Saturday, December 10, 2016

A small victory in Astoria


Happy Birthday and thank you so much for passion, love and care you put into your blog each and every day.

I can't thank you enough for telling your readers about the Astoria Medical Center monstrosity behind our homes.

My neighbors and I scored a major victory when the BSA made Pali Realty move their parking garage exhaust vents from the rear to the front, preserving out yards and quality of life. It was due in part to the supportive letters from your readers.

One of my long-term goals is to establish the BSA Toolkit, which would empower residents and activists with the skills, resources, know-how, vocabulary, case studies and advice to fight developers successfully.

I'll let you know when I'm ready to roll it out and get feedback.

Enjoy the weekend and any celebrations you have planned!

Warm regards,


Lutheran Church of the Messiah likely to be replaced with crap

"Messiah Lutheran Church in Flushing has been sold. Not sure of the new owner, landmark status, or zoning. All I know is that all the local AA groups, Choir practices and both congregations must be out by January 1st. The property is massive..." - anonymous

Looked it up, and thankfully it's contextually zoned: split between R4-1, R5B. Of course, that doesn't mean that there aren't a bunch of Fedders specials coming here.

Friday, December 9, 2016

Almost forgot...

Here's to a 10-year long crap.

Vallone accused of pay-to-play

From the Queens Chronicle:

Councilman Paul Vallone (D-Bayside) has been accused of doing a series of favors for campaign donors by his 2017 primary opponent, land use expert Paul Graziano.

“A council member is supposed to represent the interests and well-being of the residents and constituents of the Council District — all 160,000 of them,” Graziano said in an emailed statement after focusing on the allegations during a sitdown interview with the Chronicle. “Unfortunately, Paul Vallone has seemed to only be representing the interests of a selected group of his ‘clients’ since his election to City Council in 2013.”

Vallone declined repeated requests for comment on the allegations beyond a statement his office issued about one of the claims and none of the donors could be reached for comment.

In one case, the planning consultant said, Vallone opposed the extension of the Douglas Manor Historic District because of donations he received from a resident of the proposed area who is against it.
Frank White opposed the extension and gave $500 donations to Vallone each year for the past three years.

In a letter to Landmarks Preservation Commission Chairwoman Meekahshi Srinivasan, the councilman says that “landmark status imposes undue restrictions on the rights of homeowners to renovate, modify, or sell their properties as they wish.” He also notes that 12 of the 17 households in the area proposed for the expansion opposed it, and Community Board 11 had rejected it.

Graziano criticized Vallone’s remarks about landmarking in the letter to the commission chairwoman.

“If it were that case, why are so many neighborhoods desperate to be landmarked?” the planning consultant said, mentioning Broadway-Flushing as an example. “Because they want to protect their neighborhood from being destroyed by terrible development.”

Vallone did support two smaller landmarkings in his district that were opposed by the people who own the affected buildings, the Hawthorne Court Apartments and the Ahles House, both in Bayside. There is no record of either owner making any donation to Vallone.

“He voted for both with absolute owner opposition,” Graziano said.

In another area controversy, Vallone was initially supportive of the proposed high school at the Bayside Jewish Center site, which Graziano says is because last year he received a $250 donation — the maximum for people who do business with the city — from Stephen Aiello, the husband of School Construction Authority head Lorraine Grillo, and a $300 donation from Christine Colligan, the JHS 189 parent coordinator, who supported the project and spoke in favor of it at a Community Board 11 meeting.

The councilman later said he opposed the plan.

Real estate agent caught showing illegal conversion

From NY1:

Department of Buildings inspectors bust a real estate agent trying to rent them an illegally converted apartment.

The illegal conversion problem is citywide, but severe in Brooklyn and Queens.

NY1 was the only news outlet there when the sting when down.

An illegal conversion is an alteration of a building to create housing without city approval. Like this apartment, many lack proper exits, have unsafe gas hookups and other safety violations.

Inspectors usually enter if someone gives them access. In this case they were allowed in, and they slapped the property owner with a violation and a vacate order.

If extreme violations are suspected, inspectors can seek a court warrant.

Last year, DOB received more than 19,000 complaints.

More than half of the complaints were in Queens.

Rego Park storefronts to be demolished for large apartment building

From Forest Hills Patch:

A number of stores located on the corner of Queens Blvd and 65th Road are about to face the wrecking ball to make way for a eight-story mixed use building.

Bahar Corp., the developer, filed documents with the Department of Buildings on Nov. 30 seeking to install a side walk shed in preparation of bulldozing the structure. The company filed for a demolition permit in October.

The new building will carry a 98-02 Queens Blvd. address. It will include 59 apartments, ranging from one-bedroom to three-bedroom, with balconies, 7,000-square feet of medical office space as well as retail on the street level and a parking garage for 59 cars.

Flushing may get a movie theater

From the Queens Tribune:

A new development in Downtown Flushing at 133-15 39th Ave. will include a movie theater as part of its retail section, marking the first time in 30 years that Flushing will have a movie theater, reports say.

The mixed-used project, called Tangram, is being led by development companies F&T Group and SCG America. Construction is under way at the site, which will include 1.2 million square feet of office, residential and hotel space, including a 225,000-square-foot, two-story retail podium, the development companies announced on Dec. 1. The movie theater would be a part of this retail space.

The theater is anticipated to be 34,000 square feet with six to eight screens and seating for 500 to 800, according to a report from Commercial Observer. It will be the first movie theater in Flushing since the historic RKO Keith’s theater closed down in 1986.

Commercial Observer also reported that SCG Retail, the company handling the retail aspect of the project, is looking into an “experiential” theater that could include luxury dining.

Thursday, December 8, 2016

New City Council tweeding effort underway

David Greenfield
From the Daily News:

Just in time for the 2017 election cycle, the City Council is set to scale back oversight of its own members’ cash infusions from New York City’s taxpayer-backed campaign fund matching program.

They must not get away with it.

The program, intended to amplify the voices of small-fry donors in local elections, offers a 6-to-1 match for every dollar contributed by city residents. The first $175 is matchable, meaning a maximum grant of $1,050. In 2013 elections, the matches totaled $33 million.

To ensure that the private contributions that trigger public support are on the up and up, donors are simply asked to certify that their contributions are kosher under law.

Giving a check? Sign a card that says “I understand that State law requires that a contribution be in my name and be from my own funds.”

Are you a city contractor or lobbyist, thereby barred from giving more than $250 to a Council candidate and $400 for mayor? Spell it out.

That’s it — hardly a lie-detector test, but an important caution against illegal straw donations, like those that hobbled former Controller John Liu’s 2013 mayoral bid , and against corrupting, oversized contributions.

Yet here come Councilmen David Greenfield and Carlos Menchaca of Brooklyn, with legislation, popular in a self-serving Council, that would eliminate the requirement for most contributions by check. And credit card. And text message. And many by money order.

Where the forms would still be required — for instance, for contributions made in cash — the measure would give campaigns authority to complete or correct the paperwork on donors’ behalf.

No more cash at the QMT

From DNA Info:

Drivers heading from Manhattan to Queens or vice versa through the Queens Midtown Tunnel won't be able to pay cash for the toll in early 2017, according to a spokeswoman for the Metropolitan Transportation Authority.

All toll plazas of the tunnel will go cashless in January, a change that the MTA says will result in a smoother tunnel experience for all, according to Joyce Mulvaney, the agency’s director of community affairs.

The new policy will not affect drivers who already use E-ZPass.

But those who don't will have their license plate photographed by cameras installed at the toll plazas and get a bill in the mail within 30 days.

The MTA has agreements with out-of-state DMVs to send the bill to non-New York drivers, according to MTA spokesman Christopher McKniff.

The toll for E-ZPass drivers is $5.54. For everyone else, it's $8. Vehicles are tolled in both directions.

Drivers who fail to pay the toll on time will receive a $100 violation. Ongoing failure to pay will mean having the bill referred to a collections agency, with the possibility of civil lawsuits, McKniff said.

All eyes on Preet

From the NY Post:

The sense that Bharara’s final shoe is about to drop is especially keen because he filed related corruption charges against businessmen, police officers, a hedge fund manager and the head of the correction officers’ union.

And with subpoenas served months ago on City Hall, de Blasio deputies, some consultants and donors, it is clear that Bharara is aiming at a substantial target.

That could be why the prosecutor recently agreed after an unusual meeting with President-elect Donald Trump to stay on past the end of the Obama administration.

While the extension removes any immediate pressure, it can’t be a license to drag out the investigation deep into the election season. With all reasonable dispatch, Bharara should make his case, one way or another, sooner rather than later.