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.
Hour Children has relocated one of its thrift stores to Steinway Street, leaving behind two retail blocks dotted with vacant and inaccessible storefronts on 34th Avenue on both sides of Crescent Street. The former thrift store location at 25-22 34th Avenue has been permanently closed since January 9 due to flooding, Corner learned by a call to Hour Children. The spacious 34th Avenue property, owned by Fred DelRosario, according to city records, is joined by five other closed storefronts, plus a permanently gated storefront and a storefront being used for industrial use.
Near the former Hour location is a large storefront, 25-14 34th Avenue, used by Possible Productions, a set design company that has on its portfolio website the 2016 Democratic National Convention and Coachella. Possible Productions has a wide exterior with the gate down, and a sign which reads: “AUTHORIZED PERSONNEL ONLY.” I rung the bell and asked when the “season” ends, referring to the other sign, and when the store will be open. The man who answered briefly implied it’s not a store, and said the gate will stay down. The set shop seems to be listed as part of the same building or owner as the former thrift shop — when I search the block and lot, I’m only seeing this under “K1” retail code. But a set design shop isn’t retail. I think it’s either light manufacturing or warehouse. So I need to find out more about this use of a storefront on a retail block. Update: So this is what I learned from a Department of Buildings rep who acted like I was asking the most absurd question she’d heard all day. That storefront is allowed to have its gate down forever.
There’s an Aladdin bakery that also appears to be in a building zoned K1-retail. Bakeries, from what I understand, are industrial. Whaa? Yea, so I’m not sure — maybe it’s allowed to be there so long as there is retail in the other storefronts of the building, or conjoined buildings? I will find out! So, on two retail strips on both sides of Crescent, eight of the storefronts are not being used as storefronts. Six of those are vacant, one is Possible Productions and the other is an Aladdin bakery. (Photos below.)