11/21/14 2:00pm

athens-cafe-astoria-closedThe owners of Bareburger, the successful mini-chain that started in Astoria, have special plans in the works for the old Athens Cafe space at 32-07 30th Avenue. Athens Cafe closed earlier this month, with lots of rumors surrounding what would replace it. But this week, We Heart Astoria, Astoria Post and DNAinfo have all shared the exciting news that the Bareburger is planning an “exciting new concept” here. Here’s what they told WAH: “The Athens cafe location has been an iconic part of the Astoria community for years. Bareburger group saw an opportunity to inject some new life and an exciting new concept into a space abound with possibilities.”

There are no specific details yet, as they are very early in the planning process. All we know is that this will be a totally new venture for the Bareburger folks in Astoria. GMAP

Photo by Astoria Post

11/20/14 4:00pm


Today, both the Central Astoria Local Development Coalition and LIC Partnership announced upcoming tree lighting celebrations. The Central Astoria LDC will host its second annual tree lighting on Thursday, December 11th at the Astoria Park Great Lawn. The evening, which kicks off at 6:30 pm, also includes caroling, Chanukah and Kwanza celebrations.

LIC Partnership will host its seventh annual tree lighting on Wednesday, December 3rd at 6 pm. The Hunters Point Community Development Corporation, community members and local merchants will light the Christmas Tree and Chanukkah Menorah at Vernon Mall, Vernon Boulevard at 50th Avenue. Check out the details here. UPDATE: There’s another lighting celebration in LIC on Thursday, December 4th at 5 pm. Council Member Jimmy Van Bramer, LIC Partnership, JetBlue and LIC Business Women will be present for the 3rd Annual Snowflake Lighting at LIC Bar on Vernon Boulevard. Details here.

11/20/14 3:00pm


Behold The Marx, a seven-story, 33-unit development planned for 34-32 35th Street, between 34th and 35th avenues in Astoria. 6sqft first published the rendering, which was designed by Fogarty Finger Architects. According to 6sqft, the development will replace two homes and a parking lot. (Another seven-story building is slated to rise at the stalled construction site across the street.)

The design looks great, with dark grey brick and huge windows. It’s also located right near the Museum of the Moving Image and both the Steinway and 36th Avenue subway lines. Something tells us that this one will do well on the market.

New Residential Building To Rise Near the Museum of the Moving Image in Astoria [6 sqft] GMAP

11/17/14 12:00pm


Would you pay a million bucks for this Astoria condo, at 11-24 31st Avenue? It’s a two bedroom/two bathroom with 1,268 square feet. (It’s actually asking $999,000.) Plenty of hardwood floors and floor-to-ceiling windows to go around, as well as modern fixtures in the bathrooms and kitchen. For that much money, though, we’d like a bigger kitchen. From the listing photos, it looks like this unit comes with some pretty awesome views, meaning the unit’s on a high floor. What do you think of the whole package?

11-24 31st Avenue [Citi Zone Realty] GMAP

11/13/14 11:00am


Just the other day, I decided it was too nice a day not to go out for a stroll. Not having a whole lot of time to amble about, it was decided to “keep it local” and stay in Astoria. A few errands ended up being part of the excursion, and on the way home my path brought me to 46th Street between 25th Avenue and Astoria Boulevard where I encountered one of the many concrete arches that have carried the tracks of the New York Connecting Railroad since the time of the first World War. The tracks head east to the Fresh Pond and Sunnyside Yards, and west to the Hell Gate Bridge. Hell Gate Bridge began carrying rail traffic in April of 1917, by the way, which is what makes what I encountered on 46th Street so puzzling.


More after the jump… (more…)

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 12:00pm


This three-bedroom, two-bathroom condo unit is up for rent at 31-35 31st Street, in Astoria. We quite like the space, with its high ceilings, big windows and modern vibe. There are also two private terraces that look like they have views of the skyline. The location, right of the Broadway N/Q, isn’t bad either. Of course, all of this is not going to come cheap. The rent for this pad comes in at $4,200 a month.

31-35 31st Street, #703 [Citi Habitats] GMAP

11/12/14 10:00am


Late last night, Astoria Cove developers Alma Realty and the unions came to an agreement about using union labor for the mega development. The Daily News reports that union and affordable housing advocates planned to hold a rally today asking City Council to vote against the project (the vote by the City Council’s land use committee is expected to happen today or tomorrow) but the rally has been called off. Alma Realty will use labor union for construction, building maintenance and security.

There’s also word that Alma will agree on a last-minute deal with Councilman Costa Constantinides to increase the number of affordable housing units, another big concern of the project, but the exact details aren’t clear yet.

Astoria Cove Site Developer Comes to Labor Union Agreement for Project’s Construction [NY Daily News]
All Astoria Cove coverage [Q'Stoner]

Rendering via Studio V Architecture

11/10/14 12:00pm


For whatever reason, we always find underwhelming properties at insane prices in Astoria. Take this home, at 20-49 21st Street. It’s a two-story, four-bedroom townhouse that simply isn’t nice to look at. The exterior is ugly and the interior looks run of the mill. But it’s asking $1,299,000. The listing markets this as an “investment property” but according to PropertyShark, the lot doesn’t come with much more buildable square feet. If someone can make sense of this listing for us, step on up!

20-49 21st Street [Realty Connect USA] GMAP

11/10/14 10:00am


As the City Council vote for the Astoria Cove mega project nears, it looks like we are no closer to a final development plan with solid affordable housing numbers. The Wall Street Journal reported that council members and Alma Realty still have not reached a deal, despite the fact that the City Council’s land-use committee must vote on the matter by this Wednesday. (The full City Council vote which follows is expected to echo the committee’s decision.) Council Member Costa Constantinides, who has long criticized the development for its lack of affordable housing, warns that if there isn’t movement on the developer’s part, the plan may not get approved. And as WSJ says, “But even if Astoria Cove moves forward, real-estate executives and lobbyists said they were unsettled by its thorny path to approval.”

There are no new details on the development beyond that, but the article is an interesting read as is shows how Mayor de Blasio’s affordable housing initiative is facing its first significant roadblock in this Astoria Cove standoff.

Old Politics Hamper City’s New Approach on Affordable Housing [WSJ]
All Astoria Cove coverage [Q'Stoner]

Rendering via Studio V Architects