Financing & Incentives For Business in Queens
LIC Partnership Hosts Panel of NYS & NYC Commercial & Industrial Incentive Experts
I attended a breakfast panel of New York State [NYS] and New York City [NYC] government incentives and financing experts in early February. The panel included: Bryan Doxford, NY Business Development Corporation [NYBDC], Donald Giampietro, NYC Department of Small Business Services [NYC SBS], Jeffrey Lee, NYC Economic Development Corporation [NYCEDC], Jean Tanler, Business Outreach Center and Joseph Tazwell, of Empire State Development. The panel was moderated by Elizabeth Lusskin, President of the LIC Partnership, which hosted the event.
The purpose of the breakfast panel was to raise awareness of the municipal and state incentive programs and financing options available to the Long Island City business community. The programs are directed toward owners, managers and operators of local businesses with the intent of creating or enhancing jobs creation in the Long Island City neighborhood. Many of the programs are also available in other geographies in New York City and New York State.
Each panelist began by providing us with a summary of the incentives and financing with which their agencies or organizations can generally assist. This was followed by a brief Question & Answer session, and then a networking period.
You can search for the entities named above and contact them for further details about what programs they offer that might help you finance / save money while developing your business.
Paint Building Development Plans
Paint Building Real Estate Development Plans Unveiled in LIC
January 20, 2016 / Long Island City Neighborhood LIC / Queens Real Estate / Queens Buzz. I attended a special meeting by Community Board Two this evening along the waterfront in Long Island City. The meeting was arranged to give the community in LIC an opportunity to review the proposal being put forth by the owners of the Paint Building on Vernon Blvd. They're proposing the development of a large residential complex, a part of which will rise 28 stories high.
The plans included a very innovative East River waterfront access along with a wide pedestrian walk way from Vernon Blvd to the East River. The promenade wiill be privately owned and operated, but made available to the public during the hours that the nearby parks are open. Other parts of the presentation touched upon the environmental clean up required for the site, which like other parts of Long Island City and neighboring Greenpoint, were once the site of very large oil storage containers that one now finds in New Jersey.
The community raised a number of concerns including questions about the impact on the transportation infrastructure and the addition of school seats, both of which haven't kept pace with Long Island City's rapid real estate development in recent years. And there were concerns that the 'affordable housing units' would turn out to be unaffordable to current residents, as has turned out to be the case with the affordable housing developments made during the Bloomberg years.
After the presentation there was a Question and Answer session as well as a period during which the public could make short statements. In some ways the last statement was the most interesting because it was accommodated by a visual. Kenny Greenberg, a local businessman and artesan showed his own beautiful rendition of the Paragon Paint Building which we obtained a copy of from him which is shown below right.
Kenny sent it to us with the caveat that it's not precisely drawn to scale, and that it doesn't include the 13 story tower that was proposed in tandem with the 28 story tower that is shown in the slide to your right. The point of Kenny's visual statement is that it's a huge change to the look and feel of Vernon Blvd and will dwarf all other current structures in the neighborhood. We also heard from residents that the addition of over 300 new apartments in that area will significantly impact parking space and traffic, given that the current proposal only calls for 24 parking spaces.
It was an interesting meeting, with plenty of pros and cons surrounding the proposal, of which we publish a bit more before the meeting.
The Paragon Paint Building proposal will be voted upon at the next Community Board Two meeting on Thursday, February 4th at 7 pm, at the Sunnyside Community Services building on 39th Street just off Queens Blvd. Stay tuned.
Queens Economy - 2016 Outlook NYC
Currently Full Employment, Low Interest Rates, Low Inflation But Possible International Shocks
We took a look into the crystal ball over the holiday break to see what may lie ahead for the NYC economy in the coming year. We studied the stats and facts put out by many of the national data producers at the Bureau of Labor Statistics, the Federal Reserve, the Treasury Department and the AIE. What follows is a brief summary of some of the statistics we gathered on the global, national and New York City economy including unemployment statistics by borough for 2015.
U.S. & NYC Economy Near / At Full Employment
Currently Queens and Manhattan are doing the best with respect to employment, with unemployment rates below 5%, which economists consider to be full employment as the 5% unemployed are viewed as normal ‘friction’ in the economy, accounting for people coming into, leaving and changing jobs within the labor force.
In 2009 - 2010, during the first two years of the Great Recession, the nation’s unemployment rate hit 9.4%, while the unemployment rate for New York City hit 10.4%. The employment picture for the nation and the five boroughs of New York City has slowly but steadily improved since then, with unemployment trending lower, reaching full employment this year at 5% for the nation and 4.8% for New York City this fall.
Employment Impact / Relationship to Inflation
Employment affects inflation, as when everyone is fully employed, recruiting firms bid up the price of labor and workers feel secure enough to spend aggressively, bidding up the price of goods. The Federal Reserve attempts to reign in inflation - because it creates economic instability - by raising interest rates which increases the cost of capital needed to expand operations or make large purchases more expensive. On December 16, 2015, the Federal Reserve raised its key short-term interest rate by 25 basis points (0.25%) to begin to get ahead of potentially inflationary issues that may lie ahead. We'll look into a few of these later in this report.
Economists in one of the banking reports I received believe that there is still slack in the labor market that is not reflected in the numbers as many people have part-time jobs, while they would like full time jobs. Also the labor force participation rate fell during the Great Recession and it became more difficult to find work. Now with a full employment economy it is believed that some of those folks who gave up looking will try to re-enter the workforce. An example of the decline in participation rate might be a spouse who helped supplement household income but couldn't find the right work, and now starts looking again.
Click here to continue reading our report about the New York City NYC Economy Outlook 2016 which delves into full employment impact on inflation, interest rates, consumer debt levels, oil & commodity prices, domestic and international currencies & economic growth, the financial markets and how all of this may impact the different sectors of the Queens & New York City economy.
Phipps Proposed Real Estate Development in Sunnyside
I attended a town hall regarding a real estate development proposal put forth by the Phipps Houses organization. The Phipps Houses organization is a non-profit dedicated to building and managing affordable housing. They have a number of sites including the Phipps Houses in Sunnyside and they are partners with the Related Companies in the real estate development at Hunters Point South.
The meeting was a voluntary first step taken by the Phipps Houses organization to gather community feedback and engage with the neighborhood regarding a proposal to use the land they own that is across Barnett Street behind the Phipps Houses in Sunnyside. The strip of land is currently occupied by a parking lot which stands adjacent to the LIRR railway tracks.
The proposal is in its early stages and at this point in time we were told that nothing is in the works formally - meaning no proposal has yet been officially submitted for government review. To build the 200 unit apartment complex, they need to request a zoning change from the city and thus would have to go through the Uniform Land Use Review Procedure [ULURP] which can be lengthy and fraught with tension if the neighborhood is not, in some measure, on board.
What follows is an account of the presentation and discussion that took place Monday night October 26th, 2015 at the Phipps Houses in Sunnyside. The report includes a 7 minute video with highlights from the meeting which includes imporant points, some tensions, and a bit of laughter.
Click here to view the rest of our report on the proposed Phipps Houses real estate development in Sunnyside Queens.
Queens Employment Rate Continues To Best NYC Metro
Queens County continued its streak of besting three of the other four boroughs in New York City with respect to low unemployment. In the July period unemployment fell to 4.9%, which is slightly below what is generally considered a full employment unemployment rate of 5%.
Queens Employment Fueled By Building Boom
Queens is currently experiencing a building boom, with the epicenters in the neighborhoods of Long Island City, Astoria, Flushing and to a lesser extent Jamaica. In addition to the creation of temporary construction jobs which end when the building has been completed, some of the new commercial developments have targeted white collar office space, which has then been used to lure large commercial tenants from other boroughs, into Queens. Bloomingdales was one such recent company to announce a large move [a return] into Queens.
Click here to read the rest of our report on employment and unemployment in Queens, NYC and NYS.
Guess Who's Coming To LIC?
Macy's Inks 15 Year Deal For 145k Sq Ft Office Space
Some Corporate Staff Moving From Brooklyn Site
Bis Now just reported that Macy's has inked a 15 year deal for 145,000 square feet at the Factory on 47th Avenue between 30th Place and 30th Street in Long Island City. This location is on the eastern side of the Sunnyside Yards, only a block away from LaGuardia Community College on Thomson Street.
According to their report, Macy's will move corporate staff currently working at a long held Brooklyn, location to the site in Long Island City in Queens.
Of course, Macy's is no stranger to Queens. They also operate three stores in Queens - at Rego Park, Flushing Main Street and in Douglaston.
Bis Now reported that the asking rent for the space was $42 per square foot, which they said compared quite favorably to Manhattan prices. Bis Now is hosting a event called the Future of Long Island City on August 18th at the Waters Edge on 44th Drive beginning at 7.30 am and as of this writing there are 8 tickets left. Admission is $89.
The photo above is of Macy's flagship store in Manhattan.
Sterling Equities & Related Companies Lose A Court Battle
Plans To Build Shopping Mall On Flushing Meadows Corona Parkland Reversed On Appeal
In August of 2014, New York State Supreme Court Judge Manuel Mendez decided in favor of Related Companies / Sterling Equities by throwing out a lawsuit filed by the City Club of New York and NYS Senator Tony Avella. The plaintiffs alleged that the Related Companies, real estate developers of Hunters Point South and the Hudson Yards, and the Sterling Equities which was co-founded by the NY Mets owner, Fred Wilpon, had not gone through the NYS legislature for the approval of the transfer of the parkland as required by law.
The lawsuit, filed in February 2014, alleged that the transfer of 47 acres of Flushing Meadows Corona Park land that currently represents the western part of the Mets parking lot, was done without following the procedure for a proper public review [see photo above right]. The City had proposed transferring the 47 acres to Related Companies / Sterling Equities who had planned to build a 1.4 million square foot shopping mall next to Citifield.
The NY City Council and the Mayor approved the project in October 2013, but the proposal never went to Albany for a vote. According to the Queens Tribune report one of the plaintiffs said that the Judge Manuel Mendez's ruling goes against the Public Trust Doctrine, ignores longstanding case law history, and bestows too much power that was formerly the purview of the Board of Estimate in one person: the NYC Mayor.
On Thursday, July 2nd, 2015, the four-judge Appellate Court overturned Judge Mendez's decision and ruled that the Willets West Mall Project was illegal because the land is a part of Flushing Meadows Corona Park, in spite of its current paved over status as a parking lot [see 2009 photo above]. And because it is a part of the public parkland of the people, it may not be turned over to real estate developers without approval of the NY State Legislature. The judges rejected the ruling in favor of the mall made by Judge Manuel Mendez, wherein the real estate developers argued that the 54 year old, 1961 law authorizing the construction of Shea Stadium, also included a mall.
The photo above shows the Citifield parking lot in 2009, as it was being paved over following the demolition of Shea Stadium and the erection of Citifield.
According to the Associated Press report, a spokesman for the developers said that they would appeal the decision.
Sunnyside Yards: Part III
A Look into the Feasibility, Functionality, Public Policy Issues & Community Involvement of developing Sunnyside Yards
May 18, 2015 / Sunnyside & Long Island City Neighborhoods / Long Island City Real Estate / Queens Buzz. In the first two segments of our series on the Sunnyside Yards we took a look at the history of transit and real estate development as the two went hand in hand.
In this report we’re going to explore the feasibility and functionality of constructing platforms over rail yards and highways in New York City since the turn of the 20th century beyond the turn of the 21st century when this sort of construction has begun anew.
We’re then going to explore the public policy issues associated with building such a platform over Sunnyside Yards, giving consideration to infrastructure such as transit, schools and neighborhood businesses, as well as to environmental issues and the current affordable housing crisis. We will end this report with a look at different strategies the community / neighborhood could employ to block, guide or embrace a development over Sunnyside Yards.
Grand Central Terminal 1871. When Grand Central Terminal was first erected in 1871, the terminal was essentially located at the northern end / outskirts of what was then considered the densely packed and rapidly growing New York City. While the first modern elevator was showcased in the mid 1850's, elevators didn't go into public use until the 1870's after the concept had been refined. In the 1880's elevators were run on electricity, not steam, and buidling high rises in New York City and elsewhere took off. The Dakota on the Upper West Side was one of the first great high rises and it was erected in 1884.
Platform Over Rail Yards Now Park Avenue 1903 - 1913. Building up over rail yards began at the turn of the 20th century when William J. Wilgus coined the phrase "taking wealth from the air". It was he who first proposed monetizing the air rights of New York Central and Hudson River Rail yards, which ran north along what is Park Avenue today. Platforms were built over the rail yards which terminated at Grand Central Terminal at 42nd Street which was no longer on the northern edge of the growing city, but it was also not yet the Midtown we know today.
Location. Location. Location. The first photo above shows 5th Avenue in 2015 within ten blocks of Grand Central Terminal. The second photo shows the center of the Sunnyside Rail Yards, which is located a bit more than two miles away from Grand Central Terminal. To help put things in perspective, it's worth noting that Union Square Park is located exactly two miles away from Grand Central Terminal.
Fasten your seat belt. And click here later tonight / Tuesday for Part III of our series regarding the development of Sunnyside Yards.
LIC Partnership Breakfast
Prices Rising, Inventory Tight & Bullish About The Future
April 27, 2015 / LIC Neighborhood / LIC Real Estate / Queens Buzz. It was a beautiful Spring day as I headed down to the Con Ed Learning Center along the East River. The sun was shining, the air was cool and breezy and blossoms were making their way back out, after a long winter.
I arrived shortly after the opening remarks had been made, where a summary had been given about where things are at in the LIC real estate market. The snapshot included a count of what development has already come to market and what will come to market with respect to office space, and commercial and residential real estate units in Long Island City. Click here to view a report published earlier this year which provides a summary of the LIC real estate market development.
The opening remarks were followed by a panel of professionals to talk about the Long Island City real estate market. The panel consisted of [seated from left to right in the photo above right] 1) Matthew Baron, President of Simon Baron Development; 2) Jon Caplan, Vice Chairman of New York Capital Markets Group of Jones Lang LaSalle; 3) David Dishy, President of Development and Acquisitions for L + M Development; and 4) Seble Tareke Wiliiams, Managing Director of NYC Interboro Fund, Emmes Asset Management Company.
The panelists represent well funded corporate groups, all of whom have made multi-million dollar investments in the Long Island City real estate market. And based on what I had heard today - and in prior real estate / financial coverage in LIC, Queens and Manhattan - this looks like it is just the beginning of a growing interest in the neighborhood.
Click here for the rest of our report about the LIC Partnership Real Estate Breakfast.
Sunnyside Yards - Special Report Series
The following is a series of reports we have run and continue to evolve to provide background and context for the residents and voters of Sunnyside, Long Island City, Astoria, Queens, and perhaps NYC, to use to evaluate the respective pros and cons of public policy with regard to the future development of Sunnyside Yards.
The first report provides a summary overview of the development of Queens in the 19th and 20th centuries. Showing how the development of transportation affected real estate development in Queens.
The second report takes a deeper dive into the 20th century development, exploring the same line of thought with regard to the interwoven importance of transportation and real estate development.
The third report is expected in late April, which will show the 20th century history of development - the specifics of which will be arriving shortly.
First Female-Owned LIC Realty, Opens New Office
March 5, 2015 / Long Island City / Queens Real Estate / Queens Buzz. On Thursday evening, during yet another March snowfall, the Beaudoin Realty Group held an opening reception to announce its new office in the neighborhood.
I attended the reception and found an eclectic mix of cultural, culinary and commercial characters, who comprise one of the theatrical casts in the production of life-as-theater - and whose roles require them to give daily performances on the real-time stage we call Long Island City.
Shelia Lewandowski, a founding member of the LIC Business Women and co-Founder of the Chocolate Factory Theatre, told me that the Beaudoin Realty Group was the first female-owned realty to open an office in Long Island City. Sheila [far left in the photo at right] is shown standing with Michele Beaudoin [second from left], owner of the Beaudoin Realty Group, in the new offices at 21-52 44th Drive in LIC - only a block west of the Citibank Tower.
I had an opportunity to chat with Meir Newman and Tony Vaccaro. Tony is a renowned WWII photographer, who became a fashion and lifestyle magazine photographer following the war, while Meir is one of the owners of Sinks & Stones, the aesthetic kitchen and bathroom tile and fixtures store in LIC. Meir told me that he and Tony had recently traveled to France to visit a location where a sculpture / monument is slated for installation. The installation will include one or more of the images captured by Tony's photographic lens during WWII.
Daniel Dougherty is one of the co-founders of the Crescent Grill, which is one of the culinary destinations of Dutch Kills neighborhood - only a couple blocks north of Queens Plaza. I bumped into him at the opening and inquired whether he would be marching in the Tartan Day Parade in Manhattan this year. Last year Daniel was one of the few marchers selected to don a Scottish kilt for the parade. This year the Tartan Day Parade is being held on April 11th in Manhattan.
I also met an interior architect, Michael DeLoach, who was a classmate of Michele Beaudoin's at the Pratt Institute of Brooklyn years ago. Michael also runs DeLoach Furniture in Manhattan. There were others in attendance with whom I spoke, including the owners of a small business that installs garage doors and does related work. And of course there wasn't enough time to meet everyone, as the hours disappeared quickly, but some of the conversations included discussing Cuban jazz, winter clothes shopping in Scandinavia and ... of course ... the real estate market in LIC. The food was prepared by the Crescent Grill, Il Falco, the LIC Market and Manducatis Rustica - all of which are popular restaurants in LIC.
Michele Beaudoin told me that over the past five years she has handled a number of real estate transactions in the LIC neighborhood. She said that several years ago Beaudoin Realty Group opened an office in LIC, and that their move to this new location was to enable the Jackson Heights / LIC real estate agency to create a more visible presence with which to engage the LIC neighborhood and the LIC market for real estate.
LICP Seeks To Balance Community Growth
Effort Underway To Guide Neighborhood Evolution
February 2, 2015 / Long Island City LIC / Queens Business / Queens Buzz. The LIC Partnership applied and received a grant to explore approaches through which government and business can work together to develop the LIC neighborhood in a communal way. This means somehow enabling the measured growth of multiple categories of human endeavor including residential growth, office growth, commercial growth, industrial growth and cultural growth. Based on some of the comments I heard at the workshop, I believe it may also include trying to maintain some measure of ethnic and income diversity within the community.
One of the panelists noted that generally what happens in real estate development is that everyone seeks to convert their real estate holdings to the highest price per square foot use. In NYC this is frequently the conversion of the current zoning to residential housing.
One of the problems that evolves over time is that the neighborhood loses some of its desirability as residents must start traveling longer and longer distances for basic amenities such as dry cleaning, groceries, recreational shopping and dining. Hence, to that end the LIC Partnership offered this workshop to help those working in the industrial and commercial real estate development categories to find government sponsored programs and financing designed to incent them to maintain, evolve or create space designed to maintain a diversified mix of real estate capacity within the Long Island City neighborhood.
Click here to read our report on the LIC Partnership Business Breakfast On Industrial & Commercial Incentives and Financing.
Queens Unemployment Continues To Best Metro Average
Drop In Unemployment Rate Continues Improving Trend
January 28, 2015 / Flushing Neighborhood / Queens Business / Queens Buzz. In January of 2013 Queens unemployment rate was 8.9% and by the end of the year it had fallen to 6.7%. In January of 2014 Queens unemployment rate was 6.7% and by December of 2014 it had fallen to 5.7%.
Queens overall employment picture was better than the overall average for the NYC metropolitan area. In January of 2013 the NYC unemployment rate was 9.7% and by the end of the year it had fallen to 7.5%. In January of 2014 the NYC unemployment rate was 8.1% and by December of 2014 it had fallen to 6.4%.
Queens has been emerging as a business and residential destination given its proximity to Manhattan and its robust public transportation network.
The Changing Face Of LIC Retail
LIC Partnership Conferences Retailers & Realtors
October 29, 2014 / LIC Neighborhood / LIC Shopping / LIC Real Estate / Queens Buzz. I attended a conference entitled Queens: The New Retail Frontier. The event was co-hosted by the LIC Partnership hosted in tandem with the International Council of Shopping Centers. The International Council of Shopping Centers [ICSC] mission is to advance the shopping center industry and to promote its role in the commercial distribution of consumer goods and services. The LIC Partnership’s mission is to promote neighborhood economic development and a vibrant and authentic mixed-use community.
The meeting was preceded with a bit of networking in conjunction with coffee and bagels. I spoke to an NYC mortgage professional who, in the course of our conversation, provided me with the following informational tidbits.
Construction spending is at an all-time high. The New York Building Congress confirmed this statement and estimated that NYC construction spending will be in excess of $37 billion dollars in 2014 and accounting for more than 130,000 [likely well paid] jobs. This is up from about $32 billion in 2013. This spending has been fueled in part by government spending since hurricane Sandy hit on October 22nd, 2012. According to the New York Building Congress, government spending accounted for half of construction spending in 2012 and is estimated to be somewhere in the 30% - 40% of construction spending in 2013 and 2014.
He went on to say that this construction in NYC was necessary as over 70% of New York City housing is more than 50 years old. I checked and according to Fannie Mae this compares with a national average of 56% of U.S. housing being more than 50 years old. Boston, by comparison, has only 38% of its housing stock built prior to 1960. A non-profit, Eye On Housing, notes that New York, Pennsylvania and Massachusetts are states with the oldest median aged housing in the nation. The median age of the housing stock in these states is estimated to be 57 years old.
And he noted that the cost of land was one of the major issues facing developers / builders. He noted that the cost per square foot in Manhattan was about $500 south of 96th Street and that he had recently heard that the cost per square foot in LIC was $300. He opined that at these prices one could only develop to sell residential space – not rent.
Based on what I learned from this one attendee, I expected this conference to be chock full of usable information. Click here to read the rest of our report on the LIC Partnership & International Council of Shopping Centers conference about retail real estate in LIC.
Hunters Point South Opens Spring 2015
'Affordable' Housing Applications Begin Mid October
September 29, 2014 / Sunnyside NY / Sunnyside Real Estate / News & Analysis / Queens Buzz. On Monday evening I headed over to Sunnyside Community Services Center to attend the Hunters Point South Affordable Housing meeting. Several years ago the Hunters Point South development was approved by Community Board 2 and subsequently approved by the New York City Council and Mayor. Click the link above to read the earlier report.
The site has been under construction for years, and according to a Related Companies spokesperson at the meeting, the two towers containing affordable housing are to open to residents in the Spring of 2015. Naturally this assumes that all goes according to plan.
Hence on Monday evening, Related Companies representatives in tandem with Community Board Chairman Joe Conley, NY CCM Jimmy Van Bramer, NYS Assemblywoman Cathy Nolan [and NYS Senator Michael Gianaris was scheduled to appear but did not make it] - began the outreach to the community regarding the application process for the low income and affordable housing units in the two buildings.
Attendance and interest by the community was very high and folks who arrived late were turned away as the Sunnyside Community Service Center was filled to capacity. That said there are two more of these outreach programs scheduled, the details of which you can find in our Things To Do calendar in the Business section. Click these links to gain a broader perspective of the Long Island City Neighborhood in which these units reside, as well as of the LIC real estate market for apts and condos or the Long Island City real estate market in general.
Full Report Contains Slides & Info On Qualification & Application Process For Hunters Point South Affordable Housing Units In LIC & Evaluation Of Affordability Versus Income & Apt Rents In LIC
Click here to read the rest of our report, including a photo slide show of the presentation of Affordable Housing in Hunters Point South in LIC Queens. I left out most of the presentation that dealt with how to set up a Housing Connect Profile and how to fill out the online application as it seemed pretty straightforward and you can also call the NYC Housing Authority [aka NYCHA] if you need help.
Guiding LIC Neighborhood Evolution?
LIC Summit Conference Takes A Holistic View Of Community
June 17, 2014 / Long Island City Neighborhood / Queens Business / Queens Buzz. I attended the first annual LIC Summit which was held at the Museum of the Moving Image and organized by the LIC Partnership. The conference ran all day, with lectures and panel discussions about all things Long Island City.
The first half of the day included discussions about the film industry and the LIC commercial and industrial real estate market. And the second half of the day included panels on residential real estate, but also on the possibilities of evolving a technology sector in LIC and an end-of-day session dedicated to the ongoing evolution of arts and culture in the neighborhood.
I attended the afternoon sessions to listen to the panel discussions about developing a technology sector in Long Island City, and a panel discussion on how to continue nurturing arts & culture in the LIC neighborhood, as many rents and real estate prices have risen to Manhattan-comparable levels.
Click here to read our report on the LIC Summit & photos.
Astoria Cove Real Estate Development
East River Waterfront Transformation Moves North
Updated December 3, 2014. The Astoria Cove development passed the NY City Council.
August 18, 2014 / Queens & Astoria Real Estate / Astoria Neighborhood / Queens Buzz. Unbeknownst to at least a few of the folks who live in the far northwest corner of Astoria and Queens, big plans for changes have been taking shape over the past couple of years.
The Hallets Point development passed Community Board One in May of 2013 and the Astoria Cove development is making its way through the governmental gauntlet of real estate development approvals.
The plan calls for a large new complex along the East River which will occupy the location where the building in the photo now stands, along with several other blocks of territory which will become its footprint. The building shown above is about a block east of Build It Green.
Community Board One and the Queens Borough President had issues with the development, primarily calling for a buildout of public infrastructure to support the development as well as for the inclusion of a higher number of affordable housing units. The development will be built completely on privately purchased land, which is in contrast to the Hallets Point development which was done using NYCHA [NYC Housing Authority] property.
We'll have more about this at a later date. By Michael Wood.
New Bridge Over Troubled Water
Kociuszko Bridge Begins Transformation
August 11, 2014 / Sunnyside Neighborhood / Queens Business / Queens Buzz. I attended a town hall meeting at the Sunnyside Community Services Center in July where the Department of Transportation presented its plans for the erection of a new bridge over Newtown Creek, replacing the current Kosciuszko Bridge. The Kosciuszko Bridge is the main thoroughfare connecting Queens and Brooklyn.
We were told that this bridge represents the largest infrastructure investment by New York State ever. It's important to note that this statement was made based on total dollars, not the value of the dollars as measured in real terms [meaning a million dollars a century ago was worth far more than $1 million today].
The effort has already begun as the project has been awarded and the companies working on the effort have begun their preparatory work. Actual physical construction of the bridge will likely begin in Spring of 2015. The project will be done in phases. The first phase will be the erection of half of the new bridge alongside the current bridge. Once that is completed, they will tear down the Kociuszko Bridge and move traffic onto the new half bridge. Finally they will erect the second half of the bridge. The new bridge will include bike lanes and will have a far less steep rise than the old Kosciuszko Bridge. A rendering of the new bridge is shown above.
We'll post more, including a photo slide show later this week.
Steinway Mansion SOLD
May 5, 2014 / Astoria Real Estate / Steinway Mansion / Queens Buzz. On Friday May 3rd, 2014, the Steinway Mansion was sold for $2.65 million. The mansion went on the market in August of 2010 and was handled by a number of brokers - including Southebys International Realty, Halvatzis Realty Astoria and Prudential Douglas Elliman - before being turned over to Amorelli Realty of Astoria, which closed the deal.
At present, we understand that the land parcel remains intact, which last we heard was between one and two acres. This acreage is down from the 700 acres that Benjamin Pike, the original owner, purchased in the mid 1800's [circa 1858]; and the 70 acres owned in tandem with the mansion by the Steinways [circa 1870]. The most recent owners, the Halberians, held about a two acre lot in tandem with the mansion, which includes the grounds with which those who have visited the mansion in modern times are familiar.
The Steinway Mansion is currently zoned as residential and we were told that - as of this date - that nothing was underway to change that. Rumors have been circulating for months that the mansion would be turned into a restaurant, but we could not find anyone close to the owners who could confirm that.
Bob Singleton of the Greater Astoria Historical Society and Friends of the Steinway Mansion said that those two organizations continue to have an interest in helping preserve the Steinway Mansion an historic jewel for Astoria, Queens and NYC.
As we understand it, the Steinway Mansion is landmarked at federal, state and city levels, which means the outside of the structure may not be alterred nor may it be torn down. We were informed that Steinway Mansion LLC is a locally owned company, but the names of the owners have not yet been made public.
The realtors who closed the deal include Lauren Cornea, Christina Halvatzis and Paul Halvatzis - all of Amorelli Realty.
LIC Real Estate Breakfast
LIC Partnership Breakfast Projects Confident & Competitive Tone
April 23, 2014 / LIC Neighborhood / LIC Real Estate / Queens Buzz. I attended the LIC Partnership Real Estate Breakfast on Wednesday morning at the Con Edison Learning Center in LIC. The past couple of years the event had been held at Court Square Place on 44th Road in LIC, to a standing-room-only crowd. The event attendance continues to grow, and the move to the Con Ed Learning Center made seating possible for everyone in attendance.
The 8 am breakfast is followed by a moderated discussion panel of speakers representing a cross section of LIC real estate investors, real estate managers, retail or restaurant operators and a reporter who covers and is familiar with the LIC real estate market. The discussion provides a mix of perspectives and opinions about what’s happening in LIC.
A conglomeration of LIC real estate commercial, industrial and housing stock is shown in the photo to your right. Quite a number of aspects about it were discussed at the breakfast as recorded in this report.
This year the panel included … click here to read the rest of our report about LIC real estate, including photos of the LIC Partnership Real Estate Breakfast.
Steinway Mansion Under Contract To Private Buyer
Historic Mansion Was Built By Early NYC Technologist & Later Bought By Renaissance Man
Last Chance For Queens Officials To Act On Their Speeches About Historic Preservation, Nurturing Culture & Tourism
March 12, 2014 / Astoria Neighborhood / Real Estate In Queens / News & Opinion. Queens Buzz. Well, the saga is almost over. NYC and Queens government officials are about to let slip into private hands, the greatest historical relic of the 1800's in Queens. And what could have been - and could still be - one of the greatest historic sites / historic tourist attractions of Queens. The Steinway Mansion is under contract to be purchased by a private buyer.
It's not that Queens and NYC government officials haven't had a chance to save it. The historic mansion, which was landmarked for its historic signficance decades ago [landmarking prevents changes to outside of the structure], came on the market in August of 2010. The asking prices has been between $2 and $4 million, which given that far smaller homes with no significance are already selling for over $1 million in the Astoria neighborhood, it seemed like a reasonable asking price.
Click here to read the rest of our report about the Steinway Mansion Under Contract. The story includes photos and links to other stories we've done over the years about the Steinway Mansion and it's inhabitants and their endeavors. The story also includes the business case for taking the Steinway Mansion public and transforming it into a museum / cultural destination for all of Queens, NYC & the world.
Jamaica Real Estate - The Art Of Selling
Jamaica Center BID & The Greater Jamaica Development Corporation Talk About The Re-Emergence Of A Vibrant Commercial Center
Updated May 3, 2014 / December 3, 2013 / Jamaica NY Real Estate / Jamaica NY / Queens Buzz. Earlier this month I attended an event hosted by the Jamaica Center BID to talk about real estate and commercial opportunities in the Jamaica neighborhood of Queens.
Jamaica is one of the largest and most vibrant commercial areas in Queens, and the event was designed to talk about Jamaica in that light.
I arrived a bit early and met with Felicia Tunnah, the new Executive Director of the Jamaica Center BID [Business Improvement District]. It seems the weather, traffic congestion and the subways had conspired to delay speakers, attendees and possibly the event, but it wasn't too long of a wait before the meeting began.
The delay gave all of us a bit of time to enjoy the food and beverages being served by local restaurants and a caterer. City Ribs, a small chain started by a locally raised entrepreneur served ... well ... ribs. Sangria Catering served a fresh salad and chicken dish and Applebee's served dessert.
Queens Economy On The Mend
Overall Employment Up, Unemployment Down & ... more
December 16, 2013 / Long Island City LIC / Queens Business / Queens Buzz. On Friday I attended the presentation of an Economic Snapshot of Queens by State Comptroller Thomas DiNapoli at Silver Cup Studios in Long Island City.
There was a large contingent of Queens government officials in attendance of the presentation - ranging in office from Borough President-elect, to City Councilmembers, to State Assemblypersons, to State Senators [see photo].
The news was good of course, as the Queens economy is on the mend. Unemployment is down, in spite of a growing labor force. And total jobs in Queens are estimated to be up 12,000 to about 882,000; while the private sector employment in Queens represents over a half million of that number. The event was sponsored by the Queens Economic Development Corporation.
We'll post more about the changes in the Queens economy later this week / month - including some contrarian points of view we picked up on the street. In the meantime you can click into a report we did about the different categories of Queens employment we did in March 2011, or into an update of Queens unemployment picture which we did in December 2012. And just last week we posted an update on Queens current unemployment statistics versus NYC and prior year. Enjoy.
Queens Adds 12,000 New Jobs in 2013 vs Prior Year
Unemployment Down & Labor Force Size Up
December 8, 2013 / Queens Business / Queens Buzz. Queens County continues to beat NYC handily with respect to having a lower unemployment rate. Queens had an unemployment rate of 8.0% in October 2013 versus an unemployment rate of 8.7% in NYC as a whole. Both of these numbers are improved versus 2012 when the NYC rate was 9.0% and the Queens County unemployment rate was 8.1%.
You can see in the chart to your right that the unemployment rates for both NYC [broken lines] and Queens [solid lines] in 2013 are lower than in 2012.
While the unemployment rates remain high relative to historic norms, part of the reason is that the labor force is growing again as people enter or re-enter the workforce in search of jobs in an improving economy. In NYC as a whole, employment has grown by nearly 65,000 positions versus October of 2012, and now stands at 3.7 million jobs. Queens employment is up about 12,000 new jobs and now stands at approximately 882,000 positions. Queens makes up about a quarter of the workforce of NYC.
Queens Buzz - Business Section Directory
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How The Other Half Lives
September 23, 2013 / Long Island City Neighborhood / Queens Real Estate / Queens Buzz. I attended a reception hosted by TF Cornerstone in late September to celebrate the official opening of their fifth property. The building had been completed earlier this year and the first tenants had moved in sometime in May. I understand they've rented about 70% of the units, so they've been moving briskly.
I visited a couple of the units for rent, including a studio that started at about $2,300 per month and a two bedroom corner that likely rented for something like $5,000 per month [give or take several hundred]. To those of us who live in Queens, these are expensive units, but to those who live in Manhattan - given the views and amenities - these are good value. Like the headline says : )
We'll have more in late September / early October, including a photo slide show, of some of the new properties currently lining the LIC waterfront.
NYC Mayoral Candidates Forum
Bloomberg Presides Over Record Homeless In NYC Shelters While NYC Developers Building Luxury Apartments
April 15, 2013 / Queens Government / Queens Buzz. I attended a Mayoral Forum last week at NYU in Manhattan where the six Mayoral candidates answered questions posed by Brian Lehrer of WNYC. The event was hosted by the Furman Center for Real Estate and Urban Policy and the topic for discussion was real estate development, housing and urban policy.
One of the things I learned was that NYC has record numbers living in its homeless shelters and that over 20,000 school age children are now living in homeless shelters. This topic came up time and again and all of the candidates said that the current administration was clearly not doing enough to address the problem.
The candidates also talked about all of the new development projects going on in NYC. Many of the candidates said the Administration was not negotiating hard enough to obtain more concessions / better deals from NYC developers who have profited greatly by virtue of help and incentives given by the city.
We'll have more on this debate at a later date.
Legislative Agendas For Western Queens
March 9, 2013 / Long Island City / Queens Business / Queens Buzz. I attended a Legislative breakfast hosted by the Long Island City Partnership on Friday. NYS Senator Michael Gianaris and NYC Councilmember Jimmy Van Bramer were on hand to talk about what is going on legislatively in Albany and downtown at city hall.
EDUCATION & QUEENS SCHOOLS. Education and school closings were discussed with both government officials opposing the approach being taken by the Mayor to close Queens high schools. It was noted that Senator Gianaris graduated from LIC H.S. and then went onto graduate from Harvard, that Assemblywoman Nolan graduated from Ridgewood H.S. and went onto graduate from NYU and that NYC Councilmember Van Bramer graduated from Bryant H.S. and went onto graduate from St. John's College. All three of these high schools were on the chopping block in Spring of 2012 [click here for our Spring 2012 report on Queens high school closings].
School construction was also discussed. Currently the facilities at many Queens schools are at, near or even over capacity. Hence school construction is something these government officials believe is important going forward, given the growth of the borough.
HIGH TECH JOBS / TAX BREAKS. They talked about the pending development of a high tech college campus on Roosevelt Island in the coming decade. They saw this as a potential source of good jobs in the area, given Queens proximity to the campus and talked about the possibility of using tax breaks to incent start ups to stay in NYC. They cited the TV Film Industry Tax breaks given several years ago as being good for the TV film industry in Queens.
POWER INDUSTRY IN QUEENS. They also talked about the power industry in Queens. Queens is the source of 60% of all of NYC's power generation. The old Poletti Power Plant is in the process of being de-constructed, and the newer power plants have been able to continue to provide power without disruption.
PARKING IN LIC. Lastly, but not least, Michele Beaudoin of BRG Realty in LIC inquired about future plans for managing the parking situation in LIC. Unbeknownst to most folks, LIC remain the only neighborhood that does not have alternative side parking regulations, which are used to eliminate 'car storage' on city streets, while simultaneously enabling street cleaning. LIC is also the only neighborhood in NYC that does not receive street cleaning services.
We were told that the Department of Transporation is not interested in building any new city parking lots. And that the LIC community is deeply divided on this issue, but that something must be done, as the parking congestion in LIC continues to grow.
Click here to read other brief reports containing Queens Business News.
LIC Real Estate: New Face of a Changing Borough
Real Estate Development Continues, Spreading North & East
October 1, 2013 / Long Island City Neighborhood / LIC Real Estate / Queens Real Estate / Queens Buzz. I, like many in the borough, have been watching in near amazement at the rapid pace of real estate development in Long Island City. On September 18th of 2013, I attended the Grand Opening of 4545 Center Blvd, the fifth of the six TF Cornerstone buildings to go up along the Long Island City waterfront.
As you will see from the photos in the slide show at the end of the story, the apartments are beautiful. The new high rise is an airy, modern building with amenities, and apartments that have breathtaking views of the Manhattan skyline and the Queensboro Bridge. I saw a studio and corner two-bedroom apartment, which rent for about $2,300 and $5,500 per month respectively – so it’s not only the views that are breathtaking, but the rents as well. Five of the six TF Cornerstone buildings along Center Blvd in LIC are rentals, and only the condominiums in The View [the only building TF Cornerstone named] were for sale.
Click here for a story about LIC real estate including a bit of the history of TF Cornerstone, Rockrose Real Estate and real estate development in the LIC neighborhood of Queens.
LIC Partnership Networking Event
Changing of the Guard, New Store Coming To Queens Plaza, New Restaurants in Dutch Kills, Jason Sheftell's Death & more at the Foundry in LIC
August / June 2013 / Long Island City / Queens Business / Queens Buzz. On August 14th, the LIC Partnership held a farewell and thank you party for Gayle Baron, Executive Director of the LIC Partnership.
Unfortunately I didn't make that event, but on June 20th I attended a Spring Gathering hosted by the LIC Partnership at the Foundry on 13th Street in Long Island City where I learned that Dan Miner was about to leave the LIC Partnership.
This report is primarily about the Spring Networking event at the Foundry. Shown in the photo to your right are Gayle Baron, Gary Kesner and Dan Miner at the LIC Partnership Networking event at the Foundry in LIC.
Dan Miner Departs For Manhattan Position
The weather was perfect as I made my way to the Foundry in LIC. The sun had headed west and down behind the Queensboro Bridge and NYC skyline. I entered the Foundry some time after the networking party was in full motion and began to mingle. One of the first things I learned was that Dan Miner, the Sr. VP of the LIC Partnership, was moving onto greener pastures in Manhattan. Dan will become the District Manager of Community Board 6 in that borough.
Click here to read more about the changing of the guard at the LIC Partnership and general news bits from the Long Island City neighborhood.
LIC Real Estate Market Update
LICP Real Estate Forum Projects Confident Tone
May 14, 2013 / LIC Neighborhood / LIC Real Estate / Queens Buzz. The LIC Partnership hosts an annual real estate forum that has sold out for the past several years. Each year they invite a cross section of speakers to opine on different facets of buying, selling and renting real estate in Long Island City.
I've attended the forum the past four years and find the forum to be an informative update of what's doing in the LIC real estate market. This year the speakers talked about the LIC market as one that has not only arrived, but of a real estate market that will stay.
You'll be able to click here later this week for a full report of the LIC Partnership Real Estate Forum. In the photo above are the guest speakers seated at the table with LICP Chairman, Gary Kesner and LIC President, Gayle Baron with their backs to the camera.
CB Votes Split On USTA Expansion Plan
March 14, 2013 / Flushing Corona / Issues Facing Queens / Queens Buzz. The USTA has asked the city of New York to give it .68 of an acre of Flushing Meadows Corona Park so that it can proceed with an expansion plan. The expansion plan is estimated to increase the sports complex capacity for the U.S. Open by about a third, while increasing the USTA footprint in the park by .68 of an acre. The USTA informed the audience attending the Community Board 3 meeting that this will result in more jobs in Queens. They also talked about the positive estimated annual $784 million economic impact that the USTA has had on NYC - according to a study done by a private consulting firm named AKRF, Inc.
The detractors informed the audience that this is the first step in a much larger effort toward a massive privatization of Flushing Meadows Corona Park by several large, well-funded corporate interests. The opponents talked about three other proposals which were not a part of the USTA plan. These other proposals to develop private interests on public parkland include the development of a shopping mall by a private investment group in tandem with the owners of CitiField; 2) a condominium / hotel complex done by another group of private investors; and 3) a 13 acre soccer stadium by Major League Soccer, which is also a privately held corporation.
Community Board Tally & Boro Prez Candidates Positions
In the end Community Board 3 voted against the expansion plan, citing among other things, promises not kept when the USTA asked to expand its footpint in 1993. All six Community Boards have now voted on the USTA Expansion proposal, with three voting for it and three voting against it. We'll post a far more complete report on this Community Board Meeting at a later date.
While I was attending the Community Board 3 Meeting in Corona, all six Queens Borough Presidential candidates were attending a forum about the issues facing Queens at the Greater Astoria Historical Society in Astoria. The issue of turning over public parkland to private interests came up during the forum. To date only City Councilmember Tony Avella has come out against giving up public parkland to private interests. NY Senator Jose Peralta is the only other candidate to take a stance on the issue, but only on one of the proposed developments, namely the erection of the MLS Soccer Stadium on 13 acres of FMC Parkland [which he conditionally supports if MLS fulfills all of their promises]. All four other candidates have taken a wait-and-see stance on the issue.
Click here to read our past reports related to the proposed development plans for Flushing Meadows Corona Park. The first report provides an early history of Flushing Meadows Corona Park I and the second report provided an intermediate history of Flushing Meadows Corona Park II which included a number of relevant historic lessons related to sports complex developments in FMCP as well as NYC. Click here to view the featured Jackson Heights real estate listings on the website of Beaudoin Realty.
City Withdraws Plans To Use Eminent Domain
May 11, 2012 / Flushing / Queens Buzz. The Bloomberg Administration withdrew its threat to use eminent domain to condem the properties of the remaining Willets Point property-owners who did not want to sell their land. This statement was issued just prior to the beginning of court proceedings by the remaining holdouts, contesting the city's use of eminent domain.
The city had planned to remove the final holdouts and clear the way for a large new development that would include residential, commercial and office space, and parking. The city now owns 90% of the land in Willets Point, having bought out most of the prior owners.
Click here for a prior report about the Willets Point development in Flushing.
Roosevelt Island To Become Techno Queens
Borough of the Arts, will one day become The Borough of Applied Sciences
March 7, 2012 / Long Island City / Queens Real Estate / Queens Buzz. I just returned from a breakfast where the NYC Deputy Mayor of Economic Development presented the NYC plan to develop an eleven acre campus on the southern end of Roosevelt Island, into an applied sciences academic institution.
Development of the new facility will take place over the course of the next thirty years, but the first classroom will open [somewhere in a leased facility] in the fall of 2012. When the applied sciences campus is done, the facility is expected to include about 2 million square feet of new construction and a half million feet of open space. Over the course of the next few decades, the institution is expected to become the academic home to 280 faculty members, a student body of 2,500, and to provide ongoing employment for about 8,000 people.
Click here to read the rest of our report on the presentation given by Robert K. Steel at the LIC Partnership breakfast about the new applied sciences development on Roosevelt Island.
NYC Municipal Elections 2013
NYC Mayor, Queens Borough President & Six Ballot Proposals
November 5, 2013 / Flushing Neighborhood / Queens Government / Queens Buzz. On Tuesday voters get to decide who will run the city for the next four years. You get to weigh in on who will be the next NYC Mayor, Queens Borough President, City Comptroller, Public Advocate and City Councilmembers.
There are also six NY State Ballot proposals some of which are changes to the Constitution: 1) whether to authorize casino gambling in NYS, 2) a credit for qualified veterans with disabilities in the civil service, 3) exclusion of sewage treatment facility investments from county and municipal constitutional debt limits, 4) proposal to have NYS give up land rights in the Adirondacks to private enterprise in an exchange deal, 5) proposal to allow a private company to conduct mining operations on forest preserve land in a trade deal and 6) extending the length of time judges may serve past the age of 70.
Click here for our coverage of the NYC Municipal Elecitons, including details of the controversial Queens Borough President debate between Melinda Katz and Tony Arcabascio at QPTV in Flushing in October. Story & photos by Michael Wood.
Queens County Employment Bests NYC
Queens is one of NYC’s Top Employment Performers
December 19, 2012 / Queens Neighborhoods / Employment in Queens / Queens Buzz. Tis the season to be jolly and reflect on what’s happened economically over the past year while contemplating and planning for what lies ahead. To that end we did a bit of research into Queens current economic trends, specifically in the employment area.
Queens Employment & Economy is Diversified
Queens has a relatively diversified employment base. Queens County industries include: 1) transportation facilities such as JFK and LaGuardia Airports, Long Island Railroad stations, a network of MTA subways and buses, and a network of federal, state and local roadways,
Click here to read our report on employment, unemployment & industry in Queens.
Queens Chamber Building Awards 2013
Chamber of Commerce Recognizes Queens Builders
January 23, 2013 / Jackson Heights / Queens Business / Queens Buzz. On Thursday January 17th, the Queens Chamber of Commerce presented awards in twenty separate categories honoring builders in the borough of Queens. The Queens Chamber Building Awards Reception began in 2007.
The awards were broken into three major categories: 1) Rehabs, 2) Interiors and 3) New Construction. And, except for Interiors, each of these categories included a number of subcategories. In the photo to your right you can see QC Building Awards attendees looking over some of the awards given at the event.
The Queens Chamber Building Awards Reception was held at the Marriott LaGuardia in East Elmhurst, just north of Jackson Heights.
Queens Bronx Builders Association
Building Businesses Slowly Improving - Builders Cautiously Optimistic
October 25, 2012 / Jackson Heights / Queens Business / Queens Buzz. I attended the Queens Bronx Builders Association Trade Show at the LaGuardia Marriott this evening. The show included between two and three dozen exhibitors showing just about everything and anything you might need to build a building. I went to get some sense of the mood of the building trades, given the economy has been the focus of many folks’ attention since the financial debacle of 2008.
The sense I got from most was that, while things are not great like they had been before the bust, they had ‘hit bottom’, and things appeared to be steadily improving. Most of the folks I spoke to were cautiously optimistic, saying they had some really good days but they also had some really slow days. A few of the people I spoke to were downright bullish. Only two people told me that things were still very rough out there.
As you know, this is not a scientific survey, but the joking around left me with the sense that what I had been told was somewhere in the reality ballpark.
Click here to read a report about the Queens Bronx Building Association Trade Show in Queens.
Crystal Window & Door Systems
An American Asian Tiger In Flushing
March 21, 2011 / Flushing Neighborhood / Queens Buzz. I had occasion to tour the plant of Crystal Windows, one of Queens most successful manufacturing operations. Crystal Windows is a manufacturer of windows and door systems used in homes, apartment buildings and business buildings.
Their plant is located in Flushing just off the Whitestone Expressway and it encompasses 225,000 square feet, covering the better part of a very large city block. The plant production facility begins with receiving at the south end of the plant and ends in shipping at the north end of the plant.
Click here to view our report on a successful manufacturer of windows and doors in Queens NY, including a photo slide show of the plant in operation.
Queens Business Meetings
Queens NY / March 14, 2013. This section contains business meetings, business events, business seminars and Queens for the Astoria, Jackson Heights, Elmhurst, Long Island City, LIC, Sunnyside, Woodside, Jamaica, Forest Hills, Flushing, Corona neighborhoods in Queens NY for the month of March of 2013.
Click here to view the Queens Business Events Calendar for the month of March 2013.
Solar Panels & Energy In Queens
LICBDC Seminar - Solar Energy Tax Incentives 2011
March 20, 2011 / Long Island City / Queens Buzz. I just returned from a seminar detailing government incentives for installing solar on residential and commercial buildings in 2011. Based on what was presented in the seminar, anyone contemplating this sort of investment, might want to think about doing it in 2011.
The federal, state and city government are all offering tax incentives which add up to significant savings and shorten the payback period over which a building owner could recoup their investment in a solar energy system. Solar is a hedge against increases in oil prices, and demand for such systems is likely to grow. Given the tax incentives it’s possible, that as we approach the end of the year, companies selling solar energy systems might become quite busy. The photo to your left shows a roof top solar energy system.
Click here to read our report about the tax incentives for solar energy in Queens NY in 2011.
Chhaya Hits A Home Run
4th Annual Home Buyer Fair in Jackson Heights
January 28, 2013 / Jackson Heights / Queens Business / Queens Buzz. The more I get to know about Queens, and the more familiar I become with the many immigrant communities to which Queens is called home, the more impressed I become with the intelligence of the American system and the immigrants who fuel the American dream.
One of the American dreams is to own your own home. To that effect Chhaya [pronounced chi - ya], a non-profit organization in Jackson Heights, helped facilitate that effort at its fourth annual Home Buyer Fair on Saturday. Attendance of the Home Buyer Fair was at an all time high of several hundred, up from about 30 attendees at the first one, just four years ago.
The Home Buyer Fair featured a number of brand name lenders in the morning, and a whole host of non-profit / community minded organizations in the afternoon. The fair was open to everyone [we posted it in our Queens Events calendar in the business section], and provided attendees with a whole host of avenues for purchasing a home. Click here later today to read the rest of our report about the Chhaya Home Buyer Fair.
Offer Made For Steinway & Sons Piano
Kohlberg & Co Bids For Steinway Musical Instruments
July 23, 2013 / Astoria Neighborhood / Queens Business / News & Opinion / Queens Buzz. Kohlberg & Company offerred $438 million for the Steinway Musical Instruments Company, owner of Steinway & Sons Piano in Astoria. The 160 year old company, Steinway & Sons Piano, was founded in Manhattan in 1853.
Kohlberg & Co Offer
The Steinway & Piano Company has changed hands a couple of times over the past 160 years, once being acquired by CBS Television, and later being acquired by Selmer Musical Instruments.
Click here to read more about the Kohlberg & Company Offer to buy Steinway Musical Instruments in Queens.
Fresh Pasta Made Daily In Queens NY
Cassinelli Food Products Company
Astoria & Queens used to be heavily populated with Italian immigrants, particularly in the first half of the 20th century. They brought with them their knowledge and skills about food and wine, the products of which became, in time, a part of the American culture.
This is a report about the Cassinelli Food Products company. It's one of the last old world Italian pasta making companies in Queens. The Cassinelli pasta company makes fresh pasta in the Astoria neighborhood of Queens daily.
Click here to read the full report about fresh pasta in Astoria Queens NYC.
A Titan In Our Midst
Titan & Optima Foods - Greek Food In Astoria Queens
Astoria / Queens Buzz. Astoria has long been known as the Greek section of Queens and NYC. And for nearly 30 years Titan Foods has been serving the Greek section of Queens and NYC with imported Greek food. In 1991 Optima Foods, which is owned by the same folks as Titan, began operating as a mid sized importer and since that time has grown to become one of the leading distributors of Greek food along the eastern seaboard of the United States.
Click this link to read the full story about Titan Foods - Greek food stores in Astoria Queens.
MTA Rush Hour Power Outage
#7 Subway Line Down For Hours
December 10, 2013 / Queens Neighborhoods / Queens Buzz. What's wrong with this picture? There aren't any subways running on these tracks during rush hour on Tuesday evening.
The #7 subway is the busiest single subway in NYC and it's the second busiest subway line, after the 4, 5, 6 line that runs north and south along the east side of Manhattan.
According to an attendant there was a power outage along the entire line beginning around 5 pm Tuesday, which was partially repaired within several hours. The trains were running limited service by about 9 pm Tuesday due to ongoing signal problems at a few stations. As of Wednesday at 10 am the MTA continues to report signal problems on the #7 line, so for the time being expect delays.
Ironically this outage comes only weeks after the MTA spent two months of weekends [October / November] doing upgrades / maintenance work on the #7 subway line. It's also worth mentioning that the #7 subway line was one of the last of the major lines to go back into operation following Hurricane Sandy in 2012. The reason for the delay in resumption of service in 2012 was that they couldn't turn on the power because of flooding in the tunnels.
I wonder if any of these issues / activities are related, and what the MTA is doing to address them?
Ridership on the #7 subway line is expected to continue growing because of the significant amount of real estate development going on in the Long Island City and Flushing neighborhoods of Queens. Lagging infrastructure development could hamper growth. Queens Borough President-elect Melinda Katz stated that this would be one of her top priorities upon assuming the office. It seems this might be a good place to start.
Jet Blue Operations in Queens
Behind The Scenes At Jet Blue LIC
May 19, 2012 / Long Island City / Queens Business / Queens Buzz. I decided to take a look behind the airline ticket counter to see what goes on behind the scenes of a scrappy competitive airline upstart. That description best describes the Queens hometown airline - Jet Blue - which recently relocated within the borough, moving from Forest Hills [and Darien, CT] to the Met Life Building off Queens Plaza in Long Island City.
Jet Blue officially opened its Long Island City location on April 3rd, 2012. They had been moving folks into the building in waves, after about a year of preparations. The first wave came on March 9th, and the last wave came on April 4th, 2012. There are currently about 1,000 Jet Blue employees working out of the Long Island City facility.
In this report I focused on their operations center which handles many of the behind-the-scenes logistics. This report will give you a close up look at what goes on behind the scenes every day at Jet Blue as it prepares, schedules, executes and monitors an airline that has a fleet of between 150 - 200 planes, about 2,000 pilots, about 3,000 flight attendants, and an LIC operations crew of about 250 that runs 24/7 every day of the year. The Jet Blue Operations Center is shown looking through an aquarium, in the photo above.
Click here to read our report about Jet Blue in Long Island City LIC Queens.
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