Hunters Point group celebrates its beginning with park event

Source: Hunters Point Parks Conservancy

Source: Hunters Point Parks Conservancy

June 3, By Christian Murray,

More than 120 people attended a party at Hunters Point South Park on Saturday to celebrate the formation of a new group that aims to improve all the parks in the neighborhood—as well as to pay tribute to the organizers who paved the way for it.

The event marked the establishment of the Hunters Point Parks Conservancy– a group that will organize events, improve the neighborhood’s green space and work with government officials—whether it be on matters associated with Gantry Plaza State Park, Hunters Point South Park or smaller park space.

The new group is an outgrowth of the Friends of Gantry Neighborhood Parks that has for many years dealt with issues pertaining to Gantry Plaza State Park.

The opening of Hunters Point South Park, a city park, was what prompted the creation of the new organization– as there was discussion among some residents about forming a new group to address issues at that park. However, it was later decided that there should be one group that handles all park matters in the area.

On Saturday, Friends of Gantry Neighborhood Parks celebrated its 16th anniversary as well as the formation of the larger organization. All party goers were treated to craft beer, wine and food provided by LIC Landing by Coffeed.

“We want to make sure that all Long Island City residents and stakeholders have a say in all this beautiful space,” said Christian Amez, a Conservancy board member who hosted the event and unveiled the group’s new logo.

“This is our Central Park,” said Councilman Jimmy Van Bramer, at the event, who said the collective state/city park space is only going to get bigger. “This is the tip of the iceberg, it’s going to go all the way down to Newtown Creek.”

Costa Constantinides, Astoria’s councilman, looked out on the East River when he spoke and said that he plans to connect Long Island City and Astoria by water. He commented on the majesty of the park.

Bill Bylewski, the president of the Conservancy and long-time leader of the Friends of Gantry, said in an understated fashion: “We were very happy with the event. We printed 100 programs and they were all gone.”

Jimmy Van Bramer and Christian Amez

Jimmy Van Bramer and Christian Amez

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3 Responses to Hunters Point group celebrates its beginning with park event

  1. Christian Amez

    Thank you to City Council Majority Leader Jimmy Van Bramer, Assemblywoman Margaret Markey, Council Member Costa Constantinides, David Aglialoro of Assemblywoman Catherine Nolan's office, our executive officers, members, and all the Guests of Honor, sponsors, and friends who attended. It was a joy and privilege to host the event, as my recent experience falling in love with Long Island City's magnificent waterfront is true of tens of thousands of visitors that bring business and activity to the Hunters Point village every year. I look forward to continue serving Long Island City through this non-profit, all-volunteer group, and want everyone to know that 100% of the proceeds we made this night - and on future dates - go to the care, beautification, and programming at these parks. To learn how to get involved, click on my name to go to our Facebook page, and Like the Hunters Point Parks Cnservancy.

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  2. hunterspointsisnotavillage

    Since when is Hunters Point a village, also spell check would help.

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  3. BBlic

    Hunters Point was a village until it became part of Long Island City in 1870. With its main street of Vernon Boulevard, lined by small buildings with restaurants and shops and anchored by the steeple of St. Mary's along with its clearly bounded geography and tight knit community, Hunters Point recalls life in a much smaller place than the huge metropolis of New York.

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The Beer Closet, which will offer 400-different types of beer, to open next week
Beer Closet (file photo)

Beer Closet (file photo)

Oct. 1, By Christian Murray

A new store that plans to offer as many as 400 domestic and foreign beers is expected to open on 51st Avenue next week.

The Beer Closet, located at 5-35 51st Avenue, will be selling bottles and cans from across the globe. It will sell five craft beers by the growler, a number that will grow over time.

The Beer Closet will initially sell about 150 different beers and will ramp-up the number in coming months. Initially, the owner will sell cheese and chocolate—items that the owner said goes with beer.

The business is owned by Mario Cruz, who has worked at Vernon Wine & Liquor for the past 2 years. Cruz, a 32-year-old former marine, got the idea for the store after many customers would walk into the liquor store also requesting beer.

The owners of Vernon Wine & Liquor also have a stake in the business and will offer loyalty programs—where points accumulated at one store can be redeemed at the other.

Cruz said that in the first year the focus will be on developing the retail operation.

However, next year he would like to have a bar/tasting area at the back of the store with the possibility of opening the rear yard. Cruz, however, said recently that he would monitor the discussions concerning backyard use to see whether that it is a viable option.

The retail store will be cut off from the potential bar/tasting space—via a wall. There will be access through to the rear space via French doors. The owner has created the partition since a separate space is needed for the bar/tasting area in order to get a liquor license.

A grand opening party has been tentatively planned for Saturday, Oct. 18.

Meanwhile, Vernon Wine & Liquor has been undergoing a significant makeover. The back off the store—where the wine is kept—has been completely revamped. The front area is also undergoing change—with plans for a new awning.

“We want to be known for being a wine shop as opposed to a liquor store,” said Vanessa Conway, the store manager, whose fiance is a co-owner of the store. “We will keep offering all the basics… but will pay more attention on wine.”

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Casa Enrique and M. Wells Steakhouse win Michelin star

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Sept. 30, By Christian Murray

Michelin Travel Publications rolled out its New York City’s 2015 Michelin Guide today, and two out of the 73 area restaurants that earned the highly sought honor—a star–are from Long Island City.

Casa Enrique, the Mexican restaurant located at 5-48 49thAve, and M. Wells Steakhouse, which opened at 43-15 Crescent Street less than a year, were honored with a star.

The Michelin Guide, or Le Guide Michelin, awards the top restaurants with one, two or three stars. It is only the exceptional restaurants that make the cut. Only six restaurants received 3 stars, with nine restaurants receiving 2. (Click for list)

The guide’s recommendations are put together by a team of anonymous inspectors, who all undergo strict training and sign confidentiality agreements before filing their assigned reports.

Last week, Alobar and John Brown Smokehouse were among the Michelin 2015 “Bib Gourmand” picks, which notes those restaurants that provide high-quality cuisine at a reasonable price.
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Hundreds turn out in quest for Hunters Point affordable housing, as residents learn about rental prices and income limits

Affordable-housing-004-560x323Sept. 30, By Christian Murray

More than 400-people attended an affordable housing meeting in Sunnyside last night to see whether they would be eligible for a piece of the Hunters Point South dream.

The goal for most was to find out how whether they qualified for one of the 925 affordable units on offer—which comes with building amenities such as a fitness center, outdoor terrace, internet café and meeting rooms.

The complex, which contains two buildings, will be comprised of studios, 1 brms, 2 brms and 3 bedroom units.

The application period is expected to begin October 15 and there will be 186 apartments available to those applicants who fall under the “low income” bracket. To qualify as low income, an applicant seeking a studio cannot make more than $30,000—while a family seeking a 3 bedroom unit must earn less than $50,000 per year.

For those who qualify for the “low income” bracket, the rents would range in price from $494 per month for a studio to as high as $959 for a three bedroom.

However, many attendees wanted to find out about the 738 “moderate income” apartments on offer. The maximum income permitted to be eligible for a studio was a little over $130,000, while the maximum household income for a 3 bedroom unit is about $225,000.

affordablerents

The rents for “moderate income” earners will range from $1,561-$1997 for a studio, $1,965-2,509 for a one bedroom, $2,366-$3,300 for a 2 bedroom and $2,729-$4,346 for a three bedroom.

“This is the best apartment deal in New York City,” said Frank Monterisis, the senior vice president of Related Companies. He said the waterfront complex comes with all the modern fixtures and amenities.

However, some residents said after the meeting that they thought the “moderate income” apartments were too expensive and complained that they made too much money to qualify for the “low income” units.

One man said during the meeting that he was paying less rent now than what the affordable [moderate income] units will be.

However, while some people grumbled, the rents are still significantly less than what is available on the open market. In a recent report released by Modern Spaces, the average studio apartment in a luxury Long Island City building is currently renting for more than $2,500, while one bedrooms are going for about $3,200.

The Hunters Point South apartments, unlike the other luxury Hunters Point buildings, will be “permanently” affordable. Therefore, the rent renewals are determined by a New York City formula– based on the Rent Guidelines Board.

Furthermore, once a lease is signed, tenants are not subject to any income restrictions from that point on.

However, the key is getting an apartment in the first place—and tens of thousands of people are expected to apply.

Attendees were told that they will have 60 days to get their application in after the application period begins. Monterisi said that there will be a vigorous marketing campaign once the 60-day period opens. Residents can also register at HuntersPointSouthLiving.com to be notified of the date.

Community Board 2 residents—who currently live in Sunnyside, Woodside and Long Island City—will be given priority over outside applicants on 50% of the units.

The application can be submitted online at New York Housing Connect (nyc.gov/housingconnect). Applicants will be required to create a personal profile that provides details as to their income, assets and the number of people who are likely to live in a given unit.

There is no actual limit on assets when applying for a “moderate” apartment. The main focus is on the applicant’s earnings and whether those assets will affect that figure.

Successful applicants will be notified during the first quarter of 2015, with the goal for it to be fully leased by spring 2015.

Two more affordable housing meetings have been scheduled, with on Oct. 1 at 7 p.m. at the Big Six Towers in Woodside, and the other on Oct. 6 at 7 p.m. at the Academy for Careers in Film & TV.

affordablehousingmoderate income

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Co-owner of The Baroness bar opens performance center in Dutch Kills
Space for private lessons

Space for private lessons

Melanie Lema

Melanie Lemieux

Sept. 29, By Michael Florio

A new performance center offering music and dance classes opened in Long Island City last week.

New York Stage of Mind, a performance-based music education center featuring singing, dancing and acting classes, opened last Tuesday in Dutch Kills at 37-34 29th Street.

Melanie Lemieux, a Montreal native who has lived in Dutch Kills for the past four years, is the owner-operator of the 2,000 square foot center. She also co-owns The Baroness, a bar located at 41-26 Crescent Street, with her husband, Kyle Radzyminski.

Lemieux said that Dutch Kills—as well as the greater Long Island City area—lacked a performance center like hers.

“LIC is constantly expanding and there is a need for a place that offers an intense musical theater program,” Lemieux said.

Lemieux said that she will be offering private lessons for voice, piano and guitar. There will also be dance programs in jazz, hip-hop, modern dance and tap.

The center will offer a weekly musical theater program, which consists of singing lessons and dance. The program will be offered to children, teenagers and adults. The program runs for a semester and at the end each semester the group will perform a musical.

The performance center will also have children’s classes, including the Broadway Youth Intro class, which will teach children ages four through six musical development and dance technique.

“There are a lot of new parents with young kids in the neighborhood and this is something new to offer them,” Lemieux said.

A Mommy and Me class will also be available.

This Wednesday, between 2 pm and 9 pm there will be an open house, where people can take a look at the facility and review the programs.

Lemieux said she has her master’s degree in singing and has performed for Cirque du Soleil, USO Liberty Bells and several other productions. She said that the other instructors have graduated from prestigious musical institutions. Many are still active on Broadway and Off-Broadway.

For more information, please click here.

Dance area

Dance area

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Upscale cafe/bar opens at Gantry Park Landing complex

LIC1-465x310

Sept. 28, By Christian Murray

Beans, Grapes and Leaves—an upscale coffee, tea and wine bar—opened Wednesday on the ground floor of the newly developed Gantry Park Landing complex at 2-14 50th Avenue.

The café offers premium coffee and tea–as well as four craft beers on tap and an extensive wine menu with more than 30 reds and 15 whites on offer. It also serves pastries and array of sandwiches.

“Think of a premium version of Starbucks with wine and beer,” said Simon Khan, the owner of the establishment, yesterday. “That is the concept and if it does well we will open other stores.”

Khan, a Sunnyside resident, is not new to the café business. He is a co-owner of Guy & Gallard, a company that has seven coffee /specialty food stores in Manhattan.

Khan said that he has been pleased with the reception Beans, Grapes and Leaves has received since opening. “This is our first weekend and people seem to like it.”

The café is the first of three commercial establishments to go into the Gantry Park Landing Complex.

Urban Market, a 7,500-square gourmet food store that will offer fresh meat and seafood, is expected to open by the end of the year.

Meanwhile, an urgent medical care center– North Shore-LIJ– is likely to open early 2015. It will be about 4,300 square feet in size.

The residential apartments in the building have all been leased. The 199 units went on the market in July, with rents starting at $1,875 for a studio, $2,450 for a one-bedroom and $3,250 for a two-bedroom.

Beans, Grapes and Leaves

Beans, Grapes and Leaves

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Italian group to hold procession along Vernon Blvd. Sunday, as piece of LIC history lives on

Italianevent

Sept. 25, By Christian Murray

A piece of old-world Italian tradition will be on display on Vernon Boulevard this Sunday.

Members of Societa Sant’ Amato Di Nusco, which is located at 47-39 Vernon Boulevard, will be holding their annual procession through the streets of Hunters Point. The members will carry a life-sized statue of their patron saint, Saint Amato, as they pay homage to him.

Saint Amato is believed to have lived in the town of Nusco, about 40 miles outside of Naples, during the 11th century. He was canonized following his death in September 1093.

The Societa was established in 1903 by immigrants from Nusco, and since then they have paid tribute to their patron saint on the last Sunday of September.

“This was a big tradition we brought with us from Nucso,” said Frank Stagliano, the club’s secretary. “He [Saint Amato] is like our home town boy.”

The club, which operated out of Long Island City church basements and meeting halls in its early years, bought its Vernon Boulevard building in 1959, Stagliano said. He said that the club today has about 150 to 200 members, with about one-quarter of them still living in Long Island City.

Stagliano said that all the members are all from Nusco or have ancestors from there.

The group was founded to help fellow immigrants make their way in America, at a time when there were no social services to help those in need.

Sunday’s procession is the biggest event on the club’s calendar. The event starts at the club at 10 am, with the procession beginning at 11:30 am. It is followed by a church service at St Mary’s at 1 pm.

The procession will incorporate sections of 11th Street, Vernon Boulevard, 47th Road, 47th Avenue, 48th Avenue and Center Boulevard.

Italianparade

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Demolition of 5 Pointz enters a new phase
Source: David Or

Source: David Orecchia (from Citibank building)

Sept. 24, By Christian Murray,

The demolition of 5 Pointz appears to be entering into a new phase as workers get ready to take down the main structure.

The low-rise warehouse complex at the rear of the building has gone and work has begun on demolishing the main area where artists would gather for events.

A small section within the central meeting area has already been destroyed and workers have brought in heavy machinery to start taking down the main structure.

5 Pointz Sept 24A

5 pOINT sEPT 24B

 

 

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Alobar and John Brown Smokehouse win coveted ‘Bib Gourmand’ award

Alobar

Sept. 24, By Christian Murray

The Michelin Guide has just released its 2015 “Bib Gourmand” picks and Alobar and John Brown Smokehouse (10-43 44th Drive) were among the picks for the best value for money.

These two restaurants were the only Long Island City restaurants to receive the highly-coveted prize. Restaurants are evaluated for excellence on a budget (defined as two courses and wine or dessert for $40 a head).

The Bib Gourmand restaurant winners are widely considered the best and most affordable restaurants in New York.

For the full list, please click here.

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Van Bramer’s hit-and-run bill is passed by the city council
Van Bramer, Maribel Egipciaco , Melissa Mark Viverito (Source: Bill Alatriste)

Van Bramer, Martha Puruncajas , Melissa Mark Viverito (Source: Bill Alatriste)

Sept. 24, By Christian Murray

The city council passed legislation yesterday that would fine drivers who flee the scene of an accident up to $10,000.

The Council voted 49-0 in favor of the legislation that was introduced by Jimmy Van Bramer following three hit-and-run deaths that have occurred in Western Queens in the past year.

“I am proud to have sponsored Intro 371, the ‘Justice for Hit and Run Victims Act,’” Van Bramer said in a statement. “I was moved to introduce this bill in response to the death of three people who were killed in my district by drivers who fled the scene.”

Last September, Luis Bravo, 19, was killed crossing Broadway in Woodside. Meanwhile, Karen Pheras, 20, was struck and killed around the same time crossing Queens Plaza North. Then in March, Martha Puruncajas, 64, was killed crossing Northern Boulevard in Long Island City.

“They all lost their lives because of the unconscionable actions of reckless drivers who showed no concern for the lives of these three people,” Van Bramer said. “We will never know if one or all of them could have been saved had the drivers done the right thing: stopped their car and called 911.”

All three drivers have yet to be caught.

“It’s something you never get over,” said Bravo’s mother, Maribel Egipciaco, at a recent council hearing.”The pain is unbearable, the pain stays,” she said, adding that she hopes stiffer penalties would prevent future tragedies.

Under the bill, those who leave the scene of an incident without taking action would be subject to pay a civil penalty of up to $500 if property damage stems from the incident; $1,000 to $2,000 if a person is injured; and $2,000 to $10,000 if there is serious injury or death.

Currently there are no “civil” penalties in New York City if someone flees.

Criminal penalties are determined by the state lawmakers.

Mayor Bill de Blasio is expected to sign the bill into law. The law would take effect ninety days after he signs it.

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