Long Island City Post

Long Island City NY news

Weekend bus service along Vernon Boulevard likely to become permanent

Q 103 map

Q 103 map

Sept. 2, By Christian Murray

The MTA is likely to be offering weekend service on the bus that connects Long Island City with Astoria, via Vernon Blvd., on a permanent basis.

The expanded Q 103 service, which continues to operate on a trial basis, is expected to be available on weekends as part of its regular schedule. The MTA is also likely to extend its weekday hours.

The MTA in a statement today said that before the schedule is officially made final a public hearing needs to be scheduled. However, the MTA did state: “we have seen increased ridership along the route over the past couple of years to make the additions permanent.”

Sen. Mike Gianaris, who plans to advocate strongly for the changes at the upcoming public hearing, said that “at long last permanent weekend service and extended hours for the Q103 are in sight.”

Gianaris said that although the decision is not final, “the overwhelming support for this initiative from the community and local cultural institutions leaves me optimistic that the extended summer service will be made permanent when the MTA makes its decision.”

The Q103, prior to the trial period that began this summer, did not offer weekend service and weekday service ended at 6 pm.

Since summer, the Q103 bus route has run on weekends, where it has operated northbound from 8am to 8 pm and southbound from 7:30 am to 7:30 pm. That schedule is likely to become permanent.

Meanwhile, on weekdays the Q103 is likely to operate northbound from 6:20 am to 9:30 pm and southbound from 5:40 am to 9 pm when the schedule is finalized.

The date of the public hearing is still being finalized. However, the MTA has until the end of the year to hold it.


G Train service returns to Long Island City on Tuesday

corrosionAugust 29, By Michael Florio

The G train will resume full service again on Tuesday, September 2, after being closed between Greenpoint and Long Island City for five weeks.

The MTA shut down G service at the Greenpoint/Manhattan Ave, 21st/Jackson Avenue and Court Square stations in order to repair the tunnel that links those stations, which was damaged by Superstorm Sandy.

More than 3 million gallons of salt water flooded the tunnel during the storm, which damaged pump controls, electrical equipment, and a variety of other systems.

The MTA has spent more than $80 million repairing the tunnel.

Dedicated cleanup crew hired to maintain Dutch Kills streets

DutchKillsDoeFundAugust 29, By Michael Florio

A cleaning crew has been hired to pick up trash on a commercial street that is on the border of Dutch Kills and Astoria.

Councilman Jimmy Van Bramer announced Thursday that two street cleaners started work Wednesday to sweep the streets and empty trash on 36th Avenue, between 27th Street to 36th Street.

The workers will be on site two days a week from 9 am until 5 pm.

The councilman has allocated $33,000 to The Doe Fund to clean 36th Avenue. The Doe Fund is a non-profit group that hires former inmates and homeless people who are tasked with the job of keeping the streets clean.

“They will clean up the heart of Dutch Kills once and for all,” Van Bramer said. “It has been very challenging to keep this location clean… that’s why I decided to take 36th Ave on.”

Van Bramer said that he has taken part in a number of community cleanups on 36th Avenue and that he had noticed the commercial strip needed more than the standard city services.

“We want business to thrive, people to shop and residents to feel good about their neighborhood,” Van Bramer said.

The expansion into Dutch Kills/Astoria represents Van Bramer’s push to clean a greater number of streets in the district he represents.

Two years ago he recruited the Doe Fund to clean up a large section of Woodside. Last year he brought the program to cover an area in Hunters Point—an area that he expanded this year.

This year, Van Bramer has allocated $133,000 to the Doe Fund to maintain the cleanliness of Woodside, Hunters Point and Astoria/Dutch Kills.

Meanwhile, the expansion into Dutch Kills dovetails with Councilman Costa Constantinides’ introduction of the Doe Fund into central Astoria and Ditmars earlier this year.

Doe Fund workers start off earning minimum wage cleaning up the streets but often leave the program for other jobs.

“This is not where they the workers finish up, it’s where they start,” said George McDonald, founder of The Doe Fund.

While Vernon Blvd thief remains at large, crime is way down

Perpetrator broke in through window covered with plywood

Perpetrator broke in through window covered with plywood


Suspect wanted for break-ins

August 28, By Christian Murray

While the suspect who broke in to three Vernon Boulevard restaurants this summer is still at large, the police report that no further incidents have taken place on the boulevard and that crime throughout the precinct is down.

Captain Brian Hennessy, the commanding officer for the 108 police precinct, said that the police have stepped up their presence on Vernon Boulevard following the incidents. He said the last break-in occurred on July 4, when the perpetrator smashed his way through a side window at LIC Bar.

The break-in at LIC Bar came just weeks after the same perpetrator smashed his way through the glass front door at Manducatis Rustica on June 22 and at Woodbines on June 25. In both incidents, he stole iPads and computer equipment.

Despite these break-ins, Hennessy said that the number of reported crimes throughout the precinct (which covers LIC, Sunnyside and Woodside) has declined, down 28% for the 28 days through August 24, compared to the same 28-day period a year ago. Crime is down 2.4% year-to-date.

This time last year, there were several incidents of criminals breaking into cars and stealing handbags and laptops—particularly on 44th Drive in Long Island City. The number of grand larcenies—many from auto break-ins—fell from 49 incidents for the 28-day period last year, to 32 compared for this year’s period.

“We have locked up quite a few individuals [for these crimes],” Hennessy said, many of whom have been incarcerated since. He said the precinct has made 30 arrests so far this year for people breaking into cars—double the number from last year.

Hennessy said the police were able to arrest the perpetrators following sting operations in Long Island City where they would put handbags in vehicles and then catch the thieves breaking in.

The number of felony assaults has declined throughout the precinct over the same 28-day summer period compared to last year. There were seven incidents, compared to 18 for the same summer period last year.

“Last year we had a number of assaults near bars and clubs,” Hennessy said. This summer, he added, a greater number of officers focused on bars on the late-night tours.

There were 13 stolen vehicles—down from 15– during the 28-day-period. One of the stolen vehicles was a Vespa, taken from Center Boulevard.

There have been 25 motorbikes stolen in the precinct this year, representing well over a quarter of the 92 vehicles taken. Furthermore, many of the cars stolen have been Ford Econoline vans—which the thieves use to cart away the motorbikes.

There were no murders in the 28 day period. Through August 24, there have been 2 murders so far this year—compared to 3 for same period a year ago.

The police have targeted bicyclists this summer. In the past 28 days, 105 tickets were issued—representing more tickets than for the entire 2013 year.

“The majority of the tickets were for disobeying stop signs and going through red lights,” Hennessy said.

The clamp down is part of the city’s focus on Vision Zero, which aims to reduce the number of traffic fatalities to zero.

“This time last year there were 12 fatals in car accidents,” Hennessy said, referring to the 108 precinct. “We are at zero so far this year.”

Captain Brian Hennessy

Captain Brian Hennessy


Doggie daycare facility to open in Court Square next week

Lucky Paws

Lucky Paws

August 26, By Michael Florio

Lucky Paws, a doggie daycare and boarding facility, is opening at 43-11 Crescent Street next week.

The facility is owned and operated by Olivia Kaczmarek and her uncle Jay Iwanczuk who have been offering dog walking services until now. This will be their first physical location.

Kaczmarek said that residents will be able to drop off their dog for daycare in the morning and pick it up any time before 7 pm for $25.

Lucky Paws will also pick up a dog at the owner’s home and/or drop it off at night for $5 extra.

The dogs will get to interact with other dogs at the daycare facility and will get to play with plenty of toys, Kaczmarek said. There is playhouse and a slide, along with a TV that will be playing Disney movies.

“Dogs love to go down the slide,” Kaczmarek said.

She said the dogs will also be walked throughout the day.

For boarding, dog owners will have the option of having their dog stay overnight in a “residential suite,” which is a small private room, or in a play room with other dogs.

“Most dogs tend to be in the play room running around,” she said.

Lucky Paws is located in a two story building. Upstairs is an apartment, where a worker will stay overnight to keep an eye on the dogs.

“The dogs are always being looked after,” Kaczmarek said. “If a dog needs to go out in the middle of the night, it can be taken out.”

Lucky Paws will also providing boarding for cats, rabbits, and pretty much any pet.


Police and FDNY fish out three men from East River, none injured

piersAugust 25, By Christian Murray

Two men in their 20s jumped into the East River from the piers at Gantry Plaza State Park a little after 8pm Monday, according to police.

A good Samaritan jumped into the water to help one of the men who appeared to be struggling, while another onlooker called the police.

Several police officers, rescue workers and a helicopter were in the area .

The police pulled two of the men out of the water. The FDNY emergency services pulled out the other. None were seriously hurt.

The police did not know why the men jumped into the river.

Rockrose’s Linc LIC is 100% leased, indicating that Court Square is a desired location

Rockrose's Linc LIC

Rockrose’s Linc LIC

August 25, By Christian Murray

Rockrose Development announced Monday that its 709 unit luxury tower–Linc LIC–has been fully leased and that construction is on track for its larger projects nearby.

The real estate giant, which has some ambitious plans for the Court Square area, took about a year to fill the 43-10 Crescent Street complex—which most real estate experts viewed as fast.

Rockrose viewed the development as a success, which it said endorsed its long-held view that Court Square is an area where many people want to live.

“We are thrilled to celebrate the rapid lease-up of Linc LIC, the first large-scale rental building in Court Square to reach full occupancy,” said Justin Elghanayan, president or Rockrose, in a statement. “The development of Linc LIC was a true test of the Court Square.”

The company said that the rental prices in the 42-story complex started at $2,200 for a studio and $4750 for a three-bedroom. The building—like most luxury towers– offers several high-end amenities, such as a fitness center, a movie screening room and a duplex lounge located on the 31st floor, with an outdoor deck and lawn.

Rockrose said it has started construction on a 50 story mixed-used development at 43-25 Hunter Street, which will include 974 rental units and 19,400 square feet of ground floor retail. That complex is scheduled to be completed in 2017. Work began in July.

A third project is in the works at the site of the former Eagle Electric manufacturing site at 43-22 Queens Street. Rockrose plans a 54-story tower with 783 rental units by converting the original space into apartments as well as adding an additional structure. The company said 80% of the factory will be preserved.

Meanwhile, there are plans farther down the line for a 100-unit building — possibly condos — on a lot on Crescent Street near Linc LIC.

Van Bramer recounts the time his family was in a shelter, in aim to humanize the plight of the homeless

Jimmy Van Bramer (R) and his father and sister

Jimmy Van Bramer (R) and his father and sister

August 25, By Christian Murray

Councilman Jimmy Van Bramer wrote an op-ed that was published in the Daily News Sunday that detailed how he and his family were homeless when he was a young boy.

Van Bramer said his decision to write the op-ed was inspired by a series of meetings that he had recently held with city officials concerning the number of homeless families in New York City—and some of the rancor concerning the opening of some Queens shelters.

The meetings came in the wake of the outcry from many Queens residents about the opening of an emergency shelter at the former Pan Am Hotel on Queens Blvd in Elmhurst, as well as the opening of the Westway Motel in East Elmhurst.

“Some of the ugly things that people said in front of these [homeless] children have been horrible,” Van Bramer said, referring to the Pan Am protests [see video below]. “These are innocent children who are in shelters through no fault of their own.”

Van Bramer also said that he wrote the article to expose some of the myths and stereotypes that are out there concerning homeless people.

“The myth is that these people don’t want to work,” he said. However, “that’s false…since so many homeless people do work and just don’t have enough money to get by.”

Furthermore, these people don’t want to be in homeless shelters long term—much like his parents didn’t want to be either.

Van Bramer said his family’s situation was emblematic of many homeless people’s story today. His family stayed with financially-strapped uncles and aunts– before they had no choice but to go to a shelter.

“My family’s journey into and out of homelessness began like so many others then and now,” Van Bramer wrote in the Daily News. “Dad was drinking heavily, money got tight, some poor decisions were made, and a family teetered on the brink of despair as a result.”

Van Bramer’s father, who worked as a journeyman pressman, eventually found accommodation in a small tenement after being in a shelter for six weeks.

“These are not horrible people out to destroy neighborhoods…these are folks who are down on their luck whose children are in need,” Van Bramer said.

Van Bramer said he was hopeful that people might be more empathetic to the plight of the homeless after learning how a middle class councilman was once homeless.

For the Van Bramer op-ed click here:

d26vanbramerBy Jimmy Van Bramer

A young father enters a colorless room holding his infant son while his wife sits nearby trying to believe this isn’t happening. Their older kids, not much older than the infant, stay close. They are all tired and they are all homeless. The father tells the intake worker that they had been staying with friends but had to leave and now have nowhere else to turn. He asks for help because they have no money and his baby son just needs a bottle of milk.

The father is 25, it is 1970 in New York City, and I am that baby boy.

For the rest, click here.

Speed bumps are finally installed on 5th Street

speedbumpAugust 23, By Christian Murray

The Department of Transportation delivered on its promise to convert 5th Street into a one way street—with speed bumps—by the time school reopened for the year.

On Thursday, the DOT put down three speed bumps on 5th Street—with one located between 48th and 49th Avenues, another between 49th and 50th Avenues, and the third between 51st and Borden Avenues.

The DOT converted 5th Street (btw. 46th Road and 50th Avenue) into a one-way, south bound street in July.

Councilman Jimmy Van Bramer and Community Board 2 chairman Joe Conley had been pushing the DOT hard for the past 18 months to bring about these changes. In fact, the community board approved plans for 5th Street having speed bumps (and being one-way) well over a year ago.

“The street is much safer today—since the speed bumps are already slowing people down,” according to a worker at Silver Star Auto Express at 49-03 5th Street. The worker said that the move to convert the street into a one-way has helped since there is now more room for vehicles–and it is easier for pedestrians and drivers to get through traffic.

Furthermore, he said fewer mirrors are being damaged.

“When it was a two-way street—the street was too narrow. Many people’s mirrors got smashed including mine,” he said.


Demolition of 5 Pointz–expected to take 3 months– started today

August 22, Staff Report

The graffiti Mecca 5 Pointz is finally coming down– after more than a year of controversy surrounding its fate.

A demolition crew came out this morning and started bulldozing a section of it down– in a job that is expected to take three months.

Gerry Wolkoff, the developer who is erecting two high-rise residential towers in its place, said today that once the demolition is complete he will start putting down the foundations for the new buildings.

Wolkoff said that he had not spoken to the artists prior to the demolition.

The artwork at 5 Pointz, however, was destroyed in November when Wolkoff whitewashed the building, which he said at the time was to reduce problems come demolition time. His critics said he was guilty of “art crimes” and held a candlelight vigil.

The City Council approved Wolkoff’s application to build a larger building than zoning code permitted last October– after a number of public hearings where artists and art supporters wanted the 5 Pointz building preserved.

George Burles, a local resident, shot the following video prior to the building being whitewashed.

5 Pointz – Gone for Good Now from George on Vimeo.

Lincoln Center to host giant ‘silent’ disco party at Hunters Point South Park

danceAugust 22, By Christian Murray

There is going to be a giant disco party under the stars at Hunters Point South Waterfront Park–one night next month.

Lincoln Center is hosting a “silent disco’ on Friday, Sept 12, on the waterfront, which will be open to the public—and cater to about 500 party-goers who will be provided with headphones.

The event kicks off with dance lessons, where a professional instructor will provide tips from the stage, aided by helpers in the audience. The dance music and instructions will come through wireless headphones—hence the term “silent disco.”

The dance lessons will start at 6:00 pm, with the silent disco going into high gear at 7:00 pm.

For observers, the event will appear odd as dancers move to “silent” beats.

The event is part of Lincoln Center’s effort to bring its art and entertainment programs to the outer boroughs.

“Lincoln Center and its wonderful performances and programs belong in all the boroughs, not just Manhattan,” said Jed Bernstein, President of Lincoln Center.

Councilman Jimmy Van Bramer, who worked with Bernstein to bring the event to Hunters Point, said: There’s no better way to enjoy your Friday night than by dancing … while enjoying sweeping views along the East River in Long Island City as the sun sets.”

Two DJs – Bill Coleman and hustle mainstay Bobby Morales – will spin different sets in each headphone channel, creating simultaneous and ever-shifting dance parties.

The event is free and attendees must bring identification in order to obtain headphones.


Date: Friday, Sept. 12

Location: Hunters Point South Waterfront Park

Time: 5:30, with dance lessons starting at 6:00 pm

Dance: 7:00 pm

Price: Free, with admission on a first come first served basis

Event ends at 10:00 pm


Real estate firm to open office on Vernon Blvd

spaceAugust 21, By Christian Murray

A Manhattan-based boutique real estate firm is opening an office on Vernon Blvd.

Space Market Shop, which specializes in high-end residential properties, has signed a lease to open at 47-34 Vernon Blvd., next door to Snob Nail Spa.

The firm, which has about 25 agents, is expected to open its Vernon Blvd office on September 15. There will be about six agents on site.

Edward Cho, the owner of Space Market Shop, is a Long Island City resident who has been heavily involved in selling and renting real estate in the neighborhood since 2008.

“I have closed about 100 deals [in Long Island City]—between sales and rentals—since 2008,” Cho said, referring to his own activity.

Cho was featured on the TV show “Million Dollar Listing” in 2012, where he put together a $4.75 million deal.

Cho said it is important to have an office in Long Island City in order to meet clients and build a brand.

Space Market Shop will join Nestseekers, Douglas Elliman and Modern Spaces on Vernon Boulevard, with Dream Property located just steps away from Vernon Blvd on 48th Avenue.