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Taiwan’s biggest bubble tea maker has chosen Flushing as an entry point into the Western market. This morning, La Kaffa Group signed a contract with F & T Group to open a flagship store at One Fulton Square, a mixed-used development at the intersection of Roosevelt Avenue and Prince Street that is currently under construction. Specializing in tea, coffee, desserts, and entrees, La Kaffa currently has more than 450 locations with distinct popularity in Asia and the Middle East. Meanwhile, One Fulton Square, which will have a floor area of approximately 330,000 square feet, will include retail space, 22 office units and 43 residential units. A rendition of the planned venue is below.

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Top photo: It’s in Queens; bottom photo: One Fulton Square

03/31/15 2:00pm

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Bierleichen, a new German-style bar slated for 582 Seneca Avenue, looks just about ready to open. The bar posted some nice photos up on its Facebook account and it is looking really good. The owners, who are also behind the Brooklyn bars The Bounty and The Drink, actually hoped to open earlier this year so they’re a little behind schedule. Bierleichen is going to serve German beers, sausages and pretzels in its new space.

Check out two more interior sneak peeks after the jump! GMAP

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03/31/15 11:00am

When most New Yorkers think of Murray Hill, they likely think of the area on the east side of Manhattan, just south of the United Nations between 34th and 42nd Street and east of Madison Avenue…and they well might, since its tree-lined streets harbor beautiful brownstones, high rise buildings and townhouses. It is home to prominent professional, political and social clubs, as well as the recently renovated Morgan Library – a must visit for both NYers and visitors alike.

But this week, we’ll talk about the “other” Murray Hill, a neighborhood in Queens so secret that it toils in the shadow of its bustling, ambitious older brother Flushing. Like its namesake in Manhattan, it too is home to aged, eclectic and unusual architecture…but sadly, unlike Manhattan’s Murray Hill, its uniqueness is vanishing as we watch. It’s in Queens, after all.

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The brick-faced neo-Gothic St. John’s Episcopal Church is one of southern Murray Hill’s relics; a parish has been here since the very beginnings of the enclave in the the 1890s. In 1920, this building on Sanford Avenue and 149th Place replaced an earlier church that had burned down. (more…)

03/31/15 10:00am

Michael Perlman holding Legendary Locals of Forest Hills and Rego Park, March 2015 version 2

Michael Perlman, Forest Hills native, is the founder of the Rego-Forest Preservation Council and author of “Legendary Locals of Forest Hills and Rego Park.” The book, just released this year, tells the story of 200 Forest Hills and Rego Park notables who have shaped its culture, history and society. We chatted with him about his new book, the state of preservation work in Queens, his favorite “legendary local,” and much more.

Read the full interview after the jump. And if you’d like to purchase the book for yourself, you can do so at Arcadia Publishing or Amazon. (more…)

03/31/15 9:00am

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Yesterday the folks behind Citi Bike announced the bike share program’s ambitious expansion, according to The Daily News. The announcement pretty much confirms previous Department of Transportation reports that Citi Bike will arrive in LIC and Astoria this year — unfortunately Sunnyside still isn’t part of the initial Queens rollout. It also seems like there’s no exact timeline for the rollout. Citi Bike also plans to double the number of stations from 332 by 2017, and makeover existing docking stations.

The company Motivate now runs the bike-share program, and just overhauled nearly all of its existing 6,000 bicycles.

Citi Bike to Double Number of Stations, Add Bikes Throughout Queens, Brooklyn and Harlem [NY Daily News]
All Citi Bike coverage [Q'Stoner]

Photo by the NYC DOT

03/30/15 2:00pm

Sophocles, front, #2162, Athens Square Park, 3.26.15, photo by S. Drago

This Saturday, the Parks Department, Borough President Katz, local elected officials and elected officials from Greece unveiled the newly finished Sophocles sculpture in Athens Square. According to Parks, the sculpture of the Greek dramatist is the last of four sculptures to be installed at the park, which wraps up a longterm plan for Athens Square established in the late 1980s. (Socrates, Athena, and Aristotle are already on display here.)

Sophocles was fully funded as a gift to the city by the Athens Square Committee in Astoria. The artist, Astoria-based sculptor Chris Vilardi, designed a seven-and-a-half-foot-tall bronze full-standing figure which was cast at the Modern Art Foundry. It’s pedestal is made of Mountain Green granite quarried in Jay, New York.

Here are more details on the design from the Parks Department: “The artist has taken a “modern stylistic approach” that pays homage to the past, and represents Sophocles in ancient attire typical for a man of his stature. In his left hand he holds the mask of tragedy, a prop of Greek theater. Inscribed in classic Greek font on the base are details of his life, as well as signature quotations from his plays.”

NYC Parks Queens Commissioner Dorothy Lewandowski stated that “This beautiful park feels complete with the installation of its fourth and final sculpture, Sophocles. The sculpture represents years of dedication and hard work and we give our sincere thanks to the Athens Square Committee for their partnership and support. This project would not have been possible without them and its installation is such a wonderful way to honor Greek Independence Day this year.”

Check out a photo of the dedication after the jump.

Photo by S. Drago (more…)

03/30/15 11:00am

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On March 30th, 1909, the Queensboro Bridge opened to traffic. Long Island City, and the rest of Queens, would never be the same. For the first time, vehicle traffic from eastern Long Island and Manhattan could move easily across the East River on Gustav Lindenthal’s new cantilever bridge, and the formerly independent Cities, Towns, and Villages of Western Long Island became suburbs. I know it’s difficult to conceive of Jackson Heights or Astoria as “suburbs,” but in the context of the early 20th century that’s what they were.

The Queensboro Bridge changed all of that, and Queens has never been the same since “The Great Machine” opened.

More after the jump… (more…)

03/30/15 9:00am

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Well, the LIC Clock Tower is not going to be demolished. The buyers of the historic structure, as well as nearby parcels, told the New York Times that they plan to incorporate it into their proposed 915-foot skyscraper, which will someday be the city’s tallest outside Manhattan. (The rendering above gives you an idea of just how massive this tower will be. The clock tower — which will likely be landmarked anyway — comes in at 14 stories.)

The developers Property Markets Group and the Hakim Organization are using air rights from both nearby MTA land — which cost them $56 million — as well as air rights from the clock tower to build. They told the Times that this development will be at a “Manhattan caliber.” The clock tower will remain an office building for tech firms, and there are also plans to build out a 1.25 acre park at the site.

The developers are in a race to break ground by this summer to qualify for tax breaks without having to include affordable housing. Just to make that clear, that will be 930 new units in Long Island City, none of them affordable. They aren’t the only LIC developers taking advantage of this, either. Court Square Blog just reported that Tishman Speyer began working on its massive Long Island City project which will include 1,789 apartments, none of them affordable.

New Queens Plaza Skyscraper Gets Help From Historic Clock Tower Next Door [NY Times]
All 29-37 41st Avenue coverage [Q'Stoner]

03/27/15 4:00pm

sunnyside-plaza

Both the Sunnyside Shines Business Improvement District and ReCreate Queens just launched a crowdfunding campaign to bring cultural programming to Sunnyside’s Bliss Plaza this summer. The plaza, which opened up last year, is located right under the 7 at Queens Boulevard and 46th Street. The goal of the campaign is to raise just over $5,000 by mid-April to kick off the performance series “Third Thursdays in Bliss Plaza.” The performance, planned to run between June and October, will provide residents with free concerts from different musicians and performers.

The performance series got its initial funding from Queens Council on the Arts, but additional funding is needed to carry the program through the summer. According to the Sunnyside BID, the first $1,000 of donations will be matched by the Neighborhood Plaza Partnership. As Rachel Thieme, executive director of Sunnyside Shines, says, “Bringing arts programming to Bliss Plaza helps create a more dynamic place and generates foot traffic and activity in the neighborhood, which benefits businesses, residents and visitors alike.”

If you’d like to donate, do so here.

Photo by Michael Rapp

03/27/15 11:00am

Named for an 18th century family who owned property in eastern Queens and not the credited inventor of the telephone, Bell Boulevard has developed over 150 years from a dirt trace to harboring some of eastern Queens’ more entertaining samples of eclectic architecture.

From the NYC Landmarks Designation Report:

“Until the last decades of the nineteenth century, Bayside was primarily farmland. The property on which the house stands was acquired by Abraham Bell in 1824. A shipping and commission merchant operating in lower Manhattan, his firm, Abraham Bell and Company was involved in the cotton trade and in transporting immigrants from Ireland during the potato famine of the 1840s.

“His son, Abraham Bell 2nd, became head of the firm around 1835 and the company changed its name to Abraham Bell and Son in 1844. The Bells had homes in several locations: Bayside, Yonkers (where Bell Brothers operated a money-lending business) and in Narragansett Pier, Rhode Island.

“The Bell property covered approximately 246 acres and  extended from near the site of the current Bayside station of the Long Island Railroad at 41st  Avenue to Crocheron Avenue (35th  Avenue) and from Little Neck Bay to 204th Street. An unpaved lane, known as Bell Avenue (now Bell Boulevard) bisected the farm.The east section, closer to Little Neck Bay, was called the lower farm, and the west section, the upper farm. Near the center of the property, along Bell Avenue, the Bells built a house in 1842. It is likely that it was occupied by Thomas C. Bell and Eliza (Jackson) Bell, who married in 1840. The house was demolished in 1971.”

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