10/31/14 9:00am


Yesterday the HPD, New York State Homes & Community Renewal and the Bluestone Organization cut the ribbon at new affordable housing development Norman Towers, at 90-14 161st Street in Jamaica. The nine-story, two-building development holds 100 apartments — seven studios, 72 one-bedroom units and 21 two-bedroom units, as well as a two bedroom for the super. There’s also 5,773 square feet of commercial space, 4,063 square feet of retail space and 51 parking spots. (The Bluestone Group is moving their head offices into the building.) Bluestone also designed Norman Towers to be energy efficient, with a cogeneration system that will use a natural gas-fueled engine to generate electricity distributed throughout the building. The excess heat by-product of the electricity generation will be captured and reused to heat the building’s water heaters and boilers. There are also solar panels on the roof of the two buildings, as well as a roof garden that retains water on-site, Energy Star appliances and lighting, low-emission windows, and a fancy, energy efficient climate control system.

According to the HPD, the affordable development took $32,200,000 to build. The Bluestone Group purchased the site back in 2008 from the Greater Jamaica Development Corporation for $1,600,000.

Check out more pictures of the interior and the energy efficient features after the jump.

All Norman Towers coverage [Q'Stoner]

Photos by Kevin Joseph Laccone (more…)

10/30/14 1:00pm


Sometimes Queens is so diverse it’s scary. Upcoming Halloween events include everything from senior events to youth events; cemetery fun to casino fun; and food-making to mask-making. And let’s not even begin to discuss all the great neighborhoods for trick-or-treating. To aid decision-making, the Queens Tourism Council suggests the following activities because they combine enjoyment with safety, enrichment, and even some sweet treats. They appear on the jump page.


10/24/14 2:00pm


The old Jamaica Savings Bank, at 161-02 Jamaica Avenue, is slated (finally!) for a makeover. Queens Courier reports that United American Land, the owner of the 116-year-old landmark, filed a permit with the Landmarks Preservation Commission to “construct rear and side additions, replace doors, install awnings and infill window openings.” There’s no official word on what’s coming for the building, but a retail tenant is possible. United American Land owns the building next door at 160-08 Jamaica Avenue, where the plan is to build it out for a big-box retailer. The company purchased that structure for $14,000,000 in 2012 and snatched up the bank building for $3,700,000.

The architecture firm Hough and Duell constructed the beautiful Beaux Arts bank and it opened to great fanfare in 1898. The bank moved out in 1964 and the building fell into disrepair. Luckily the city designated it a landmark in 1998, calling it one of the best Beaux-Arts buildings in the entire city. Read about the full history and architectural details here.

Landmarked 116-Year-Old Jamaica Savings Bank Building Set for Transformation [Queens Courier]

Photo by DanTD via Wikipedia

10/24/14 12:00pm

2Middle Village
62-04 80th Street
Broker: Happy 8 Realty Corp.
Price: $699,000
Saturday, 1:00 – 4:00 pm

1Jamaica Hills
165-32 Chapin Court
Broker: Century 21
Price: $668,000
Sunday, 1:00 – 3:00 pm

150-16 77th Avenue
Broker: Keller Williams
Price: $619,000
Sunday, 1:00 – 3:00 pm

4East Elmhurst
25-40 98th Street
Broker: Exit Kingdom Realty
Price: $525,000
Sunday, 1:00 – 3:00 pm

10/15/14 3:00pm


A 90,000-square-foot building and parking garage, situated at 163-05 and 163-25 Archer Avenue in Downtown Jamaica, just sold for a whopping $22,000,000. Queens Courier reports that the former owner, Gertz Plaza, sold the site — which is prime for development — to buyers Jamaica Tower. The new owners have yet to file any building or demolition plans with the DOB, but it looks like this may go residential. The developers can build up to 719,736 square feet here.

A rep from Massey Knakal who handled the sale told the Courier, “It is the largest site to trade since the downturn and will be a catalyst for the Jamaica development market moving forward… We received numerous bids in a short period of time from developers that were priced out of other areas in the city and see tremendous value in the downtown Jamaica market.”

Massive Downtown Jamaica Development Site Sells for $22 Million [Queens Courier]

Photo via Property Shark

10/14/14 1:00pm


It’s huge. With about 18,000 acres of wetland estuary, it’s larger than Central Park, Prospect Park and Van Cortland Park combined. It’s beautiful. Numerous islands and a labyrinth of waterways, meadowlands and freshwater ponds host more than 330 species of birds, 60 species of butterflies, and one of the largest horseshoe crab populations in the Northeast. It’s historic. Over the past two centuries, the area has been used for fish-oil and horse-rendering factories, landfills, sewage treatment plants, harvesting oysters, and of course, various forms of recreation.

And now Jamaica Bay is on display at Resorts World Casino New York City. More information and photos informing on Hidden in Plain Sight: The Wonders of Jamaica Bay, a multi-media exhibition that was unveiled this morning, appear on the jump page.


10/14/14 12:00pm


This lovely Victorian home, at 86-27 111th Street, is on the market for $749,000. It’s a total of 1,679 square feet with four bedrooms and four bathrooms. Although it looks like the exterior has been altered (what’s up with those upper windows?) it still appears to be in good shape and boasts an envy-inducing, wraparound front porch. The interior is charming as well, with stained glass, wood floors, and renovations in the kitchen and bathrooms. How do you like this one?

86-27 111th Street [Zillow] GMAP

10/10/14 11:00am


In the late 19th and early 20th century, a trolley line connected Flushing and Jamaica, running originally through the farms and fields of Fresh Meadows. The above image was captured at 164th Street and 77th Avenue in 1936, just a few months before service ended in 1937. In short order, the tracks were pulled up, the weeds paved over, a center median added, and 164th Street became the fast and furious stretch we know it as today between Flushing Cemetery and the Grand Central Parkway. More images of this ilk can be found in the book I wrote in association with the Greater Astoria Historical Society, Forgotten Queens. 



10/08/14 1:00pm


Would you like to see how the Bowne House Restoration is proceeding? Or how about checking out the Sri Maha Vallabha Ganapati Devasthanam, which is also known as the Hindu Temple Society of North America or the Bowne Street Temple? What about the TWA Flight Center, Smiling HogsHead Ranch, LIC Community BoathouseLouis Armstrong House Museum, Noguchi, and the newly renovated SculptureCenter?

The 12th annual Open House New York Weekend will take place this Saturday and Sunday, and there are 36 listed nook and crannies to explore in Queens (although tours are starting to sell out…so hurry!)


10/07/14 1:00pm


Jamaica has been a jazz mecca for about 100 years. Count Basie, John Coltrane, Ella Fitzgerald, Billie Holiday, and Lena Horne are among the legends who have lived in the Southern Queens area. This tradition will be live and direct for the next seven weeks, as performers of this American genre will jam at the Jamaica AirTrain station’s concourse level every Thursday until November 20th. Greg Mays from A Better Jamaica, a cultural nonprofit that is organizing the promotion with the Sutphin Boulevard Business Improvement District, said that he hopes to create similar experiences to those in Caribbean countries, where musicians greet travelers in airports.

The Eric Lemon Trio (above) opened the series last Thursday. The remaining schedule is as follows: Bayo Fayemi Group, October 9th; Mambo Negro, October 16th; Freddy Dugard’s Hit Squad, October 23rd; Sage All Women’s Jazz Ensemble, October 30th; The Bill Jacobs Ensemble; November 6th; The Bartlett Jazz Ensemble, November 13th; and Michelle Marie, November 20th.

Details: The AirTrain Jazz Festival, Jamaica AirTrain Station’s concourse level (near the Air Bar  at 93-40 Sutphin Boulevard), every Thursday through November 20th, 6 pm to 8 pm (two sets with a break in between), free.

Photo: Sutphin Boulevard BID