Long Island City Post

Long Island City NY news

Halal cart rolls into Hunters Point, future unknown

street vendor

April 16, By Christian Murray

A bright orange Halal cart set up shop on the sidewalks of Hunters Point this week and it has already drawn the attention of police and one resident.

Navid Ahmed, an Afghani immigrant, rolled onto Vernon Blvd Monday and started cooking gyros—as well as lamb over rice.

However, by Tuesday, he was told by the police that he wasn’t allowed to operate on Vernon Blvd and moved to the corner of 49th Avenue and Vernon, near San Remo Pizza.

Ahmed had operated his Halal cart in Jamaica until he arrived in Hunters Point this week. He said he knew of Long Island City from his days driving a cab and said: “I believe it is a great place for business.”

Ahmed plans to stay in his Vernon Blvd/49th Ave location for at least two weeks and if he does well he will stay. “I plan to be open from 12 pm to 9 pm every day,” Ahmed said.

However, Ahmed has already got detractors. One resident was photographing his license on the side of his cart and said she was going to call 311 to complain.

“That pizzeria pays thousands of dollars in rent each month and he just sets up there,” said Pat, who refused to provide her last name. “I have lived here my entire life and that is not right.”

Meanwhile, Community Board 2 Chairman Joe Conley said that he had not had an opportunity to check out the cart and did not comment on its legality.  However, the board has been very strict in interpreting the laws governing such vendors. Recently, the board was instrumental in forcing many food cart operators out of Sunnyside.

Woodbines, which took over from Lounge 47, to construct an extension over rear yard space

47-10 Vernon Blvd

Woodbines, 47-10 Vernon Blvd

April 15, By Christian Murray

Woodbines, the gastropub that took over the space that was once home to Lounge 47, has plans to expand.

Pat Burke, who opened Woodbines last August, said he wants to build an enclosed space that covers the entire rear yard, which was once used as a backyard space by Lounge 47.

When Burke opened Woodbines, he agreed that he would not use the rear yard space, given the long war that raged between fans of Lounge 47 and William Garrett, who lives next door, about noise.

Burke now has plans to spend a significant sum to enclose the entire rear yard, which will add about 1,000 sqf. to his existing 1,300 sqf. bar– and seal it from noise. With the addition, Woodbines will have a second bar, 48 additional seats and two more restrooms.

Burke said that there will be no windows with the new enclosure so neighbors such as Garrett will be shielded from noise. He said it would be constructed out of 8 inch thick masonry block with sheet-rock interior walls. Furthermore, he said he would put sound-proof insulation in the ceiling.

Burke, who has to alter his liquor license with the addition, spoke to Community Board 2 last Wednesday about his plans.

At the meeting, Pat O’Brien, who heads the committee overseeing liquor licenses, read an e-mail that William Garrett had sent to CB2 Chair Joe Conley (which copied Assemblywoman Cathy Nolan and Councilman Jimmy Van Bramer) outlining his concerns. Garrett, via e-mail, said he was concerned about “inferior construction” and said that the extension would lead to more patrons standing outside smoking and making noise.

The board dismissed his accusation about questionable construction after Burke provided details as to how the extension would be built, along with plans from his engineer. Furthermore, additional pedestrian traffic from more patrons did not seem to raise questions.

However, while the community board appeared to have a favorable view of the plan, it did want to check in with one neighbor to ensure that it would not completely block her window before giving it the thumbs up.

Construction, if all is approved, would start in about two months. The extension would take about four months to build.

Burke said that construction would take place Monday-Friday (during conventional work hours) and that the bar would remain open the entire time.

Rear garden

Rear garden

Two Il Mulino chefs to open LIC Italian restaurant

Il Falco

Il Falco

April 14, By Christian Murray

Two long-serving chefs from the upmarket restaurant Il Mulino will be opening an Italian restaurant in Long Island City.

The restaurant will be opening at 21-50 44th Drive where Da Gianni’s Ristorante was located, next door to LIC Market.

The restaurant, to be called Il Falco, is likely to open in July or August, according to Segundo Tinishanay, a co-owner. It will serve northern and southern Italian food.

Tinishanay and his business partner Bolivar Perez come with a great deal of high-end Italian experience.

Tinishanay, who immigrated from Ecuador, has spent the past 30 years working at El Mulino (since he was 17), where he has risen through the ranks to be a chef.  He also trains the kitchen staff at other El Mulino restaurants in Miami and Las Vegas.

Meanwhile, Perez, who has worked at Il Mulino for 20 years, started as a line cook and worked his way up to become a chef. Perez has cooked for former president Bill Clinton as well as President Barack Obama.

“We have worked in the restaurant business a long time–since we were both very young,” Tinishanay said. “We want to open a place of our own and we feel Long Island City is a good place to do that.”

July 4th fireworks return to East River

source: aroundthisworld.com

source: aroundthisworld.com

April 14, By Michael Florio

Things will be lighting up this 4th of July for residents of Western Queens.

Macy’s annual Fourth of July Firework Show will return to the East River this summer, providing a better view for those in Long Island City and parts of Astoria.

In 2009 the firework show moved to the Hudson River, giving New Jersey the prime vantage point.

Now in the East River again, the fireworks will be shot off of barges and the Brooklyn Bridge. The location of these barges is not known yet, but they will be very visible from Long Island City and parts of Astoria, according to State Sen. Mike Gianaris’ office.

“This is a reason to celebrate,” State Sen. Mike Gianaris said.

“For too long, residents of our neighborhoods have been left out of what is not only a citywide, but a national event,” Gianaris said. “Once again, the Queens waterfront will be a participant in the grandest Independence Day celebration in the United States.”

LIC Flea gets approval to sell wine & beer from Community Board 2


April 12, By Christian Murray

The LIC Flea & Food received the green light from Community Board 2 to sell wine and beer at its popular market.

The community board approved the LIC Flea & Food’s plan to cordon off a section of its 46th Avenue and 5th Street location for the purposes of selling wine and beer. The area will be contained, and attendees will not be able to leave the designated section with an alcoholic beverage.

The approval of the community board is a significant step for the operators, since board approval usually means a license is granted by the state without much in the way of delay.

The entrance and exit to the drinking section will be monitored by security. There will be a 5th Street entrance directly into the bar area–and an entrance within the confines of the market.

The drinking section will be comprised of 92 seats—which will surround a 20 foot bar. It will take up about 1/4 of the 24,000 square foot parking lot that is used for the market.

The LIC Flea & Food will have a license to sell wine and beer four days per week (Friday, Saturday, Sunday and Monday) but only on days when the market is open. The market is open between the hours of 10 am- 6 pm.

Initially, the operators of the LIC Flea & Food sought approval for a full liquor license but scaled it back to wine and beer. Initial concerns about the flea’s distance to PS/IS 78Q were not viewed as problematic since the nearest school entrance was more of a service entrance—as opposed to a major entry point.

The operators of the LIC Flea still have plans to rehabilitate an old car ferry next to Anable Basin and obtain a liquor license. The vessel would be open 7 days per week, with the goal of being open until 1 am on Fridays and Saturdays.

However, Joshua Schneps, the founder of LIC Flea & Food and co-publisher of the Queens Courier, said that he wants to focus on the market first and revisit the vessel once he has built a good track record with the flea.

MTA to provide No. 7 service on weekend of Vernon Blvd. block party, LIC Arts Open

Vernon BoulevardApril 11, By Christian Murray

The MTA might be listening to Long Island City after all.

The agency has agreed to run the No. 7 train on the weekend of May 17-18 after hearing calls from local leaders that the Vernon Boulevard block party (LIC Springs!), the LIC Arts Open, as well as the LICFlea & Food will be occurring that weekend.

Work had been scheduled for that weekend until now.

The news comes just three weeks after MTA president Carmen Bianco went to LIC to explain to residents about the closures.

However, at that meeting, Elizabeth Lusskin, the president of the Long Island City Partnership, asked the MTA to change its schedule for that weekend—citing several local events.

“It’s one weekend, one day when Long Island City is all coming together,” Lusskin said, who is organizing LIC Springs!, an event that will take place on Vernon Boulevard (between 46th and 50th Avenues) Saturday, May 17.

At the meeting, she said the loss of service that weekend was “ a body blow.”

The number 7 train was going to be particularly hard hit that weekend, with it being scheduled to be down between Times Square and 74th Street—a more severe closure than the typical Times Square to Queensboro Plaza shut down.

Meanwhile, Richard Mazda, who runs the LIC Arts Open, made it clear to Bianco at that meeting that the subway closure would hurt his festival—which features music, dance, visual art and theater —and is also of economic benefit to community.

Mazda also got Bianco to agree to make sure there was No. 7 train service for the 2015 LIC Arts Open.

“Finally the MTA has not only listened to our community on this issue, but taken action,” said State Sen. Mike Gianaris. “LIC Springs! and other events like the LIC Flea and the LIC Arts Open are wonderful displays of how much our neighborhood has to offer.”

Councilman Jimmy Van Bramer said that: “I am pleased this victory came out of our town hall meeting,” and said the he would continue to keep up the pressure on the MTA.

Owners of Shi and Skinny’s Cantina plan to open bakery and Japanese restaurant on Jackson Ave

13-11 Jackson Avenue

13-11 Jackson Avenue

April 9, By Christian Murray

The owners of Shi, the well-known Japanese/Asian restaurant located on Center Boulevard, have plenty of new business ventures on tap.

Shih and Skinny Lee plan to open a new dessert shop at 13-11 Jackson Avenue next month—and are also likely to open a Japanese restaurant at 27-26 Jackson Avenue.

The dessert shop, which will be called Pink Canary Bakery, will sell items such as specialty cakes and cupcakes. The Lee brothers will be partnering up with Joseph Polito, who has been doing the baking at Shi for some time.

The bakery, which will be in a 730 sqf space, is expected to be very kid friendly.

Meanwhile, the new Japanese restaurant would be located at 27-26 Jackson Avenue if the Lees’ plans pan out. They would aim to open it by the end of the year.

The Lee brothers currently own Shi as well as Skinny’s Cantina, a popular Mexican restaurant and bar, located at 47-05 Center Blvd.

Jackson Avenue

27-26 Jackson Avenue


NYTimes: Jimmy Van Bramer Is City Council’s Arts Champion

Van Bramer at the announcement of a new arts district in Astoria

Van Bramer at the announcement of a new arts district in Astoria

New York Times

He played drums as a teenager for the St. Joseph’s Brigade, a Catholic fife, drum and bugle corps. He fondly recalls singing along to his mother’s 45s while he and his seven siblings cleaned their childhood home in Astoria, Queens. (“Top of the World,” by the Carpenters was a favorite.)

And as a fan of musicals, he notes that a high point of his 2010 inauguration into the City Council was a student rendition of “Somewhere,” from “West Side Story.”

Still, Jimmy Van Bramer does not have the standard résumé for someone who has emerged as an important cultural figure in New York City.

No music school degree. No time spent as a corporate bigwig on a major cultural board. No parents with an outspoken passion for the arts.

Nonetheless, as chairman of the Cultural Affairs Committee — and now majority leader — Mr. Van Bramer has carved out a niche as the Council’s champion of the arts, one whom cultural organizations have come to rely on as they press their agenda forward with a new administration.

For the full story, please click here


New condo to go up near MoMA PS1

11-51 47th

Rendering (11-51 47th)

April 7, By Christian Murray

The development of Hunters Point continues, with reports that a new condo building is going up adjacent to MoMA PS1, at 11-51 47th Avenue.

The property, based on its rendering, will be a 54-unit condo, according to New York YIMBY. The development will be 70,000 square feet and designed by Fogarty Finger.

Fogarty Finger designed Five27, the 27-unit condo located at 5-27 51st Avenue, which sold out last month.

The news of this project comes a day after Community Board 2 gave its blessing to a developer who seeks a zoning change at 11-55 49th Avenue.

The new zoning would allow Maddd Equities, the developer, to construct a 12 story, 140 unit rental building (28 to be affordable) on that site.

However, the application for a zoning change still needs to go before the Queens Borough President, the City Planning Commission and the City Council.


11-51 47th Avenue today

Young recruits join old guard on Community Board 2

Van Bramer announces new appointments Thursday

Van Bramer announces new appointments Thursday

April 6, By Christian Murray

Community Board 2, which represents Sunnyside, Woodside and Long Island City, is getting an injection of young blood.

Four new members were appointed to the 50-member board Thursday, following some recent departures. The board, which is known for having very little turnover, plays an influential advisory role in reviewing new developments and in the issuance of liquor licenses.

The new members include three people below the age of 30, with the fourth being a woman in her mid 30s, who will become the board’s only bar/restaurant owner.

The appointees, who were selected by Queens Borough president Melinda Katz, were based on the recommendations of Councilman Jimmy Van Bramer.  All new appointments to Queens’ community boards are made either by a sitting councilman or the Queens Borough president.

Van Bramer said he wanted to bring on some young people.

“I made a concerted effort to bring younger people on to the community board,” Van Bramer said.  “I feel strongly about young people getting involved into civic process.”

Van Bramer, who views turnover as good, said new people provide fresh ideas and new viewpoints.

The board tends to have many older, long-serving members–since there are no term limits and individuals only lose their spots if they leave the district or have very poor attendance records.

Van Bramer said he recommended Juan Carlos Rivera, a 20-year-old resident of Woodside, who is currently attending Baruch College to the board. Van Bramer said he met Rivera when he was the president of student government at Information Technology High School in Long Island City. “He is very smart and very mature for his age.”

Rivera was joined Thursday by Jordan Levine, 25, from Sunnyside. Levine recently worked for State Sen. Daniel Squadron and in that role would attend community board meetings in lower Manhattan and Brooklyn.

Dana Frankel, 29, who lives and works in Long Island City, joined the board. She is the Director of Economic Development for the Long Island City Partnership, where she organizes events and monitoring the activities of the area.

“I’ve been impressed with her work,” Van Bramer said about Frankel. “She is also extremely dedicated to the community.”

Rebecca Trent, the owner of the Creek and the Cave, will be the only bar/restaurant owner to be on the board. Trent, 36, who is also the head of LIC Eateries ( a group of LIC bars/restaurants), has been in talks for a few years to get on the board. However, with the lack of turnover she has had to wait.

“I thought it was outrageous that there was not one restaurant owner on the community board, especially with all the SLA (State Liquor Authority) issues and discussions about back yard use [in Long Island City},” she said.

Van Bramer said she had a very compelling case and that is why he wanted her on the board.

Van Bramer said that Trent has been invaluable in bringing the fight to the MTA concerning the lack of weekend 7 train service this year.

Each new member will be meeting with Community Board 2 chair Joseph Conley. Conley will assign each members to a committee.

Participatory budgeting coming to Sunnyside, Woodside, Long Island City

April 4, By Christian Murray

Residents of Sunnyside, Woodside and Long Island City will soon have a direct say on how $1 million in city funds will be spent in the district.

Councilman Jimmy Van Bramer, who each year allocates funds for parks, clubs and schools, plans on introducing participatory budgeting in the 2015/2016 fiscal year, where about 30% of the discretionary funds he receives will be put in the hands of the community to spend.

The participatory budgeting program allows residents themselves to determine where to allocate funds for capital projects in the district. The community might decide to spend funds on, say, improving a Long Island City park to funding a Woodside dog run.

The process involves holding a series of town hall meetings and workshops where residents present their ideas to the community and a vote is held on whether an item is worth funding.

“I’m excited by this,” Van Bramer said. “It is a community driven process that allows people to vote,” he said. “It is a way to increase transparency.”

Van Bramer said he is reluctant to allow the community to vote on all or most of the funds. He said that some groups that are not as well organized might be overlooked in the process. However, he said, he will monitor how it works out and will make changes accordingly.

How Would You Spend One Million Dollars? from PBP on Vimeo.


ups advertising sunnyside post-1

LIC Flea & Food kicks off this Saturday

LIC Flea

LIC Flea 2013

April 3, By Christian Murray

The LIC Flea & Food kicks off Saturday and will be open every Saturday and Sunday until fall.

The market will be hosting more than 85 vendors and will offer food, jewelry, fashion, furniture, art and crafts, antiques, collectibles and more.

The market will also feature activities including ping pong and bouncy houses for children.

During the opening weekend, the New York Cosmos soccer team will also be on site offering soccer clinics.

The flea will run from 10am through 6 pm every day it is open. It is located on an empty lot at the corner of Fifth Street and 46th Avenue, just one block behind the Pepsi-Cola sign.

The flea plans to sell alcohol this year and is in the process of applying for a liquor license. It is currently seeking the approval of Community Board 2, which advises the State Liquor Authority as to whether a license should be granted. The flea’s next meeting with the community board is scheduled for April 9.

Meanwhile, the LIC Flea & Food will be opening a second market next month, which will be in Astoria. It has partnered with Kaufman Astoria Studios, which will host the event on its outdoor lot, located on 36th Street between 34th and 35th avenues.

The market, which is aptly called the Astoria Flea & Food, will open on May 4.  It will take place for eight consecutive Sundays.