More bad news for the Maspeth residents working to landmark the 1914 firehouse at 56-29 68th Street. The community wrote to the Landmarks Preservation Commission once Bill de Blasio stepped in as the new mayor, but the LPC research team said this month that the building was not eligible for landmarking. The LPC under Mayor Bloomberg also denied requests for designation.
The residents argue that the historic significance, the importance of the station during September 11th, and the firehouse’s centennial this year are solid reasons for landmarking. The LPC previously stated that they do not cite the Maspeth structure as a priority based on architectural significance, and they cannot count the events on September 11th as historically significant since the LPC calls for a 30-year minimum regarding historic relevance. The most recent rejection stated that “…to be eligible for consideration, a site must be greater than 30 years old, and the 9/11 Monument does not meet this criteria.” Steve Fischer, who is spearheading the landmark campaign, said this in an email: “We are frankly confounded by [the LPC's] repeated reference to a monument and we certainly question why the “30-year rule” has any bearing at all on our case. We have written a response to this latest LPC letter in which we try to clarify once again what the subject of our application entails and why it is worthy of consideration by the full Commission.” The neighborhood of Maspeth, despite being home to a number of historic buildings, does not have any landmarked structures.
After the jump, read the full letter just sent to the LPC in defense of the firehouse.
The construction of two glassy towers to replace the infamous 5Pointz graffiti warehouse is officially in motion. New York YIMBY reported that architect H. Thomas O’Hara filed building permits with the DOB yesterday morning. The filings really show how massive this development will be: 977,086 square feet of residential space and 39,765 square feet of commercial space, making 1,016,851 square feet total. There will also be a 32,099-square-foot plaza and a 262-car public parking garage. The two towers will hold 1,116 units, and roughly 20 percent will be priced affordably.
Demolition of the graffiti warehouse should begin in a few weeks; it’s expected to be gone by October. Site work for the new building should begin in three to five months, and eventually Long Island City will have one more development that looks just like every other new build in New York.
Welcome to the Q’Stoner food feature, Signature Dish! Once a week we check in with Queens restaurants and ask the owners about the all-time favorite dishes they serve. If you know of a dish you’d like to see featured here, please email email@example.com.
The Spot: Alobar, 46-42 Vernon Boulevard, Long Island City.
The Deal: When your restaurant’s philosophy revolves around farm-fresh produce and seasonal dishes, it’s imperative that the menu reflects the changing seasons. So although patrons may miss a favorite hearty dish – such as late winter’s Signature Dish of the Loaded Baked Potato Gnocchi – summer is just an opportunity to find a new favorite.
In Queens, there are worlds within worlds. Over the last three years I have been at loose ends, occasionally working freelance jobs when I can get them, still hoping for a fulltime job with benefits, a Holy Grail of sorts for someone in their 50s who has never been in management. I spend some of the time at the Greater Astoria Historical Society, which is located on the 4th floor of the Quinn Funeral Home at 35-20 Broadway, scanning photographs and researching material for a new book; the Society and I collaborated on the Forgotten Queens Arcadia Publishing entry, released in December 2013.
Desiring relief from boredom and some needed exercise, I took a different route to the subway after leaving GAHS one day and turned right on Broadway onto 37th Street. I knew about 37th Street from its role in world industrial history (see below for that) but I wasn’t completely prepared for the sheer variety of architecture that greeted me in the single block between Broadway and 34th Avenue. Much of Astoria features blocks of apartment buildings, handsomely constructed, but seemingly turned out by photocopier (another hint). Some blocks, though, betray their age, with buildings of a century or better pressed up against the newest architectural stylings that will look dated and of their time in what’s likely a mere twenty years.
On Friday, the 11th of July, I found myself at the very edge of Queens in a very special place. At the end of Vernon Boulevard in LIC, where the old Vernon Avenue Bridge and the Newtown Creek Towing Company were found, is a facility which is engaged in the hands-on work of the Superfund process. The Anchor QEA company operates out of here, carrying out the collection of samples and scientific tests which will determine the exact nature of what’s wrong with Newtown Creek. These samples and tests are overseen and directed by the Federal Environmental Protection Agency, and is an effort conducted by the so-called ”Potentially Responsible Parties” (PRPs).
These “Potentially Responsible Parties” have organized themselves together as the Newtown Creek Group, and they invited a small group of community members and representatives to their LIC facility to describe what they actually do at the Vernon street end and discuss the future of Newtown Creek.
That’s the question tackled in this New York Daily News article, which reports that “the borough counts 21 shelters — the fewest in the city aside from only Staten Island, which only has two.” (The Bronx, on the other hand, houses 73.) That low number hasn’t stopped petitions, rallies, and outcries regarding new shelters in Glendale, East Elmhurst and the Rockaways. Residents oppose the shelters opening in mostly residential areas, and deem places like the proposed Glendale shelter unsuitable to house the homeless. What the article doesn’t mention, however, are complaints about the sometimes shady tactics the DOE employed to open the shelters, as well as the failure to notify the community ahead of time.
According to city officials, the short notice is due to the mounting pressure to house the growing number of homeless — according to the News, last week the number of people in facilities reached a record high of 54,417. A Department of Homeless Services rep is asking Queens residents to embrace the shelters, and states, “It is regrettable that in the midst of an increase in the number of homeless families entering shelters, our partners in government choose to distort the facts and plan protests in front of men, women and children with nowhere else to turn.”
The New York rental and sales website Address Report (formerly Rentenna) just published some pretty awesome, interactive maps of Queens. This first map visualizes every single demolition in Queens since 2003. You can also zoom in to look at a particular locale, or type in an address to search for a specific property. The second map tracks both demolitions and new development in the borough since 2003. There is a lot of consistent construction action around Corona and Citi Field, while Western Queens development doesn’t pick up until around 2007.
Last week, a Q’Stoner tipster spotted dumpsters out at 5Pointz — a sign of demolition to come. Today, LIC Post reports that the iconic graffiti warehouse will be gone by October. Owner/developer Jerry Wolkoff stated that demolition will begin in earnest in about two weeks and will continue for about two to three months. He told LIC Post, “Once demolition starts we will continue all the way through to 2016… until the job is complete.” The warehouse will be replaced by two 47- and 41-story towers, with a total of 1,000 apartment units.
Demolition comes nine months after the Wolkoffs secured City Council approval for the new buildings, and eight months after whitewashing the warehouse. The demo job was supposed to take place in early 2014, but Wolkoff said it took longer than expected to secure permits. He predicts the shiny development to replace 5Pointz will be the “coolest [residential] building in New York.”
The borough of Queens has seen its share of homeless sheltercontroversies as of late. Now here’s another. On Monday, Congressman Joseph Crowley, Councilman Costa Constantinides, New York State Senator Jose Peralta, and Assemblymember Aravella Simotas wrote to the commissioner of the Department of Homeless Services concerning recent developments at the Westway Motor Inn at 71-11 Astoria Boulevard, on the border of Astoria and East Elmhurst. Earlier this month, the DHS approved the conversion of the Westway Motor Inn into a permanent shelter for over 100 homeless families, effective immediately. The shelter is now operated by the social services provider Woman In Need. Local pols and residents are most upset that no one in the community was notified or consulted beforehand by DHS. (Picking up on a trend here?) As the letter to DHS stated, “While we appreciate that DHS is legally required to provide shelter for the homeless, the agency’s failure to provide any notification to the people currently living in the area who are impacted by its implementation is unacceptable.”
This isn’t the first time DHS proposed a homeless shelter for this location. Back in 2012, the Daily News published a story on community opposition to opening a full-time shelter here. (At the time, the hotel housed homeless families in need of emergency housing overnight.) The DHS shelved the plan after overwhelming community opposition.
7 train riders, particularly those at Mets-Willets Point, worry about overcrowded trains if the Long Island Railroad strike goes into effect on Monday. The Wall Street Journal filed a report on the already-crowded morning commute, where riders are typically “packed like sardines” from Flushing-Main Street until the transfer at Queensboro Plaza. A LIRR strike would bring an influx of Long Island commuters to both the Main Street and Willets Point stations by bus, car and shuttle. As WSJ points out, “[Willets Point] is also a staging point for carpools and park-and-ride commuters thanks to the lot at Citi Field.” (more…)