A few years ago, a possibly British person posted on a Yelp review of Rainey Park, “Not a bad place to have a stroll on a nice day when you are in the neighbourhood. But not special enough for a special trip.”
The place is mainly a big field, with a battered fence, not-so-frequently mowed grass, a Noguchi-style playground, a not-so-used baseball diamond, a basic basketball court, and trees that aren’t ideally placed near the benches on sunny days. Nevertheless a lot of people, including me, spend parts of our life at Rainey Park. Some barbecue, some picnic, some exercise, some fly drones, some role down the Noguchi hill thing, some stand at the water’s edge fence and meditate on the view, I sit on the bench squinting and sometimes sweating while reading.
Now, a whopping $7.5 million is being invested in Rainey. City Council Member Jimmy Van Bramer allocated $3.7 million from the 2020 budget, on top of $3 million already secured (or the other way around, I don’t know, I’m confused). Borough President Melinda Katz is also bringing in $800,000. That should add up to $7.5 million.
At the large empty lot across from Halletts Cove, one block north of the landmarked Piano Factory building, will be a large, gray and white box complex of three apartment buildings. Cape Advisors says construction is planned to start this year.
An aerial rendering shows grass roofs and a swimming pool. A rending as shown from the middle of the East River shows a long, gray wall along a Vernon Boulevard that looks like a park promenade. The development at 30-77 Vernon Boulevard is set to have more than 500 apartments and, apparently, zero ground level commercial space.
An alliance involving the Durst Organization, the Waterfront Alliance and pols are calling for an NYC Ferry connection between the Astoria and East 90th Street stops. “We have the Hallets Point dock and we have the dock at 90th Street. We just need the city to provide us with the service,” Congress Member Carolyn Maloney said at an event on Saturday.
The event was held by the Halletts Point Alliance, which seems to be some sort of non-profit extension of the Durst Organization’s emerging Halletts Point development. Waterfront Alliance director Karen Imas said the connection would also benefit the Astoria Houses residents. She noted the hour-long trek it could take to get from the Hallett peninsula to the Upper East Side for “academic institutions, health care institutions, recreational centers.”
The New York Times is moving 350 jobs to 24-01 Court Square Place, a curvy, glassy, very-Court Square-looking building owned by the United Nations Federal Credit Union, across the street from the CUNY School of Law.
“A lot of tenants were vying for the space,” Greg Smith of JRT Realty Group to the New York Post. “We are seeing an uptick in activity after the Amazon debacle because Long Island City [had more] exposure.”
The Times will take the 9th, 10th and 11th floors this fall, reaping the benefits of the Relocation and Employment Assistance Program (REAP). The program gives tax credits to companies that relocate jobs from outside of NYC or below 96th Street to certain parts of Northern Manhattan or any other borough.
So we’re finally discussing this. On July 8, LIC Talk posted, “Where is the Northern Border of Long Island City?” The blog is right that there is no easy answer. The situation of the ambiguous border has complicated my life since I’ve moved here.
When I moved here, my apartment on 36th Avenue near 10th Street was listed online as “LIC-Astoria border.” I soon came to find “LIC” signage along the street and as north as Broadway, which LIC Talks insists is the border. My address came up alternately as Long Island City or Astoria in Google Maps. Certain websites listed my neighborhood as Astoria based on my zip code (11106.) My roommates used either name for their mailing address. At that time DNAinfo ran a crowdsourcing piece finding there was little consensus on the south Astoria border. I read a 2008 NYTimes piece placing the Ravenswood Houses in LIC. And I overheard someone by 36th Ave and 21st Street say she was going to Astoria. I read a Gothamist piece referring to the area I lived in as “South Astoria.” At an Astoria writers group at Panera Bread on 35th Avenue, someone said that actually, we were in an area traditionally known as Long Island City, when Broadway was the border. A book in the back of the Noguchi museum referred to the area as LIC. A famous 1980 NYMag piece declared the Queensborough Bridge as the upper Long Island City border. A 2011 NY Daily News piece said Little Brazil, centered on 36th Avenue, is in Astoria, while a 2017 NYTimes piece placed it in “a pocket of Queens.”
By the time I started this blog, I had already concluded that I lived in Long Island City, or a place traditionally known as Long Island City. But I knew that we had moved into an age where much of the area south of Broadway is thought of as Astoria. Also, when I told people I lived in LIC, they would say something about the area being up and coming. I would have to explain I lived in a corner heavy with South Asian and Mexican or Central American immigrants, who by the way, seemed to run the local businesses and have the largest presence in Rainey Park, which I think is different demographically than Queensbridge or Socrates. (We’ve also got Greek and Brazilian immigrants, which sounds like Astoria). I would say I lived within a field of warehouses and small factories. I’d say I lived by three public housing complexes. I explained there were few restaurants or bars here. In any case, it wasn’t the “LIC” people tend to think of. And it wasn’t the “Astoria” they think of either.
The problem, it seemed, was rooted in the fact that what traditionally separated LIC from Astoria was not a street, but the clustering of residential pockets with much industrial area in between. That industrial area was long sprinkled with homes and some fully residential strips such as Crescent Avenue as it runs through Dutch Kills. And I lived in a residential pocket within a greater industrial area. Adding to that, is how the upper rim of the Queensbridge Houses on 40th Ave feels like a solid border because it’s followed abruptly by an industrial zone. And as Queensbridge is known to be solidly in LIC, it’s easy for any residential areas north of it to seem like – well, now we’re in Astoria, or something.
I named this blog Corner of Astoria because it rolled off the tongue well. But I never felt satisfied with that designation. And I possibly never will.
Why are Millennials so ready to push out Carolyn Maloney from congress and take her seat? Last year, it was Suraj Patel, who said it was time for a new generation to take on the established MOC in the 12th NY district and push for tougher reforms such as eliminating ICE. (This worked for his peer AOC in neighboring NY-14 but couldn’t help him enough.) Now, two women are taking on Maloney – Erica Vladimir, 32, the former state senate staffer who last year accused State Sen. Jeff Klein of forcibly kissing her, and Lauren Ashcraft, 30, an LIC-based activist and comedian. Vladimir’s big thing is education policy. For Ashcraft, it’s getting money out of politics. Maloney has been in congress since 1992, when Vladimir and I were five and Ashcraft was three.
Libraries open Sunday
As I write this at about noon Saturday, it’s 93 degrees Fahrenheit out. By this morning, at least six deaths were recorded around the country during this record heat wave from the Midwest to the East Coast. Tomorrow, Queens Library will keep open 11 branches that are normally closed Sundays. That includes the LIC branch in Ravenswood, the Astoria Branch on west end of Astoria Boulevard and the Broadway branch.
AG on Court Square subway flood
The viral Subway Creatures video showing the Court Square G/7 subway station submerged in water during the epic rainstorm Wednesday night – nearly sending someone into a moving train, prompted State Sen. Michael Gianaris to write a letter asking State Attorney Gen. Letitia James to look into it. The AG then launched an inquiry into two construction companies at work at the site.
A RealtyHop analysis found that the Ravenswood-Dutch Kills area led Queens in falling median percentage real estate prices in June.
The area, identified as “Queensbridge-Ravenswood-Long Island City,” – the map shows Ravenswood, QB and Dutch Kills below 36th Ave over to Northern Boulevard – saw a median percentage price drop of 10.6% (-$133,475). What, no one wants to live here anymore?
Just behind us is East Elmhurst, followed by the Hammels-Arverne-Edgemere part of the Rockaways, followed by Jamaica, according to a closer read by Queens Courier.
We came in four citywide for top five highest median percentage price drops, sharing a category with four Bronx neighborhoods, and made the top five list for neighborhoods with highest median dollar price drops, at number two just behind SoHo-Tribeca-Civic Center-Little Italy. Yea, check us out.