Earlier this month, a truck hit the historic Steinway Street clock in Astoria and it was badly damaged, as you can see above. But as We Heart Astoria reports, repairs to the clock are now in order. (Just no timeline for when it will reclaim its home on Steinway Street.) The clock was landmarked in 1981 and reinstalled in 2008 after a series of repairs. We hope it’s back up on Steinway sooner rather than later…
As the City Council’s final decision on the Astoria Cove development nears, The Real Deal rounded up the key players of this huge decision. Borough President Katz is in the running; she notably denied development plans due to lack of affordable housing and its negative effect on transportation. She wants a third of the 1,700-unit complex priced below market rate, not just 20 percent like the developer proposed. Councilman Costa Constantinides also emerged as a major player — that’s him pictured above, discussing Astoria Cove with NY1. He is also calling for more affordable units with stricter price regulations. His City Council vote has a huge influence over the rest of the council members, and has led the City Council to push for more affordable housing. TRD also lists Community Board 1 Chairman Vinicio Donato, who voted against the development proposal as well. Although at this point, the Community Board doesn’t have much of a say in what the City Council decides.
Then there’s Queens Chamber of Commerce Executive Director Jack Friedman (who supports the plan) and City Planning Commission Chairman Carl Weisbrod (City Planning Commission already approved the proposal). Finally, there’s the development side, with Alma Realty’s Steve Valiotis and John Mavroudis and the project architect Jay Valgora of Studio V. The developers are stressing that the development will bring life to a now-desolate area, open up the waterfront and bring public transportation like a ferry terminal and shuttle buses.
Very popular East Elmhurst bakery Cannelle Patisserie is now serving in Long Island City. Chopsticks + Marrow writes that the LIC outpost opened late last week at 5-11 47th Avenue, between 5th Street and Vernon Boulevard — the bakery owners actually live right across the street. They tell Chopsticks + Marrow that the items for sale will be a little more seasonal than the selection in East Elmhurst. (Hello, pumpkin pie!) Of course, you can still expect croissants, the praline cream-filled Paris-Brest, cakes, tarts, quiches, sandwiches and an excellent coffee selection.
The bakery announced its plans of expansion back in February.
This just in: the Department of Transportation announced a CitiBike expansion to Long Island City, Queensbridge and Astoria by the end of 2015. (Other neighborhoods include Bed Stuy, Greenpoint, Crown Heights and Park Slope.) The announcement isn’t a total surprise, but the timeline is new. It’s also too bad that Sunnyside was left out, as the neighborhood was expected to be included in the initial Queens rollout. No word yet on the number of stations or where they will be located, but feel free to start suggesting locations. Stay tuned for more details… UPDATE: The New York Times reports that the program will expand to 12,000 bikes at more than 700 stations. Prices for an annual membership will rise almost 60 percent from $95 to $149.
The term “pumpkin smashing” often conjures up images of vandals roaming residential streets, taking gourds from front lawns, and breaking them on driveways and sidewalks. Usually the result is nothing more than a seedy, squishy mess. However in Sunnyside this Saturday, individuals will be able to perform similar acts of aggression and destruction in a productive, dignified manner, thanks to the NYC Compost Project. Bring unwanted pumpkins and jack-o-lanterns to Torsney Playground, and the city will use the wrecked results to rebuild soil in parks around the five boroughs.
Details: Pumpkin Smash 2014, Sunnyside Greenmarket, Tornsey Playground, vicinity of 43rd Street and Skillman Avenue, Sunnyside, November 1st, 10:30 am to 1:30 pm, free and refreshments will be served while supplies last.
This two bedroom/two bathroom condo unit comes from the newish development at 170-12 Highland Avenue in Jamaica Estates. It’s a modern unit (that a buyer will likely still want to upgrade here and there) with a private balcony. There’s porcelain flooring throughout, which strikes us as weird, but we’re always partial to wood. The asking price is $425,000 total. What do ya think?
Danish-born crusading journalist and photographer Jacob Riis (1849-1914) made his home in Richmond Hill, Queens, beginning in 1886. In 1887, Riis photographed the squalid, inhumane conditions prevalent in New York City’s tenements, and his 1890 book “How The Other Half Lives” has become an influential text to the present day. His cause was taken up by Police Commissioner Theodore Roosevelt, who encouraged legislation that would help ease the burden of NYC’s poorest. Additionally, as one of the most famous proponents of the newly practicable casual photography, he is considered one of the fathers of photography due to his very early adoption of flash in photography.
In his autobiography Riis wrote of finding Richmond Hill: “It was in the winter when all our children had the scarlet fever that one Sunday, when I was taking a long walk out on Long Island where I could do no one any harm, I came upon Richmond Hill, and thought it was the most beautiful spot I had ever seen, I went home and told my wife that I had found the place where we were going to live.…I picked out the lots I wanted. So before the next winter’s snow, we were snug in the house, with a ridge of wooded hills, between New York and us. The very lights of the city were shut out. So was the slum and I could sleep.” Riis’s house was placed on the National Register for Historic Places, but such a designation does not protect a property. The home was torn down in the mid-1970’s and replaced with a row of attached brick houses. Today two remaining beech trees planted by Riis in the backyard remind us of the tranquil neighborhood that put his mind at ease.
NY1 filed a video report on how rising commercial rents are changing the landscape of Long Island City. Communitea (pictured above), located in the neighborhood for ten years, recently closed after the owners and landlord couldn’t negotiate a lease. New City Kitchen Express is moving out after seven years in business after the landlord raised the rent by $3,000 a month. (The business is not sure if it will be able to afford relocation.) NY1 speaks with Modern Spaces’ Eric Benaim, who says the housing boom is contributing to the rising commercial rents — no shock there. According to him, commercial leases have nearly doubled in the past 10 years.
Two Long Island City residents have proposed landmarking the Long Island City Clocktower, located at 29-27 Queens Plaza North. DNAinfo reports that Matthew Chrislip and Michael Hall recently presented to Community Board 1 seeking support of a possible designation and the board voted to support the campaign. They also sent a building evaluation request to the Landmarks Preservation Commission last spring, and the LPC has begun the reviewing process. Now, Chrislip and Hall are encouraging others to send in letters of support to the LPC. Architect Morrell Smith designed the Clock Tower; he is also responsible for the landmarked Beaux Arts Jamaica Savings Bank.
It truly seems like a no brainer to designate the Clock Tower a landmark — it’s iconic, of architectural merit, and located in a neighborhood where rapid development threatens older buildings. The LPC has been known to ignore landmark-worthy buildings in Queens before; we sincerely hope that’s not the case this time around. The Criterion Group is the current owner of the building after purchasing it for $15,000,000 in May. The owners have not said what they plan for the structure.