Sterling Equities & Related Companies Lose A Court Battle
Plans to Build Shopping Mall on Flushing Meadows Corona Park land Reversed on Appeal, but Legal Wrangling will Continue
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.
Filmmakers, Artists, Photographers, Journalists, Actors, Musicians, Writers & Software Developers
Copyright Law Change Alert: Pending Legislation May Curtail Your Ownership Rights
July 5, 2015 / Queens Notices / News Analysis & Opinion / Queens Buzz. Click the Queens Notices link to view proposed overhaul of copyright laws which would significantly curtail the ownership rights one has to their own work. It includes a bit about how you can help by sending a notice to the government regarding this effort to overhaul copyright law.
According to the report, the law would weaken content creators' ownership rights and thus their ability to monetize their creations. They also allege that the big internet companies are pushing this. We surmise that this is because the big internet companies are using everyone's content, collecting revenue for organizing and distributing it, and not compensating the content creators for the use of it. This may leave a huge outstanding, unestimated legal liability on their balance sheets.
The weakening of copyright laws has disturbing societal implications as well, as it completely destroys the economic incentive for artists, filmmakers, writers, journalists, photographers, actors, recording artists and software developers to invest their time and resourcess in the creation art, film, journalism, photography, music, software and other media content and entertainment. And in doing so, paves the way for considerable consolidation and control over freedom of speech and what media and entertainment content we as a society consume.
The net effect of the law is to curtail content creator ownership rights, and thus in some good measure transfer the ability to monetize content from the content creators to the content distributors. But it's not too late for you to do something about this.
The deadline for comment is July 23rd, 2015. Click Queens Notices and scroll down to first notice. There are links there to the authors of the report, as well as instructions and links to making a comment to government officials. Is retaining ownership rights to your work worth 10 to 15 minutes of your time?
"Many hands make light work." Chip in and make your concerns heard.
July 4th At Four Freedoms Park Roosevelt Island
Macy’s Expands NYC Fireworks Celebration Along East River
It was a near perfect evening as I made my way toward the East River to watch the Macy’s 4th of July fireworks display. The first Macy’s fireworks display was in 1976 for the second bi-centennial celebration.
The photo at right shows the Queens audience along the East River and northern tip of Gantry Park in Long Island City on Saturday night July 4th, just after the fireworks ended.
Last year Mayor de Blasio urged Macy’s to return the fireworks display to the East River, as it had been moved to the Hudson in 2008 in celebration of the 400th anniversary of Henry Hudson’s discovery of the river named after him. Macy’s continued to host it there until 2014.
There were six barges along the Hudson in 2008, which was reduced to three barges surrounding the Brooklyn Bridge in 2014. This year they added two barges which were positioned further north along the East River making it possible to enjoy the display from many parts of western Queens along the East River.
We had identified many of the best places to watch the July 4th fireworks in Queens in an earlier posting, but given the changes, it was difficult to determine how far north along the East River one could go and still enjoy a good fireworks show.
So with that in mind I made my way toward the Queensboro Bridge as I was pretty certain it would be closed, but it would have been the perfect place from which to photograph the fireworks. As expected there were two police officers standing at the Queens entrance to the bridge and they informed me that it would not be open until 10.30 pm, or about a half hour after the fireworks display.
The photo at right shows the July 4th fireworks display from Four Freedoms Park on Roosevelt Island.
Click here for the rest of our story about the 4th of July fireworks display as seen from Four Freedoms Park on Roosevelt Island.
4th of July Fireworks in Queens 2015
July 3, 2015 / Queens Neighborhoods / Queens Buzz. The Macy's 4th of July fireworks will be shown along the East River this year. They were shown along the East River in 2014 for the first time since 2008. Mayor de Blasio had lobbied the change.
Weather. Highs will be in the mid 70's during the day and in the mid 60's at night. There's a 50% chance of light rain in the afternoon, dropping to 20% by evening. So it could be a near perfect night.
The Astoria Park Fireworks on June 30th were done by the Grucci Brothers, the same fireworks company doing the Macy's 4th of July fireworks in NYC. The Astoria Park fireworks in Queens were shown on Tuesday evening with an easy view from the Astoria Park location right alongside the East River. See story below about the Astoria Park Fireworks show of 2013 in Queens.
But for those looking for fireworks on 4th of July 2015, you'll have ample opportunity to view the fireworks as the pyrotechnic performance has been expanded this year. Click here for a report about the 4th of July Fireworks in Queens NYC & surrounding areas, including times and locations for the Macy's 4th of July fireworks in NYC and Jones Beach on Long Island.
Happy Birthday America
Musings About the 4th of July in Queens
It seems every six months or so, I get a chance to reflect on life. Since the July 4th holiday will soon be upon us, I’m going to expand that reflection to encompass the “life, liberty and the pursuit of happiness” put forth in the Declaration of Independence.
It seems the older folks who surrounded me in my youth were right. They told me that as you get older, the years will pass by more quickly. As a youngster I thought, “How can that be?” And while technically my youthful query was correct - perceptually it was not.
When I was ten years old, a year represented a tenth of my life. At 25 it represented only 4% of my life, and at 39 it’s a mere 2.5% [heh]. So the years do spin by more quickly, perhaps because they represent less and less a portion of the whole.
Julius Caesar, Mahatma Ghandi & American Independence
One might use this approach to looking back at things as a method to put in perspective so much else that has passed through time. Julius Caesar was said to have ruled the world, when in fact he primarily ruled the parts of Europe and the Middle East surrounding the Mediterranean Sea. And while he presided over a population that was about a fifth of the world’s population at the time, today the Roman Empire headcount is less than the population of Mexico.
Fast forward to the 20th century and compare the legend of Julius Caesar to the legacy of Mahatma Ghandi. Ghandi was instrumental in organizing and freeing ten times as many people from British Empire rule, as lived under the rule of Julius Caesar in the Roman Empire. And Ghandi helped free his Indian people without the use of a single arrow, sword or gun.
About two centuries prior to Ghandi’s effort - in 1776 - the thirteen American colonies declared themselves free of British Empire rule. These colonies today comprise the states along the eastern seaboard of the United States, excluding Florida, but including a few of the states' inland neighbors, such as Pennsylvania.
The population of the American colonies, at the time the colonists declared their independence, was about 2.5 million or only a few hundred thousand more people, than the number of people that currently reside in Queens NYC today.
God, Home & Country
When I was a boy, I was taught to hold God, Home and Country in the highest regard. What each of these concepts meant to me at that time has changed over the years, as I accumulated knowledge and experience about the world, which challenged many of the assumptions taught to me in my youth.
Some measure of what I learned growing up, was in a sense, what anthropologists call tribal knowledge. It was a body of information / understandings / perspectives about the world that the community shared that had been passed from generation to generation.
The 'tribal knowledge' teachings were assumed to be fact – by all of us in the ‘tribe’ – even though the teachings were essentially a narrative developed by those in charge, interpreted by the tribal scribe, and based upon the group's understanding of the world / universe at the time. The narrative included messages about what's important, how to properly conduct oneself and in some measure our communal identity.
The written 'tribal' narrative evolves in tandem with the 'tribal' culture and it is reinforced, and at times reinterpreted, by the communal elders and institutions through ritual, ceremonies and celebrations. Celebrating our American independence on July 4th is one such 'tribal' cultural ritual and every year it gives us pause to reflect upon where we have come from, discuss who we are and think about where we are going.
Our 'tribe' has grown to be a nation that spans from sea to shining sea, and is home to nearly 320 million people.
Click here to read the rest of our story about 4th of July in Queens.
4th of July Fireworks Queens
Astoria Park Fireworks Celebration Tonight
Tonight there's an independence fireworks celebration in Astoria Park beginning at 7.30 pm. It's a near perfect night for them as the highs today will be around 80 and the lows in the mid 60's, with scant chance of any rain.
The festivities will begin with a concert on the Great Lawn. The West Point Band of the U.S. Military Academy will be performing a number of classical American tunes along with 19th century classical music.
Around dusk which has generally been around 9.30 pm, but is sometimes sooner because of cloud cover, the fireworks by the Grucci Brothers begins.
The fireworks are some of the best 4th of July fireworks in the city and generally last about a half hour. And then ... it's over. The community event is organized by the Central Astoria Local Development Corporation [aka CALDC].
On July 4th Queens will have a second opportunity to watch the fireworks, sponsored by Macy's, which are on the East River. Enjoy.
Queens Things To Do
Warm UP Party MoMA PS1, Astoria Park Carnival, Swimming Pools Open, Last Weekend for Thalia Abuso & UnChained Theatre Festival, Concert at Corona Plaza, Groovin' in the Park Jamaica, QWFF Summer Films Jackson Heights
June 26, 2015 / Things To Do Queens / Queens Buzz.
Weekend Weather 6/26 - 6/28. Highs will be about 80 Friday, about 70 Saturday & about 80 Sunday. Lows will be in the low to mid 60's through the weekend. There's a 90% chance of scattered showers Saturday afternoon and evening. There's a 50% chance of some scattered T-storms Sunday during the day, dropping to 20% by evening.
MTA. The #7, N, Q, G, E, F and R subways look pretty clear in Queens, with some modifications to some local stops being added and skipped [go one stop further and take train going back]. Click here for the MTA Weekender.
The artwork at right is on exhibit at the Queens Museum.
Friday & Weekend
Astoria Park Carnival runs through the weekend, with hours 4 - 11 pm Friday, noon - midnight Saturday and noon to 11.30 pm Sunday. There will be amusement park rides and food carts and it will be located in the parking lot for the park. Rides cost a few dollars and they have package deals.
It's the final weekend for the Chain Theatre in LIC is hosting the Unchained Theatre Festival beginning at 7 pm and 9 pm Friday with a full length plays, on Saturday at 4 pm and 9 pm for shorts and at 1 pm and 7 pm for full length plays. Sunday is the grande finale with the longer performances at 1am, 12:30pm, 5:30pm and shorts beginnning at 2:30pm. The reception and awards will follow at 8pm [theatre]. See their website at www.variationstheatregroup.com for details.
It's the final weekend of performances at Thalia Theatre in Sunnyside of Abuso beginning at 8 pm Friday & Saturday with a 3 pm matinee Saturday and a 4 pm matinee Sunday [theater - $40 / $37].
Saturday - Warm UP
The Astoria Park swimming pool, as well as the other Queens swimming pools are open for the summer [typically ends Labor Day Weekend].
There's an Oye Corona weekend at the Corona Plaza at 103rd Street & Roosevelt Avenue from 2.30 - 6.30 pm, with a concert by the Mariachi Flor de Toloache from 4.30 - 5.30 pm [free].
The first PS1 MoMA Warm Up Party runs from 3 - 9 pm [doors open 12 noon / $18]. Click here for a prior report about the PS1 Warm Up.
RESCHEDULED - RAINDATE JULY 25TH - In Travers Park at 79th & 34th AVenue in Jackson Heights beginning around 8 pm there will be a showing of some of the best films of the 2015 Queens World Film Festival [aka QWFF].
Also see Weekend events above.
Sunday - Groovin' in the Park
Groovin' in the Park returns to Roy Wilkins Park in Jamaica beginning at 12 noon. It's an all day concert, which this year is headlined by Billy Ocean, Michael Bolton and a host of Reggae star musicians including Coco Tea and Luciano the Messenger. Call 1 (347) 980-2252 for tickets or visit their website www.groovininthepark.com [$60].
See Weekend events above including ongoing theatrical performances and carnival.
Queens Events Week Ahead: June 26 - 28
Fireworks in Astoria Park, Socrates & Don't Look Back
June 19, 2015 / Things To Do Queens / Queens Buzz.
Weather Next week 6/29 - 7/2. Highs will be around 80 and the lows in the mid 60's. There's a 60% chance of scattered rain showers Tuesday and a 40% chance on Thursday.
Click here for details on Queens Weather, National News & Horoscopes - or use the links on the right side bar of the front page of this site. Click to the Queens Member Calendar for member posted events details.
There's the Astoria Park Fireworks along the East River organized by the Central Astoria Local Development Corporation . Events begin at 7.30 pm and the fireworks begin around sunset [9 - 9.30 pm] and it's free.
On Tuesday there are flamenco dance classes beginning at 6 pm at Sol in Astoria and modern dance classes beginning at 6.30 pm at Green Space in LIC.
There's an outdoor film entitled Don't Look Back at Socrates Sculpture Park in Astoria / LIC which follows a pre-screening performance that begins at 7 pm.
On Thursday and there are flamenco dance classes at 6 pm in Astoria and Salsa Dance Classes beginning at 7 pm at EC Squared Studio in Jackson Heights.
Click on the link above to go to the Member Events Calendar to view events.
Use the Business Directory to your right to find contact info, website links and maps for events posted herein; or the search function top left to find related stories, maps, restaurants or anything else on this site. And of course there's always an opportunity for shopping in Queens which you can find here, which we will update soon.
New York City Makes 'Budget Handshake'
We received this missive from New York City Councilmember Helen Rosenthal of the Upper West Side. We've made few edits, but the text is essentially a reprint of her email.
Over 100 hours of budget hearings revealed much information that helped to shape the final agreement. [Helen Rosenthal said that] As a member of the City Council's Finance Committee and the Budget Negotiating Team, I can honestly say that all 51 members of the Council had input to ensure that New Yorkers in every borough will get the services they need. In addition to major investments in neighborhood police, there is additional funding for mental health services, veterans, and Vision Zero education.
Photo Credit: William Alatriste for the New York City Council
Education and Youth
• There will be an increase of 80 school crossing guards citywide, and the Upper West Side will gain more crossing guards. Renewed focus on recruitment and retention will happen in discussions over the summer.
• There are unprecedented amounts of funding for our young adults from summer jobs and year-round jobs to support for City University of New York (CUNY) students to keep them in college and help them graduate.
• The additional $39 million for libraries will yield 6-7 day a week service in every borough.
• The free lunch program in middle schools will continue, and there will be an expansion of the "breakfast after the bell" program, so that all elementary schools will offer it by 2018.
• Teachers will receive up to $125 in reimbursement for school supplies that they bring into the classroom. While this is an improvement, it is not enough. We must give teachers all the tools they need to teach well, and I will continue to work to improve this system in the next fiscal year.
• Over $35 million for lawyers, clinics, and advocacy to support tenants who experience harassment by landlords - the largest the City has ever dedicated to this issue.
• Dedicated legal advice for public housing (NYCHA) residents in housing court at 250 Broadway.
• Dedicated team of inspectors to investigate particularly egregious landlords.
Seniors and Safety Net
• Elimination of the wait list for seniors needing home care services.
• Commitment to build 5,000 new units of senior affordable housing over the next five years with dedicated on-site social services.
• Additional funding for the emergency food program and local food banks.
• The largest investment in addressing elder abuse through outreach and social services.
Small Business Support
• Dedicated funds to local Business Improvement Districts (BIDs) and civic associations. Council members will be able to designate money to support small business in their area.
• Double the investments in worker cooperative support yielding an additional 30-40 new worker-owned businesses throughout the City.
• Community-based organizations providing EarlyLearn NYC services will receive wage parity with DOE employees providing that service.
• Increase of the minimum wage of "Human Service" contract workers to $11.50/hour with targeted career ladder support.
• Funding to continue providing local services from small, community non-profits that lost contracts through the citywide process.
The City Council will formally "adopt" the City's budget at a Stated meeting later this week. At that time, we will have additional information about my dedicated funding for the Upper West Side.
Again, this a reprint of an email from New York City Councilmember Helen Rosenthal of the Upper West Side.
Albany Legislative Session 2015
Final Bills: Public School Funding & Rent Stabilization Law
There are two important bills expected to be finalized by the New York State Legislature this week: 1) one having to do with taxation and funding for the public schools and 2) the second having to do with NYC rent stabilization law.
I've been paying some modest measure of attention to both of these bills, and the following is a brief snapshot of a critical talking point in each bill.
Use Public Money To Fund Private Education?
From what I can gather, perhaps the most contentious item in the public education funding bill is the provision for sizeable tax deductions for those who choose to send their children to private, not public schools.
As I understand it, these tax deductions would be included as part of the funding for the public schools budget and therefore will reduce what's left for the NYS / NYC public school systems.
It's worth noting that private school tuition in NYC can cost in the range of about $5,000 to $30,000 per year per student. And that there are about 900 private schools in NYC alone, so depending on how these proposed deductions are ultimately structured, the funds reallocated from the public schools to private individuals would be in the tens to hundreds of millions of dollars and possibly more.
You might want to contact Governor Cuomo's office at 1.518.474.8390 to let him know you support or oppose the measure, since we understand that he's been the major force pushing for this public school funding change. You can also send him an email via the Governor's contact form.
Albany & Expiring Rent Stabilization Laws
The Rent Stabilization Laws are due to expire tonight, June 15, 2015.
There was talk earlier this year that there would be a push to expand or strengthen the Rent Stabilization Laws given the rapid growth in homelessness in New York City. The NYC homeless population is currently estimated at over 60,000 or nearly 1% of the entire NYC population. About 70% of New York City residents are renters, of which about two million of less than eight and a half million residents, live in rent stabilized apartments.
Over the past decade or so, the Rent Stabilization Laws have been curtailed in the favor of the free market and landlords. The curtailment of rent price control legislation is believed to have spurred additional real estate development investment, as the profits of most new buildings are no longer affected by rent stabilization laws.
Much of the rapid growth in homelessness over the past decade is believed to be the result of tenants losing their rent stabilized apartments, as new owners of buildings have found ways to circumvent the laws. A recent NYU Furman Center Study has shown the loss of over 330,000 unsubsidized affordable apartments since 2002, due in part to the rent stabilization legislative changes referenced above.
NYS legislative insiders told me that tenants rights supporters were hoping to make legislative gains this year, but that the NYS Assemblypeople and NYS Senators opposing the changes, were going to allow the rent stabilization laws to expire as a negotiating tactic.
Vicki Been, Commissioner of NYC Department of Housing Preservation and Development, informed us that the current rent stabilization laws remain in effect through the term of existing leases and leases up for renewal that are already in the hands of the tenants. She also said that tenants should call 311 with any questions or problems.
Cuomo & NYS Officials - Quinnipiac Poll
On June 3, 2015 Quinnipiac released a poll showing voters are feeling negatively about the NYS Legislature as a whole, while continuing to favor their local representatives. In the poll Governor Cuomo has only a 2% margin of those favoring him.
Governor Cuomo had a 44% approval rating versus 42% disapproval rating, as voters are not satisfied with his handling of the corruption scandals that have plagued Albany this year. In February 2015 Assembly Speaker Sheldon Silver [Democrat Manhattan] was indicted on federal corruption charges. And in May 2015 NYS Senate Leader Dean Skelos [Republican Long Island] was indicted by a federal Grand Jury.
Less than a year ago, NYS gubernatorial candidate Zephyr Teachout, a law professor at Fordham University surprised polls by garnering nearly 2 votes for every 3 won by the governor in the NYS Democratic primary. Ms. Teachout did not have much in the way of significant private backing or union support, but won nearly 40% of the vote waging an online campaign.
According to the Quinnipiac poll, voters by a margin of 52% - 32% said that with respect to Albany's corruption problem:
"... the Governor is part of the problem, not part of the solution."
As for the NYS Assemblymembers and NYS Senators the Quinnipiac Poll reported the following:
"Voters disapprove 60 - 26 percent of the job the State Legislature is doing, but approve 44 - 37 percent of their own Assembly member and approve 54 - 31 percent of their own state senator."
"At the same time, 45 percent of voters say their state senator should be thrown out in a general house-cleaning, while 40 percent say their senator deserves reelection."
"Voters are divided 41 - 41 percent on whether their Assembly member should be reelected or thrown out."
As you can see, the sentiments collected in the Quinnipiac poll seem a bit contradictory, as the answers received depend on how the questions are stated. Nonetheless, this looks to be an interesting legislative week as things wind down in Albany, and as the 2016 election cycle begins to ramp up.
The Jamaica Collections
Showcase the Fashion & Style of Downtown Jamaica
June 8, 2015 / Jamaica NY / Queens Fashion & Style / Queens Buzz. I headed to central Queens last weekend to attend the fourth annual Jamaica Collections fashion show. It was a near perfect evening, as the day had been sunny and warm with little humidity. As I arrived I saw people conversing on the steps and lawn of the Jamaica Performing Art Center, all dressed rather fashionably. As I stepped inside the foyer there was a comfortable crowd mingling, enjoying the wine and food being served by SWB Catering, and Lotta Empanadas.
Jamaica Center, the Business Improvement District [BID] organization, is the founding organizer of the Jamaica Collections Fashion Show. They have used the event to showcase local and area fashion designers and food venues, with an eye to promoting the Jamaica downtown, located in the heart of Queens, as an emerging fashion district. Not long after I had sampled the food and hors d'oevres and mingling a bit, the show began.
The Jamaica Performing Arts Center has been home to the Jamaica Collections Fashion Show since its inception. Each time the show is configured a bit differently, which not only showcases the fashions adorning the models, but the venue space as well. Tonight the models would come out onto the stage and make their way down through the spaciously configured aisles on the main floor before disappearing behind the curtain.
Hip-hop, Queens-born, entertainer Ed Lover was the host of the show this evening.
We'll have more, including a photo slide show, later this week.
The Taste of LIC
Rains Fails To Dampen Turnout and Spirits
The weather cooled down this week, dropping into the 50’s accompanied by rain. The streets were wet and it was cloudy above as I made my way through the intermittent drizzle down to the East River waterfront to attend the 10th annual Taste of LIC.
As I approached the East River, I could see the grand white tents in the distance, filled with people, light and the distant murmurs of conversations. I had planned to arrive a bit later at the event, after things had calmed down, so the restaurateurs and chefs at the event would have a bit of time to talk.
Inside the tents the mood was pretty buoyant as I found folks drinking and dining buffet-style, sampling the offerings of a mix of about sixty different restaurants, food producers and beverage makers. Conversations were flowing too about the food, the feast and the other fun things to do in the Long Island City neighborhood.
The Chocolate Factory Theatre is the organizer of the Taste of LIC. The theatre was co-founded by Sheila Lewandowski, the Executive Director; and Brian Rogers, the Artistic Director. They showcase the works of up-and-coming writers, producers, directors and actors / actresses as well as the development of in-house works.
We’ll post more a bit later in the day or week including a photo slide show.
Sunnyside Artists: Queen of Angels Art Fair
Local Artists In Sunnyside Area Show & Sell
It was a beautiful sunny day as I made my way down to the Queen of Angels Fine Art Fair in Sunnyside. The Queen of Angels Fine Art Fair is in its eighth year, the first of which started in 2008.
The fair showcases local artists in a festive atmosphere where neighborhood folks are welcome to browse and buy at their option.
A number of donations were made by local businesses in support of Sunnyside Artists and the Queen of Angels Art Fair. Some were used as raffle prizes, including the famous purse & slippers cake created by the Sugar Room pastry chef Juan Arache who is an artisan and artist too, using sweet edibles as his medium.
It's a communal gathering of sorts as there's food each year accompanied by wine provided by Lowerys Wine & Liquors.
And this year Manny Gomez and company served ...
We'll post more including a few more photos of the Queen of Angels Art Fair by the Sunnyside Artists. In the photo above is Ms. Hetzel at the Queen of Angels Art Fair.
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 this summer for Part III of our series regarding the development of Sunnyside Yards.
The Dorsky Gallery
New Ways of Seeing: Beyond Culture
I met Cui Fei at the Queens Museum in 2008 at an art show entitled Reasons Clue [use the search box above to find it]. Cui is an artist who was born in Shandong province in mainland China, and she moved here nearly two decades ago. Shandong province is located along the East China Sea and, for those who drink beer, it's worth noting that Shandong is home to Tsingtao beer. Cui is one of twenty artists who have work on exhibit at the Dorsky Gallery Curatorial Programs in Long Island City.
And so it was, with Cui Fei's invitation in hand, that I headed to the Dorsky Gallery on a hot sunny afternoon in May. As I arrived at the gallery there were folks milling about outside, discussing the artwork inside. The show was the brain child of two NYC metro curators, Jan Castro and Eileen Jeng. Eileen said the two curators had met at an art event in Brooklyn within the past couple years, and that they hit it off right from the start. There was an immediate connection and the two had agreed to find some way to collaborate on a project.
Inside the gallery things were buzzing. Some measure of the art world was there, engaged in creative conversation. It was nice to see Cui again, and in only a few minutes we were able to pick up a conversation we'd vacated many years ago. In Reasons Clue Cui had found and presented a number of grape vines that had grown into interesting shapes that in some manner resembled the characters of the Chinese alphabet. At the time she was working on a theme entitled Manuscript of Nature. She had told me that the grapevines she had selected carried messages from nature. It was Mother's Day, and as I began writing this piece, I began to think about Mother Nature and how tired she must be fending off those who don't respect her. Cui Fei's work was intended to help us listen.
Cui went on to say that she is now working on a theme is entitled Tracing The Origins. She told me that the Chinese characters were once representations of things in nature. Pictograms. Cui went on to say that the symbols which once looked like what they represented, became detached from what they first represented, and over time they became abstracted to carry meanings which were completely different than what they first represented. Today one cannot determine the origins of the Chinese characters.
As Cui was telling me this I thought about how the same process had happened in western art beginning in the late 19th and early 20th centuries. The French impressionists began to abstract what they saw, and by capturing and depicting light in a certain way, they conveyed a feeling that left an impression. Claude Monet, one of the first and finest impressionist painters, was followed by Dutch painter Van Gogh who continued in the impressionist tradition, but took the art a step further by infusing his works with thick vivid paint that conveyed great emotion. A few decades later Spanish artist Pablo Picasso painted his most celebrated work, Guernica, which continued the abstraction by providing what one might compare to an abstract pictogram of the Nazi bombing of the Basque town of Guernica in modern day Spain. And following World War II, all hell broke loose in America, where the abstraction became complete. American artists such as Pollock, de Kooning, Rothko and a personal favorite of mine which still hangs at MoMA, Vir Heroicus Sublimas, was painted by Barnett Newman.
I bent down to take a closer look at Cui Fei's sand paintings on the floor ...
We'll continue this report within the next week, including a conversation with the curators of New Ways of Seeing: Beyond Culture, as well as a bit of background on the Dorsky Gallery Curatorial Programs in LIC.
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.
Art imitates life ... and ...
television brings back 1960's style & culture
Mad Men Exhibit At The Museum Of The Moving Image In Astoria
Mad Men is the creation of writer Matthew Weiner who previously worked as a contributor on the HBO series, The Sopranos. Weiner enlisted Lionsgate Television to collaborate with him in producing the show, which was aired on cable channel AMC TV beginning in 2007.
The first pilot episode was filmed at SilverCup Studios in Queens, with subsequent episodes being produced in Los Angeles. The last show of the series aired on April 5, 2015.
Hence the Mad Men exhibit at the Museum of the Moving Image in Astoria was perfectly timed, and it will be on display until June of this year. In the photo at right is Don Draper, the proverbial star of the show, in his New York City advertising office on AMC TV's Mad Men.
Queens Green Drinks Is Back
Grass Roots Eco-Socials Come Out Of Hibernation
Gathered within were several dozen people who had come from many parts of the borough to have a drink or two and to socialize. The attendees were generally interested or involved in community efforts to create a more sustainable lifestyle in Queens and NYC.
The event was organized by Katie Ellman of GreenShoresNYC, in tandem with Angela Stach Co-Chair of Transportation Alternatives Queens, and Len Maniace the President of the Jackson Heights Beautification Group and Publisher of PlanetNYC.com. Katie is shown with scarf at front, Len Maniace is standing behind her and Angela Stach is shown with name badge at right. Phillip Papas, an avid cyclist, is shown standing on the far right.
Queens Green Drinks is a non-profit grassroots idea that went viral and went global over a decade ago. The intent of it was simple, to organize socials where people interested in a more sustainable lifestyle could meet and get to know each other. That was it. What came of those new relationships was up to those involved in them.
Helen Ho, of Queens was the first to pick up the torch and begin organizing Queens Green Drinks events at various locales around the borough. She kept Queens Green Drinks going for a number of years and through her efforts a community evolved of people who were involved in things like: East River kyaking, cycling in Queens, urban tree and tree bed planting, public park space advocates and defenders, organic food folks, urban farmers, green energy, green architects and green government officials ... to name just a few.
But organizing these get togethers, especially as they were held monthly, was a time commitment and personal effort that can't last forever. In time Helen reduced the frequency of the socials, and eventually the events went on hiatus ... until Wednesday, April 29th when Katie Ellman picked up the "torch of a new generation" and held the first event at Terraza 7 in Jackson Heights.
We'll post more about this effort a bit later in the week.
Liberian President Visits York College
Women's Month: Ellen Johnson Sirleaf Is First Female President Of African Nation & 2011 Nobel Peace Prize Winner
March 16, 2015 / Jamaica NY / Ethnic Culture / Queens Buzz. I had an opportunity to attend a public interview of President Ellen Johnson Sirleaf, the first female president of an African nation. President Johnson Sirleaf won the 2011 Nobel Peace Prize with two other African women for their non-violent work to provide safety to women on the African continent, and for their efforts to include women as full participants in the peace building process.
Author. President Johnson Sirleaf recently published a book entitled, This Child Will Be Great, which carries the message that you can grow up to be whatever you want to be, if you're willing to work at it. And I suppose Ellen Johnson Sirleaf's life serves as a case in point.
Parentage & Education. President Sirleaf grew up the daughter of mixed race, as her father was from a Pakistani / Indian tribe that settled in western Africa, and her mother was a mix of German and African blood. She was born in 1938 in Monrovia, the capital of Liberia, and married at the age of 17 in 1956. She attended college and in 1961, several years after her marriage, she moved to the U.S. with her husband where she attended the Madison Business College in Madison, Wisconsin. She also studied economics in Boulder, Colorado and earned a Master of Public Administration degree from the JFK School of Government at Harvard in 1971.
Click here to read the rest of our story about a Nobel Prize Winner's visit to Queens.
A Closer Look into Role of the Daily News Coverage in Takeover of Queens Library
Please note that to date no public official have spoken about any development deals using Queens Library property.
Daily News Publication of Leaks with No Announcement of Real Wrongdoing - What Happened to Presumption of Innocence?
I’m going to work under the assumption that Queens Library CEO Thomas Galante is innocent of all charges until proven guilty. That is the way things are supposed to be done in America.
Many leaks of all kinds of confidential information about the Queens Library CEO have made their way into Real Estate Billionaire Mortimer Zuckerman's Daily News this year - including plenty of minutiae - but not a single word about any real wrongdoing.
Daily News Headlines Appear to Play Role in Queens Library Takeover - Urging Replacement of Governance Team
The Daily News appears to have done more than just report on the Queens Library crisis of confidence. In fact, the Daily News was the first to report the crisis - and they appear to have played a major role throughout it - as their organization urged the dismissal of Galante and the trustees who supported him on numerous occasions in the headlines alone. The following are some examples of headlines taken from stories in the NY Daily News:
The Daily News - Name Calling CEO Galante in its Editorial Coverage
Last week, the Daily News provided the public with more details of Queens Library CEO Thomas Galante’s expense reports over the past (few) year(s). Their presentation of the information appeared one-sided and cast Queens Library CEO in a negative light, as little effort seems to have been made to explain the business purpose or provide context for the expenditures.
The Daily News also published an editorial, which resorted to name-calling including calling Galante:
This was not the first time they called him names in their publication this year.
We'll explore recent coverage by the Daily News in a more detail further down in this report, as it is reflective of their coverage of this crisis of confidence in the Queens Library all year. A crisis which the Daily News in fact began, with a series of exclusive reports earlier in the year.
Queens Borough President Melinda Katz Appears To Have Had Prior Relationship with Daily News Owner Mortimer Zuckerman's Boston Properties as a Lobbyist
According to a source, Queens Borough President Melinda Katz appears to have had prior relationship with Daily News Owner Mortimer Zuckerman's Boston Properties as a lobbyist working for Greenberg Traurig law firm in 2012.
A New York Observer story dated, April 10, 2012, states:
"... Still, Manhattan Borough President Scott Stringer has expressed skepticism toward the project, which he would like to see reduced in size, and the community panned the rezoning outright."
"To help makes its case, NYU recently retained Ed Wallace and Melinda Katz, two land-use attorneys who have helped shape a number of important development projects as they wended their way through public review—not least because both of them also once spent time as members of the City Council, the body that will have the ultimate say on NYU’s rezoning."
And a bit later in the story.
"Mr. Wallace served as the councilman-at-large for Manhattan and chief of staff to the council president back in the old days of the Board of Estimate, after which he joined Mort Zuckerman’s Boston Properties before moving over to Greenberg Traurig, the law firm where he is now co-managing partner of the New York office. Ms. Katz joined the firm in 2010 as a partner in the real estate division after serving two terms in the council, one of which was spent as chair of the influential land-use committee, where she oversaw a number of redevelopments similar to NYU’s."
The NYC government maintains a website showing registered lobbyists' relationships with clients. We took this image from the NYC.gov website which shows that from March through December of 2012 - one year before she became Queens Borough President - Melinda Katz was a registered lobbyist working for the lawfirm of Greenberg Traurig, with a client relationship with Mortimer Zuckerman's Boston Properties.
Click here to read our report regarding the Queens Library controversy and the Daily News reporting of it.
In Search Of A Civilization Lost By Mass Media
LaGuardia College Performing Arts Center Uses Theater & Art To Stimulate Cross Cultural Community Conversation
February 9, 2015 / Long Island City / Queens Theater / Queens Buzz. It was nearing sunset on Saturday evening as I made my way through a beautifully quiet Flushing Meadows Corona Park. The clean white snow glistened gently in the fading light, and the leafless trees along the road provided what felt like an ancient natural cathedral.
I checked in at the admissions desk and made my way to the second floor of the Queens Museum. The Queens Museum was once the home to the United Nations and hence provided the perfect context for this community conversational performance. The floor to ceiling windows looked out onto the landmarked Unisphere which emanated a universal vibe. In the long wide hallway a crowd was engaged in clustered conversations following the conclusion of four performances shown that afternoon. I had seen the performances at an event earlier in the season.
I began talking to Tasneem, a member of the audience who is shown in the photo at right standing alongside a photo taken by a friend of hers who is shown in the photo. Tasneem came from Jordan twelve years ago, only two years after 911. She said that it's important for the general populace of Muslims to stop being afraid of showing they're Muslim, because otherwise New Yorkers and the rest of America will be left with the picture of Islam as depicted by a few extremists which is amplified and continually repeated by the American mass media.
I couldn't deny it. It seems American television stations, radio stations, newspapers and magazines are obsessed with providing the Islamic terrorists all the publicity they want.
But here, tonight, in the Queens Museum; I would not see any of the faces shown by our mass media. I would see only the faces of everyday Islamic New Yorkers who generally receive no publicity at all. Muslims who hail from dozens of cultures around the world. And there wasn't a single terrorist among them. Hence - and likely not coincidentally - there also wasn't a single mass medium reporter covering this event.
Tasneem told me how she, like many other American Muslims, fears showing she's Muslim because of the stereotypes created by the terrorists and perpetuated and blown up by the American mass media. The notion of a silent majority came to mind.
It occurred to me that the gore of the Islamic extremists must be good for tabloids and TV ratings. And I pondered what it must feel like to be stereotyped by this relentless, distorted depiction of one's culture and people. Andy Warhol's characterization of the mass production of images came to mind.
I thought about what it would be like if I lived somewhere else in the world where the nation's media mass produced stereotypes of Americans, depicting us as murderers, rapists and thieves. That could easily be done if a nation's media decided to portray Americans by solely covering the 5.6 million violent crimes and the 17.1 million property crimes that took place in this country in 2011 alone [source: Wikipedia / Bureau of Justice Statistics]. That just wouldn't be right ... would it?
And yet, it seems that this is exactly what's been happening to Muslims in America, because of the unbalanced coverage of Islam by the big American mass media companies. The TV and newspaper tabloids make a living by sensationalizing - spinning things out of context - but aren't the real journalists supposed to provide perspective by putting things back in context?
This seems generally not to have been done.
And so the LaGuardia Performing Arts Center applied for and received a grant to begin such an effort. An effort to provide exposure to the lives and contributions of the other billion Muslims who go peacefully and productively about their lives each day, just like most of the rest of us. An effort to create a community conversant with a deeper and broader understanding of a millenial and centuries old culture that is embedded in the lives of over a billion people on the planet. People who live in dozens of nations around the globe, and none of whom are terrorists - and hence generally not represented in the American mass media.
I met American born Charles Bernett of Rego Park who had traveled to Cairo in 1979. Thirty-five years ago he was about to embark on his second trip through Africa ... [see photo at right].
Click here to learn more about the LaGuardia Performing Arts Center exploratory, year-long, theater and arts, cultural endeavor entitled Beyond Sacred: Unthinking Muslim Identity.
Mother's Day Restaurants In Queens
Mother's Day Restaurants in Astoria, LIC, Sunnyside, Woodside & Jackson Heights
Queens Restaurants / May 4, 2015. Mother's Day is less than one week away. It's a good time to let your loved one know you care. Flowers, gifts and brunch or dinner are always welcome, as is any thoughtful gesture that provides some measure showing your appreciation of your mother or the mother of your children. After all, without mothers, we would all cease to be.
It's best to book a restaurant reservation for Mother's Day brunch, as on Mother's Day in Queens, many restaurants are full. So if you're thinking about eating out at a restaurant this Mother's Day in Astoria, LIC, Jackson Heights, Sunnyside, Woodside or Flushing; it's best to do your research early, and call ahead to book Mother's Day restaurant reservations.
Mother's Day History - Restaurants In Queens
The origins of Mother's Day in the United States began with the efforts by Anna Jarvis in honor of her own mother. According to Wikipedia, Anna began the campaign in 1905 - the year her mother died - and in 1910 West Virginia was the first state to adopt it as a holiday. In 1914 Woodrow Wilson made the second Sunday in May as a national holiday to honor mothers.
Click this link to view a brief guide of Mother's Day restaurants in Queens 2015 where you will find links to Queens restaurants we've reviewed. The restaurants we've reviewed include a mix of high, medium and budget priced restaurants that are spread throughout the borough and offer a large variety of ethnic cuisines. Enjoy.
Astoria Shops / Astoria / Queens Buzz. The furniture stores located on the southern end of Steinway Street in the Astoria neighborhood of Queens seem to have something to offer to just about everyone. This part of Steinway is a furniture shopper's mecca, offering plenty of choices from classical colonial, to urban apartment living to bedding to suit nearly every spine.
I took a quick trip there, which is easily accessible via the N, W, G, R or V subway lines and within a sturdy walking distance from Long Island City, Astoria, Sunnyside and Woodside. Just up the street from Steinway is Broadway, where you'll find the Omonia Cafe where after a good morning or afternoon of shopping, you can kick back along one of the sidewalk tables ane enjoy a bit of coffee and some delicious baked goods. Click here to learn more about the furniture stores in Astoria Queens.
Click to buy eyeglasses in Queens / opticians in Queens, for Astoria hair salons, for Midtown dentists & Midtown Chiropractors, massage therapists in LIC & Queens, and for things to do in Queens. Eyeglasses in Jamaica NYC. Long Island City massage.
The shop is owned and managed by Frank and Kevin Adhami, and their father, who is in his eighties, still visits the store on an almost weekly basis.
Esquire is located along Steinway Street between 30th and 31st streets. The store contains a wide selection of men's coats, suits, casual wear, shoes and men's accessories like belts and ties.
This story will provide some information about the store itself as well as fashion recommendations for the Spring and for job hunters.
Click this link to view a story written on Men's Clothing In Astoria Queens NY. Click here for men's clothing stores in NYC, and here to buy Stone Rose shirts in NYC, and here to buy Alberto pants in NYC, and here to buy Eton shirts and here to buy Hugo Boss sneakers in NYC.
T'is the Season: Queens Farmers Markets
The Sunnyside Farmers market on Skillman Ave & 43rd Street was approved to operate year round in 2014. The Sunnyside Farmers market becomes the third farmers market to operate year round. Jackson Heights was the first & Forest Hills was the second - now Queens has three farmers markets operating year 'round.
Click the link below to see a listing of the Queens Farmers Markets operating during the season of 2015 including links to maps. Click the other link below for a listing of the preliminary draft of the Queens Street Fairs schedule of 2015 through May including dates and maps showing their locations.
Click here for our updated posting of Queens Street Fairs - Queens NY. Click here for a listing of the Queens Farmers Markets. You will always find both street fairs and farmers markets for the current month in the Queens Events section of the site [see top tool bar for button / link]. Click here to view the map of the Jamaica farmers market.
Queens Real Estate
Real Estate in Astoria, Jackson Heights, Long Island City LIC, Sunnyside, Woodside, Flushing, Jamaica
These reports include reviews of apartment rental prices, as well as condo, co-op and home prices and availability in the Queens market.
We have also done neighborhood specific reports about Astoria real estate, LIC / Long Island City real estate, Jackson Heights real estate, Woodside & Sunnyside real estate, Flushing Real Estate and Jamaica Real Estate.
While we found these neighborhoods mirrored / trailed many of the national trends, we found some interesting differences, including differences from neighborhood to neighborhood.
Click here to read the Queens Real Estate market analysis 2009.