Amazon to come to Anable Basin

The Anable Basin was controversial even before Amazon said it would show up. Less than a year ago, City Council Member Jimmy Van Bramer, other local pols and various LIC activists were there to protest a plan to turn the strip at 44th Drive at the waterfront into a development that would somehow involve residential and industrial uses altogether. Well — no one cares about that anymore, because Amazon is coming, which is apparently the biggest business story in a while and it’s down the street from my apartment. A memorandum of understanding shows where Amazon plans to set up shop for part of it’s HQ2, and it’s the same area, just south of Con Edison. JVB and Senator Michael Gianaris were initially down with Amazon coming to LIC, but held a protest at the site today saying this was a huge $3 billion giveaway that won’t involve any public review. The mayor says the 25,000 jobs or more promised over a decade is unprecedented and the governor says the return on investment would be nine to one.  Continue reading “Amazon to come to Anable Basin”

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”

QB bust and other crime news

Police arrested 22 people at the Queensbridge Houses  on Wednesday. The NYPD recovered four firearms along with marijuana, heroin and crack. The bust comes after an 11 month sting called “Operation: the Bridge is Over,” the name of an anti-QB hip-hop diss track from 1987. 

In early 2017 Queensbridge celebrated a straight year with no shootings. That streak was disrupted in May of last year. There have been five shootings in the vicinity, one fatal, since January, sparking the investigation. Also, here’s “The Bridge…” and other crime notes in Astoria and LIC below… Continue reading “QB bust and other crime news”

HomeMark 99¢ strip on 31st Street to become “Astoria Artisan Food Hall”

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The Commercial Observer reports that the low-key strip on 31st Street and 35th Avenue with HomeMark 99¢ on the corner is set to be torn down and replaced with an “Astoria Artisan Food Hall.” Developer Vass Stevens Group bought the strip at 34-39 31st Street last October and already got rid of the tenants and demolished the interiors, apparently. It plans to divide the building into eight storefronts and aims to include, says the Observer, “a coffee roaster, a microbrewery, a specialty dessert bakery and an Asian concept.” There was also mention of “ethnic Hispanic concepts… Fitness concepts, performance groups and creative tenants.”  Continue reading “HomeMark 99¢ strip on 31st Street to become “Astoria Artisan Food Hall””

NY1: 17 lead cases at Ravenswood Houses

In the midst of the city’s lead paint crisis at public housing communities, New York 1 has dug up some test results and Ravenswood Houses made its top lead-list in a survey. The TV station studied more than 900 results of lead paint tests from late 2016 and early 2017. Nearly half of those apartments tested positive. Some housing developments on the whole stood out, including Ravenswood, with 17 lead-positive units. The New York Daily News recently found that since 2012 more than 800 kids five and younger in NYCHA tested high for lead-blood levels.

Shootings galore at NYCHA in 114th Precinct

In the last week, three people were shot, each in the leg, in separate incidents at Queensbridge Houses, the Astoria Post reports. The victims were 25, 32 and 35 years old, each shot outside, two in the dark AM hours, one in the daytime. Though none of the shooters were identified*, the precinct says there are five identified crews (small, hyper-provincial gangs) at Queensbridge, four at Ravenswood Houses and two at Astoria Houses. Astoria Post previously reported the precinct stating there were 10 shootings this year just through June 17 (before these recent three) and most were on NYCHA property. Continue reading “Shootings galore at NYCHA in 114th Precinct”

City announces Sunnyside Yards planning team, hears hell from JVB, Nolan

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The city is officially moving forward on developing a neighborhood over the Sunnyside Yards by launching a master planning process this summer. The Economic Development Corporation announced today that Alicia Glen, deputy mayor of economic development and Anthony Coscia, chairman of Amtrak, which owns most of the space, signed a letter of intent to collaborate on the plan. The EDC’s announcement confirms Crain’s New York Business’ March 29 report that urbanist Vishaan Chakrabarti will be heading the master plan team. But more people are involved! Cali Williams, an EDC vice president for the last decade, now has the title: director of Sunnyside Yard. And a steering committee headed by Elizabeth Lusskin, president of the Long Island City Partnership and Sharon Greenberger, head of the YMCA for Greater New York (what?) will be consulting on the plan. But wait… what about elected officials who don’t want this to happen? 

City Councilman Jimmy Van Bramer, whose district spans both the LIC and Sunnyside sides of the yards, has been vocal against this project. How the EDC and mayor’s office will be able to push this ahead without the support from the 26th city council rep, I’m really not sure. The yards would have to be rezoned to allow residential development and super tall buildings, something the council member would have to approve. Sunnyside Post reported shortly after the EDC’s announcement today that JVB and State Rep. Catherine Nolan, who also opposes the plan, complained the city went around them on this. Well of course. 

Continue reading “City announces Sunnyside Yards planning team, hears hell from JVB, Nolan”