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Community Board 2 chair Joseph Conley, along with leaders based in Long Island City, Sunnyside and Woodside, came up with a proposal to bring more affordable housing to the borough. The Daily News reports that in a letter to the city, the group highlighted four different parcels with the potential for rezoning. Conley wants taller, denser developments with at least 30 percent of the units priced affordably. The locations in question are an area of Queens Plaza, a triangle in Woodside bound by Broadway, Northern Boulevard and the BQE, a parcel in Sunnyside near Northern Boulevard between 43rd to 48th Streets, and finally on top of the LIRR tracks on Woodside Avenue between 63rd and 65th Streets.

This proposal is inspired by Mayor de Blasio’s pledge to preserve or create 200,000 affordable units in the next ten years. Conley expressed concern over the “Gold Coast” emerging in LIC — the abundance of new-construction developments where a one bedroom rents for $2,800 to $3,200 a month. A rep from the Department of City Planning seemed open to the push for affordability: “We appreciate [the community board’s] willingness to discuss the important goals of expanding housing that will be affordable to a range of incomes. We continue to evaluate the appropriateness of areas that can meet the goals of the mayor’s housing plan,” she stated.

Queens Leaders Hope to Bring Some Livability Back to Queens’ ‘Gold Coast’ with New Affordable Housing Push [NY Daily News]

07/29/14 11:00am

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The 23rd Street/Ely Avenue station has increased in importance in recent years, as Greenpoint has gotten hotter — Queensicans needing access can change trains to the G line here, when the G vouchsafes to cross under the noxious and noisome Newtown Creek, which it won’t be doing for awhile. Many subway amateurs think this is the place where 23rd Street crosses Ely Avenue. This is a fallacy, as Ely Avenue is actually the former name of 23rd Street. It carried the name until the 1920s, as the then NYC Topographical Bureau decided to put Queens under one numerical street system in 1915, and the streets were numbered gradually from neighborhood to neighborhood, completing the process by 1930.

However, some anachronisms remain on subway station signs. The best-known are along the #7 line, where Rawson, Bliss, and Lowery Streets, as well as Lincoln Avenue, are still on the station signs for 33rd, 40th, 46th and 52nd Streets. Names also persist along the N/Q in Astoria, and the A in Ozone Park and the Rockaway peninsula.

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07/02/14 3:03pm

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City Councilman Jimmy Van Bramer, who represents Sunnyside, Woodside, Long Island City and Astoria, plans to introduce a participatory funding process for the 2015/2016 budget year. Participatory funding allows members of the community to have a say in how city money is spent in their district.

Next week Van Bramer will host two meetings, one in Sunnyside and one in Long Island City to give residents basic information about the process and how they can get involved. Later there will be a series of town hall meetings where residents can put forward their ideas and eventually a vote will be taken on how the funds will be spent. Van Bramer is allocating $1 million to the process in the 2015/2016 budget.

See the flier after the jump for locations and times. (more…)

06/26/14 3:00pm

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The lot at 51-25 Queens Boulevard, off 52nd Street, just sold for big bucks. Public records show that a Queens-based buyer picked it up for $2,900,000. The corner property is huge — 5,400 square feet, according to the listing — and it seems incredibly likely that a new development will come. It’s zoned for both residential and commercial use, with a FAR of 5. That means a building more than five times the size of the current building on site (pictured) could rise here.

So far, no action on the Department of Buildings side. But our guess is that a tear down is coming soon… GMAP

Photo via Loopnet

06/25/14 3:00pm

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The Parks Department released plans to revamp the Mary Whalen Playground, a playground in Forest Park near Forest Park Drive and Park Lane South in Woodhaven. Times Ledger shares details on the $1,180,000 project, which includes the reconstruction of the pre-school and pre-teen play areas and the spray shower. Parks will install a new and safer swing set for younger kids, and a court for teenagers to play on. There will be much more vegetation and greenery, as well as large boulders placed near the edge of the park. The space will also be fully wheelchair accessible.

City Councilwoman Elizabeth Crowley earmarked $1,000,000 in city funding for the project over the past two years. The plan is to put the project out to bid next month and begin construction next spring. Work will last for about one year. The playground is named after the former vice chairwoman of Community Board 9, Mary Whalen, who also founded the Greater Woodhaven Development Corp. It was last renovated in the early 90s.

Parks Dept. Planning to Revamp old Mary Whelan Playground [Times Ledger]

06/20/14 12:00pm

4Flushing
33-80 161st Street
Broker: Exit Realty
Price: $1,100,000
Saturday, 2:00 pm – 4:00 pm
GMAP

1Woodside
50-07 46th Street
Broker: Weichert Realtors
Price: $765,000
Saturday, 4:00 pm – 6:00 pm
GMAP

2Forest Hills
6625 Burns Street
Broker: Flat Fee Express
Price: $750,000
Saturday, 1:00 pm – 3:00 pm
GMAP

3Jamaica
161-01 84th Road
Broker: Re/Max
Price: $649,077
Saturday, 1:00 pm – 2:30 pm
GMAP

06/05/14 11:00am

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Around a week or so ago, Kevin Walsh spotlighted the Playbill Manufacturing Plant in this Q’Stoner post from May 23rd. Today, we get to see what’s happening behind the walls.

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The Woodside institution has been in the neighborhood since the 1960s, and recently I was invited inside the plant. Here’s what I found when I was recently invited back stage at Playbill.

Pictured above is Claire Mangan, Playbill’s Managing Program Editor.

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When you enter the place, the first thing you smell is ink. The first thing you hear is the “chugga chugga chugga” sound of high speed printing presses. Print shops are busy places, with hundreds or thousands of moving parts. Playbill has an assortment of equipment employed here, but this isn’t where the process starts, rather its where it ends.

From Wikipedia:

Playbill was first printed in 1884 for a single theatre on 21st Street in New York City. The magazine is now used at nearly every Broadway theatre, as well as many Off-Broadway productions. Outside New York City, Playbill is used at theatres throughout the United States, including in Birmingham, Alabama; Boston; Chicago; Cincinnati; Columbus, Ohio; Dallas; East Lansing, Michigan; Houston; Indianapolis; Los Angeles; Miami; Minneapolis; Philadelphia; Phoenix; Pittsburgh; St. Louis; San Diego; San Francisco; and Washington, D.C.. Circulation as of September 2012 was 4,073,680.

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Playbill’s writers and editors, working with graphic artists, digitally compose the magazines.

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Approved files are then printed in house, as plastic printing plates.

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05/29/14 10:00am

woodside-queens

For the New York Times latest “Living In” feature, the paper of record looks to Woodside, giving an immediate shout out to the new “affordable luxury” development in the neighborhood Icon 52. (All the apartments rented out in six weeks.) According to a Modern Spaces broker, “We work a lot in Astoria and Long Island City, where a lot of people have been priced out. We found they’re willing to go to Woodside. If you’re getting the same type of apartment that you would find in Long Island City and it’s $1,000 cheaper, you’re going to be willing to move.”

Buyers — especially professionals and young families — are attracted to the neighborhood for cheaper prices on co-ops, as well as an easy commute along the 7 train and the neighborhood’s rich immigrant community. Prices for a one-bedroom co-op here range from $170,000 to $270,000. Sought-after properties also include three-story multifamily homes with two or three apartments — multifamily properties now on the market range from $1,000,000 to $1,200,000. There are also a few newer condo buildings in the neighborhood, with a two bedroom from a 2007 development asking $499,000. As for diversity, the area is a mix of Ecuadoreans, Colombians, Chinese, Irish, Filipinos, and many other nationalities. The Filipino population established Little Manila along Roosevelt Avenue from 62nd to 71st streets. There’s a growing hipster population, too: according to one Woodside buyer, “In the supermarket, there is the aisle with Goya products but also one with microbrew beers.”

Woodside, Queens: An Affordable, Convenient Triangle [NY Times]

Photo via Bridge and Tunnel Club

05/23/14 11:00am

playbill

Playbill is a venerable institution in the theater community in New York and many other cities; its familiar yellow-and black-bannered magazine is distributed at all Broadway and some Off-Broadway plays, as well as at theater productions in many cities throughout the country. Its current circulation is in excess of four million annually. When distributed on the opening night of a Broadway play, the cover is stamped with a special seal and the date is printed on the title page of the magazine. Theatergoers as well as performers hold onto these keepsakes for years as proof that they were there on opening night of several plays that later went on the be blockbusters with thousands of performances.

Playbill, first printed in 1884, features articles on actors and new plays and musicals, surrounded by a wraparound section that contains listings and biographies of the cast, authors, playwrights and composers, lists of songs and who performs them for musicals, and setting and theater information regarding the play at which it is given out. The daily press run numbers over 80,000 issues.

Not many know that the Playbill printing press is in Woodside, on 61st Street just south of 37th Avenue!

05/21/14 1:00pm

MAS

Jack Eichenbaum grew up in Bayside in the 1950s. He left for academic and vocational reasons in 1963, and when he returned from completing his doctorate in urban geography in 1976, he found a completely different borough. The mostly white, working class neighborhoods of his youth had transformed into multi-ethnic enclaves, creating the world’s most diverse county. Fascinated, he started giving walking tours of his beloved hometown in the 1980s, and in 2010, Eichenbaum was designated the official historian of Queens, as per the borough president’s office. The former city assessor has five upcoming tours, which are famous for the amount of local trivia he shares and the great restaurants he hits afterwards with participants. For more information, please see below.

  • Willets Point, Sunday, May 25th, 4 pm: East of Citi Field is a sewerless, hardscrabble area of auto junkyards and related businesses that has twice beaten back recent attempts at redevelopment. But since it’s located between the world famous baseball stadium and booming Flushing, public and private interests are again trying to transform Willets Point. Eichenbaum will walk from central Flushing to the area, while discussing political, economic and ecological issues and explaining why “Willets Point” is a misnomer. $20.
  • The World of the 7 Train, Saturday, May 31st, 10 am: Eichenbaum calls this full-day program his “signature tour,” although it’s actually a series of six walks (Long Island City, Sunnyside, Woodside, Jackson Heights, Corona and Flushing) and connecting rides. He focuses on the 7 train’s influence on surrounding neighborhoods. Lunch is in Flushing. Pre-register via jaconet@aol.com.
  • On and Off Jamaica Avenue, Sunday, June 8th, 10 am: After decades of dedication, redesign, and redevelopment, Downtown Jamaica is undergoing a renaissance as the borough’s major transportation center. Eichenbaum promises historic buildings, commercial activity, culture, and a surprise ending. $20.
  • Crossing Newtown Creek: Contrasting Industrial Brooklyn & Queens, Sunday, July 27th, 10 am: See remnants of the intense and largely unregulated industrial development that thrived along Newtown Creek during the late 19th century. See elegant Greenpoint highlights and East River shoreline redevelopment ending with shoreline views from Gantry Park and Hunter’s Point.
  • More Space and New Arrangements in Western Queens, Sunday, August 3rd, 10 am: During the first third of the 20th century, Western Queens nurtured developments where traditional open space/building area relationships were altered to create new urban architecture. Sunnyside Gardens and the Jackson Heights Historic District anchor this tour, which includes Phipps Garden Apartments, various Matthews Flats, the Metropolitan Life houses, and early truck-oriented industrial buildings.

Photo: Alex Engel