Saturday, May 16, 2015

Costa thinks city saving Steinway is impossible

From the Times Ledger:

“We would love to get the Steinway Mansion in someone else’s hands,” City Councilman Costa Constantinides (D-Astoria) said. “Since I was elected we’ve been looking for a real partner to work with and protect the mansion as a substantial part of the community. I just don’t have that partner that would be able to help balance the cost. Right now that entity just doesn’t exist.”

He added that city agencies such as the Parks Department, the Historic House Trust and the Department of Cultural Affairs had studied purchasing the mansion when it was for sale but passed. “There is no city entity interested in it,” Constantinides said. “We’re dealing with the real world here. It would be a monumental undertaking, with costs of $1.5 million to purchase and another $3 million to renovate to make it a community space. You can’t do that with City Council budget dollars.”

Of course you can. How do you think other sites got saved?


georgetheatheist said...

This Monday morning, the Queens Tribune at their annual Small Business Awards at the Student Center of Queens College, will be saluting and recognizing with a plaque presentation (with others) Gerald Caliendo, the architect of the proposed surrounding warehouses which will be marring aesthetically the legacy of the Steinway Mansion area. As some of you know, Mr. Caliendo is the President of the Board of Directors of the historical Rufus King Manor in Jamaica. His involvement here is just ironically mind-boggling. Mr.Caliendo. Would you please explain to us how on one hand you can be involved in preserving the historical legacy of Rufus King, but on the other hand involved in destroying the historical legacy of William Steinway? Mr. Caliendo why be known forever more as an architectural goat when you can be an architectural hero? Come on and get involved in making this an upbeat positive aesthetic area instead of an ugly downbeat area of warehouses. Use your artistic imagination and think out of the box.

it seems to me that what's needed here is an urgent SUMMIT MEETING of all parties involved in RETHINKING these proposed atrocious plans: Councilman Constantinides, Senator Gianaris, Assemblywoman Simotas, the Loria law firm, the Steinway Piano Factory, the Friends of Steinway Mansion, Gerald Caliendo, the Queens Borough President, the Borough Historian Jack Eichenbaum, the executive directors of present Queens-area historical edifices (King Manor,Poppenhusen, Louis Armstrong House, Volker-Oerth, Fort Totten) et alia et cetera.

Would someone PLEASE get this ball rolling? Save this important for Queens Steinway legacy. Grant us grandeur instead of grossness.

Anonymous said...

George - calm down - this doesn't have to be a three ring circus. Vallone tried something like that and and the meeting ended up as a farce. The organizations you mentioned would be in direct competition with the mansion in both audience and funding. This issue was made clear in FoSM meetings with the LIC Cultural Alliance and Kaufman Arts District (who seems to have used the Steinway Arts District proposal as their template.)

Follow this step by step for a solution. The machinery has already been set in motion:

First, Costa is simply repeating the same words as Vallone. I seriously doubt that he went out there and drove down the same dead ends as his predecessor (who simply went through the motions and broke every meeting with the Friends and others that wanted to discuss this with him).

The website for the mansion discusses FoSM meetings in which Costa was present. At those meetings he was urged to visit the factory and meet management, to discuss this with the folks over at EDC, to reach out to Paulson, and was given contacts at preservation organizations that have led successful battles in the other boroughs.

He did none of this.

It was so embarrassing when Marg Markey brought senior people down from Albany to look at the mansion and Vallone, Gianaris, (then) candidate Costa, or their staffers, were not present nor showed the slightest interest.

Of course there is no money. If your rep is not fighting for you while the fellow in another district is fighting for his people - guess who gets money and who gets the shaft?

For the record, the FoSM has remained in continuous contact with the borough president's office, Culture Commissioner Finkelpearl, Queens EDC, and the LIC Partnership.

Collectively they are tasked with finding opportunities for the borough. The Steinway Arts District proposed by the Friends would not only provide funding to save the mansion, but has the real potential to be a major tourist attraction, cultural and learning center, as well as an economic incubator - which are topics of direct responsibility for them.

If you want to apply pressure focus your attention on them to meet with Steinway, and from that point, with the support of MAS, HDC, Landmarks Conservancy (who are all following this closely) sit down at Steinway Hall in Manhattan with Whitestone's own billionaire John Paulson (who gave $100 million to Central Park) and discuss business.

If this looks real, for Loria (who like those Yellow Pages Commercials a few years back) "Its just business." He would drop this course of action in a heartbeat if he could make a profit and have a ringside seat to reinvest in other opportunities within the Steinway Arts District. The Friends have already pledged this to him - to his face.

Anonymous said...

Astoria gets a dog run for $500,000 and an outdoor theater with perhaps 300 good seats next to a swimming pool full of kids from the Astoria Houses for $5,000,000.

But not a penny for the mansion.

Anonymous said...


post, like, and forward to others.


Anonymous said...

Maybe costa just doesn't know better... but being from the area, he should have.

Anonymous said...

Hey Gianaris is now one of the top dogs in Albany - Cuomo even considered him as a possible running mate - now what does that tell you about the boy?

Saw him at the street fair last week in LIC - playing with a slinky. Favorite nugget of news a few years back having a photo op next to a stop sign he put in as a traffic calming gesture around a construction site.

There is a man on your dime that knows his priorities.

georgetheatheist said...

C'mon Costa. Rise above this mire of mediocrity. You can do it kid.

Anonymous said...

I cannot imagine what damage they will do to the Steinway name once they get done.

Place blame on Borough Hall for that one. They had plenty of time to intervene. No wonder the community just sits there. This mindset that you are your councilman's property to mistreat you as he pleases and no one cares - is bullshit.

Does make everything Melinda talk about sound empty and hollow. Totally avoidable. Blown opportunity.

Anonymous said...

Stop wasting time over Costa:

"I’m looking forward to seeing a positive resolution here,” Constantinides said. “[The buyers are] open to working with us. They share our vision.”

Queens Tribune, May 8, 2014

Pope Francis said...

Peter Vallone, Sr. Methinks the Vallones still have their hands in the pot. Tell me if I'm wrong. IF this Steinway proposal sees fruitful conclusion, how will it make the historical legacy of the Vallones look? Maybe they're still turning the screws because they don't want to see it come to fruitful conclusion. Peter Vallone, Sr., you attend Mass every day. How can you stand by and see your immortal soul heading for the Valley of Gehenna? Redeem your soul. Go and sin no more...Save Steinway Mansion.

Jerry Rotondi said... the primary blame for the wretched situation of Steinway on borough hall.

In all my years (about 33) as a historic preservation advocate, Queens' borough presidents have been a major impediment to preserving important historic sites.

This does not happen in Brooklyn, our neighboring borough. Maybe it's because they do not suffer from the level of political mediocrity that exists right here.

It remains difficult for me to have any pride in our borough.
I find myself having to constantly make excuses to visitors as to why Queens has so little to offer the eyes and ears in the way of quality. Let us not even discuss the aromas of downtown Flushing on a hot August day.

Anonymous said...

This is absolutely shameful, how the best of the best in Queens either languishes, decays, or gets destroyed.
We are the borough of Archie Bunker. Kudos for that!

Anonymous said...

I think the problem is simple:

the Steinway Arts District would need a big developer and the Vallones would lose control.

Junior is already fundraising to come back and replace Costa, a footnote to be cashiered to some comfy spot.

Damn term limits.

Anonymous said...

Caliendo and Petruso....two of the dinkiest goombah walyo builders that Queens has ever seen. Please, do not call them architects!

Italian mob ties? Who knows? Certainly politically connected.

Anonymous said...

Please the city pisses money away on all sorts of hare brained crap. For peanuts Steinway could be bought.
Stop making excuses.

Anonymous said...

Does this have the Vallone fingerprints all over it? You decide, Astoria.

When Paulson bought Steinway the rumor in the Astoria business community was that he wanted Steinway Hall - and they were going to sell the factory (whose 10 acres of undeveloped land must make those developers cream with delite.) This was 180 degrees wrong which shows the parties behind it were full of guile, but, as is so often with that type, not all that bright.

There are some theories that Steinway was dragging their feet because the Vallones have a well placed mole in the factory - who knows. It simply could be they are blindsided with new a new owner forging a new business plan.

But the fact that no one from the political or business community in Queens has approached them is something of deep suspicion.

It is clear that not only did Peter refuse to meet with the Friends, but once they decided to start the effort to save the mansion the little p*k showed his true colors and commitment to the community by trying to kill the Historical Society when he pulled all funding to them. Beat up a historical society? What is next, Little Sisters of Charity? Some leadership there, eh?

If the community ever, for some wild reason, got the idea in their noggins that the Vallones had a hand in ruining this great opportunity for educating their youth, increasing their property values, and jobs/economic opportunities (to say nothing about that sewer plant) so a small group of well connected get all the gravy there certainly would be hell to pay.

But of course, this is all speculation. When you are a public figure like that family you are often the target of criticism and speculation - some of it unfair.

But it would be innocent fun to compile all the real estate holdings by them and associates in the area.

Anonymous said...

just a thought but would it be possible to subdivide some of the vacant land on that parcel sell it off to hungry developers....blah blah blah and SAVE THAT HOUSE so you give up some of the land but you preserve an important piece of Astoria's history and architecture..........ahhhh sweat dreams

Anonymous said...

Not to worry - the Friends are just getting started. This battle is far from over!

J.P.ZENGER said...

David Dunlap, venerable NY Times architectural and real estate reporter. Are you reading this? This story could be front page for your paper

Anonymous said...


Post the crap you notice on the Steinway mansion Facebook - "they" are all following it.

Also get in touch with the Friends "structural". Jargon mumbo jumbo is being processed.

Anonymous said...

Somebody needs to drop a Steinway piano on Vallone to wake him up. Hey, Don Junior, do something!

Anonymous said...

How can a few elected officials do this to a community - to betray their trust - compromise a great benefit to so many - to benefit the few?

Without a shred of guilt - in the open - without trying to even hide what they are doing?

Do they really think they can get away with this?

Anonymously Grey Gardens said...

The continual (and continuous) decay of public art and antiquities in Queens (many of which should have been approved for landmark status), is exactly why CIVIC VIRTUE TASK FORCE keeps focus and vision on repeated, strenuous appeals to Madam President Katz and the purportedly new and open administration at Borough Hall, to return 'Triumph Of Civic Virtue' to Queens Boulevard and Kew Gardens Plaza---where it rightfully belongs.

But, until public democracy, transparency and openness are finally restored in local city government (these were the words of Melinda Katz, on Tuesday, June 10, 2014), then nothing is ever going to change for public referendum, community board due process and fairness to prevail---especially given that honest, ethical leadership is once again (as always), missing from the very communities that continue to demand political leadership that likewise continues to betray public trust.

Bring back Civic Virtue, President Katz, with the same speed and determination that it was ripped from the skyline and evicted, without any due process, no less---without further delay!

No one wants (much less was asked about), a planted ruin in Kew Gardens that memorializes female political leadership in Queens that hasn't ever really existed in the first place!

The evidence for my argument can be seen from outer space!

Anonymous said...

attn: anonymous re: NOTICE

When you say "get in touch with the Friends "structural"" i'm assuming you mean me.

i'm happy to help but i have to do so anonymously because i work daily with some of the agencies i openly pan when they fuck up. i'm sure you understand. i don't have a facebook profile so that's out. if you could leave an email address here, i'll get in touch that way. let me know, i'll keep an eye out for it.

Anonymous said...



have architects pulling interesting stuff out of BIS - thanks for your offer to help.

Anonymous said...

i sent something. you've got mail.

Anonymous said...

Got it!

Welcome to the 'forensic team.'