoria has been making the restaurant a friendly neighborhood location, through its décor, events and provisioning.
On a warm Friday afternoon, the windows and doors are thrown open so the inside restaurant blends into the outdoor café, and plenty of patrons are idling over a late lunch and one of the rotating tap beers.
Oliver’s has a one-and-done keg policy that keeps the selection fresh and new. Although co-founder and general manager Rob Williamson says that it is more work than a typical bar, it’s helpful for bringing in special brewery guests and appealing to beer fans. The next guest brewery will be Dogfish Head on Thursday, October 9th.
“I’ve worked in beer bars forever,” he says. “The spectrum of beer is fantastic. Not all of them are winners but when they hit, they hit.”
To further the local vibe, Williamson says the restaurant works with local businesses to meet the menu needs. They purchase from the butcher and baker on the block.
“It’s always easier to shop in your backyard,” he says.
Oliver’s continues to expand its offerings and events, from Monday night trivia to brunch with $3 cocktails. The brunch menu has recently expanded to weekdays to accommodate Astoria’s large population of restaurant industry employees.
Read about Oliver’s Signature Dish after the jump… (more…)
The Real Estate Board of New York recently held the “Residential Sales Agent Boot Camp Seminar: Queens Overview,” in which reps from Argo Residential, Modern Spaces, Corcoran and Douglas Elliman discussed new developments, pricing and increasing consumer interest in the Queens real estate market. Apparently Queens merits its very own real estate seminars now! The free event was offered to REBNY residential members licensed for three years or less.
The picture of the panelists above includes Jodi Nath of Argo Residential, Rick Rosa of Douglas Elliman, Aleksey Gavrilov of Corcoran and Eric Benaim of Modern Spaces. The panel moderator was Miles Chapin of Warburg Realty Partnership. Topics of conversation included neighborhoods like Long Island City, Astoria, Flushing, Forest Hills and Jackson Heights, and panelists stressed a need for more REBNY certified brokers in the borough to accommodate growing demand. During the panel, Jodi Nath noted that over the last 12 months, she has seen a 50 percent increase in inquiries for homes in the borough. “Buyers are becoming more and more attracted to Queens,” she said. “They are leaving Manhattan in the hopes of more space and are drawn to the competitive prices and breadth of inventory available in Queens over the other boroughs. They are increasingly attracted to the sense of community, parks, cultural centers and retail establishments.”
SculptureCenter continues to break the mold. Founded as The Clay Club in Brooklyn in 1928, the nonprofit changed its name and moved to a carriage house on West 8th Street in Manhattan in 1944. Four years later, it relocated to another carriage house on East 69th Street. In 2001, the arts institution purchased a former Long Island City trolley repair shop, which was then renovated by Maya Lin, the landscape artist who designed the Vietnam Veterans Memorial in Washington D.C.
Recently, ScuptureCenter underwent another renovation and it now boasts a new 2,000 square foot, one-story entrance lobby with bookshop, coatroom, seating area, and restrooms; 6,500 square feet of flexible interior exhibition space; an elevator and stairway to the lower level galleries; and a 1,500-square-foot, enclosed courtyard for outdoor exhibitions and events.
Now it’s time to celebrate with a special, day-long event and a four-month exhibition. More information and photos are after the jump page.
On September 30th, 1916, the Hells Gate Bridge opened to rail traffic over a treacherous section of the East River. Nearly a hundred years later, the thing presents Queens with a big question.
Just the facts: Construction began in March of 1912, and was completed in 1916. The design of the thing is credited to Henry Hornbostel, under the direction of Gustav Lindenthal. The Hells Gate Bridge was co-built and owned by the New York, New Haven and Hartford Railroad company and by the Pennsylvania Railroad, but today it is the property of Amtrak. Actual passenger service wouldn’t begin until April of 1917.
Lots of news for the now-sleepy area of Hallets Cove, in Astoria, which will not remain sleepy for long. Over the weekend the Times reported that the Durst Organization recently paid over $100,000,000 for a 90 percent stake in the Hallets Point development site. The organization bought the stake from Lincoln Equities Group (who will keep the remaining 10 percent); Lincoln spent seven years compiling industrial properties in the area, and also worked with residents and city officials on the ULURP proposal. The Bloomberg administration approved the plans last year. The mega development includes seven buildings with 1,921 apartments, including 483 affordable units, as well as a waterfront esplanade, school and retail space. The developer will also build two affordable buildings on the grounds of the nearby Astoria Houses.
Here’s what developer Douglas Durst has to say about taking on the development, which is one of the company’s biggest residential projects to date: “Times are changing. Large-scale office development opportunities are sparse and Manhattan land is cost-prohibitive to build rentals. It is time for the family to go deeper into residential and to cross the ocean to Astoria.”
Moving on to Astoria Cove, the other area mega development making its way through the public review process, DNAinfo reports that the City Planning Commission will vote on the proposal today. The expectation is that the city will push for at least 30 percent affordable units at the 1,700 unit development — affordable housing has been a huge concern throughout the public review process. Stay tuned for news of the vote.
This Sunday, the Transportation Alternatives’ Queens Activist Committee, Immigrant Movement International, the Partnership for a Healthier Queens and the Queens Museum is hosting a Community Action Day on 111th Street. Called “Planting Seeds for a Better 111th Street,” it’s a call for better pedestrian and bicycling infrastructure for a street considered the primary connector between Flushing Meadows – Corona Park and different neighborhoods. On Sunday, the public is invited to help plant more than 1,000 daffodil bulbs to call attention to safety measures needed on 111th Street. There will also be a community discussion about improving street design and park access — Transportation Alternatives spoke with residents of Corona, East Elmhurst, Jackson Heights and Lefrak City in a safety workshop this summer and found 111th Street to be a priority.
Kids are welcome to attend and light lunch will be served. Meet this Sunday, September 28th, from 10 am to 3 pm at 46th Avenue and 111th Street to participate.