Business & Real Estate In
Sunnyside & Woodside
Sunnyside & Woodside NY is on the western end of Queens just east of LIC and is commutable via the # 7 subway line as well as by the LIRR at 61st Street. It is also centrally located for road access to the BQE, LIE and Grand Central Parkway. This section of Queens has a population of about 26,000 and 90,000 respectively and is one of the most mixed neighborhoods in the city. The demographic composition includes European, Middle Eastern, Latin American and Asian descendants.
Sunnyside Gardens were developed back in the 1920's under a program that was guided in part by Eleanor Roosevelt prior to her becoming Roosevelt's wife. The Gardens were designated a historic district in 2007 and are known for the English-style landscaping. The Sunnyside neighborhood has restaurant and shopping areas that run along Queens and Northern Blvds, as well as Skillman, Greenpoint and Roosevelt Avenues.
Click to view the Sunnyside & Woodside neighborhoods
Dining, Culture & Fun
Real Estate & Business
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.
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.
Sunnyside & Woodside Zoning Plan
Proposal Moving Through The Process – Timetable Set
April 13, 2011 / Sunnyside & Woodside / Sunnyside Real Estate / Queens Buzz. Queens Borough president Helen Marshall highlighted the effort to re-zone Sunnyside and Woodside in her State of the Borough Address this winter. Following the release of the proposed zoning changes on February 28th, I spent time studying the proposal to re-zone the Sunnyside and Woodside neighborhoods and followed up with a representative of the NYC Department of City Planning to be sure I properly understood the proposed changes. It's worth mentioning that the rezoning changes were recently approved by Community Board 2, about two weeks ahead of deadline.
The thrust of the Sunnyside Woodside rezoning effort appears to be to standardize construction regulations within these neighborhoods in order to prevent out-of-character development, reduce commercial overlays, enhance street life through the allowance of sidewalk cafes and to set height limits on new buildings which is not specified in the existing zoning. Current Sunnyside and Woodside zoning only specifies how much you can build by way of limiting the Floor Area Ratio [FAR] – and doesn’t set limits on specific building dimensions, most notably building height.
Click here to view the timetable of the Sunnyside & Woodside zoning proposal and to read the rest of our report, which includes a brief zoning history, and a summary of existing and proposed zoning changes including diagrams and photos.
Queens Real Estate
Market Analysis Of Real Estate In Queens
Queens NY / December 7, 2009. This is a report on the Queens real estate market. The report covers the latter half of 2009. This analysis includes looking at apartment rental prices, as well as condo, co-op and home prices and availability. This Queens real estate market analysis focuses on the Astoria, LIC / Long Island City, Jackson Heights, Sunnyside and Woodside neighborhoods. While we found these neighborhoods mirrored or trailed many of the national trends, we found some interesting differences, including differences from neighborhood to neighborhood. Click here for our second half 2009 market analysis of Queens Real Estate.
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.
St Patricks Day Parade
St Pat's For All Parade in Sunnyside Enters a New Era
I attended the St Pat's For All Parade in Sunnyside on Sunday. I came very, very late for the speeches, but one of the announcements made was that the Mayor will be marching in the annual St. Patrick's Day Parade in Manhattan on March 17th as the dispute regarding LGBT marchers has ended. The Sunnyside / Woodside St. Pat's For All Parade began in protest to the ban of LGBT Irish to fully participate [free expression / come out] in the parade.
Conservative Catholics, including the Conservative Irish, believe it's against the Christian Church teachings to permit / tolerate LGBT behavior, based on interpretations of Biblical teachings. The Bible is a collection of religious writings created about 2,000 years ago, the first half of which includes stories handed down through oral traditions dating back centuries prior to the time of Christ - if not longer. Hence the Irish in charge of the St. Pat's Parade in Manhattan embraced the Conservative Catholic point of view, and up until this year, banned LGBT people from full participation in the parade.
In 2015 Manhattan St Pat's Day Parade sponsors, including Guinness which is a not only an Irish beer-like drink, but also a defacto Irish institution - pulled out of the parade in protest of the LGBT ban. Just one year earlier, in 2014, Mayor de Blasio declined an invitation to march in the parade because of the LGBT ban. In 2013, in spite of the LGBT ban, Mayor Bloomberg continued the mayoral practice of marching in the Manhattan St Patrick's Day Parade.
Pope Francis, the Catholic Pope since March 2013, has taken a less dogmatic and less conservative approach to the issue of LGBT sexuality than his predecessors. Instead of embracing intolerance and exclusion, he has cited other Christian Church teachings which advocate love and respect for your fellow human beings, and hence has ushered in a more tolerant - if not accepting - position by the Catholic Church. On the Manhattan St Patricks Day Parade website we found the following statement,
"When asked about his stand on gay priests, Pope Francis did not stray from the Church’s doctrine, but told reporters,
“If someone is gay and he searches for the Lord and has good will, who am I to judge?” "
We researched the LGBT topic back in 2010 and posted this report regarding the science and history of gay rights in NYC.
Hence the Sunnyside / Woodside St Pat's For All Parade enters a new era, as it's no longer a protest parade per se, but rather a Queens St Pat's Parade embracing the American philosophy of inclusion, respecting all people, as stated in the American Pledge of Allegiance which states,
“I pledge allegiance to the Flag of the United States of America, and to the Republic for which it stands, one Nation under God, indivisible, with liberty and justice for all.”
We may not all be Irish, but we are all Americans.
So this year I video recorded the parade, with a focus on the musical, dance & cultural performances by the groups participating in the parade. The recording includes a number of bagpipers, the names of which I didn't catch because they don't really market their names, the Brian Fleming Band playing fiddling Irish music, the McManus Irish Dance Company practicing a little marching number while they were waiting, but it's best done while marching which you'll see after the parade resumed moving, the Rude Mechanical Orchestra playing a jazzy tune and PS123 Sapphire Dance Line & the Marching Cobras from Harlem doing a great dance and music routine.
I cannot think of a better place for an Irish-hosted, multi-cultural parade than Queens, which may be what the St Pat's For All begins to evolve into, having successfully protested the former, excusionary practices of the St Patrick's Day Parade in Manhattan.
Click here to watch the St Pat's For All Parade 2016 Sunnyside Queens video. Happy St Patrick's month.
The photo above shows the speakers on the podium [front row left to right] which include Public Advocate Letitia James, NYS Comptroller Thomas DiNapoli, CCM Daniel Dromm, NYC Council Speaker Melissa Mark-Viverito, Brendan Faye, a parade co-Founder [back turned to us], and to the far right Kathleen Walsh D'Arcy also one of the parade co-Founders of the event. Behind them you can find [but you have to look hard / left to right] NYC Comptroller Scott Stringer, CCM Jimmy Van Bramer, Congressman Crowley and NYC Mayor de Blasio.
Whistle Stop Tour: Asian, European, Latin & American Cuisines
Taste of Sunnyside: An Enticing Blend of Modern & Exotic Culinary Delights & Beverages
Late yesterday afternoon I joined writers from - the Queens Chronicle, the Sunnyside Post and Queens Eats - to sample some of the exotic cuisines and familiar foods that lie ahead …
On what might be called a whistle stop tour that we took through a few of the participating restaurants and beverage providers, who will be serving attendees at the Taste of Sunnyside 2017 next Tuesday, May 23rd.
As we all know, Sunnyside has been changing at a fairly rapid rate, and the neighborhood restaurants now represent of an even more eclectic mix of modern and ethnic cuisines, that is serving a steadily changing residential population as well. In the photo at right is a platter of lamb, beef and chicken kebobs served by Mangal Kebab on Queens Blvd near 47th Street.
Our Taste of Sunnyside Preview Includes Asian, Latin & American Fare
The Sunnyside Shines Business Improvement District [aka BID] is hosting its 8th annual Taste of Sunnyside to give longstanding and new residents an opportunity to sample the fare of some twenty of the new and well established restaurants participating in it, for the price of what it would cost to sample just one [$40 general admission & $70 for VIP]. The event also features seven beverage purveyors including some of the local micro-breweries, a vintner, a cider maker and the historic Lowerys Wine & Liquor store. And there will be live entertainment as well.
So All Aboard, as I take you along on an abbreviated preview tour to give you a sampling of some of what you might expect to encounter - should you climb aboard the culinary choo choo train next week. Sunnyside Shines BID Director, Jaime-Faye Bean was our hospitable hostess and conductor. In the photo at right is Luis Munoz serving a platter of fresh esquites at Arriba Arriba on Queens Blvd near 40th Street.
Our first stop was Old Mexico, the land of the Aztecs & Mayans, at the Arriba Arriba restaurant on Queens Blvd near the 40th Street / Lowerys subway stop. Click here for a sample preview of some of the tastes that will be served at Taste of Sunnyside 2017.
Taste of Woodside: Grammy Nominated Mariachi Music & A First Class Repast
Latin Grammy Nominated Mariachi Band Serenades Local Woodside Restaurant Feast
On Thursday I made my way to cover the Taste of Woodside at Gulshan Terrace at 59-15 37th Avenue in Woodside. It was a dry, pleasant November evening as I arrived along with a host of other attendees.
Inside the Gulshan Terrace event hall there was a bar off to the left and the ticket table off to the right. Straight ahead was a large open space that was populated with tables and chairs and an elevated stage. And off to both the left and right were the serving tables of the restaurateurs. I felt like I had arrived at the wedding reception of a young couple … but I had not.
Instead I was greeted by a young-at-heart couple of Woodside on the Move Board Members. Jim Daley wasted no time in making me feel quite welcome and Joanne Smith made me feel right at home … like I was one of the family. Before they had become too dispersed, I was able to gather the full Woodside on the Move Board for a photo, which is included at the end of the report next to the thanks and appreciation section.
This was the fourth annual Taste of Woodside, and tonight I would have the opportunity to sample the food of fifteen restaurants from Woodside. But alas, I was not able to sample all of them in the allotted time.
What follows here is a brief sampling of the foods I was able to sample at the Taste of Woodside. I have included a few photos of the fifteen Woodside restaurants at the Taste of Woodside and a video of the music performed by an all female Mariachi band.
De Blasio's State of the City Address 2016
Moving NYC from 'Tale of Two Cities' to 'One New York'?
I attended Mayor de Blasio’s second State of the City Address delivered at the Performing Arts Center at Lehman College in the Kingsbridge Heights neighborhood of the Bronx. In spite of its northern, non-central location, the speech was well attended. About three dozen protesters also made their way north of Manhattan into the Central west Bronx, wielding placards asking the Mayor to stop gentrification and something about fair labor practices.
I took my place among the press corps where we were seated right in the middle of the auditorium. After settling in, I started photographing the slides whizzing by on the main stage, showing the accomplishments of the de Blasio Administation during its first two years. I have included a slide show a bit later in this report, which contains some of the slides that I photographed.
Unlike last year, when the Mayor and the Police Commissioner were having difficulties adjusting to each other, this year the mood seemed buoyant. In front of me was a group of students from the Laboratory School of Finance & Technology - MS 223 - at 360 East 145th Street in the Mott Haven neighborhood in the Bronx. The school is connected with Bronx Prep and hence handles grades 6 through 12.
Click here to read our report of Mayor de Blasio's State of the City Address 2016. The report includes video excerpts of the Mayor's speech, as well as two other short video pieces including the harmony singing of the National Anthem by a talented Bronx choral group, and the teachers and students of MS 223.
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.
|NYC Congestion Pricing - Move NY Congestion Pricing Plan|
Which Queens 'Democratic' Pols Support $8 Tolls?
Several Queens Officials Support $8 Tolls on Queensborough & Other East River Bridges & at 60th Street to Raise Capital for the MTA
Queens Democratic Party Chairman Joe Crowley & NYS Governor Cuomo Supported Congestion Traffic Pricing in the Past
The new Congestion Traffic Pricing Plan has been making its way into the legislative process over the past year. Just last week NYS Assemblyman Robert Rodriguez, a Democrat from Manhattan introduced the bill on March 23, 2016. The Move NY Congestion Traffic Pricing Plan is being sold into the legislature as a means to raise revenue to fund MTA Capital projects.
Currently NYS Senator Jose Peralta, Cuomo's Deputy of Legislative Affairs Mark Weprin & CCM's Van Bramer, Richards & Reynoso publicly support installing $8 tolls on the Queensborough & other East River bridges to raise capital for the MTA.
Governor Cuomo's Words Are ...
Governor Andrew Cuomo supported the Congestion Pricing Plan put forth years ago, which wasn't popular with many of the voters in Brooklyn & Queens. The two boroughs have a combined population which rounds to 5 million or 25% of the 20 million people who live in New York State.
Cuomo was quoted as making the following statement by the Observer in an article published a year ago on March 15, 2015,
“It’s not, ‘Can I support it?’ Will the people support it? Can you get it done? Can you get a congestion plan passed and we’ve gone through this a couple of times and it was an overwhelming ‘no’ and I haven’t seen anything happen that would change my opinion,”
The Governor has essentially been repeating this position publicly ever since.
Inconsistent with Governor Cuomo's Staff Actions
But while the Governor is publicly distancing himself from the measure which is unpopular in Queens and Brooklyn, former NY City Councilmember Mark Weprin, who is now Cuomo's Deputy of Legislative Affairs, has supported the Move NY Congestion Traffic Pricing Plan.
Weprin vehemently oppposed Congestion Traffic Pricing in 2008 when he was a NY City Councilmember, but in 2015 Weprin began publicly supporting the revised Congestion Traffic Pricing Plan as he transitioned from NY City Councilmember to becoming Cuomo's Deputy of Legislative Affairs. NYS Assemblyman David Weprin, Mark's brother, continues to publicly oppose the plan.
It's worth mentioning that the Weprins and the Cuomos have had close family political ties spanning two generations.
Congressman Crowley's Position Circa 2007
Queens Democratic Party Chairman, U.S. Congressman Joseph Crowley, supported the Congestion Traffic Pricing Plan backed by former Mayor Bloomberg, according to a June 11, 2007 report by the New York Times which quoted Crowley as saying,
“the overall  plan — and congestion pricing is just a part of it — will make this a more livable city and make it easier to attract the best and the brightest not only from around the country but from around the world.”
We've not yet seen any comments by Congressman Crowley on the current Move NY Plan which was recently introduced.
Move NY's 'New & Improved' Congestion Traffic Pricing Plan
We studied the Move NY Traffic Congestion Pricing proposal by first taking a closer look at what groups are pushing the plan [follow the money]. Gridlock Sam Schwartz Consulting LLC is one of the primary promoters of the plan, and the consulting company is owned in part by a large, multi-national, transit infrastructure contractor. We also evaluated the assumptions they used to create the estimates provided in the plan, which we found to be inconsistent with fairly recent independent studies by respectable institutions, and we also looked at what happened in one of the other cities around the world that implemented the plan.
In essence the plan retrofits [re-prices] the fossil fuel infrastructure, by making a significant investment to install and operate tolling around the center of Manhattan. The remaining proceeds would then go to fund other MTA capital projects [in London this was about half the proceeds]. The pricing would require those who can't afford the $8 tolls [each way] to either use mass transit [recent NYC metro studies have shown this switching doesn't happen] or to cross the bridge at other times at which time the tolls would cost less. The proponents say this would enable those who can afford the tolls to cross the East River bridges and 60th Street more quickly and move around mid Manhattan more easily [less traffic congestion with the rest of the community priced out of their way]. How 'democratic' is this?
Previously MTA Invests Billion$ in New Subways Appearing to Accommodate Billionaire Manhattan Developer(s) & Now Pols Want Metro Residents & Employees to Fund a System to Toll Tax Them to Fund MTA Capital Budget
The MTA during the Bloomberg (Republican) Administration made approximately $8 billion in MTA capital investments for about 30 to 40 blocks of Manhattan subway lines. One line travels from Times Square to the Javits Center [$2.4 billion mostly paid by city] and the other, which was strongly supported by NYC Comptroller Scott Stringer, is expected to travel along Second Avenue from about East 60th Street to about East 86th Street when it is completed [ran way past budget and time estimates - currently about $5.2 billion].
The latter subway line has been called the 'subway to nowhere', while the other isn't much different - as it terminates at the Javits Center and billionaire real estate developer Steven Ross' & Related Companies' new Hudson Yards development - without any other subway connections. Pundits have opined that one [new #7 Hudson Yards station] and possibly both of these multi-billion dollar investments were made to accommodate Manhattan real estate developers [such as Ross], more than to facilitate transit for commuters and residents of New York City.
When I confronted an MTA spokesperson with this perspective, they told me that the Q line extension would alleviate a considerable amount of the congestion on the north / south east side Manhattan subway line, but made no comment regarding the Hudson Yards station.
The photos above show no passengers on the Javits subway [at an admittedly random time and not long after it was installed], while the second photo shows the #6 subway along the Upper East Side, also at a random time [I have #7 photos that look the same, but didn't have time to find one]. The map to your right shows the new #7 subway line extension ending as an unconnected spur.
Perhaps if the MTA and the government officals who oversee MTA capital project spending were more judicious in their selection of multi-billion dollar projects and allocation of funds, they wouldn't need to make a huge investment of the public's money in the creation and operation of an expensive new tolling system which they plan to use to charge taxpayers $8 tolls to cross 60th Street and the East River Bridges.
This plan essentially aids the wealthy by making their lives easier, while economically discriminating against those with less wherewithal, by making their lives harder. This doesn't strike me as a solution that's 'democratic' at all. There must be less costly, more fair ways to raise additional revenue for transit that NYC commuters - not Manhattan real estate developers - really need.
Click here for the rest of our story about the Move NY Congestion Traffic Pricing Plan as we explore in greater detail a connected web of people, lobbyists and organizations behind Move NY Congestion Traffic Pricing Plan and their possible motivations. We critique the plan including a review of the assumptions, and a closer look at independent studies done with regard to motorists response to toll prices and changes.
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