A tipster sent us this photo of the aftermath at the Jackson Heights commercial building on 37th Avenue that caught fire this week. The Times Ledger reports that the pharmacy, the immigrant service provider Queens Community House, the LGBT senior center, Plaza College and around 50 small businesses are all closed. Plaza College administrators are now searching for a new temporary location. Armondo’s Italian Restaurant posted a notice to its website that says the business underwent an “operational setback” and asks patrons to keep checking the site for updates. It’s still unclear what caused the five-alarm blaze, which started Monday around 5:30 pm and lasted until 11:40 pm.
It looks like the Jackson Heights rental complex at 35th Avenue and 74th Street may go co-op. A thread popped up on Jackson Heights Life after Washington Plaza residents received a “red herring preliminary prospectus plan.” The prospectus states that 15 percent of tenants must declare an intent to buy for the co-op conversion to go into effect. As a resident stated, “So, there are 192 apartments, and 15% would be 27 units. However (and if I’m reading correctly), any apartments in which the legal tenants are elderly or disabled don’t count toward the total, so say there are 32 apartments that fall into that category… Now we’re looking at 15% of 160 units, or 24 units.” If enough residents decide to buy, this would be a non-eviction conversion where the rent-stabilized residents can stay and will be able to renew their leases. The preferential price for existing tenants for a one-bedroom apartment is estimated at $270,000 with a maintenance of $780. There will be a tenant meeting on the matter this Monday.
The Washington Plaza complex is made up of six six-story apartment buildings and a single-story gatehouse. There is a park that begins at the gatehouse and extends throughout the complex. You can read more on the architecture of the Art Deco design here.
This one bedroom co-op comes from the Berkeley, located at 35-24 78th Street in Jackson Heights. It’s very large, at 1,000 square feet, and has a great layout. We love how the large arched entryways really open up the central space. Our only complaint? Let’s see more pictures of the kitchen. The asking price for this apartment comes in at $265,000.
Daniel Karatzas of Beaudoin Realty Group released first quarter numbers for sales this year in Jackson Heights. Compared with the fourth quarter of 2013 (a very strong quarter), the volume of transactions dropped. Only four houses closed in the first quarter, down about 70 percent from the prior and year-ago period. The average sales prices were down for one- and three-family houses, but up 27 percent for two-family homes. However, with such low sales numbers for the quarter, it’s hard to make big judgments regarding the changes in prices.
Apartment sales numbers look stronger, with 84 total transactions for the quarter. The number is 45 percent below the fourth quarter (when 152 units sold) but up 18 percent over the year ago period. Sales increased in all categories (prewar walkup co-ops, prewar elevator co-ops, postwar elevator co-ops and condos) except condos. And the average sales prices were generally up this quarter, rising 1 percent for postwar co-ops and 19 percent for prewar walkup co-ops. Check out a ton of graphs analyzing the changes in sales price and volume after the jump.
Pictured above is the scene this morning at the Bruson Building, the Jackson Heights commercial structure on 37th Avenue that caught fire last night. CBS reports that the blaze broke out on the third floor around 5:30 pm, reaching five alarms just before 10 pm. Fire fighters finally brought the flames under control at 11:40 pm. It’s unclear what caused it. DNAinfo reports three injuries, with one victim hospitalized in serious condition for smoke inhalation. And the Jackson Heights Beautification Group reports that “Armondo’s and La Portena suffered a lot of damage and will be closed for a long time. Don’t know about Frank’s Pharmacy which is the next store down.” Plaza College is also located within the building, and it’s likely the school sustained serious damage as well. There are also small businesses like a dentist’s office, insurance brokers and a travel agent here. You can see lots of pictures of the actual blaze at Jackson Heights Life.
There are seven apartments left at the Roosevelt, the 31-unit rental building that started leasing last October. And the development brokerage, Citi Habitats, is looking to fill those last apartments up: the firm is running a promotion until April 30th where new tenants pay no fee and receive two months free rent on a 14 month lease. Currently, a convertible two bedroom is asking $2,314 per month, four two-bedroom units are priced at $2,443 a month, and two penthouse units are $3,321. Apartments feature floor to ceiling windows, two full bathrooms and private outdoor space. There were also a number of affordable units at this development the city leased out at the beginning of the year.
Thanks to the Jackson Heights Journal Twitter for pointing out the above picture inside the Arepa Lady’s new 300-square-foot restaurant under construction in Jackson Heights. The location in question is 77-02AA Roosevelt Avenue, between 77th and 78th Streets.
According to the Arepa Lady herself — also known as Maria Cano — the hope is to open the spot by the end of this month! She will serve an expanded menu of her food truck offerings, with new meat and vegetable toppings for the arepas. The food truck will be out on the corner of Roosevelt Avenue and 79th Street this Friday.
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.
Mark your calendars: the Jackson Heights Historic Weekend, going on since 1991, is scheduled for Saturday, June 7th. The event includes a slide lecture on the history of Jackson Heights, an exhibition of historic photos and memorabilia, and a self-guided tour of the private interior gardens of Jackson Heights co-op buildings. There should be two new gardens on this tour, for a total of about 15. On Sunday, June 8th there will be guided walking tours of the historic district. The slide lecture and the photo exhibition are free, while the garden tour and the historic district tour each cost $10. (Or it’s $15 for both tours.)
You can purchase tickets for the weekend event starting on May 27th at either Espresso 77 (35-57 77th Street) or the Beaudoin Realty Group offices (78-27 37th Avenue, Suite 5, second floor).
The La Mesa Verde co-op complex in Jackson Heights, located at 34–19, 34–33 and 33–47 90th Street, is in danger of losing its courtyard. (Like many other Jackson Heights co-op buildings, La Mesa Verde boasts a large central courtyard. Unlike some Jackson Heights co-op buildings, La Mesa Verde is not landmark protected.) The complex owner submitted a proposal to use 60 percent of the central courtyard for a parking lot. They are currently asking for the votes of residents on this decision, so nothing is final yet. Here are details of the current courtyard, according to the Division of Housing and Community Renewal application:
Approximately 42% of the backyard is, and has always been, closed off to tenant use. This is land that has been vastly underutilized (not used at all), and which is available for use, as will be set forth below.
Approximately 18% of the backyard is paved and is currently used for parking, by tenants of the subject premises, as a for-fee service.
Approximately 40% of the backyard in unpaved, open, but unimproved space, with no recreational facilities.
The owner is proposing that 40 percent of the courtyard continue to be open for use by La Mesa Verde residents. According to the application “the areas will now be improved, landscaped, with recreational facilities. This space incorporates most of the areas that had previously been enclosed by locked fences, but the amount of land open for tenant use remains the same.” But here’s the kicker: the other 60 percent of the courtyard will be dedicated parking space. The application states that this will be “improved spacing, [with] landscaped areas within the parking areas.” These additional parking spaces will be available to La Mesa Verde tenants for a fee.
The application tries to press that no actual courtyard space will be lost: “Notwithstanding the increase in parking space, the incorporation of previously-unused space into open space results in the same amount of open space available for tenant recreational use. Thus, the change does not adversely impact upon the tenants on the issue of size or quantity of space… In the instant matter, the change is minimal at best. The tenants at the building will still be able to use the rear backyard for recreation… The proposed new parking areas will also be landscaped, creating a pleasant aesthetic effect. Far from being a reduction in service, the owner’s proposal is at least an adequate substitute, and is actually an increased benefit, rendering the proposed backyard area superior to existing conditions.”
We’ve got our hands on both the layout of the existing courtyard as well as the new parking lot proposal. The application proposes two diamond-shaped parking lots for the middle of the courtyard. (Currently, there is one smaller parking area near the north end of the complex.) In the proposal, landscaping and playground equipment will be added at the north and south ends. There will be one driveway added to the existing two. The existing pathway through the courtyard will be taken away.
The Jackson Heights Beautification Group has fought to landmark this building to no avail. Here are some details of the complex, built in 1926, from the “Request for Evaluation” form sent to the LPC back in 2008:
The complex is made up of six detached buildings, connected by sky-bridges, located between 90th and 91st Streets, between 35th and 34th Avenues. The buildings are set at an angle to the street grid, and form a saw-tooth pattern down both blocks. They enclose a large internal garden courtyard, similar to the garden apartments built by the Queensboro Corporation. There are no interior hallways at the La Mesa Verde; all apartments are reached directly from the open stairs. There is only one elevator for these six-story buildings. Tenants on higher floors ride the elevator up to the roof, then walk across the sky-bridges to their buildings, and then walk down the stairs to their apartment.
After the jump, you’ll see both the existing and proposed courtyard layouts.