04/18/14 1:00pm


Decisions, decisions, decisions and decisions. Or to be more specific: science, kites, film noir and eggs. There are some great options for family fun, entertainment and enrichment in the borough tomorrow, April 19th. It’s probably easiest to list them in bullet form.

  • Doktor Kaboom! This loveable nut performs original interactive “science comedy” for audiences of all ages. Blending the dramatic with the wonders of scientific exploration, the Good Doktor (above) keeps the crowd riveted with interest and rolling with laughter going on a sidesplitting journey of increasingly spectacular (and often successful) experiments designed to involve, excite, educate, and entertain. Back by popular demand, he returns to Queens Theatre (14 United Nations Avenue South, Flushing Meadows Corona Park) for 1 pm and 3 pm shows on Saturday$14 per ticket or $100 for a Family Series Flex Pass (10 tickets to use however you want.)
  • Let’s Go Fly a Kite! It’s National Kite Month, and the King Manor Museum (150-03 Jamaica Avenue, Jamaica) is offering a chance to learn about these objects that can be used for scientific discovery, fun or design. Attendees will create, decorate, fly and take home kites. Noon to 3 pm, free.
  • Spring Egg-Stavaganza! Easter weekend at Queens Botanical Garden (43-50 Main Street, Flushing) is known for two things: blooming flora and egg hunts. Due to popular demand, there will be two sessions that will include games, crafts, scavenger hunts and prizes. noon to 1:30 pm and 2 pm to 3:30 pm, $5.
  • The Real Mann! Hollywood legend Anthony Mann was one of the greatest directors of two genres that seem very disparate: film noir, featuring nocturnal and claustrophobic dramas; and the Western, with dramas set against wide-open landscapes. The Museum of the Moving Image (36-01 35th Avenue, Astoria) launches an eight-film retrospective on Mann with two movies on Saturday. T-Men at 4 pm is about treasury agents who go undercover to penetrate a gang of Los Angeles counterfeiters. Raw Deal at 7 pm tells the story of a woman who helps spring her boyfriend from a state prison so they can flee to South America. If these movies inspire, the museum will screen two more —  The Great Flamarion and Border Incident — on Sunday.


04/10/14 10:30am


Is Jamaica on its way to becoming a NYC destination in its own right? The Commercial Observer seems to think so, in a piece published yesterday afternoon. Since a rezoning in 2007, a neighborhood primarily known as a transit, airport and shopping hub is now attracting developers. As Commercial Observer says, “There are a number of multimillion-dollar development projects in the pipeline in the vicinity of Jamaica’s bustling Long Island Railroad and AirTrain stations,” due to readily available lots that are zoned for development and priced well. There’s the $225,000,000 mixed-use building at the corner of Sutphin Boulevard and Archer Avenue that will hold 400 apartments, as well as the Norman Towers, a $32,000,000 mixed-use affordable project opening this summer. As for hotels, Able Management is expected to break ground this fall on a $35,000,000, 210-room Hilton Garden Inn hotel. Blumfield Development Group is also building out a department store on 168th Street between 90th and Jamaica Avenues.

With all this enthusiasm, what’s to become of Jamaica? Carlisle Towery, president of the Greater Jamaica Development Corporation, doesn’t think it’ll be like Long Island City or Downtown Brooklyn. In the end he sees potential in the solid middle class living in the neighborhood, a high college-educated population in the area, Jamaica’s transit assets and $3.7 billion worth of unmet consumer demand within a 3-mile radius of downtown.

The Tide is High: Jamaica, Queens Could Become a Destination in its Own Right [Commercial Observer]

Photo by Esoteric_Desi

03/21/14 3:00pm


The Jamaica Center BID proposed a public outdoor plaza for Parsons Boulevard between Jamaica and Archer avenues, reports DNAinfo. The article goes on to state that the proposed plaza, which includes bistro tables, chairs and planters, will displace commuter vans that have parked in the area for years. The vans, it looks like, will have to move. According to DNAinfo, “The BID and van operators said Tuesday they are working on a compromise that would possibly limit the number of vans parked on the lane to four. They would also be parked near the Archer Avenue end.” They are also considering two alternate spots in the area as a pickup location.

The BID’s executive director Felicia Tunnah hopes the plaza will be up and running by mid to late April, but first it will need approval from Community Board 12 and the Department of Transportation. The BID is also working with the DOT to install seven-foot-tall art panels along the plaza when it opens. The art piece would be on view for six months.

Proposed Jamaica Pedestrian Plaza Would Displace Commuter Vans [DNAinfo]

Rendering via the Jamaica Center BID

03/20/14 10:00am


Hilton Garden Inn will operate the hotel set to rise on the southern side of the Jamaica Long Island Rail Road tracks, right across from the JFK AirTrain Terminal. (Not to be confused with this other hotel set to rise next to the AirTrain Station, whose plans were announced earlier this month.) Able Management Group is developing this on former MTA-owned land and plans to build a 240-room, 26-story hotel at the cost of $35,000,000. It’ll also have a restaurant and bar on the ground floor facing Sutphin Avenue. The Times Ledger reports that the Hilton will be oriented toward business travelers.

The developers went into contract with the property in February and expect to release final plans of the project at the end of the month. The hotel architect is GF55 Partners.

Developer Chooses Hilton Franchise for Jamaica Hotel [Times Ledger]
MTA Moves Ahead With Hotel Plans Near the Jamaica LIRR Stop [Q'Stoner]

03/19/14 10:00am


NY1 filed an interesting report on Norman Towers, the mixed-use and mixed-income affordable housing development now under construction in downtown Jamaica. Queens-based developer Bluestone is designing the building as energy-efficient as possible for tenants, utilizing solar panels and a special concrete construction that drops heating and cooling costs. The development is set to open this year.

Tenants must apply to live here through the city’s lottery process, which started up this January. According to NY1, the city receieved more than 31,000 applications for just 100 rental units. (Monthly rents range from $500 for a studio to $1,700 for a two bedroom; annual income restrictions range from $19,406 to $134,240.) The lottery for Norman Towers ends on March 24th — you can apply for housing here.

Thousands Enter Housing Lottery for Shot at New Jamaica Building [NY1]
Affordable Rental Development in Jamaica is Now Accepting Housing Applications [Q'Stoner]

03/12/14 11:00am

Queens General Courthouse, 1940s postcard, Ebay 1

We all have certain expectations as to what our civic and business institutions to look like. These expectations are more psychological than physical. We want our banks to be sturdy and look like they could withstand a bomb, and still protect our money. We like our hospitals to look modern and cutting edge, like the medicine practiced inside. And we want our courthouses to look like the Law: strong, rather severe and serious. The Queens General Courthouse meets our expectations on that front quite well.

It was designed at a time when just about everything was severe and serious, as the nation was in the midst of the Great Depression. The architecture of the day matched the mood of the nation: rather stark, clean lined, with a minimum of ornament. There was little frivolity in the air and certainly no money for excess decoration. In spite of the constraints of the style and the day, what resulted was quite a fine building. And contrary to what one might think, the architects managed to include some ornament as well, lifting the design from merely frugal to quietly elegant.

Queens County was a land of farms and small towns when it was annexed to Greater New York City in 1898. As the various communities within the new borough grew, Jamaica took its place as a commercial and civic hub. It was in the physical center of the county, and was convenient to public transportation, including the Long Island Railroad. Jamaica Avenue itself was a continuation of Fulton Street, which ran from the tip of Long Island, across the length of Brooklyn, to the shores of the East River and on to Manhattan. In the 18th and 19th century, goods could travel from Montauk to Manhattan, and never leave that one road.

As Queens grew, so too did the need for more courthouses. In addition to criminal courts, there were magistrate courts, civil courts, Surrogate and Appellate courts, Supreme Court, family court, even traffic and small claims court, and more. Every community wanted a court building, for reasons of convenience, prestige, and jobs. By 1929, the shortage of courtrooms was so great that the city decided it had to build a new courthouse in Queens, pronto. Court cases were actually being held in rented rooms, and one court was sharing space with the Sanitation Dept. Queens needed one central building large enough to hold several different kinds of courts, with enough courtrooms, judges’ chambers, clerk’s offices and all of the other necessary rooms for the dispensation and preservation of justice. (more…)

03/11/14 11:00am


There’s an unusual enclave in Queens where Jamaica meets Briarwood, on 145th and 146th Streets and 88th and 89th Avenue east to Sutphin Boulevard, where the avenues are paved with incredible red brick. Every few years I go back to see if the red brick streets are still there, and as of December 2013, I have not yet been disappointed…

The architecture on 146th Street is also fairly special and unique to this area… neo-Federal style attached buildings. Indefatigable NYC photographer Matthew X. Kiernan says that on old maps the area is labeled Everett Park.




03/10/14 4:00pm


Publicolor, a nonprofit that works with young people to transform their schools into welcoming and student-centric environments, selected August Martin High School in South Jamaica for its next project. Through the Publicolor program, August Martin students will repaint the interior of the school — you can see some examples of students transforming their public schools through paint and design right here. This particular project will be funded by Eight O’Clock Coffee. Pictured above, the school held a ribbon cutting held last week in celebration of the partnership.

Photo by EcoMedia

03/07/14 9:00am

Sutphin Boulevard -Archer Avenue-development-jamaica

Today at 11 am the Greater Jamaica Development Corporation, Congressman Gregory Meeks and other local pols will hold a press conference to announce a $225,000,000 residential and commercial development planned next to the Air Train Station in downtown Jamaica. The location in question is the corner of Sutphin Boulevard and Archer Avenue. Times Ledger shares more info on this mega development, which will be developed by BRP Development Corp. and is the largest private investment in Downtown Jamaica in decades. The 22-story tower will hold 400 apartments and 80,000 square feet of retail space. It’s expected to have similar amenities to nearby rental development Moda, which has a fitness center, outdoor deck, resident lounge and laundry room.

According to the Ledger, “The project, which Greater Jamaica calls Site 6, is in an area of the downtown characterized at the street level by a traffic-choked intersection and a hodgepodge of low-rent retail properties that promises to be unrecognizable in a few years.” That’s true: a massive retail center’s already planned for the eastern side of the downtown area, as well as a 26-story hotel on the south side of the LIRR station. Stay tuned for more details and photos from today’s press conference…

Downtown Jamaica Rises [Times Ledger]

03/03/14 1:00pm


In 1979, Kurt Walker, a 20-year-old from the Bronx whose stage name was “Kurtis Blow,” signed a contract with Mercury Records to release the song Christmas Rappin. This was the first time a major label promoted the hip hop genre, and the ditty sold over 400,000 copies. Blow went on to release 10 albums over the following 11 years and enjoy success as an actor and producer before becoming an ordained minister and founding The Hip Hop Church in Harlem. On March 15th, Blow will share the stage with other Old Skool rappers, including the Grammy winning Naughty by Nature (above), who rose to fame with “OPP” in 1991, for the Legends of Hip Hop Volume I Reunion at Resorts World Casino New York City. Other confirmed acts are Black Sheep, DJ Marley Marl, DJ Skribble and DJ Kool.

Details:  Hip Hop Legends, Resorts World Casino NYC, 110-00 Rockaway Boulevard, Jamaica, March 15th, 9 pm (doors open at 8 pm), $25-$80.