Transportation Alternatives has been calling for a bike lane on Crescent Street since at least before the Citi Bike rollout in Astoria in 2017. I saw the group by the Queensboro Bridge petitioning for the lane at least once this last summer. I assumed that, compared to 21st Street, Crescent Street, which runs south (except for when it runs both ways) from the top of Astoria, through the middle of the neighborhood, through a residential part of Dutch Kills down to the entrance to the bike/pedestrian path at the bridge, would be a fairly simple thing to ask for. Well, no.
At a Community Board 1 meeting Thursday, TransAlt’s Queens committee made its case. “Crescent Street feels more likely a highway than a residential road,” Juan Restrepo, an Astoria native and Transalt organizer said.
A board member, clearly not moved by the stat of 24 cyclist deaths this year, received a large applause as she railed against the lane. “The ambulances can hardly get through,” she said. “And you want a bicycle lane there? You’re out of your mind!”
One of the board members, who were also incensed about parking, asked the bike advocates if they lived on Crescent Street. Macartney Morris, QueensAlt Queens Chair, said he actually does. Morris described his window view of a busy street used by hundreds of cyclists, noting that an 88 year old man was killed by a car while crossing the intersection at Crescent and Broadway earlier this year.
The bike advocates got some decent sized applause as well. And one of the board members asked the rest to have an open mind.
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.
A rendering of the obscure Ravi Management’s planned eight story building for the southwest corner of 12th Street and 35th Avenue shows a light-toned jumbo cube. Maybe I couldn’t see the rendering if it was shown at the hearing over the item at CB1’s land-use committee’s rezoning hearing last month – but it was shown on a slide at a full Community Board 1 meeting last night, where the board approved of the rezoning plan with certain stipulations.
Neverending Astoriareports that Community Board 1’s land-use committee voted to express the board’s approval for the Variety Boys and Girl Club’s major facelift, rezoning and residential development proposal on 21st Street. The after school program and summer camp laid out its plans at a public hearing at the NYCHA Ravenswood Houses recently, without any secured developer for the 14 story residential building, which would fund the expansion of B&G’s space at at 21-12 30th Road. The organization says it needs to expand to serve an overwhelming waiting list of children. There were some expressed concerns at that hearing that the residential building would set a precedent for 14 story buildings on the car-busy strip through western Astoria. Some buildings on 21st Street are around or almost as tall but not many.
We’ll see how this goes at the full board. From what I saw at Ravenswood, Variety Boys and Girls Club in Astoria seems to have a lot of local membership or involvement. Even Walter Sanchez, who publishes the LIC/Astoria Journal, is the president of the board of directors for the organization. When he asked the crowd at the public hearing who’d been to the space in the last four years, it seemed almost everyone raised his or her hand. Tony Barsamian, who publishes the Queens Gazette is also on the board of directors for B&G. So we’ll see if there are any noted conflicts of interest at 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.
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”
A public hearing is planned on May 24 for rezoning applications for an apartment building planned for 12th Street near 35th Avenue in Ravenswood and the Variety Boys and Girls Club mixed-use redevelopment on 21st Street.
With some good news for the elevated N/W line in Astoria comes a new idea. Last Wednesday the MTA presented Community Board 1’s transportation committee with a plan to build much-called for elevators at the Astoria Boulevard station. Today, the board voted unanimously to send a letter (posted below) to NYC Transit proposing a permanent shuttle along 31st Street to bring even more accessibility along the whole elevated line. Anyone who needs an elevator would be able to take the two-way shuttle to Astoria Boulevard or down to the Queens Plaza station for the E, M, or R trains. Thirty First Street is currently served by the Q102 bus between 30th Avenue and Queens Plaza (map PDF).
At this month’s Community Board 1 full meeting, members said they’d be sending out a survey for Ravenswood area residents. The idea, apparently, is to have some measure on how residents feel about changes happening in the area in regards to all the development going on. This should help the board in future land use reviews and all that kind of stuff. The same survey will go out throughout CB1 but it will start in Ravenswood because there’s so much development happening here. I think I can name some of it:
The twin Alma towers at 34-46 Vernon Boulevard. It looks finished, doesn’t it? But someone pointed out to me recently the fences weren’t on the balconies yet.
The survey will go out to tenants association type groups CB1 members said but be on the lookout for it in local newspapers, if you guys read those things.
A few notes:
$450,000 year-round exercise equipment at Queensbridge park, a $500,000 soil science lab at the Ravenswood Houses? These are a couple of the eight ideas that are up for a vote in the 26th council district at the 4th round of participatory budgeting.
A 7 Train Coalition launched to fight gentrification along the 7 line but I wish they’d call it Occupy the 7 Train.
Business owners are anxious for construction on the elevated N/W line in Astoria to wrap up. So a pause in the work sounds like a potential delay of the June deadline but that might be a good thing?
Construction on the 30th and 36th avenue stops will pause for the Passover and Easter weekend next week, it was revealed at a Community Board 1 meeting tonight. Florence Koulouris, the district manager, said she was aware of a letter from the MTA to the NYPD stating the pause. Naturally someone at the meeting asked if that meant a delay on the timeline. Koulouris said that detail was not in the letter.
Koulouris told me she really didn’t know if the pause would delay the timeline. But even if it does get delayed, she said, it might be better to have a construction pause during the spring holiday season and potentially delay the timeline than to have construction during the Easter/Passover weekend when people will be going to the businesses. She said June might be slower for business anyway. I asked if she could share the letter with Corner and she said with NYPD’s permission maybe later.