TransAlt’s Crescent St. bike lane proposal sees tough crowd at CB1

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Above: page from TransAlt’s Crescent Street bike lane campaign pamphlet.

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.

Continue reading “TransAlt’s Crescent St. bike lane proposal sees tough crowd at CB1”

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”

35th Ave and 12th Street building could look like this

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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.

Continue reading “35th Ave and 12th Street building could look like this”

CB1 committee OKs Boys & Girls Club expansion, 14-story residential building on 21st Street

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Neverending Astoria reports 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.

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”

Public rezoning hearing coming up for Ravenswood, 21st St apartment buildings

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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.

Continue reading “Public rezoning hearing coming up for Ravenswood, 21st St apartment buildings”

A call for a permanent shuttle on 31st Street

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Broadway Station of the N/W line at 31st 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).

Continue reading “A call for a permanent shuttle on 31st Street”