Long Island City Post

Long Island City NY news

MoMA PS1 to acquire new building

MoMA PS1 to acquire building

MoMA PS1 to acquire building

July 10, By Christian Murray

Long Island City, NY:  The Long Island City arts community received a big injection of city funds as a result of the New York City council budget that was passed late last month.

MoMA PS1 was allocated $3 million, with the express purpose of purchasing a small apartment building that is located on the block where the museum now sits.

Councilman Jimmy Van Bramer, who is the chair of the city council’s Cultural Affairs and Libraries Committee, said the new building will increase the amount of gallery space MoMA PS1 can use.  He said the museum is debating whether it will relocate its offices from the main building and put them in there.

“MOMA PS1 is great for Long Island City,” Van Bramer said. “The number of people who go to Long Island City because of it is enormous. And many of those people then go to Vernon Blvd and elsewhere to go to restaurants and stores.”

Meanwhile, the Chocolate Factory Theater, which supports new and experimental productions and provides free art space to performers, received $1.7 million in funds to repair and eventually own the 5-49 49th Avenue property which it now rents.

“The Chocolate Factory doesn’t own its space and we are hopeful that they will be able to purchase that building…and if they can’t, the money could be used for a new permanent home,” Van Bramer said.

In addition, $600,000 was allocated to the Noguchi Museum for a new generator since the old one was damaged during Superstorm Sandy. The museum displays the work of the late Isamu Noguch (1904-1988), which includes sculptures, drawings and models.

Similarly, more than $300,000 was allocated towards the SculptureCenter, a not-for-profit arts institution located at 44-19 Purves Street in LIC, which has been undergoing a significant amount of renovation.


The Laughing Devil is up for sale


July 10, Staff report

The Laughing Devil Comedy Club is up for sale and is likely to be sold in weeks.

Steve Hofstetter, a co-owner with Jacob Morvay at the 47-38 Vernon Blvd. venue, said that he would try to find a buyer that would maintain it as a comedy club. However, he said there is a possibility that the venue will become a bar or restaurant.

“I was very upset when I realized we had to sell,” Hofstetter. “We had been going back and forth about selling it for the past two months.”

The two men opened the Laughing Devil in 2011.

Superstorm Sandy hurt business during the club’s peak season. Furthermore, Hofstetter recently moved to Los Angeles for a TV opportunity, while Morvay has a newborn at home.

The men became too busy. “We decided that something had to give—and that we would rather sell it than run it half-…ed,” he said.

The club, which has a full-service bar, regularly drew professional touring comics. It is the only full-time comedy club in any of the outer boroughs.

Police search for alleged armed robber



The New York City Police Department is searching for a man who allegedly robbed a livery car driver at gun point in Long Island City last Saturday.

The alleged perpetrator got into the victim’s livery car in front of a grocery store at 40th Avenue & 9th Street at 4:24 pm Saturday. The perpetrator then pulled out a black gun and announced the robbery.

The victim pulled his car over at 45 Avenue & Vernon Blvd and handed over his cash to the suspect, who then fled the scene on foot north bound on Vernon Blvd. There were no injuries reported.

The suspect is described as a black male, 5’7″, and approximately 170 lbs.

Anyone with information pertaining to this incident is asked to call Crime Stoppers at 1-800-577-TIPS (8477)

Queensboro Plaza apartment building fetches $85m


July 9, By Christian Murray

A rental building located near Queensboro Plaza has sold for $85 million, according to a report by Crains.

The Crescent Club, which is located at 41-17 Crescent Street, was bought by Charles Dayan, who is well known in Manhattan real estate circles.  The building, which was sold by Simon and Meadow Partners, is comprised of 130 apartment units—-as well as amenities such as a fitness center, tenants’ lounge and business center.

The initial developer, NCF Equities, constructed condos but failed to complete the entire project due to financial difficulty. Citibank, which financed the development, was left with an unpaid mortgage.

Citibank sold the mortgage to Simon and Meadow Partners for $51 million in 2011, according to Crains. That firm converted the building into rentals. In February, the company issued a press release announcing that 100 units had been rented.

Dayan is free to keep the building as a rental or converting it to condos. The condo market has started to heat up in certain sections of Long Island City—particularly Hunters Point and Court Square.

Gantry Park music series begins tonight


July 9, By Bill Parry

Live at the Gantries, a free summer music series at Gantry Plaza State Park, begins tonight.

The series runs for six straight Tuesday nights with shows beginning at 7:00pm.

Trombonist John Yao kicks things off with his 17 piece contemporary jazz band. Next Tuesday, Live at the Gantries will feature an evening of Brazilian pop with an all-star rhythm section.

In subsequent weeks the series will feature Irish flute & fiddle music, a Middle Eastern performance and an evening of Cuban salsa music.

You can’t ask for a more beautiful and dramatic venue with the sunset behind the skyline,” said Scott Walsh, the director of sales at TF Cornerstone, which is the lead sponsor. He said the aim of the music series is to entertain residents who live near the waterfront — however, if it draws people outside LIC, it would be a bonus.

“This is all about community building,” Walsh said. “This is not a marketing ploy—-we won’t have a table set up with brochures.”

Walsh added that the music series extends TF Cornerstone’s reach into the local art scene.

One group that will be handing out literature tonight is the Friends of Gantry, a non-profit group that cleans up and beautifies the 11 acre waterfront park. It always looks forward to the series to try and gain new members.

“We love to see the park used in this fashion,” said Friends of Gantry President Bill Bylewski. “The more people who are exposed to the park the better.”

Bylewski said his group tries to beautify the waterfront park since there isn’t enough state funding to maintain it.

“Once people learn how much their help is needed they’ll want to get involved,” said Bylewski. “It doesn’t matter if they want to pull weeds or write us a check!”

NY1 provides overview of LIC, Sunnyside & Woodside

Luxury waterfont rental starts leasing next week


July 5, By Christian Murray

The latest luxury rental building to be developed alongside the East River starts leasing next week.

The 12-story building, called Gantry Park Landing, is located at 50-01 Second Avenue, and provides plenty of amenities to pamper and entertain residents.

Brokers will begin leasing the 199-unit building on July 12 and will offer prospective tenants a mix of studio, one, two and three-bedroom apartments that range from 460 to 1,256 square feet.

Rents start at $1,875 for a studio; $2,450 for a one-bedroom; $3,250 for a two-bedroom; two-bath; and $4,650 for a three-bedroom, three-bath home, according to aptsandlofts.com, which is the exclusive marketing and leasing agent.

The developer, The Lightstone Group, a large NYC-based privately-held real estate company, is also offering prospective tenants with an incentive: one month free rent and no brokerage fees.

The building was designed to incorporate industrial elements with 21st-century luxury. The developer’s goal was to create an industrial feel to reflect the neighborhood’s manufacturing past.

The building incorporates an exterior made from exposed poured concrete with modern interior finishes and floor-to-ceiling glass.

The luxury amenities include a furnished roof deck with an outdoor grill and fireplace, a game room with ping pong and billiards, as well as a gym with a yoga studio.

The building is just the latest luxury waterfront building to start renting in recent months.  TF Cornerstone opened its fifth high-rise in the neighborhood at 4545 Center Blvd. this spring.


Jerry Wolkoff to add affordable housing, art studios to 5 Pointz plan

Jerry (R) and David Wolkoff

(L-R) Jerry and David Wolkoff

Jerry Wolkoff, the owner of the 5 Pointz building, was livid when he learned that his plan to build two residential towers where the graffiti icon now stands was rejected by Community Board 2 last month.

“I wasn’t upset with the community,” Wolkoff said. “I was upset that my staff did not find out what the community needed and took them for granted.”

He said his staff would tell him that “things are coming along great” and that everything is going to plan. However, he said, it was clear that they were not in tune community.

Wolkoff said that he’s been involved with the Long Island City community for 40 years and has worked with artists and promoted their art for decades. “I’ve seen people grow up in this area. It is not like I’m from Manhattan (or elsewhere) and I have just bought a piece of property.”

“I would never have presented a building that I didn’t think had community support,” Wolkoff said.5pointz-350x234

Wolkoff, who was represented by his son David and a fleet of consultants at the community board meetings, continues to seek a special permit that would allow him to build 1,000 units–370 more than permitted ‘as of right’ by present zoning. The focus has not been on whether the graffiti icon will be demolished (Wolkoff can do that “as of right”) but whether he will be permitted to build so many units.

The community board, which plays an advisory role, sighted a slew of reasons for opposing the special zoning permit. They cited, among other items, that his plan made no provision for affordable housing, that it lacked a meaningful number of art studios, and that there was a lack of low-cost parking spaces.

Shortly after Community Board 2 rejected his plan, Wolkoff convened a meeting with several board members.

Wolkoff, who didn’t attend the community board 2 public meetings on the proposed development, said he went to the meeting and said ‘tell me your concerns and I will try and take care of them.”

Wolkoff said: “I was sorry that it had come to that point. “

Joe Conley, chairman of community board 2, confirmed Wolkoff’s desire for a meeting and his aim to learn more about the community’s objections.

Wolfkoff said he sat down with the board members and drew up a list of items the community sought. “It wasn’t a case of you give me this and I will give you that. I said ‘what are people asking for?”

Wolkoff told the board members that he would increase the size of the artist space from 2,000sq ft. (about 5 studios) to 12,000 sq ft.

Wolkoff said that when he learned that the public sought affordable housing, he revised his plan to include 54 affordable units. That number equates to 20% of the 370 extra units that the special permit would provide. He said that the units would be of the same quality as the market-rate units.

Wolkoff also said that he would display art work on the streets surrounding the development, as well as provide inexpensive parking.

Wolkoff said he would have included these provisions in the first place had his staff informed him of what the community sought.

Despite the changes, Community Board 2 remains on record as rejecting the proposal. The plan, which includes Wolkoff’s revisions, is in the hands of Borough President Helen Marshall. Her office held a hearing on the proposal on Thursday and is expected to make a decision on the plan any day now, according to her spokesman.

Should Marshall approve it, the plan will go to the City Planning Commission. While the commission could nix the application, it is likely to move on to the City Council for a vote.

Conley said that had Wolkoff included these provisions in the plan that was presented to Community Board 2 the vote may have gone a different way.

Wolkoff said that he would continue to work with the community to meet its concerns but realizes that he can’t keep everyone happy. He said that when he allowed the artists to paint on the building, he would get complaints from people saying ‘why do you allow this’ ugly graffiti. Now there are people who can’t stand the prospect of seeing the building go.

“Some people are never happy,” Wolkoff said. “Some people don’t like the Mona Lisa; they say she smiles too much.”

Proposed development

Proposed development

New Phone App has Queens covered

 July 1, By Bill Parrythisisqueens

With hundreds of thousands of visitors coming to the borough for two world-class sports events this summer, the Queens Chamber of Commerce rolled out a new free mobile phone app on Wednesday. With 1500 downloads in the first two days, “This Is Queens” has created quite a buzz.

Ben Guttmann, the founder and CEO of Digital Natives Group, the Long Island City firm that designed the app, said, “We sped things up in mid spring to make sure we had it ready in time for the All Star [baseball] game at Citi Field and the US Open later in the summer.”

The app has been designed to provide its users with information on local restaurants, hotels and attractions—as well as discounts at a particular time.

“It’s gotten 5 star reviews from users so far…nothing but positive feedback,” Guttman said. The Queens Chamber of Commerce received a $100,000 state tourism grant for the project.

The All Star baseball game takes place at Citi Field on July 16th. Meanwhile, the US Open is likely to draw more than 700,000 fans to the US Tennis Center in Flushing-Corona Park from Aug. 26 through Sept. 9.

“We have two of the biggest airports in the country,” said Eric Abrams of the QCC. “Visitors tend to hop into cabs and head right to Manhattan. These two events will draw them to the borough, and this app should help to keep them here.”

Adams, the Digital Media and Membership Associate at the Chamber, explained how to get the free ‘This Is Queens’ app. “Go to thisisqueens.com on a mobile device and it will push you to the native app store,” he said.

With time running out, resident shoots video of 5 Pointz

With the wrecking ball looming, local resident George Burles shot this video of the famed 5 Pointz “Aerosol Art Center” from street level.

The video spotlights the artwork as well as the tourists who make the pilgrimage to Long Island City’s “Graffiti Mecca.”

Annual summer music event kicks off at MoMA PS1 Saturday

Warm up in 2010

Warm Up 2010

June 28, By Bill Parry,

MoMA PS1 kicks off its 16th summer live music series on Saturday.

The series, called Warm Up 2013, gets underway at 3pm in the museum’s courtyard at 22-25 Jackson Avenue

Warm Up 2013 runs every Saturday through September 7th and features experimental live music, as well as local and international DJ’s on a rotating stage from 3-9pm. This Saturday’s event features Juan Atkins from Detroit; Lee Gamble from London; a band from Berlin called Heatsick; and another called NHK’Koyxe from Osaka, Japan.

A new outdoor installation that provides shade for attendees will make its debut during Saturday’s event. The structure, called Party Wall, is a large scale shade- providing edifice made of reclaimed wood, including used skateboards.

The summer series is one of the most popular and well attended events at the museum each year. Tickets are $15 in advance and $18 day-of, but they’re free to residents of Long Island City who show proof of residence.

The MoMA PS1 Facebook page is loaded with testimonials from fans of the music series, none more compelling than that of Sasha Zvyagin, a combat veteran suffering from the effects of PTSD after six years in Iraq, Afghanistan and other theaters of operation.

Mr. Zvyagin discovered the Warm Up series through a friend and has attended for seven years. He credits the event for saving his life, writing: “It was better than any therapy I could have gone through – the music, the crowd, the positivity, the friends…”

Citi Bike no threat to LIC bicycle store, owner says


June 27, By Bill Parry

The owner of a Hunters Point bicycle shop does not believe that his rental business will suffer when Citi Bike reaches Long Island City later this year.

Citi Bike users have logged more than a million miles since the bike sharing program launched last month. More than 100,000 people have signed up for daily, weekly or annual rides.

Carlos Dall’orso, the owner of Spokesman Cycles (49-04 Vernon Blvd), has also signed up for Citi Bike. “I’m a member,” he said nonchalantly, showing off his Citi Bike key fob, explaining that he finds the program useful for getting around Manhattan.

Dall’orso’s has rented out bicycles in Long Island City since he opened Spokesman Cycles eight years ago.

The 20 bicycles that are parked in front of his shop are available for rent, and they’re very different than those offered by Citi Bike. “Ours are for recreational cyclists, not like Citi Bike’s big, sturdy, robust ones that are designed for commuter use,” Dall’orso said.

“We size to the person for a more custom ride,” he said, and offer a range of different bicycles.

Bicycles are available for $7 per hour or $35 per day. LIC Bicycles at 25-11 Queens Plaza North also rents out bikes at the same rates.

Citi Bike offers a 24 hour pass for $9.99. However, riders have to return the bike to a docking station every 30 minutes. If they fail to do so the fines get very steep. For instance, if a rider is more than 60 minutes late, there is a $13 fine, which continues to go up.

“Our renters can relax and enjoy themselves since they don’t have to check in every 30 minutes,” Dall’orso said.

LIC Gatsby party marks the beginning of summer season

Manducatis Rustica

Manducatis Rustica

June 25, By Bill Parry

Manducatis Rustica will travel back in time on Thursday night.

The Italian restaurant, located at 46-33 Vernon Blvd, will host a Gatsby-style party called “The Great Summer Soiree.”

The restaurant hosts frequent gatherings as a means to keep the neighborhood united. With school finishing for the year Wednesday, this event marks the beginning of the summer season.

“Everybody wanted to do something different,” said Manducatis owner and host Gianna Cerbone-Teoli. “Gatsby and the 20’s are the big hot trend and we thought it would be a fun night.”

To date, 65 people have already registered. The attendees are invited to dress in ’20s clothing. There will be two vintage cars parked in front of the restaurant for photo opportunities, including a rare 1924 Dodge Brothers car.

The event will also include a pop-up art sale, where local vendors and artists, including photographer Orestes Gonzales, will exhibit their work.

The Great Summer Soiree will be held on Thursday, June 27, from 6pm to 10pm.