11/21/14 11:00am

ridgewood.plateau1Photo by Christina Wilkinson

In 1928, much of Queens was still largely unpopulated and unbuilt-upon. Ridgewood, however, was an exception to the rule, due to its proximity to Brooklyn, and real estate developers hoped to capitalize on the cachet of the neighborhood. By then, Ridgewood was dominated by attached brick and brownstone houses, as well as blocks of handsome, yellow-bricked apartments constructed by developer Gustave X. Mathews. He built from materials created in the Staten Island kilns of Balthazar Kreischer.

In that year, the developers Realty Associates purchased 70 acres in a neighborhood then labeled as “North Ridgewood” but now a part of northern Maspeth roughly defined by Maurice Avenue, 64th Street, Grand Avenue and 74th Street. Builder John Aylmer set to work constructing two and six-family homes in the newly-named Ridgewood Plateau, so named for its location atop one of Queens’ higher hills.


11/21/14 9:00am

queens-pointe- 90-02 Queens Boulevard-elmhurst

A recent Daily News article profiles the “humble Queens nabe” of Elmhurst, which has recently seen an onslaught of new development. The News mainly focuses on the residential conversion of the St. Johns Hospital complex, located across from the Queens Center Mall. When construction wraps on Queens Pointe, as it’s called, there will be 150 luxury rental apartments, several stories of retail and a 250-car parking garage. According to the article, “The developers estimate that they will be able to achieve rents of more than $45 a foot per year for the units, meaning a one-bedroom pad would likely go for over $2,500 a month.” (Luxury rentals at Elm East, on Broadway, leased quickly with rents topping $40 a foot.)

There are more developments slated for the neighborhood: a 69-unit condo tower at 70-32 Queens Boulevard, between 70th and 72nd Streets, and a six-story, 130-unit development for the long-empty site across from East Elm, also off Broadway. To be called West Elm, it’ll boast a private health club, an outdoor roof deck and 24-hour doorman. (Check out an exterior rendering after the jump.) There’s also the recent massive sale of the parking lot behind the Queens Place Mall.

With all that development, sales and rental prices are unsurprisingly rising in the neighborhood, which is better known for its low-rise housing stock. The median price for an apartment comes in at $338,500 — that’s compared to $288,500 in 2011. And an average apartment rents for $1,877 a month, compared to $1,350 in 2011.

Humble Queens Nabe is Suddenly a Luxe Lure for Developers [NY Daily News]

Rendering via New York Daily News (more…)

11/20/14 11:00am


If you’re anything like the average American, by the time that Friday rolls around, you are going to have to work off a few holiday pounds. Never fear, Brownstoner Queens come to the rescue with a recipe for edgy adventure in Western Queens.

Your first stop is Queens Plaza. That’s where you’ll find the combined pedestrian and bicycle lanes for the Queensboro Bridge, at the intersection of Crescent Street and Queens Plaza North. Personally, I’m a walker, but you this path works for bikes too. You’re going to want to cross the bridge, heading for Manhattan. One thing to keep in mind is how early the sun sets this time of year – which is around 4:30 in the afternoon this week.

More after the jump… (more…)

11/19/14 11:00am

45th Ave, 21-21, SB, PS 1

I used to work in Long Island City, as production manager to a now defunct bedding and home furnishings company. We had our sewing and shipping facilities in a factory building near the Silvercup Studios. Whenever I had the opportunity, I would walk around the neighborhood on my lunch hour and see what I could see. Long Island City was hardly the new outpost of cool at the time, although if you were paying attention, you could see that it was coming. This was around 1998-99.

PS 1 had recently opened, (pre-MOMA) and work was being done on the platforms of the 7 train. They were also spiffing up the old Court House. If you stood where you could see the towers of Manhattan across the river, it was pretty clear that Long Island City’s days as a forgotten backwater were numbered. The harbinger of change, Citibank, had been there for several years at that point, although the plaza around it was still pretty deserted. Still, it would only be a matter of time. This part of Queens was just too tantalizingly close to Manhattan.

One day, on one of my wandering walks, I came upon this block. I lived in Bedford Stuyvesant at that time, surrounded by brownstones. I lived in a brownstone. Was this Queens? Land of 20th century housing? (Ok, I didn’t know much back then.) Where did this block come from? How did it survive? The houses were in pretty great shape, as a group, and were made of brick and, what was that? Marble? Who built marble houses? What was the story here? This block was an architectural miracle. (more…)

11/18/14 1:00pm


Remember: Whatever happens under the mistletoe, stays under the mistletoe. As part of the 27th Annual Holiday Historic House Tour, seven local landmarks will offer seasonal refreshments, organize time-honored activities, and provide glimpses of Christmas celebrations from as far back as the 17th century on Sunday, December 7th. Visitors will be able to check out any (or all) of the venues — Kingsland Homestead; Voelker Orth Museum; Lewis H. Latimer House Museum; Friends Meeting House; Flushing Town Hall; Bowne House; and Louis Armstrong House Museum — and a van will continuously run between sites from 1 pm to 5 pm.

After the jump, more information on each participating venue and its tour plans… (more…)

11/18/14 9:00am


We knew there was tons of demand at the Forest Hills condo building The Aston, with 1,000 prospective buyers clamoring to see the one-, two- and three-bedroom apartments upon the sales launch in October. Now The Marketing Directors have reported that 50 percent of the units have sold after just four weeks.

There are only 97 units in the building, with one bedrooms starting from $455,000, two bedrooms from $790,000 and three bedrooms from $1,400,000. So far the apartments are selling at ask, but the three-bedroom units (there are three of them) haven’t been spoken for yet. Building amenities include a gym, outdoor terrace, parking garage and concierge.

All Aston coverage [Q'Stoner] GMAP

11/17/14 9:00am


On Friday, the Transportation Alternatives Queens Volunteer Committee announced “a huge win on Queens Boulevard.” The DOT Commissioner Polly Trottenberg announced that the new 25 mph speed limit — just enacted in New York City — will also apply to Queens Boulevard, also known as the Boulevard of Death. Sunnyside Post reports that the new speed limit should be enacted by the end of this year. Queens Boulevard was originally not included in the speed reduction, which started up on November 7th, because it’s designed to accommodate more cars at faster speeds. But the DOT has made the decision to slow the notoriously dangerous thoroughfare down, and it’s likely many more safety improvements are coming soon.

Photo via Transportation Alternatives

11/14/14 9:00am


We got to take a tour of The Continental Park, a co-op redevelopment project in Elmhurst. Myles Horn, ABC Properties and Fisher Associates bought the 153-unit complex and started renovating units; 79 studio, one, two and three bedrooms hit the market last month. (1,000 people came to tour the units the first weekend the sales center opened.) Finishes in the apartments are very high end: oak flooring, white stone countertops, Italian cabinetry, custom bathtubs. The developer is also revamping common spaces and adding new amenities — many of the common areas were worse for wear before the renovation began. Once the project wraps, there will be a new resident’s lounge, children’s playground and fitness center.

Prices on studios start from $185,000; one bedrooms from $229,500; two-bedrooms from $347,500 and three-bedrooms from $509,500. Occupancy on the new units is expected for December or January.

After the jump, check out photos of the interior, model units, and under-construction spaces.


11/13/14 9:00am


Yesterday evening, Coucil Member Costa Constantinides made the following announcement on his Facebook regarding the decision made between City Council and Astoria Cove developers Alma Realty:

Today we reached an agreement on Astoria Cove, which was approved by the Council Zoning sub-committee and Land Use committee. I am happy to have reached this historic agreement. For the first time in City history, this developer will be required by law to provide permanently affordable housing that is within the reach of Astorians. Twenty-seven percent of the entire development will be affordable at rates better than previously offered – 20% of the development will be reserved for low-income households and monthly rents will be as low as $800 per month. These rates make the agreement innovative, contextual, and inclusive of our community. The agreement will help transform Astoria for the better. It includes a unionized workforce, retail and a supermarket, a new school, a renovated local library, upgraded parks, and an upgraded senior center at the NYCHA Astoria Houses. The agreement also includes a fully-funded ferry dock to help increase public transit service in an area that is an over-15 minute walk to the nearest subway.

I am honored to have had a great partner in the de Blasio administration during this historic negotiation process. I am proud of this agreement and I thank Council Members Greenfield and Weprin, Borough President Katz and Speaker Mark-Viverito for their leadership and guidance in this historic process, as well as my other colleagues in the Council.

That means there will now be 468 units for low- and middle-income tenants (out of 1,700 total units), as well as unionized construction workers and building staff, according to Crain’s. The deal both addresses critics who wanted more affordable housing (housing advocates pushed for as much as 50 percent affordable) and critics who wanted union labor. New York YIMBY, however, notes that the deal “seems to be a fairly minor tweak on the previous administration’s policy – bumping the below-market share of the standard 80/20 deal to 27 percent, and then offsetting it a bit with some subsidies.” The de Blasio administration will offer the developer extra subsidies to cover 2 percent of the affordable units, meaning that there’s only five percent more affordable housing than a typical 80/20 Bloomberg deal.

Now, the vote moves on to the full City Council, who are expected to follow the lead of the Land Use Committee.

All Astoria Cove coverage [Q'Stoner]

Rendering via Studio V Architecture

11/12/14 11:00am

Demuth Frank, 14-42 21st St blog. 1

When I was a child, both of my parents were cigarette smokers. That was not unusual for the early 1960s. Everyone seemed to be a smoker then. They both quit cold turkey when I was around twelve. But before that, my father experimented with pipe smoking. He bought a couple of different pipes, and tried several aromatic tobacco blends before finding the combination he liked. I have to say, the pipe smoke was much nicer to be around than the cigarette smoke.

Starting in the early 19th century, the New York City area was a leader in the manufacturing of tobacco products. Cigars were the big thing throughout that century, and all of the boroughs had multiple cigar factories, both large and small. After all, one only needed a table to roll cigars, and many people rolled cigars in their homes, one of the city’s first at-home sweatshops.

Cigarettes didn’t become popular until the end of the century, but chewing and pipe tobacco also had their place in city production. Lorillard, which is still producing tobacco products, had several large factories in Manhattan and Brooklyn. There were many other companies, as well, whose names are now lost to history. But someone had to make the pipes themselves. By the turn of the 20th century, one of the largest pipe makers was located in Richmond Hill, Queens. It was called William Demuth & Company. (more…)