04/15/14 4:00pm


Socrates Sculpture Park is preparing for its spring exhibition, which will open on May 11th. Last week they broke ground on the largest installation in the park’s 28-year history — according to Socrates, it’s “a 250-foot-long, thirteen-foot-high kinetic pathway composed of 200 stainless steel, mirrored poles connecting energetic slopes of silver Mylar ribbon overhead.” The work, titled Scarecrow, is by the LIC-based, Lithuanian-born artist Zilvinas Kempinas. This is the artist’s first outdoor installation in the United States. You can read more details about the sculpture here, and also see photos of the installation process happening now at the park at the Socrates Facebook page. Also beginning in May, the park will provide a free weekend shuttle service to and from nearby cultural attractions.

04/15/14 1:00pm


It’s the New York City marathon for word lovers. Queens Writes Weekend 2014 will facilitate more than 12 literary events at a minimum of six venues throughout the world’s most diverse borough over the last weekend in April. The fun will start on Friday, April 25th, with an open reading at The Astoria Bookshop featuring contributors to the third issue of Newtown Literary, a semi-annual journal. On Saturday and Sunday, the events will differ, but authors of all kinds — young, old, novice, expert — will simply sit down together and write for a few hours. Participants will then share the products of their efforts at an open mic event at Terraza 7 in Elmhurst on Sunday night.

Details: Queens Writes Weekend 2014, begins with Kick-Off Reading at The Astoria Bookshop, 31-29 31st Street, Astoria, April 25th, 7 pm, click here for times and venues on April 26th and April 27th, ends at Wrap-Up Open Mic at Terraza 7, 40-19 Gleane Street, Elmhurst, April 27th, 6 pm, suggested donations at all times to defray the costs of publishing Newtown Literary‘s fourth edition and other good works. So far, events are set for Astoria, Bayside, Corona, Forest Hills, Jackson Heights and Kew Gardens, but more sites are expected to be confirmed before the weekend begins. Schedule and venues will be posted and updated regularly on this page.

Photo: Audrey Dimola

04/14/14 3:00pm


Just last week news broke that a 76-unit condo is planned for the corner lot on Broadway and 14th Street in Astoria; now we’ve got a few more details. Modern Spaces will handle sales, and CEO Eric Benaim promises a full-service building with indoor and outdoor amenities — “Unlike anything else Astoria has seen before,” he says. Modern Spaces already worked with the developers, Lions Group, on two previous residential projects, the Vista and the Bindery. For this new Broadway build, the developers are still in the design process. Construction should start soon and the hope is to bring units to market sometime next year.

All 14-01 Broadway coverage [Q'Stoner] GMAP

04/14/14 2:00pm


Queens may be New York’s hotspot for up-and-coming breweries, but that doesn’t mean there’s not room for a distillery, too. DNAinfo shares some cool news that Astoria Distilling Company is now in the works. The founder and Astoria resident, Chris Murillo, hopes to debut this summer with an old-fashioned style gin called “Queens Courage.” Here are a few details about the liquor, from the Astoria Distilling Company’s Facebook page:

Queens Courage is a New York “Old Tom” style gin that is lighter than Dutch Genever, more full-bodied than London Dry, and with a subtle sweetness derived from naturally sweet botanicals, malts and honey. Queens Courage is the result of over a year and a half of research and development, and is formulated to be the ideal base spirit for classic cocktails developed in the 1800’s, when Old Tom gin was the most popular style of gin. Queens Courage’s flavor profile is also ideal for the creation of new cocktails, and the use of premium ingredients and the care with which Queens Courage is distilled makes it smooth enough to enjoy neat or on the rocks.

Murillo will use a New York state distillery outside the city, although he hopes to eventually move the production to western Queens. He also hopes to include other types of spirits under the Astoria Distilling Company name. Once Queens Courage is ready, he will market it to local bars and restaurants. So far the company received permits to produce and sell liquor and is still waiting on final approvals from the State Liquor Authority and federal Division of Alcohol Tobacco and Trade.

The Spirit of Queens Inspires Astoria Distilling Company [DNAinfo]

04/11/14 3:00pm


At six stories tall, this new development at 31-43 Vernon Boulevard isn’t exactly a tower but the developers plan to call it such. New York YIMBY spotted renderings for Vernon Tower, which will hold 79 residential units, 66,300 total square feet and ground-floor retail. The facade design, which YIMBY rightly calls “average,” is by PACS Architecture.

This development is located right off of Socrates Sculpture Park in Astoria and will have views of Manhattan from the waterfront. The developers already submitted building plans to the DOB and construction is expected to begin this spring.

Revealed: Vernon Tower, 31-43 Vernon Boulevard [New York YIMBY] GMAP

04/11/14 9:00am


The Wall Street Journal has a story on how Kaufman Astoria Studios helped bring bars, restaurants, and young residents into the neighborhood. It has, as the WSJ says, “helped catalyze a new wave of economic activity in Astoria.” The WSJ profiles new restaurants like Snowdonia and Maizal and points out the growing rent and demand for the area. As the owner of Maizal said, “I’m now paying $2,450 for a two-bedroom apartment and I used to pay $700 for another two-bedroom apartment.”

There’s plenty more growth to expect from Kaufman Studios. This spring, Kaufman will host LIC Flea & Food inside the studio for eight consecutive weekends. Kafuman Studios are even building out a 33-unit development on 35th Street and believe that the studio’s presence can act as a catalyst for more real estate development. The studio is also expanding itself, and will turn a parking lot and gas station into a new sound stage within the next two years.

Kaufman Studios Sets Stage for Astoria Action [WSJ]
All Kaufman Astoria Studios coverage [Q'Stoner]

Photo by Mitch Waxman

04/10/14 3:00pm


A few more details on the massive Broadway development site that just sold for $10,225,000: a condo’s coming. Real Estate Weekly reports that the buyers, Axelrod Development Group and Lions Group, “are planning a 76-unit condo in Long Island City.” (The site is right on the border of Astoria.)

Actually, it looks like the new owners have already filed an application with the Department of Buildings to build on the corner lot. This application calls for 76 units over eight stories, with 73,502 square feet of residential space and 14,600 square feet of parking. The DOB disapproved the application in late March. The architect of record is Raymond Chan.

New LIC Condo Planned [REW]
All 14-01 Broadway coverage [Q'Stoner] GMAP

04/10/14 2:00pm


Earlier today, We Heart Astoria published two very juicy rumors concerning new businesses coming to Astoria. First off, it looks like the bar Sweet Afton (pictured above) plans to open a new gastropub at the old Stamatis Restaurant space, 29-12 23rd Avenue between 29th and 31st streets. The ETA is for this September. Secondly, there’s word that the team behind both Sparrow Tavern (on 29th Street) and Mar’s (on 34th Avenue) signed a lease at 27-20 23rd Avenue, off 28th Street. There’s no news of the concept or the opening date, but We Heart Astoria reports that whatever it is, it’ll be something different that Sparrow Tavern.

Astoria Gossip- Big Changes Coming to 23rd Avenue [We Heart Astoria] GMAP

Photo via Facebook

04/09/14 1:00pm


The word “LEGO” is a combination of the Danish words “leg godt,” which mean “play well” in English. The original toys were made of wood, but in 1958, the LEGO Group introduced the interlocking brick, which currently comes in various colors, shapes and sizes and has a cult-like following around the world, mesmerizing adults as well as children. On Saturday, these plastic playthings will begin a long run in Queens, when the Museum of the  Moving Image offers 60-minute LEGO animation workshops for children twice a day through April 22nd. Led by a master builder, participants will work in teams to plan and create a stop-motion animated film. The same Astoria venue will screen The LEGO Movie in Dolby Digital 3-D from April 14th through April 18th. This stop-motion animated feature tells the story of Emmet, a perfectly average LEGO mini-figure who is mistakenly identified as the “most special, most interesting, most extraordinary person” and the key to saving the world. Meanwhile, the Queens Theatre on April 13th will open Iconic Symbols of the 1964 World’s Fair Reimagined — in LEGOs, a display of World’s Fair structures inspired by expert builder Cody Wells. They will be on exhibit through November 2nd. The Flushing Meadows Corona Park theater will go for more on May 18th with Build It!: A LEGO Workshop, three sessions after which each participant will leave with a mini-model of the New York State Pavilion.

Details for Museum of the Moving Image (36-01 35th Avenue, Astoria): Master Builder Lego Animation Workshops, April 12th – 22nd, 1:30 pm and 3 pm, daily, $5 materials fee; The LEGO Movie, April 14th-18th, 1 pm daily.

Details for Queens Theatre (14 United Nations Avenue South, Flushing Meadows Corona Park): Iconic Symbols of the 1964 World’s Fair Reimagined — in LEGOs, April 13th – November 2nd, free; Build It!: A LEGO Workshop, May 18th, 11 am, 2 pm and 4 pm, free.


Top photo: Flickr (notenoughbricks); bottom photo: MMI

04/08/14 4:00pm


Today the Village Voice compiled a list of the five best restaurants in Little Egypt, the short stretch of Steinway Street between Astoria Boulevard and 28th Avenue. The top picks? Kabab Cafe at 25-12 Steinway Street (one of the most popular Egyptian spots on Steinway), Mombar at 25-22 Steinway Street (run by the brother of Kabab Cafe’s owner), Duzan at 24-11 Steinway Street (known for its fast food-like service), Sabry’s at 24-25 Steinway Street and Zeit W Zatar (for dessert) at 25-78 Steinway Street. Now we’re hungry…

The Five Best Restaurants in Little Egypt [Village Voice]

Photo via Yelp