07/02/14 3:03pm

vanm bramer

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


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


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

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

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

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

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

06/05/14 11:00am


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.


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.


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.


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


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


05/29/14 10:00am


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 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


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

05/20/14 11:00am


Boulevard Gardens, entered at the NE corner of 54th Street and 31st Avenue, was founded in 1935 as part of the United States’ New Deal initiative. T.H. Engelhardt designed Boulevard Gardens in 1933 in concert with renowned landscape architect C.N. Lowrie for the Cord Meyer Development Corporation, and based on a design Engelhardt developed for Forest Hills Gardens. The complex won an award for architectural merit from the Queens Chamber of Commerce in 1936. Ten six-story buildings comprising 960 apartments occupy approximately two square blocks between 30th and 31st Avenues, Hobart Street and 57th Street, with only about one-quarter of the property taken up by brick and mortar; the remaining property is open space and parkland. It was heralded as a “model village” when it first opened. (more…)

05/15/14 11:00am


On Monday, we focused in on the historic Big Six development in Woodside, found nearby 58th Street at Queens Boulevard. While I was in the neighborhood, I couldn’t help but get a few shots of the (so called) Geographic Center of the City of Greater New York.

It’s not everyday that I find myself in Midtown, at the purported Geographic Center of New York City.

From the nytimes:

Q. Where is the geographic center of New York? I did a Google search of the phrase and came up with claims to the title from Woodside, Long Island City, East Williamsburg and Shea Stadium. For that matter, where is the population center? The Mets’ Web site claims that’s Shea Stadium, too.

A. There are two kinds of centers that demographers and city planners use. Imagine a flat plate in the shape of the city’s boundaries, placed on a needle at the spot where the plate balances. That’s the geographic center. Now pretend the plate is weightless but still flat and rigid. Put about eight million tiny equal weights on the plate representing where each resident lives, and find the point of balance again. That’s the population center. Neither of them is Shea Stadium.

According to the Department of City Planning, the population center lies in Maspeth, Queens, near the intersection of Galasso Place and 48th Street, near Maspeth Creek. The geographic center is in Bushwick, Brooklyn, on Stockholm Street between Wyckoff Avenue and St. Nicholas Avenue.


Looking west, along Queens Boulevard, the scenery is somewhat less “whelming” than you’d expect for the geographic center of New York City. Part of Calvary Cemetery lies along the hill that leads up toward Maspeth. Continuing along this decidedly high speed section of the so called Boulevard of Death will bring you to Thomson Avenue.


Q’Stoners own Kevin Walsh, at his amazing Forgotten-NY site, offers that this is not the actual geographic center and opines:

“according to the Department of City Planning, the geographic center is in Bushwick, Brooklyn, on Stockholm Street between Wyckoff Avenue and St. Nicholas Avenue.”