Long Island City Post

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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.


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.


5Pointz artists to showcase artwork reflecting grief following whitewash


April 2, By Michael Florio

Several 5Pointz graffiti artists are about to showcase their artwork at a local gallery that explores their devastation after they discovered that the graffiti Mecca had been whitewashed.

The Jeffrey Leder Gallery, located at 21-37 45th Road, will host a show dedicated to the artists called “Whitewash.” It begins April 5 and runs through June 8

The show will feature the art work of nine graffiti/aerosol artists and two photographers. It will take up two floors of the gallery and include artists such as Cortes, See TF and Meres One.

“Whitewash, is an answer to the violent act of G&M Realty. Overnight thousands of murals adorning the building known as 5Pointz were destroyed,” said group spokeswoman Marie-Cecile Flaguel in a statement.

The building was abruptly whitewashed by the owners of the 5Pointz building–Jerry and David Wolkoff of G&M Realty—who have plans to demolish the building and erect two high-rise residential towers.

Jerry Wolkoff claimed at the time that he painted the building in order to avoid problems at the time of the building’s demolition.

Wolkoff said he whitewashed the building to stop the torture. “They [the artists] had to take their medicine,” he told LICPost at the time. “They will be upset with me for a day or two … and then everyone will be over it.”

However, it’s been more than four months since the whitewash and the artists remain upset.

Gallery owner Jeffrey Leder said that what happened at 5 Pointz was a big loss to the community, both aesthetically and emotionally.

“There’s an emptiness I experience now that 5Pointz is no more,” he said, whose gallery is near the 5 Pointz building. “It became a part of my life and when it was whitewashed I really missed it.”

Leder said the time is right for the show. “It certainly is time for us to do recognize the great work that has been done,” he said.

Photo: By George Burles

Photo: By George Burles

Former owner of Vernon Blvd salon opens hair studio on Jackson

Enrique Elwart

Enrique Elwart

April 1, By Christian Murray

A Long Island City resident who once owned a hair salon on Vernon Boulevard is about to open a similar establishment on Jackson Avenue.

Enrique Elwart, who owned New York Looks at 47-14 Vernon Blvd until it closed a little over a year ago, plans to open another salon next week.

The salon will be called Phoenix Hair Studio and will be located at 10- 87 Jackson Avenue.

pricelistPhoenix Hair Studio will have 3 hair stylists where customers will be able to get haircuts and chemical services.

Elwart, who has lived in Long Island City for 10 years, said that he has a client base that dates back from his old business.

“I know a lot of people so I decided to open another salon,” Elwart said. He said he sold New York Looks last year since he was ill at the time.

Manetta’s undergoes a small makeover


April 1, Staff Report

The exterior of Manetta’s Ristorante underwent a small makeover today.

The Italian restaurant, located at 10-76 Jackson Avenue, erected a new front awning, the first time it was changed since it opened in 1992, according to a worker.

The restaurant, which serves informal Pan-Italian fare, is well known for its brick-oven pizza, house-made pastas and Mediterranean seafood dishes.

Court Square: Construction of Planned Parenthood Center scheduled to begin next month


21-45 45th Road, Court Square

March 31, By Michael Florio

Court Square, NY: Planned Parenthood of New York is scheduled to start construction on a new health care center, representing its first center in Queens.

The center will be located in Court Square, at 21-45 45th Road, and is expected to open in 2015.

Planned Parenthood is opening the Court Square facility since many women who live in Queens often have to travel to other boroughs to receive treatment. Queens is the only borough in New York without a Planned Parenthood facility at present.

Planned Parenthood anticipates that it will serve 17,500 patients a year at its Court Square facility. The center, like all others, will provide breast and cervical cancer screenings, birth control, STD testing and treatment, abortions and routine gynecological care.

“The new health center will strengthen our ability to provide Queens residents with the essential reproductive health care services they need,” said Joan Malin, President and CEO of Planned Parenthood in a statement.

Planned Parenthood estimates that one in five women in Queens do not have health insurance, based on the latest census figures.

“I’m thrilled that Planned Parenthood of New York City is opening a health center in the borough,” said Sheila Lewandowski of The Chocolate Factory Theater and LIC Business Women. “The success of too many women—and families—in our community is hampered by a lack of affordable, quality health care.”


MTA President tells LIC residents that shuttle bus to Grand Central is unnecessary

Richard Mazda speaking at the MTA town hall meeting

Richard Mazda speaking at the MTA town hall meeting

March 29, By Christian Murray

The MTA heard the message loud and clear at a special meeting Thursday that the Long Island City community wants a shuttle bus that goes directly to Grand Central on weekends when the No. 7 train between Queensboro Plaza and Times Square is closed.

However, MTA President Carmen Bianco told the 200 attendees at PS 78Q that a shuttle bus to Grand Central was unnecessary, claiming that many residents don’t want to go there and that it would not save much in the way of time.

“We know a lot of riders are not going to Grand Central but other places,” Bianco said.  “It would benefit a limited number of people with only a limited gain in time.”

However, political leaders and residents were dumbfounded by these claims.

“Are you making that up?” asked State Sen. Mike Gianaris, referring to Bianco’s claim that the shuttle to Grand Central wouldn’t save much in the way of time–as opposed to the existing route where passengers have to take a shuttle to Queensboro Plaza and then a train. “Is this anecdotal?” Gianaris asked.

Bianco said that he had data to support his case and the MTA’s decision was based on that. However, Gianaris said he found it difficult to believe and wanted Bianco to share that data with the community.

A skeptical Councilman Jimmy Van Bramer said the data would make for some fascinating reading. He also polled the attendees whether they thought a shuttle bus was needed. The audience overwhelmingly replied yes.

The MTA executives spent most of the 2 ½ hour meeting explaining why the work—which will be completed in 2017– was necessary.

Bianco said that the MTA had to install a new communication system (called the Communications-Based Train Control), so it could increase the number of trains it could run per hour as well as enhance safety and reliability.

Bianco said the new system would increase the No. 7 train’s capacity by about 10%—or by about 2 trains per hour. Currently, there are 500,000 riders who use the No. 7 train each business day, with 27 trains running per hour at its peak.

The communications work has been taking place in the Steinway Tube, a narrow space that connects Queens to Manhattan. The tunnel doesn’t have room for workers while the trains are operating so it needs to be closed when repairs and upgrades are made.

Also, while the communications system is being put in place, the MTA said it is repairing the tunnel which was damaged by Hurricane Sandy. Furthermore, it is replacing the elevated tracks, since many are past their 25 year life expectancy.

Despite the comprehensiveness of the MTA’s plan, some residents viewed it as too short sited. They wondered how long the upgraded system would be able to accommodate the increased ridership—given all the new development in Long Island City and elsewhere in the borough.

Several residents said that the 10% increase in capacity– or 2 trains per hour– is not much and were fearful that the MTA would put them through further cuts in years to come when it had to cater to a larger population.

Meanwhile, Richard Mazda, who runs the LIC Arts Open, asked Bianco a direct question: “Can you please promise the community not to close between May 13th and 17th next year?” Mazda explained the significance of the LIC Arts Open festival—which features music, dance, visual art and theater —and the economic benefit to community.

Bianco reportedly told Mazda ‘You got it.’

But Mazda, a long-time critic of the MTA, didn’t let Bianco off the hook. “Maybe tonight’s meeting would have been better being a consultancy meeting in November,” he said. “When you announced the cuts [in December] it angered people by what was perceived as a cynical late announcement that didn’t give us a change to have a voice.”

Meanwhile, Elizabeth Lusskin, the president of the Long Island City Partnership, called on Bianco to change the schedule for the weekend of May 17,  which is when the partnership is having its inaugural Vernon Blvd block party and when the 2014 LIC Arts Open takes place. The LIC Flea will also be open.

The number 7 train on that weekend will be down between Times Square and 74th Street—a more severe closure than the typical Times Square to Queensboro Plaza shut down.

“It’s one weekend, one day when Long Island City is all coming together,” Lusskin said. She said “it’s a body blow.”

Bianco did apologize to the community for the service outage. “We know this isn’t easy, I know this is disruptive…Let me apologize for the inconvenience to you.”

Carmen Bianco, MTA President

Carmen Bianco, MTA President