Long Island City Post

Long Island City NY news

John F. Murray Playground’s construction work is complete, entire park is now open

John F. Murray Playground

John F. Murray Playground

July 1, By Christian Murray

The construction work on the eastern portion of John F. Murray Playground has been completed and that section of the park —-along with the rest of it– is now open to the public.

The construction work represented the creation of a new central green as well as a new performance area. The New York City Parks Department spent $1.275 million on the work and the improvements are just part of the major overhaul that Murray Playground has undergone in recent years.

Murray Playground stretches from 11th to 21st Street, and is bounded by 45th Avenue and 45th Road. The park features a baseball/soccer field, handball/ basketball courts, a children’s play area, a dog run and a garden.

However, this project specifically involved the creation of a new central green and a new performance area.

The central green has been lined with 1964 World’s Fair-design benches and surrounded by a walking path constructed using paving stones. Meanwhile, the new performance area provides a stage area and a tiered seating wall.

As part of the project, the Parks Department has planted more trees and shrubs.

Councilman Jimmy Van Bramer welcomed the new performance space. “It’s a great addition and I am a big supporter of providing outdoor venues where artists can perform,” he said.  It makes sense in this community, he said, since “Long Island City is home to so many artists and performers.”

Van Bramer said that many people will enjoy the additional greenery and the landscape improvements. He also noted that Murray Playground has undergone a major overhaul in recent years and that the entire playground has become a “neighborhood jewel.”

Van Bramer said that there will be an official ribbon cutting in about two weeks.

French bakery to move into Hunters Point by September

French Bakery

Cannelle Patisserie, a French bakery, to open in September

June 30, By Michael Florio

Long Island City is in for a treat.

Cannelle Patisserie, a popular French bakery that opened in Jackson Heights more than six years ago, will be branching out into Hunters Point this September.

The bakery, which will be located on the ground floor of The Maximilian building at 5-11 47th Ave, will offer cakes, pastries, macaroons and sandwiches—much like its Jackson Heights location, according to co-owner Jean-Claude Perennou.

Perennou, a French native who lives in Long Island City, has plenty of industry experience.

Prior to opening Cannelle Patisserie, Perennou was a pastry chef at the Waldorf Astoria for more than a decade—and has worked at several restaurants in New York and Paris. He attended Le Paraclet, a culinary school in France.

Perennou said he and his business partner wanted to expand into Long Island City since there is no other French bakery in the neighborhood and that they would be filling a niche.

Furthermore, he said, the new bakery would not be too far from the Jackson Heights location, so they could travel back and forth with relative ease.

Perennou said he looks forward to having a location where people will be able walk to the store. Currently, he said most people have to drive to get to the Jackson Heights bakery.

The new bakery will remain open later than a conventional dessert store, he said, to accommodate the late-night crowds. He said he is considering staying open until 9 p.m. on weekdays and 10 on weekends.

“We are looking forward to opening in LIC and eager to start,” he said.

Jackson Heights location

Jackson Heights location

Kickboxing center and Waxing chain to move into 45-45 Center Blvd

TF Cornerstone's 4545 Center Blvd property

TF Cornerstone’s 4545 Center Blvd property

June 27, By Christian Murray

Two new retail stores will be moving into 45-45 Center Boulevard.

The new stores represent the final phase for TF Cornerstone in renting out its Center Blvd commercial space. The company has now leased all its retail space contained within its East Coast Development, which is comprised of eight retail spaces in six buildings.

I Love Kickboxing, the men’s and women’s fitness program with locations around the country, has leased a 2,967-square-foot studio in the 45-45 Center Blvd building, according to Winick Realty, which was the exclusive retail broker for TF Cornerstone.

The firm said that it has also leased a 1,252 square foot space to European Wax Center, a national chain offering a full array of waxing services for men and women, within the same building.

A representative of Winick would not say how much the new tenants paid and was not certain when they were moving in. However, she said the new tenants are currently working on modifying the space.

The two new retail stores will join Mimi & Mo, a children’s salon and clothing store that opened earlier this year, as well as New York Kids Club, which is set to open its 5,000 square foot classroom and gym space later this year in that building.

To date, Latin fusion restaurant Blend, Sweetleaf Coffee and Espresso Bar, and Crank Cycling Studio have all moved in to TF Cornerstone’s East Coast Development. An Italian restaurant is also scheduled to move into 46-10 Center Boulevard.

Weekend bus service along Vernon Boulevard starts Sunday

Q 103 map

Q 103 map

June 27, By Michael Florio

The MTA bus that connects Long Island City with Astoria, via Vernon Blvd., will start offering weekend service this Sunday.

The expanded Q 103 service will be offered on a trial basis over summer, where the MTA will offer weekend service as well as extended weekday hours.

The Q103 currently does not offer weekend service and weekday service ends at 6 pm.

Throughout summer, the Q 103 bus route will now run on weekends, where it will operate northbound from 8am to 8 pm and southbound from 7:30 am to 7:30 pm.

Meanwhile, on weekdays the Q103 will operate northbound from 6:20 am to 9:30 pm and southbound from 5:40 am to 9 pm.

State Senator Michael Gianaris said he wants to see this expanded Q 103 service become permanent. He has said that there is a greater need for public transportation in the area as more people flock to restaurants, parks, and cultural institutions in both neighborhoods.

“I am thrilled the MTA is finally realizing western Queens’ need for increased mass transit is real and pressing,” he said. “This trial expansion is a major step forward and I urge the MTA to take this good idea and make it a permanent reality.”

The trial period goes into effect a little less than a year after the MTA expanded its Q 103 weekday service—when the number of daily trips was increased from 25 to 30. However, at the time, local leaders expressed disappointment that the increased service neglected to include weekend service.

Click here for Q 103 map

Dog and beer mixers to be held monthly, next one scheduled for July 26

June 26, By Christian Murray

More than 150 people and close to 100 dogs showed up for the inaugural dog and beer event at Hunters Point Park South earlier this month.

The organizer, Rick Hall, who runs the event company Paws & Pints, was so encouraged by the turnout that he has already scheduled another event. The next dog and beer mixer will be held at LIC Landing—the same location– on Saturday, July 26, he said.

“We got three times the turnout of what we expected,” Hall said, adding that people even showed up without dogs just to see what it was all about.

The concept is to bring dog owners together for a beer, while also providing their dogs with the excitement of a local dog run.

The event went so well that Hall said he will be holding it monthly until the end of October.

“The dog owners are looking for a place to socialize and they also want their dogs to socialize,” Hall said.

Attendees to the events will receive a wristband that entitles them to discounted food and beer at LIC Landing by Coffeed. However, in order to get a wristband, there is a suggested donation of $10.

The $10 is then used to raise funds for Patriot Paws, a Texas-based organization that provides working service dogs to veterans at no charge. At the first event, $522 was raised.

The dogs that attend will receive treats, toys and the company of other dogs.

Hall said that the events will also be used as an opportunity to remind dog owners of some of the basic rules of the park—such as no dogs are permitted to be on the grass.

pints&pawsEvent Details:

Date: July 26 (Saturday)

Time: 5-7 pm

Location: LIC Landing

Two new real estate firms open in Hunters Point

Jackson Avenue

Jackson Avenue

June 26, By Christian Murray

The real estate firms continue to move into Long Island City.

A-Class Realty, a small real estate firm based in Astoria, is opening an office at 10-31 Jackson Avenue.

The new office is located next door to a recently-opened State Farm, and on the same block as Station LIC, the bar/restaurant that is opening in July. The block about a year ago was for the most part empty.

A-Class Realty, owned by Tony Mazzara, will largely focus on rentals and will be comprised of about 8 agents. It is expected to open Friday or early next week. This will be the firm’s second office.

The Astoria office, located at 32-32 Steinway, deals in commercial and residential property.

Meanwhile, Christie Property Group, a real estate firm with an office in Manhattan and another in Westchester, opened a branch in Hunters Point—at 10-57 47th Avenue—earlier this month.

Jackson Avenue (a year ago) GMAPS

Jackson Avenue (a year ago) GMAPS

5th Street one-way conversion to take place week of July 7th

5th Street

5th Street

June 24, By Christian Murray

The Department of Transportation will be converting 5th Street (btw. 46th Road and 50th Ave.) into a one-way, south bound street the week of July 7th.

Community Board 2 and Councilman Jimmy Van Bramer’s office were notified by the DOT of the plans recently—and were also informed that two speed bumps will be added at the same time the street is converted.

The community board, particularly its chairman Joe Conley, has been pushing the DOT hard for the past 18 months to convert it into a one-way. The community board approved the conversion—and the addition of the street bumps—well over a year ago.

Meanwhile, Van Bramer has also been a fierce advocate for these changes through press conferences and constant DOT outreach.

The primary reason for the change is that 5th Street is very narrow and has become a hazard. When cars are parked on both sides of the street, there’s only 16-18 feet for two-way traffic, the DOT has said.

The DOT at a recent meeting said it was going to convert the street into a one-way–and then add the speed bumps at a later date. However, the DOT’s plan was subject to a lot of criticism from members of Community Board 2’s Transportation Committee.

The board feared that the one-way street—without the traffic calming measures of speed bumps—would be dangerous.

The DOT will add speed bumps at 48th and 49th Avenues to slow traffic.

“I am proud to have fought for these much needed improvements,” Van Bramer said.”The one-way conversion and addition of speed humps along 5th Street will make this residential strip safer for all local residents, families and children who live in Long Island City.”

The DOT has said that it has been waiting until summer to do the work, so parents at nearby schools would not be confused by changing road signs and traffic signals.

Owners of Shi and Skinny’s Cantina plan to open bakery on Jackson Ave. Wednesday

Pink Canary Desserts, Long Island City

13-11 Jackson Avenue

June 23, By Christian Murray

A new bakery is opening on Jackson Avenue Wednesday that will be focusing on specialty cakes and cupcakes.

The bakery, called Pink Canary Desserts, is located at 13-11 Jackson Avenue, and represents a joint venture between the owners of the restaurants Shi and Skinny Cantina, and Joseph Polito, who has been providing baked goods for Shi since it opened several years ago.

Polito, who already owns a bakery in Bellmore, said that when he started working with Shih Lee, who owns Shi and Skinny Cantina with his brother Skinny, it was evident then that Long Island City was beginning to attract young families.

“I wanted to get involved in Long Island City right then,” Polito said. “I could see the opportunity.”

Six years later, Polito and the Lee brothers are set to open a bakery. Their dessert shop will not only focus on cakes and cupcakes, but it will sell cookies, croissants, muffins, pastries and a host of other items.

Polito, who went to culinary school to be a chef, decided upon graduating to focus on baking. He said that he likes the creative side of the business.

He said he enjoys making giant cupcakes and seasonal cupcakes. At his Bellmore bakery he recently sold New York Ranger [hockey] cupcakes. He is now thinking about world cup soccer cupcakes.

canary_logo_glow“We open up the papers to see what people are talking about and then we might make a cupcake from it,” he said. “It’s a fun business.”

Polito said that there is still a strong demand for cupcakes.

“Everyone expected cupcakes to go away thinking it was a trend,” Polito said. However, he said, they will always be popular since “cupcakes are very convenient and people can afford $2.75 or $3.00 depending on the size.”

The baked goods will be delivered from his Bellmore bakery twice a day.

He said that everything will be made fresh with nothing coming out of the freezer. The cake and the fillings will all be made to order. “It makes a real difference.”

The bakery will be open from 7 am through to 9pm seven days per week.


Details: Pre-opening: Wednesday, June 25: 4:00 pm -7:00 pm (all are welcome)

Official opening: Thursday, June 26, Starts at 2:00pm

Location: 13-11 Jackson Avenue

City stops film shoots in Hunters Point for six months, following barrage of complaints

Blue Bloods (photo: George Burles)

Blue Bloods, which has often filmed in LIC, does a shoot in Sunnyside

June 20, By Christian Murray

Hunters Point residents have complained for years about the excessive number of production companies filming in neighborhood—taking valuable parking spaces, creating noise and shining bright lights through people’s windows.

Residents will no longer have to contend with these issues for the next six months. The Mayor’s Office of Media and Entertainment has implemented a 6-month ban on filming (starting June 4) from 46th Avenue to 49th Ave., between Center Blvd and Vernon Blvd. The ban, first reported by the Daily News, essentially stops all filming on Vernon Blvd during that six month period.

The moratorium follows a letter sent by Community Board 2 in March complaining about the frequency of filming within a few select blocks in Hunters Point. The hotspots were deemed to be Vernon Boulevard, Borden Avenue and 48th Avenue.

Production companies have found Hunters Point to be an ideal place for filming—with its East River views and proximately to Manhattan.

Joe Conley, Chairman of Community Board 2, said that the city issued 15 film permits in the area during the first four months of the year. He said that Hunters Point had become the backdrop for shows such as The Good Wife, The Blacklist, The Black Box and Person of Interest.

“About two years ago, we had five different film shoots happening on one day,” Conley recalled.

Conley, who has worked with Van Bramer on the issue, said that nobody is trying to shut the film industry down. However, he said, the city should not grant production permits automatically. It should take into consideration the number of permits that have already been issued in the neighborhood.

Developers likely to start building condos, as young renters want to put down roots

Rockrose's Linc LIC

Rockrose’s Linc LIC in Court Square

June 19, By Christian Murray

Several of Long Island City’s leading real estate experts believe that developers will start focusing on building condos now that the neighborhood is starting to mature.

Developers have largely focused on building rental units since coming to the neighborhood a little over a decade ago. For instance, TF Cornerstone has built six out of its seven waterfront properties as rentals. Rockrose, too, has focused on rentals since it started building in Court Square.

However, this focus is likely to change.

“You have all these renters coming in who are falling in love with [Long Island City] and are getting invested in it,” said Justin Elghanayan, president of Rockrose, who was a panelist at the LIC Summit on Tuesday. “We are gestating a large condo market…where there are a lot of young people who start renting and then want to stay.”

Rockrose is in the midst of developing four buildings in Court Square totaling 2,200 units. “The final building of the four may be [a small] condo,” Elghanayan said. He said that developers tend not to build condos until an area has matured and taken shape.

However, many renters are moving out of Long Island City despite their love of the area.

Eric Benaim, founder of Modern Spaces and another panelist at the LIC Summit, said a big factor for their departure is the lack of 3 bedroom apartments in the neighborhood. He said that in most buildings about 30% are 2 bedrooms, with the remainder typically studios and 1 bedrooms.

“There is demand for—yet lack of–3 bedrooms in the neighborhood…and families are moving out to the suburbs since they can’t find any large apartments,” Benaim said.

Kevin Singleton, executive vice president at TF Cornerstone and panelist, said the neighborhood has more families than the company ever anticipated.

He said that when the company developed 45-45 Center Boulevard it constructed a children’s playground catering to the needs of 45 children. “Now we have a waiting list to use it…so there are a lot of children and strollers,” Singleton said.

The demand from families was also evident at TF Cornerstone’s 184 condo development The View. “We found a diverse population, lots of families, lots of strollers,” Singleton said. “We didn’t anticipate the need for stroller parking originally, but now we have that need.”

TF Cornerstone’s most recent building, however, 46-10 Center Boulevard, caters mainly to single urban professionals. The majority of units are studio apartments, Singleton said.

Elghanayan said that he was not concerned by claims that there is a lack of retail in the area. He said that stores will continue to open in the area as the population increases. Currently, developers are providing incentives for retailers to come to the area.

Nevertheless, Long Island City is not a place where the dollar goes far.

Benaim, speaking in general terms, said that rents on the waterfront tend to go for between $55 to $60 per square foot; Court Square about $50 per to $55 per square foot; and Queens Plaza in the high $40s.

Condos are selling on average for about $1,000 per square foot, Benaim said.

Tishman Speyer announces 1,600 unit Queens Plaza development

2 Gotham Center (during construction)

2 Gotham Center (during construction)

June 18, By Christian Murray

Tishman Speyer and a Toronto-based real estate investment company announced Tuesday that they are developing as many as 1,600 residential units on a site next to 2 Gotham Center, which is located on Queens Plaza South.

The development will be built in three phases, with the initial phase involving the construction of a 42-story tower, which will include 700 rental apartments. Construction on the first phase is expected to begin in 2015 with occupancy expected to commence in 2017.

By the time the development is complete, Tishman and H&R Real Estate Investment Trust aim to build 3 towers, 1,600 residental units and about 30,000 square feet of ground floor retail.

Tishman Speyer Co-CEOs Jerry Speyer and Rob Speyer said in a statement: “Tishman Speyer has long been committed to Long Island City and its ongoing transformation as a dynamic mixed-use district.”

Tishman was the developer of 2 Gotham Center, a 21-story building that was once the home to a municipal parking lot that is now leased by the NYC Department of Health & Mental Hygiene.

Real estate experts claim that the Queensboro Plaza/Court Square area can absorb the influx of new units. “The absorption rate is fast right now,” said Eric Benaim, the founder of Modern Spaces, who spoke on real estate panel, held by the LIC Partnership yesterday.

“I welcome this development,” said fellow panelist Justin Elghanayan, president of Rockrose Development Corp, which owns the Linc in Court Square and is developing several other sites nearby. “While in the short term competition can depress rents slightly, over time it brings in more retailers and is positive for the neighborhood.”

2014 LGBT Pride Brunch

Train-themed restaurant to open next month

Station LIC

Station LIC

June 17, By Christian Murray

The train is about to pull into the station.

Station LIC, a restaurant to be located at 10-37 Jackson Avenue, will be opening in about four weeks, according to co-owner Gregory Okshteyn.

Okshteyn, a Long Island City resident who designs restaurants for a living, said he is putting the finishing touches on the bar/restaurant, a project that has involved converting a vacant building above the Vernon Blvd/Jackson Ave subway station into a train-themed bar/restaurant.

“The kitchens installed, we have our liquor license and all of our approvals,” Okshteyn said. “It’s now about putting the icing on the cake.”

The restaurant is located inside a triangular-shaped building, which looks like a station house, that has been empty for more than a decade. Okshteyn has already placed a railroad light on the exterior of the building—indicating where the door is—and is in the midst of putting old lanterns and signs throughout the dining area.

Okskteyn said that the bar/restaurant will cater to between 70-75 people. About 55 restaurant goers will be seated upstairs, with 15-20 people downstairs in the cellar.

The cellar space will be available for private events or spill over from the dining room upstairs. The downstairs will contain plastic images of train wrecks.

The restaurant will be open from 5pm through 2 am seven days per week. It will offer brunch on Saturdays and Sundays about a month after opening from 12 through 4 pm.

Okshteyn said he hopes the unique train station theme will draw people from other neighborhoods–as well as Manhattan residents.

“We have the Jackson Ave station right below us and you can literally hear the subway in our cellar…and we are one stop away from Grand Central station,” Okshteyn said earlier this year.

“The train station theme is so much fun because it is a rich genre for decorative inspiration and it is also known for transporting people,” Okshteyn said. “When you go out, you want to feel like you are transported somewhere and taken away for a few hours.”

Business partner Christoper Ferrante, who graduated from the Culinary Institute of America and ran Bar 89 in Manhattan, has designed the menu, food and bar program.

The menu, Ferrante said, will feature small dishes such as broccoli Parmesan fritters; mini-pressed sandwiches; jalapeno peppers wrapped in bacon; spice-rubbed roast chicken; roasted vegetables in French herbs; and burgers.

Ferrante said that there will be an extensive cocktail list and beer will be sold by the bottle.

While empty for the past decade, the location has a rich history. It was the home of a successful saloon called Blessinger’s and was also featured in the 1980’s Tom Cruise film ‘Cocktail.’