Thursday, November 27, 2014

Thankfully, it's not a teardown!

You may recall the above pictured home located at 60-11 53rd Street in Maspeth from a January 2014 post.

While traveling down Flushing Ave recently, I noticed people entering and exiting the house. I made a mental note to check to see if any plans had been filed. I figured it was being prepped for demolition, but that's not the case.

The plans are actually for: "INTERIOR RENOVATION, NEW EXTERIOR STUCCO, NEW WINDOWS IN EXISTING OPENINGS, AS PER PLANS. NO CHANGE TO USE, EGRESS OR OCCUPANCY." Schedule B details plumbing work.

I can't wait to see the finished product.

Thankful for new boardwalk

From the Forum:

The final steps of the new Hamilton Beach boardwalk are being constructed and it could be opening up soon.

The “boardwalk,” which will now be a cement path connecting Hamilton Beach to Old Howard Beach, has been fully paved and railings have been installed, according to Councilman Eric Ulrich’s office, which is overseeing the plans.

The main portion of the project has been done by the NYC Department of Citywide Administrative Services (DCAS). The last remaining portion of it, which is to add the ramp connecting the train station to the boardwalk, has to be done in partnership with the MTA since they own that portion of the land.

Work started on the path in May and was scheduled to finish by the end of September, but building the ramp has prolonged this process.

Giving thanks for his blessings

From CBS New York:

Despite not having cooking gas for more than a month due to a leak, 46 families of the Ravenswood Houses in Long Island City, Queens, will still enjoy a turkey with all the trimmings.

Brian McMichael, who grew up in the housing complex and just moved his restaurant to Long Island City a month ago, came to the rescue, WCBS 880’s Jim Smith reported.

“My heart goes out to these people, and some of them I actually know personally,” McMichael said, owner of Miriam’s Southern Cuisine.

Partnering with Fresh Direct for the turkeys, McMichael said he’s inspired by the values his mother instilled in him, the restaurant’s namesake.

“She would be so proud. She would just pray. Pray and be joyful,” he said.

His shop will also be whipping up an extra 30 meals for the food pantry.

Thanks for the memories

From the Queens Chronicle:

After more than 50 years of serving the Ozone Park area, Aldo Calore of Aldo’s Pizzeria & Restaurant has retired, according to local community leaders.

Calore started his pizza-making career at the age of 16, working for New Park Pizza in Howard Beach.

Six years later, he opened his own pizzeria at 76-15 101 Ave. in Ozone Park, before moving to 137-01 Cross Bay Blvd.

Ozone Park Civic Association President Howard Kamph said he has fond memories of the restaurant, located a short walk away from his house.

“My nights out was going to his restaurant,” Kamph said. “He gave me the biggest portion for the price.”

Kamph said Calore was engaged in the community, and reached out to anybody who needed help.

“Anybody who came to him, he donated to them,” he said.

Business owners thankful that DOT listened

From the Forum:

The city Department of Transportation last week told The Forum that, after a lengthy study, the agency has decided to scale back the pedestrian plaza in Ozone Park near City Line.

For months, the DOT and civic leaders have heard myriad complaints from small business owners in the area regarding the open space on 101st Avenue at Drew Street and Liberty Avenue. Many have said the plaza has greatly affected their bottom lines.

According to a DOT spokesperson, the department will pull back a portion of the plaza on 101st Avenue to restore metered parking spaces along the block. The change is expected to take place before the end of the year, weather permitting.

A small step, but one the business owners undoubtedly hope will lead to a restoration of clientele.

Wednesday, November 26, 2014

Katz taps Liu's former aide for cushy spot

From the Forum:

Queens Borough President Melinda Katz last week announced the appointment of Sharon Lee as communications director.

Immediately prior to joining Borough President Katz’s office, Lee, a borough resident, served as campaign manager for Assemblyman Ron Kim’s (D-Flushing) successful re-election bid. Previously, Lee served as senior advisor and press secretary to former Comptroller and City Councilman John Liu.


Oh, Sharon Lee? You mean this Sharon Lee?
A key aide to embattled city Comptroller John Liu may have talked her way into criminal charges yesterday by admitting under oath that she offered to illegally fund donations to his mayoral campaign.

Sharon Lee testified that she phoned about five friends and relatives and offered to reimburse their contributions to help meet a $1 million fund-raising goal while working as a Liu campaign volunteer in July 2011.

Asked if she knew what she was doing was wrong, Lee answered: “I didn’t realize how bad it was, truth be told.”

After getting scolded by Manhattan federal Judge Richard Sullivan for repeatedly not answering the question, she finally said: “Yes.”

Glad to see we're maintaining a long-standing Borough Hall dirty hack hiring tradition.

Dirty developer's deals detailed

From the Daily News:

A developer connected to a 1,700-unit luxury complex on the Queens waterfront in the final stages of city approval allegedly bribed representatives of a Greek bank to get his way in the past, court documents show.

Efstathios (Steve) Valiotis, a principal of Alma Realty, the developer behind the Astoria Cove project, was spotlighted in a 1995 federal court decision for bribing a Greek intermediary in order to secure a multimillion-dollar loan for his separate cargo vessel business.

According to evidence introduced to the court, Valiotis and another director of shipping company Levant Lines paid a bribe to a third party after a meeting with an official of the Greece-based Banque Franco-Hellenic de Commerce in order to secure a $5.7 million loan from the bank in 1990.

Levant, which operated a cargo vessel service between the United States and the Mediterranean, had failed in loan requests to more than 10 banks, to acquire two aging ships, the Spirit and the Pride, court documents note.

The shipper eventually acquired the loan it sought, and a judge noted there was “convincing evidence” that a bribe by Valiotis helped make it possible, though Valiotis was not a party to the lawsuit and the court did not explicitly adjudicate his role in the matter.

The lawsuit was between the bank and another investor who claimed he did not have to repay a related loan because it was secured through illicit means.


The council approved Astoria Cove yesterday, and the city is kicking in $5M to build the developer a ferry dock...

Goodbye, Queens Plaza Clock Tower?

From the Queens Courier:

Those looking to preserve the Long Island City Clock Tower may be running out of time.

Queens Plaza Park Development LLC bought the tower, which was the former Bank of Manhattan building, and an adjoining vacant site for a combined $77 million, according to property records filed with the city on Saturday.

Community members are hoping to landmark the building on 29-27 Queens Plaza North to avoid its development, according to recently published reports, after LIC Clock Tower LLC bought the tower in May for $15 million, city records show.

In just a few months, the price of the tower doubled and sold for $30.9 million. The buyer also purchased the vacant land at 29-37 41st Ave. for $46.3 million.

The vacant site has more than 205,000 buildable square feet. Queens-based developer Steve Cheung purchased the vacant site for $8 million in 2011, city records show, and last year he filed with the Department of Buildings for a 30-story residential tower with 242 units at the vacant site.

Plans for the Clock Tower site have yet to be filed with the Buildings Department.

There goes the green: unhappy ending

And because every blade of grass in the borough must be paved over, I present this latest crappification from Maspeth.
Yes, that pile of dung on the right (four 3-family homes) replaced an empty corner lot. Well, empty doesn't accurately describe it - it was actually a beautiful collection of trees.
Now it's just crap. I called this one back in 2007...

A warning from Landmark West!

Tuesday, November 25, 2014

Fish going belly-up at Willow Lake

From the Daily News:

Dozens of fish are turning up dead in a Queens lake — and no one is sure why.

Carp have been seen floating on the shores of Willow Lake, a part of Flushing Meadows Corona Park that the city is turning into a wild preserve.

More than a dozen dead fish were seen floating or washed up on shore during a visit to the lake on Friday.

A large number were spotted on the western edge near the walking bridge. More washed up by the bird blind on the eastern side of the lake.

The city has been transforming Willow Lake in Flushing Meadows Corona Park into a wildlife preserve with hiking trails. But in recent weeks scores of dead fish have been spotted floating along the lake's edge. No one is sure why but some speculate herbicides might be the cause.

But there were signs of life near the dead fish and tires floating in the water. Other fish were seen jumping in the air.

An eyesore for almost 20 years

I stumbled upon this house after making a wrong turn in Brooklyn this weekend. I just had to find out what the story was here.

You'd think after 19 years, the city would do something with this property instead of allowing it to bring down the area. The rest of the homes here are well-maintained and it's ridiculous that the neighbors have had to put up with this eyesore for so long, especially since ACRIS records reveal that there are outstanding property taxes due.

Kim calls out shady towing company

From the Daily News:

Assemblyman Ron Kim said drivers have been victimized at the parking lot on 156th & Northern Boulevard in Flushing by a predatory tow truck company. The lawmaker has been working with the Legal Aid Society and the city Department of Consumer Affairs to document the firm’s bad practices and educate the public.

Queens drivers should be on the lookout for tow trucks from a Brooklyn company waiting to rip them off, officials said Monday.

The city is trying to rescind the license of All About Automotive II Inc. after determining it has been overcharging victims and demanding drivers pay cash to get their cars back, Assemblyman Ron Kim (D-Flushing) said.

“We’ve had dozens of people complain at the lot on 156th and Northern Boulevard, and we suspect hundreds have been victimized by AAA’s predatory towing,” said Kim, who is working with the Legal Aid Society and the city Department of Consumer Affairs to document the firm’s bad practices. “We want to make sure the public understands their rights when parking at these lots and report to us they’ve been victimized.”

The company refused comment when reached at its Brooklyn offices.

Paul Vallone's year in review

Front page story: Vallone brings back historic budget. Actually, the council's rules were changed, so everyone got the same-sized slice of budget pie with adjustments based on poverty level. Vallone's district is one of the wealthier ones, so he actually got a smaller amount of funding than many other council members.
At least he included something useful in this taxpayer funded waste of paper. The rest can be used as a bird cage liner.
(Click for larger version)

Now here is what he's really been up to: Sponsoring a handful of meaningless resolutions and not getting any of his 9 introductions passed. What a legislator!

Brinckerhoff Cemetery sidewalk is a mess

Following your recent post on Brinckerhoff Cemetery in Fresh Meadows, I've decided to pay a visit to the site.

As you can see, it's in decrepit condition. The sidewalk is cracked by the tree roots and the wooden picket fence guarding the property has a huge gap.

Behind the cemetery, the home of F. Rich is being enlarged by architect Albert Aronov, AIA. We should keep an eye on the backyard to make sure that the property line is respected.

As long as Linda's Cai Trading Company owns the property, it should keep the site in good condition. I've taken the liberty of making a 311 service request for the broken sidewalk under the number C1-1-1038148511. Will the city respond to this service request or dismiss it? You can follow the status of this request via the 311 website. If enough of your readers make the complaint, perhaps eventually Ms. Cai will give up her fight to develop this cemetery.

-Fresh Meadows resident

It's more effective to pressure the legislators to have the city obtain the property than to call in 311 complaints about a sidewalk, but that's just my opinion. - QC