02/24/15 9:00am


Both the New York Times and The Real Deal are reporting huge news that Citigroup plans to sell a massive development site located right next to its iconic tower. The parcel in question is bound by 44th Road, 23rd Street and 44th Drive in Court Square and is nearly one acre in size, or 36,000 square feet. It is expected to sell for as much as $150 million. A developer could build up to 780,000 square feet, and a C5-3 zoning allows residential, office, retail and hotel use.

The Times reports that it’s likely this will go residential, as the area didn’t quite make it as an office hub but is officially a residential hotspot. As the Times says, “If the property sale marks a shift in the neighborhood from commercial to residential development, it also is another sign of Citigroup’s diminishing presence in the city.” (The article details the many troubles faced by the bank since the recession.)

Citigroup sold One Court Square in 2005, but still holds a lease in the building until 2020. And in 2007, the bank built out Two Court Square in hopes to kick off a larger 1.5-million-square-foot development. Obviously that never happened, with Citigroup ultimately selling six floors of the 15-story building to the City University of New York School of Law.

New Housing to Benefit as Citigroup Sells Queens Site [NY Times]

Photo via Queens Plaza

02/23/15 9:00am


Last week, Council Member Julissa Ferreras delivered her State of the District address — the Council Member represents District 21 which covers Elmhurst, East Elmhurst, Corona and Jackson Heights. There were a few major announcements, including the fate of the controversial Jackson Heights Business Improvement District, Willets Point updates, and a health care institution slated for Corona. We’ve broken down the biggies for you.

Willets Point
The last of the Willets Point auto shops are being relocated. Ferraras said that The Sunrise Auto Coop and Economic Development Corporation are now working towards finalizing a $5.8 million agreement to relocate Willets Points auto shops to a new work and business space in the Bronx.

And as part of the Willets Point deal Council Member Ferreras helped negotiated in 2013, there’s a new affordable housing development slated for Corona. The 67-unit rental building will be located 54-25 101st Street and will house low-income seniors. Amenities include a garden, community area and medical referral services, and there will be an early childhood development center on the ground floor. Construction should begin at the end of 2015 and is expected to last 18 months.

Jackson Heights BID
It looks like the controversial battle over establishing a Business Improvement District along 82nd Street is coming to an end. According to Ferreras, “Members of the community and the 82nd Street Partnership are near to reaching an agreement that will expand the Partnership from 82nd Street to 104th Street along Roosevelt Avenue.”

Flushing Meadows Corona Park
The push to establish a Flushing Meadows Corona Park Alliance is also making headway. According to the Council Member, she “plans to hold the Mayor’s Office to its promise of establishing [the alliance] by spring.” An alliance would serve to protect the park’s historical significance and green space and establish more community programming.

Higher Education and Health Care Institution for Corona
The Councilwoman also spoke on a $10 million project with Queensborough Community College and Urban Health Plan to establish a 19,000-square-foot higher education and health care institution in Corona. The facility will provide space for training and clinical rotations, as well as affordable primary and specialty health care for the community.

Elmhurst Hospital
Ferreras plans to fight for funding to upgrade the emergency room at Elmhurst Hospital — right now there is a $11.1 million gap in the city’s budget to do so. Her goal is to secure funding for 10,000 square feet of new space for the hospital, which would double the number of treatment bays and include five additional isolation rooms.

02/20/15 3:00pm


The city is moving forward on a controversial proposal by Mayor de Blasio to build 11,250 units of permanently affordable housing over the Sunnyside Rail Yards. Today the Economic Development Corporation, in collaboration with Amtrak, issued an RFP for a feasibility study on development at the site. Besides affordable housing, the city is looking for opportunities to build out schools, open space and community facilities while also improving public transportation and infrastructure. Any development would preserve “the vital operations of rail facilities in the yards.” This is strictly a feasibility study, to see if development is even possible. More from the EDC:

The Feasibility Study will include a comprehensive evaluation of specific factors such as the existing and planned configuration of the rail yards, ongoing requirements to maintain all and accommodate future rail operations, geotechnical conditions, requirements and limitations of proposed deck structures, infrastructure and utility conditions both on- and off-site, and financial feasibility. In addition to creating land for housing and parks, the project could potentially result in the development of commercial and community facilities like new schools, as well as services and amenities that respond to the needs of the diverse communities surrounding Sunnyside Yards, encouraging active street life, thriving retail, improved surface transit and mobility in the area. The project will seek to closely integrate any future development into the local context. The project could also provide enhanced rail operations and safer working conditions at the Sunnyside Yards rail facilities.

Basically, the study will need to consider all relevant aspects of potential development including the technical, environmental, market, rail operations and financial factors. (As many have already pointed out, there are a lot of factors to consider before building.)

According to Mayor de Blasio, “This is the first step in understanding whether development of the Sunnyside Yards is possible, and what it could contribute to the city and surrounding communities. This is a tremendous opportunity to deliver on our vision of a more affordable city, and smart development that responds to the needs of surrounding neighborhoods. We are excited to be working with partners like Amtrak and local stakeholders on a thoughtful and thorough review that gives us facts we can build on.”

Responses to the RFP are due by March 20th, 2015.

All Sunnyside Yards coverage [Q'Stoner]

Photo by Mitch Waxman

02/20/15 2:00pm


A new cafe has set up shop in Ridgewood — Coffeenesse, at 64-02 68th Avenue. (It’s the old Casey Jones Saloon space.) Here’s some info on the joint from Ridgewood Social: “The goal of Coffeenesse is to offer delicious coffee as well tasty sandwiches. I had a pressed turkey sandwich with brie and it was really, really good. Probably one of the best sandwiches I had in Ridgewood.”

There’s a nice selection of specialty coffee, tea, pastries and food. It looks cozy, too. Hours are from 7 am to 8 pm. GMAP

Photo via Facebook

02/20/15 11:00am


Time hasn’t been kind to the tiny building once known as Shaw’s Hotel on 64th Street north of Woodside Avenue, hard by the Long Island Rail Road main branch. A couple of years ago, a huge condominium was constructed just inches away from it on the corner of the two cross streets. In recent months, though, the owner has made several upgrades, the most notable being a large picture window on the 3rd floor that looks out onto the LIRR/Roosevelt Avenue El transit complex.


The building has seen much, including a Forgotten New York tour in Woodside in June of 2010.

02/20/15 9:00am


Yesterday the blog 6sqft published news of new LIC developments alongside renderings that offer a glimpse of the neighborhood when it’s dominated by skyscrapers. Let’s start with this two-towered development — rendered above — from the developer Lions Group. The buildings are called Jackson East, at 26-32 Jackson Avenue, and Jackson West, at 27-01 Jackson Avenue. Designed by Raymond Chan Architects, the towers will each rise 30 and 40 stories. (It’s worth nothing that the renderings do not match permits filed in December for 27-01 Jackson Avenue, which specified only 15 stories.) No details on any construction timeline, or whether the units will go rental or condo. But to put these new developments in context, Citi Realty came up with a great image of all the towers slated to rise around the Citibank Tower. Check it:

long-island-city-skyscrapersImage by City Realty

Next up is an 18-story, 110-unit residential building planned for 42-10 27th Street. (more…)


A teaser site is up for The Queensboro, an American bistro planned for Jackson Heights. It will be located at 80-04 Northern Boulevard between 80th and 81st Streets. Unfortunately we have no details yet on the menu or the vibe of the place. It is safe to assume there will be typical bistro fare, which there is definitely demand for around Jackson Heights. (If you have any more details, leave them in the comment section or shoot us a tip.) It’s supposed to open early this year. Stay tuned for more details… GMAP

02/19/15 9:00am


New York Daily News rounded up all of the mega developments by private “master builders” that promise to alter the landscape of New York. Three are in Queens: Astoria Cove (rendered above), Hallets Point and Mayor de Blasio’s proposed affordable housing development over Sunnyside Yards. According to the News, it’s a trend “driven in part by the demand for housing and made possible by the availability of global financing and the collapse of the industrial trades whose facilities formerly occupied these once far-flung, now hot, parcels of land.” (Other developments include Hudson Yards and Essex Crossing in the Lower East Side.)

Combined, Astoria Cove and Hallets Point will bring over 4,000 new apartments to Queens. The Sunnyside Yards proposal includes 11,250 units. The Durst Organization (Hallets) and Alma Realty (Astoria Cove) are essentially creating neighborhoods from scratch, promising schools, supermarkets and waterfront esplanades. But there’s a lot at risk — the Daily News explains that developers need to manage community interest, acquire massive financing, gain political support and “commit to a timeframe that could see them through several real estate cycles.” The end result, hopefully, should be contextual buildings that are mixed use.

And as Mitchell Moss, a professor of urban policy, notes of this boom, it’s all pretty new to New York: “Historically, New York was developed incrementally, block by block, as neighborhoods adapted and were reinvented. With these megaprojects, it’s happening all at once.”

New Megaprojects Will Remake Swaths of the City from Scratch [NY Daily News]


On Valentines Day, Armondo’s Italian Restaurant reopened in Jackson Heights. The restaurant is now located at 73-16 Northern Boulevard, the old Trieste Restaurant space. They had to relocate after a five-alarm fire at the Bruson Building displaced the business last spring. A Jackson Heights life commenter offered a positive review of the new digs:

I was seated at a nice, white-clothed table along the wall, giving me a prime view of the well-appointed bar and the patrons coming in and out. My shrimp oreganata appetizer was succulent and flavorful; the veal parmesan that followed was incredible. The cheese and sauce actually had to compete for attention with the meat – so well-prepared. Two nice glasses of Montepulciano, with a complimentary third making an appearance to seal the deal. And the canoli dessert was perfect – needless to say, the pristine white tablecloth was no longer pristine nor white by the end of the proceedings.

All in all, it was a great dining experience with the food I grew up with only steps from my home. So happy they’re back. And to sweeten the deal, these fine folks are offering 20% off on Mondays through Thursdays! So go get reacquainted. They’re open and ready to satisfy the neighborhood craving I know I’ve had. Enjoy!

The menu looks similar to the one offered at the old location, and there’s also lunch and Sunday brunch service.

Post Fire, Armondo’s Italian Restaurant Plans Move to Northern Boulevard [Q'Stoner] GMAP

02/18/15 11:00am

Addisleigh Park, 174-27 Adelaide Rd Count Basie house. CDB for LPC 1

Even though there was a restrictive covenant in place preventing African Americans from moving into the upscale part of St. Albans known as Addisleigh Park, by 1940, several prominent black celebrities had purchased homes there. The all-white community suburban community had expanded on the restrictive covenants written by the original developer of the neighborhood, Edwin Brown, ensuring that there would be no black homeowners in the enclave. When a couple of errant homeowners, both of whom had signed the pacts, then tried to sell to African American buyers, the larger community had risen up and sued them. They won the suits, too, preventing the sales. Housing discrimination was a fact of life in mid-20th century New York City.

All of this and the history of Addisleigh Park were told in Part One and Part Two of our story. But while the homeowners were guarding the front gates of the Park, people were getting in via the back. The white homeowners who feared that black neighbors would lower their property values woke up to find black homeowners moving in next door, in spite of the covenant. Some had purchased through white proxy buyers, and others had just quietly bought their property. These weren’t just ordinary black folks either. In the years during World War II and into the 1950s, Addisleigh Park became famous as the neighborhood where some of the wealthiest and most well-known black entertainers, athletes and celebrities lived in upper middle class splendor. (more…)