Comptroller comes to LIC to take on City Hall

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A great grandfather at the front of the line for the microphone told Comptroller Scott Stringer he’s sick of bridges and streets getting named after politicians. Stringer said he admitted he fantasized of one day telling his son that “Stringerway” was once called “Broadway.” 

Stringer, an almost-2013 candidate for mayor and thought-to-be 2021 mayoral hopeful, had the jokes at his Long Island City town hall at the CUNY School of Law. When one person insisted that City Councilman Jimmy Van Bramer has his eyes set on being mayor, Stringer said, don’t you hate people who want to be mayor? 

Stringer wasn’t just here to understand the needs of one region of Queens. He was here to make allies in his fight against City Hall – and probably for it. He knew that many of the complaints would be about housing and development. That’s everywhere, but in LIC, the towers are shooting up around us into the sky and the people are anxious about school space, train space, park space and sewage. Stringer is positioned as a high-level politician with views juxtaposed to the mayor’s housing strategy, setting himself as a more progressive alternative. 

“I don’t believe that this is how we should build our city,” he said in reference to Alicia Glen, deputy mayor for economic development. “We’ve got to change the system. And the way we’re building our city is, we’re doing it backwards.”   Continue reading “Comptroller comes to LIC to take on City Hall”

Speaker Corey Johnson comes to Astoria

Astoria City Councilman Costa Constantinides, middle, Speaker Corey Johnson, right.

The first thing City Council Speaker Corey Johnson wanted the crowd to know was that he is openly HIV positive and has been sober for nine years. The first thing Council Member Costa Constantinides wanted us to know was that the school we were in, P.S. 171, is getting solar panels that he allocated from the city budget.

Unlike the mayor’s town hall I went to in LIC last year, there wasn’t a line outside when I got there. I was only 15 minutes early but the auditorium did fill up eventually. Someone asked if I RSVP’d, and I wondered who actually does that.

Constantinides listed funds he brought to Mount Sainai Hospital and the library and other things which I didn’t write down. He said Johnson is not just a colleague but “really is my friend.” CoJo in return said Constantinides is “a leader who really gets it.” He said his colleague, chair of the environmental committee, brought $26 million to west of 21st Street, including the $2.5 million for the solar panels.

There was one big drama that took up a lot of the outset of the forum, which came from tenants of the Acropolis Gardens, a large condo building up on Ditmars Boulevard and 33rd Street. The 600-plus unit building is facing foreclosure as of last Monday after its board missed a payment. Continue reading “Speaker Corey Johnson comes to Astoria”

Landmarked Kaufman Astoria Studios decor was never approved by city

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Kaufman Astoria Studios plans to present this diagram to the Landmarks Preservation Commission.

Kaufman Astoria Studios is one of the showiest sites in lower Astoria, with its colorful lights ablaze at night, its British phone booths at its pillars, its orange-streaked iron gates and its fancy restaurant, George’s, serving as an anchor of the Kaufman Arts District. Turns out, much of the decor on the building was never approved by the city, which granted the near-century-old site landmark status in 1978.

The film and TV studio plans to ask the Landmarks Preservation Commission for permission to make a temporary outdoor portion of George’s permanent but will also address various other decor that’s been up in spite of the landmark status for, apparently, years. I don’t know if any of the added fixtures go against the letter of the landmarks preservation law, which you could read here. A representative for the studio went before a full Community Board 1 Thursday night asking for a letter of support, stirring up grievances about the iconic studio site.

“They’re like an outside entity in our neighborhood,” said Board Member Stella Nicolaou. “They just went ahead and did things,” she said, recalling also, how the studio several years ago closed a street off permanently for private use. “It’s like a dictatorship in our community.” Continue reading “Landmarked Kaufman Astoria Studios decor was never approved by city”

City moving forward on BQX

The de Blasio administration announced today it will move forward with the Brooklyn Queens Connector, the “BQX,” upon release of an overdue feasibility study (PDF). The press release puts the cost at $2.73 billion, a bit up from the initial $2.5 billion the mayor initially put out there. Also, this train is not planned to reach Sunset Park anymore, but will only extend to Red Hook. This announcement follows the mayor’s recent statements that without federal aid from the Trump administration the East River trolly is dead. But, doesn’t it often appear that way? 

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Some important info from the press release: 

Community stakeholders will have opportunities to provide input as the proposal advances to the environmental review and advanced design stages… The environmental impact study process will commence this winter, followed by ULURP in 2020. Construction is expected to begin in 2024 and end in 2029.

More at NYT.

Rezonings for new apartment buildings on 21st Street, 35th Ave get heard out

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Jaclyn Calcagno Scarinci, attorney representing Ravi Management details the Ravenswood corner rezoning plan to CB1.

At a public hearing for a couple of rezoning proposals for potential apartment buildings in lower-west Astoria and Long Island City Thursday, the question seemed to become how new, not-so small developments with mostly market-rate housing will lend to the future of the neighborhood.

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Modified Google Maps screenshot-map of the proposed re-zonings.

Community Board 1 held the hearing at the NYCHA Ravenswood Houses, between the two sites of interest. One proposal is for rezoning 11-14 35th Avenue at the corner of 12th Street from commercial to mixed-use so that United Crane and Rigging would be replaced by an eight-story building with 74 residential units and retail at the base. (For some perspective, the Ravenswood Houses across 12th Street are six stories tall.) In the other, Variety Boys and Girls Club is proposing to replace its existing building at 21-12 30th Road along 21st Street with a larger club space attached to a 14 story apartment building. The apartment building, owned by a yet-to-be-identified developer, would pay for the club’s expansion. Continue reading “Rezonings for new apartment buildings on 21st Street, 35th Ave get heard out”

New Hallets Cove kayak launch could look like this

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Courtesy of the Economic Development Corportation

The city has revealed a new rendering for the kayak launch and eco-remediation planned for Hallets Cove. Technically, the beach where LIC Boathouse holds free kayaking sessions is a launch, but a floating dock will be built extending from the Astoria Houses near the NYC Ferry at Astoria Landing.

The Economic Development Corporation shared its latest rendering with Community Board 1 recently, and has subsequently shared it with Corner. The illustration also includes a built wetland. Councilman Costa Constantinides announced the concept in his 2015 State of the District speech. He said:

“It’s one thing to read about marine life or ecosystems in a book, but it’s a whole other thing to have a chance to experience it first hand… This simple project will offer Astorians from all walks of life a chance to reacquaint themselves with a world that for so long was neglected and disdained.”

Late last year the EDC and the Parks Department hosted a visioning session at the Astoria Houses Community Center for local input. Constantinides, Borough President Melinda Katz and the Mayor’s Office allocated $5 million for the dock and eco-remediation project.

Continue reading “New Hallets Cove kayak launch could look like this”

Friends of BQX hosts happy hour, offers vote on next neighborhood

The Friends of the BQX says it’s “been hosting awesome happy hours along the corridor.” Today it sent an email out offering supporters a vote for where the next happy hour will be.

Now, I’m not a supporter, I’m a blogger, but if Friends of BQX has a public event in LIC or Astoria I will mention it and try to show up because that’s what I do. I voted for Astoria after reading over the word “supporters.” The survey being sent out includes the question, “Why are you excited about the BQX?” with an asterisk. So I just awkwardly wrote in that I’m not, I’m just a blogger.

Corner is a space where you can mention why you are or aren’t a supporter.