01/21/15 9:00am

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Leasing must be launching soon at QLIC, the Long Island City rental tower that’s 21 stories tall and holds 421 units. This website has popped up with tons of renderings of the amenities and apartments. There are also floorplans of the studio, one, two and three-bedroom units, although no pricing yet.

The development will boast 28,000 square feet of amenities including, yes, a very nice rooftop pool. There’s also a landscaped courtyard, roof deck, media room, game room with billiards, shuffleboard and foosball tables, fitness center, dog washing station, and a 24-hour concierge.

As for the apartments, finishes will include white oak hardwood floors, walk-in closets for select apartments and an in-unit washer and dryer. Kitchens will have dishwashers, as well as white quartz countertops and a porcelain backsplash, bathrooms will feature porcelain tile and “Italian bath cabinetry.”

After the jump, tons more renderings of the amenity spaces and the apartments…

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All QLIC coverage [Q'Stoner] GMAP

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01/20/15 11:00am

Back in the infancy of Forgotten NY, April of 2000 to be exact, I was working at one of those jobs that only required me to be present 3 or 4 times a week (which is great for gathering Forgotten material but not so good when trying to pay bills) and, after a few weeks poking around abandoned hospitals and boatyards in Staten Island, I thought it would be nice to take a walk in a nicer part of town…a place that had, I knew, the most beautiful architecture ever conceived. Where might that be? Enter Richmond Hill, Queens.

The Victorian era, roughly 1865-1900, was a period characterized by a booming economy in many of its years, and architecture responded with an everything-but-the-kitchen-sink attitude. No color or design was written off, and no expense was spared in construction. Yet, nothing was tacky or tasteless and despite every house on the block being completely different from the other, Victorian neighborhoods retained a unity of spirit that can’t be matched in these days of prefabricated junk.

Richmond Hill, located in Queens between Forest Park, Kew Gardens, and Jamaica, didn’t spring up on its own, spontaneously. It’s a planned community. It was conceived in reaction to the increasing population in Manhattan and Brooklyn in the mid-1800s, with row upon row of tenements and attached brownstones. Even the best-appointed brownstones in Manhattan were often cramped and crowded. And, in the 1800s social mores dictated that the only place to raise a happy family was in one’s own house. In Manhattan, this wasn’t much of an option anymore.

For the solution, developers looked to the east and south, and built developments from scratch in New Brighton, Staten Island, Prospect Park South in Brooklyn, and here in Richmond Hill, Queens, among other locales.

Enter a Manhattan (Murray Hill) lawyer named Albon Platt Man. One day in 1869 he was riding along the Brooklyn and Jamaica Turnpike (a toll road that is today’s Jamaica Avenue) on the way to his summer house in Lawrence, Nassau County (then a part of Queens), and noticed the desirable land along the route in an area then known as Clarenceville.

Man consulted with a local landscaper and architect named Edward Richmond, bought the property and developed it until his death in 1891. His three sons carried on after his death, and went on to develop Kew Gardens in all its Tudor glory to the north, and developed the woodland along the terminal moraine (the hills in the center of Brooklyn and Queens that mark the southern progress of glaciers during the last Ice Age) into what is now Forest Park.

It’s likely that the name ”Richmond Hill” was not a tribute to Edward Richmond, since he passed away before much of the development could get underway. Rather, Man probably named the nascent community after the London suburb Richmond-On-Thames, a favorite royal stomping ground.

Although there was no such thing as zoning in the late 1800s, Albon Man had several means at his disposal to make sure the community developed according to his specifications. He obtained restrictive covenants to dictate, for example, the absence of front yard fences and uniform setbacks, that would give Richmond Hill a forestlike atmosphere with lots of green lawns, which persists to this day.

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01/16/15 11:00am

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On Park Lane, at the east end of the vast Forest Park, which includes the neighborhoods of Forest Hills, Kew Gardens, Richmond Hill and Glendale, a lone lamenting figure stands on a rise between the basketball courts and the tony homes spread out before it. His garments are ripped and his eyes look heavenward in a  supplicating manner. Passersby would be puzzled about what this figure symbolizes, were there not a NYC Parks sign positioned perhaps a bit too close to it.

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01/16/15 9:00am

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After a 34-block rezoning of Long Island City in 2001 that has dramatically changed the neighborhood, the city is now considering another significant up-zoning. According to the Wall Street Journal, “City Hall is targeting the Queens neighborhood along the East River and just north of the Long Island Expressway for a possible rezoning that would promote the construction around Queens Plaza of more high-rise apartment buildings, including ones with lower rents.” The Department of City Planning is gearing up to study 100 blocks around Queens Plaza, Court Square, Jackson Avenue and Northern Boulevard. The new zoning would prioritize mixed-income housing, as well as potential growth for arts and tech industries. Council Member Jimmy Van Bramer is concerned about schools, transportation, and affordable housing for artists, while the LIC Partnership wants to ensure more industrial and commercial growth. But right now everything is in its earliest stages, and it’s unclear how long the city’s study will last.

The first rezoning led to 8,000 new units in the neighborhood, 20,000 more under construction, and a 5.9 percent rent increase over the past year. The hope for any new rezoning is that it will strike a better balance between residential and industrial sectors, while creating more affordable units under Mayor de Blasio’s housing initiative.

Setting Sights on More High-Rises in Long Island City [WSJ]

Development map via LIC Partnership

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First of all, the definition. Amigurumi is a traditional Japanese art form that involves knitting or crocheting small stuffed animals or other cuddly creatures. Second, the relevance. Resobox is currently displaying more than 4,000 amigurumi that were made by more than 140 artists from 32 different countries. In fact, the Long Island City gallery has turned its space into an “amigurumi room,” filled with a wide array of these handmade objects. Third, the pitch. These crafts are on sale… and Valentine’s Day is coming up.

Details: World Amigurumi Exhibition, Resobox, 41-26 27th Street, Long Island City, show runs until February 28th, admission is free, but pieces mostly cost between $20 and $50. Gallery is open on all weekdays, except Tuesday, 11 am to 5 pm, and weekends, noon to 5 pm.

Photo: Resobox

01/15/15 11:00am

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In my last post I told you about an event attended on Saturday the tenth of January at the Queens Museum, which put a spotlight on the topographical relief map of the NYC water system. Despite hurdles offered by MTA and the weather, I somehow made it there from Astoria.

On Sunday the eleventh, a repeat of my journey to the institution, housed in Flushing Meadows Corona Park, was enacted. This time, the Queens Museum was merely the place where a walking tour of the so called Iron Triangle at Willets Point was meeting up, an excursion led by the official Queens Borough Historian – Dr. Jack Eichenbaum. I’ve been lucky enough to know him for a while now, and I’m pretty sure that we met during the Queensboro Bridge Centennial celebrations back in 2009. When I heard that he would be doing this tour, inquiries whether or not I could come along were made and he graciously invited me (and you Q’Stoners) along.

Here’s what we saw along the way – with lots of photos after the jump.

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01/14/15 4:00pm

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Art Connects New York, a group that curates free, permanent art exhibits for social service organizations in NYC, has partnered with the Markus Gardens development in Jamaica for its next project. (Check out some of the artwork Art Connects New York brought to the Queens Community House here.) The Queens-based artist and curator Karen Fitzgerald is organizing this next exhibit, which will be permanently installed in the Markus Gardens supportive housing development at 90-26 171st Street. To be called “In a Sheltering Place,” it will feature 15 artists exploring the ideas of shelter and home through various media. All of the artists donated their artwork in the exhibition to the Markus Gardens community.

The grand opening is scheduled for February, so stay tuned for images and details on the exhibit to come.

Image by Mary Pinto, “House by the Sea”

01/14/15 2:00pm

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We’ve kept a close eye on Julia’s Beer and Wine Bar, under construction at 818 Woodward Avenue near Cornelia Street. The owners (who also run popular Ridgewood cafe Norma’s) planned to open last September but were held up by Department of Buildings issues. Today they announced that they’re planning on a soft opening for next Friday, January 23rd.

Once open, the spot will serve local craft beers (with Finback, Bridge and Tunnel and Transmitter Breweries on tap), wine, charcuterie and cheese plates. The interior looks gorgeous, too. Can’t wait!

All Julia’s coverage [Q'Stoner] GMAP

Photo via Facebook

01/14/15 1:00pm

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Astoria, are you ready for some (more) major housing development? There’s a biggie coming to 31-51 31st Street, right off of Broadway. The parcel, which is a massive 26,000 square feet, has long been a parking lot. Its sale recently hit public records — “Astoria 31st Street Developers LLC” picked it up for $17,350,000. That led us to check Department of Buildings records, which show that there’s already a development in the pipeline here. And as you may have guessed, it’s gonna be big.

This building application proposes a seven-story, 114-unit building that spans 102,060 square feet. There will be 78,144 square feet of residential space, 19,761 square feet of commercial space, and 4,155 square feet for a community facility. The DOB is reviewing the application and has not issued new building permits yet. The only permit issued so far is for the demolition of the parking attendant booth. The architect of record is SLCE, who designed the MOMA Tower, 339 Bridge Street in Brooklyn, and 45-56 Pearson Street in LIC. We’ve reached out to them for a rendering and more details, so stay tuned… GMAP

01/14/15 11:00am

Jackson Ave, late 1800s, Greater Astoria Historical Society 1

In 1891, the New York and Long Island Tunnel Company began the arduous process of constructing a tunnel beneath the East River, joining Long Island City to Manhattan. They were building a tunnel that would ultimately connect western Queens to Grand Central Terminal. The tunnel not only had to go underneath the East River, which was difficult enough for all sorts of reasons, but it also had to be cut into the very bedrock of Queens and Manhattan. Manhattan schist, one of those bedrocks, is a hard, metamorphic stone that is quite dense and difficult to tunnel through. It was time consuming and dangerous work.

The tunnel crew was using dynamite to blast through the rock. Dynamite works because of the explosive qualities of nitroglycerine, which is very unstable, and subject to temperature and moisture conditions. A stick of dynamite is two-thirds liquid nitroglycerine absorbed by diatomaceous earth, or other absorbents, wrapped in paper to hold it together, topped off with a fuse and blasting cap that carries the charge.

If dynamite got old, it could “weep” the nitro out, into the bottom of the box. Same if it got wet or too cold. Sometimes, frozen dynamite could form crystals of pure nitroglycerine on the outside of the stick, which was especially dangerous. If the sticks just rubbed together, that could make enough friction to cause the nitro to explode. Being around dynamite was a dangerous job, one best left to experts. It needed to be handled with care and respect, and was hardly the tossing around of sticks like you see in the movies. (more…)