04/16/15 1:00pm
Merrily We Roll Along begins at the end…and ends at the beginning. The Stephen Sondheim musical, based on a 1934 play by George S. Kaufman and Moss Hart, tells the story of a once-great Broadway composer who gives up his career and friends to try his hand as a Hollywood producer. 
Both the play and the musical were notable for telling a story in reverse, with the musical version opening in Los Angeles in 1976 and steadily moving backwards to the songwriter’s humble beginnings in 1950s New York. Merrily We Roll Along has a theme close to Sondheim’s heart, how a passion for creating art can be corrupted in the pursuit of success.
The Astoria Performing Arts Center is presenting a 20-show run of Merrily We Roll Along, directed by APAC artistic director Dev Bondarin, from April 30 until May 23. Click through for more information.
04/08/15 9:30am

Kris Seto

Some enrichment options head outdoors with such events as a carnival, a gardening extravaganza, and a guided walk. But with “April Showers” in mind, the borough also hosts indoor fun, such as comedy, live music, film, theater, photography, and some 3-D magic. Here’s the rundown. (more…)

03/31/15 9:00am


Yesterday the folks behind Citi Bike announced the bike share program’s ambitious expansion, according to The Daily News. The announcement pretty much confirms previous Department of Transportation reports that Citi Bike will arrive in LIC and Astoria this year — unfortunately Sunnyside still isn’t part of the initial Queens rollout. It also seems like there’s no exact timeline for the rollout. Citi Bike also plans to double the number of stations from 332 by 2017, and makeover existing docking stations.

The company Motivate now runs the bike-share program, and just overhauled nearly all of its existing 6,000 bicycles.

Citi Bike to Double Number of Stations, Add Bikes Throughout Queens, Brooklyn and Harlem [NY Daily News]
All Citi Bike coverage [Q'Stoner]

Photo by the NYC DOT

03/30/15 3:00pm

31-14-38TH AVENUE

Apparently if you’ve got a modest home in Astoria with development potential, now is the time to sell. The house at 31-14 38th Avenue, between 31st and 32nd Streets, recently hit public records for $2.32 million. The two-family home sits on a large lot, with 4,473 square feet. It’s currently built up to a FAR of .41 but there is a potential FAR of 3 — meaning that a development more than three times the size of the current structure could be built here.

No clues from Department of Buildings permits when demolition will happen, but our guess is soon. The site is located just a few blocks from both the 39th Avenue N/Q and the 36th Street M/R. GMAP

Photo by Scott Bintner for PropertyShark

03/30/15 2:00pm

Sophocles, front, #2162, Athens Square Park, 3.26.15, photo by S. Drago

This Saturday, the Parks Department, Borough President Katz, local elected officials and elected officials from Greece unveiled the newly finished Sophocles sculpture in Athens Square. According to Parks, the sculpture of the Greek dramatist is the last of four sculptures to be installed at the park, which wraps up a longterm plan for Athens Square established in the late 1980s. (Socrates, Athena, and Aristotle are already on display here.)

Sophocles was fully funded as a gift to the city by the Athens Square Committee in Astoria. The artist, Astoria-based sculptor Chris Vilardi, designed a seven-and-a-half-foot-tall bronze full-standing figure which was cast at the Modern Art Foundry. It’s pedestal is made of Mountain Green granite quarried in Jay, New York.

Here are more details on the design from the Parks Department: “The artist has taken a “modern stylistic approach” that pays homage to the past, and represents Sophocles in ancient attire typical for a man of his stature. In his left hand he holds the mask of tragedy, a prop of Greek theater. Inscribed in classic Greek font on the base are details of his life, as well as signature quotations from his plays.”

NYC Parks Queens Commissioner Dorothy Lewandowski stated that “This beautiful park feels complete with the installation of its fourth and final sculpture, Sophocles. The sculpture represents years of dedication and hard work and we give our sincere thanks to the Athens Square Committee for their partnership and support. This project would not have been possible without them and its installation is such a wonderful way to honor Greek Independence Day this year.”

Check out a photo of the dedication after the jump.

Photo by S. Drago (more…)

03/27/15 10:00am


A group of Astoria residents are hoping to transform some unused land right next to the Elmjack Little League Field — which is located near the Riker’s Island Bridge — into a community growing space. According to the land use organization 596 Acres, the Elmjack Little League has had a license to use this city-owned space since the 1960s. The group of residents plan to send a letter proposing the community space to the League’s board.

If you know anyone that participates in the League, or if you’d like to help in securing this space for the Astoria community, reach out to Val at valentinmos@aol.com or 347-327-8894.

Photo via Google Maps

03/24/15 4:00pm

Screen Shot 2015-03-24 at 2.03.13 PM

Today, Council Member Jimmy Van Bramer released the participatory budget ballot for District 26, which covers Woodside, Sunnyside, Long Island City, Dutch Kills, Astoria, Queensbridge, Ravenswood and the Woodside Houses. The ballot includes 27 different projects decided on by the community. After the vote, $1 million will be allocated to the most popular projects. Project proposals include technology upgrades at local schools, playground updates, an LIC bikeway, library improvements and street safety measures. Check out the full ballot here [PDF].

Council Member Van Bramer is hosting a Project Expo on Monday, April 6th from 7 to 9 pm at the Sunnyside Community Services (43-31 39th Street) so residents can speak with project delegates, see project presentations and learn more about the proposals. Voting will take place from April 11th to the 19th at a variety of locations throughout the district. Check out the locations here [PDF].

All Participatory Budgeting coverage [Q'Stoner]

03/24/15 10:00am


This week the MTA enacted permanent, expanded service for the Q103 bus, the main route down Vernon Boulevard that connects Astoria and Long Island City. Last summer, the MTA started running the bus on expanded weekday service as well as weekend service, but only on a trial basis. Local pols, residents and neighborhood institutions have pushed to make the service permanent.

So as you can imagine the news of permanent service has made everyone happy, with praises from Senator Michael Gianaris, Borough President Melinda Katz, Assemblywoman Catherine Nolan and Assemblywoman Aravella Simotas. In a press release, Senator Gianaris stated, “There is so much happening throughout western Queens that our need for better methods of traveling between our neighborhoods has never been more pressing. This service expansion represents a hard fought victory, but I will never stop fighting for improved transit service in our community.” And BP Katz: “The area’s residents and its thriving local businesses benefited from the trial expansion and will appreciate the knowledge that this expanded service will remain in place indefinitely.”

MTA Will Recommend Expanded Q103 Bus Service Along LIC, Astoria Waterfront [Q'Stoner]

Photo via subchat.com

03/23/15 3:00pm


A recent sale that hit public records caught our eye — the three-story townhouse at 21-03 Astoria Boulevard, on the corner of 21st Street, traded hands for $2,768,000. (It’s the second property to the right from the 21st Street corner.) Of course, such an underwhelming home got that much money because it’s zoned for some serious development. The buyer could build roughly five times larger than what’s already here, according to the maximum allowable FAR.

That means one of two things. The first possibility is that a really tall finger building is coming to that specific parcel. Given the way the current townhouses are set up, our guess is something different. We think the buyer might also collect those other corner properties for a larger development. According to public records, that corner townhouse has yet to sell. No hints on the Department of Buildings front, either. Stay tuned for more… GMAP

03/19/15 2:00pm


After support from local pols and cultural institutions, the MTA plans to recommend permanently expanded service along the Q103 bus. The Q103 is the main route along the western edge of Queens and travels along Vernon Boulevard near Socrates Sculpture Park, the Noguchi Museum and the Brick House Ceramic Art Center. The MTA enacted expanded weekday service and weekend service in the summer of last year and it has been in effect on a trial basis ever since.

A press release from Senator Michael Gianaris states that the MTA Bus Company is presenting the Q103’s expanded span of service to the Board on Monday, March 23rd, and will recommend that the service expansion be made permanent.

“All of us in western Queens have known that the growing communities of Astoria and Long Island City deserve better bus service, so it was gratifying when the MTA began the trial expansion of the Q103,” stated Senator Gianaris. “Now the MTA has the opportunity to make this expansion permanent and I urge the board to do so immediately. Long Island City and Astoria, with our wonderful restaurants, parks and cultural institutions, are destination neighborhoods for New Yorkers from all five boroughs and the Q103 is a lifeline in terms of connecting these areas. We deserve weekend service and expanded weekday service, and we deserve them on a permanent basis.”

Local Pols Push for More Q103 Service [Q'Stoner]

Photo via subchat.com