City: Sunnyside Yards yes, BQX maybe later

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Images from EDC and Friends of the BQX.

There are two threads of headlines this week for the LIC and Astoria area: 

  1. The city is officially moving forward with a Sunnyside Yards development master plan.
  2. The city officially left important BQX stuff out of its budget. 

That means, the city is on top of developing a mega housing development over the Sunnyside Yards (a lot of people in Astoria and LIC don’t know what that is, but it’s the huge swath of train land east of Northern Boulevard that you see from either the N/W or 7 trains when approaching or leaving Queensborough Plaza). But when it comes to running a streetcar through LIC and Astoria to connect with Brooklyn, it’s just not there yet. 

Continue reading “City: Sunnyside Yards yes, BQX maybe later”

Hotel Nirvana opens, JVB goes to the Met Gala

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Today, that gray brick block building called Hotel Nirvana in the Industrial Business Zone in Ravenswood opened and has a lotus flower logo. 

Also, Councilman Jimmy Van Bramer was at the Met Gala, which was Catholic themed. “It’s almost time for this kid from to head to the for the !” he tweeted earlier on. JVB has gone before at least in 2013 and 2014. He was also hanging out with Jesse Eisenberg the other day. 

As the Times explains, last year only about 550 people went to the gala, which is invitation only, each invitation overseen by Anna Wintour and tickets cost $30,000. Are all the council members invited? Who sponsored or invited the councilman of the 26th District? I hit him up with questions on Instagram so let’s see if he responds. 

 

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”

Constantinides and JVB both eyeing BP seat (prolly)

The Astoria Post reports that City Councilman Costa Constantinides is probably eyeing the Queens borough president seat for 2021 when Melinda Katz vacates. Constantinides, who is serving his final term as council-member, held a fundraiser with a maximum donation of $3,850, the top limit allowed for borough president. A flyer for the fundraiser reads, “I hope I can count on you as we expand upon our legacy and fight for higher office after my current term ends.” If true, this makes the second city council member from Western Queens eying the beep race. It was revealed in February that Councilman Jimmy Van Bramer formed a Queens Borough President exploratory committee.

H/T Astoria Post

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JVB in street fight with Streetsblog

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43rd Ave in Sunnsyide, Google Maps screen shot

Councilman Jimmy Van Bramer clashed with Streetsblog NYC over the weekend. Last Friday, Streetsblog published a story titled, “Jimmy Van Bramer Called for a Protected Bike Lane on 43rd Avenue a Year Ago Today. Now He’s Undecided.” The post came a year after Corona resident Gelacio Reyes was killed on his bike by a drunk driver. The tragedy galvanized support for enhancements such as protected bike lanes in the 43rd and Skillman avenues area in Sunnyside. JVB indeed supported that. But at a March 26 town hall, he said, “Nothing is a done deal, this is a proposal,” Streetsblog reported. “I listened to every single word that every single person said here today.”

Streetsblog tweeted with its article, “Hard to think of a more brazen about-face on a major street safety project in NYC than abandoning the 43rd Ave protected bike lane.”

In response, Van Bramer tweeted, “This article is not accurate. I was never contacted by the reporter. I have a full statement I’m sending out soon to correct the record.”

In his statement, the councilman said he still believes in the measures but added his respects for the approval process.

“We are going through the process which, though Streetsblog may not like it, includes the DOT presenting to the local community board… While some may be frustrated with the process, I believe Community Boards play a role and should be included in such plans.”

Streetsblog tweeted in response:

“Statement from contradicts nothing in today’s story. A year after saying DOT should install protected bike lanes where Gelacio Reyes was killed, he does not support DOT’s plan for protected lanes on 43rd and Skillman.”

JVB had a much better day with the press last week when he was given credit for the city’s decision to remove parked garbage trucks from the streets by the Ravenswood Houses. 

Women’s Ride sets off from Queensbridge

Women gathered on bikes at Queensbridge today ahead of a seven-mile ride to Borough Hall to highlight the gender gap in the cycling community and to call for more bike lanes in Queens.

A few notes:

More notes after the jump

Continue reading “Women’s Ride sets off from Queensbridge”

Ravenswood has so much development and CB1 wants to know how you feel about that

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The nor’easter in Ravenswood, 11 a.m., Wednesday, March 21

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 seven-building Halletts Point development.

The site at 11-23 31st Drive which was recently bought for $8 million and holds 33,982 square feet of residential potential. 

And to be honest, IDK what else, except maybe all those hotels in the IBZ

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. 
  • Rep. Carolyn Maloney and other electeds are rallying for early voting in New York. 
  • Did you know March 20th was Queens Day? Here’s State Sen. Gianaris talking about it in Albany: 

 

Continue reading “Ravenswood has so much development and CB1 wants to know how you feel about that”