Friday, March 27, 2015

A look inside a the Woodhaven Volunteer Ambulance Corps building

"Take a look inside the Woodhaven-Richmond Hill Volunteer Ambulance Corp, at 78-15 Jamaica Avenue, nearly two years after the collapse of the building next door (which had many open violations at the time of collapse).

The conditions of 78-19 have caused damage to the Ambulance Corp every day since it collapsed on Friday, April 12th 2013. The city finally acted after the community rallied and said they were going to tear down the rest of the collapsed building - but the building's owner George Kochabe and lawyer Elio Forcina too the city to court and struck gold when they were assigned Justice Diccia Pineda-Kirwan, who has granted the owner extension after extension.

Most people don't realize the ongoing catastrophic damage that is being done to the Corp's building - maybe this video will open some eyes and help some people realize that after 2 years, the owner of the collapsed building deserves no more extensions or breaks.

The Volunteer Ambulance Corps, a mainstay in our community for 50 years, lost their only sources of income due to this collapse - yet they are still forced to pay insurance for a building in shambles, and pay taxes to a city that failed completely to protect them.

Many thanks for all that you do,

Ed Wendell

City fell victim to oil scam

From DNA Info:

Five of the city's largest fuel oil companies allegedly swindled the NYPD, the FDNY and some of Manhattan's largest developers in a multimillion-dollar citywide scheme, DNAinfo New York has learned.

The companies are suspected of taking worthless but hazardous waste oil and "blending" it with fuel oil before delivering the diluted product to customers, including NYPD precinct houses, FDNY firehouses, other city agencies, local hospitals and many of the city’s largest residential buildings, as well as smaller homeowners and mom-and-pop businesses across the boroughs, sources said.

In addition to the “blending scheme,” the companies are also suspected of rigging meters on trucks to inflate the number of gallons delivered to customers, thereby charging them for fuel they did not receive, sources said.

Addabbo wants Glendale shelter to be for veterans

From the Queens Courier:

The controversial plan to turn the abandoned warehouse located at 78-16 Cooper Ave. in Glendale into a homeless shelter appears to be moving forward, but state Senator Joseph Addabbo wants to make that proposal a little more specific.

If the city is going to make the site into a homeless shelter, Addabbo said, it should extend the facility to the homeless who have fought for this nation’s freedom.

Isn't the site suspected to be highly contaminated?

Be careful who you hire to build a house

From NJ, but relevant:

From Eyewitness News:

A dream home became a nightmare in Florham Park, New Jersey.

When the homeowner was handed over the keys he suddenly learned his new home was sinking, cracking, and crumbling.

"I spent all the money I had and I was cleaned out. I have nothing now," said Humayun Akhtar. He thought he was building his wife the home of her dreams, a gleaming palace where they'd live together.

But nearly a decade later, they've never spent a night here.

"Look at this, won't even close," he said at the bathroom door.

Weeks after closing, the cracks started to form, and he soon found he'd sunk his life savings into a house that was sinking into the ground.

Lots of people jumping ship

From AM-NY:

The New York-New Jersey-Pennsylvania metro area added 90,797 people between July 2013 and 2014, the third biggest gain in the U.S. But the New York metro area was unable to make the top 20 list of fastest-growing urban areas.

People nonetheless are still flocking to the city, but mainly from outside the U.S. International migration accounted for 85,438 new residents in a 12-month period ending June 2014, compared with 82,022 from July 2010 and 2011. Queens, long known as the most diverse borough, attracted the most people from other countries last year, with 27,072 people.

Domestically, however, more people moved out of the city than moved here over the past three years. Including people who moved to another borough, between 2013 and 2014:

Brooklyn lost 32,731 people, compared with 14,908 people between 2010 and 2011
Manhattan lost 21,582 people, compared with 3,620 in the 12-month period ending June 2011.
Queens lost 25,836 people, compared with 17,093 in 2011.
Bronx lost 17,199 people, compared with 18,237 in 2011.
Staten Island lost 2,044 people, compared with 2,099 in 2011.

Thursday, March 26, 2015

MTA sells air rights to clock tower developers

From DNA Info:

The MTA board voted to sell unused development rights from one of its Queens properties for nearly $56 million to a developer planning to build the borough's tallest building.

Through the deal made on Wednesday, the developer of a proposed 70-story apartment tower will be able to build up to 77 stories instead of the 38 the current zoning at the site allows, and up to 490 additional apartments, according to the MTA board documents.

Once the sale is finalized, the MTA will transfer 478,000 square feet from an MTA-owned lot at Northern Boulevard and 40th Road to the development group Queens Plaza Park Development LLC, which includes Property Markets Group and The Hakim Organization.

The sale is expected to go through in the next month or two, an MTA spokesman said.

Because every piece of available land must be developed

From the Queens Tribune:

Several years ago, a handful of Elmhurst neighbors and volunteers transformed a vacant lot into a community garden. In the coming months, it is slated to transform again, but this time into new apartments.

Winnie Mok, a secretary at Tan Architect P.C., which is designing the planned development, said five two-family buildings are slated for the lot. Owners expect to file construction permits within weeks, Mok said; preliminary work installing a temporary perimeter fence has already begun.

The lot in question sits at the end of Manilla Street at Kneeland Avenue, up against the LIRR tracks. The youth volunteering program Young Governors spearheaded the reclamation of the lot, starting in 2011, with the help of the New Life Development Corporation and other community members.

According to lead garden organizer Jennifer Chu, the group received a “verbal OK” from the lot’s then-owner, a retired attorney now located in Florida, to use the site.

“We figured, he’s not using it, we can just work on it make to it look nice.” Chu said. “He said he intended to sell it and so we said, ‘sure, whenever you need to sell it, we’ll vacate.”

Nevertheless, the lot was sold in early February, according to the City Department of Finance. Chu said she received no notification of the sale.

“I’m just surprised that he didn’t give us any notice,” she said, adding that the Young Governors had made an effort to keep the owner up-to-date on activity at the garden, sending pictures and sometimes harvested produce.

The site’s previous owner could not immediately be reached for comment.

Big long bus route proposed

From the Daily News:

The city’s most ambitious plan to speed bus travel to date — an approximately $200 million, 14-mile super route through the heart of Queens — was unveiled by the de Blasio administration Tuesday.

The design features bus-only lanes, curbside fare payment and wireless technology that activates green lights for approaching buses between Woodside in the north all the way down to the Rockaways on the southern coast.

A six-mile segment in the center of the route along Woodhaven and Cross Bay Blvds. will be the most dramatically altered, with separate lanes for local and through traffic, turning restrictions and wide, landscaped pedestrian islands for riders getting on and off buses, officials said.

Construction is expected to start in 2017 and take about one year, Transportation Commissioner Polly Trottenberg said. The entire project is estimated to cost $200 million, officials said.

When finished, the seven Select Bus Routes created by the city since 2008 will pale in comparison, Trottenberg said.

Wednesday, March 25, 2015

Racist graffiti-bombs Astoria subway station

"Another one for American Eagle Outfitters, had "Slut" written on the model. The Abraham Lincoln exhibition advert had the N-bomb scrawled on it. It was smudged, but there." - Anonymous

Parks destroys 100 year old Astoria tree

From CBS 2:

People in the neighborhood said the Parks Department told them the old tree was rotted and hollow inside. But when they cut it down, it was not hollow at all.

“You didn’t have to be an expert to see, it’s a healthy; a very healthy tree,” said Anna Jutis.
Jutis has admired the tree for the 45 years she has lived in the area. Now, she and others are mourning its loss.

Patterson said she was assured multiple times by city officials that the tree would be safe.
“Their exact words were, ‘It will never be cut down, because it’s a landmark,’” she said.
But now, they are left with a stump, and pieces of the tree as souvenirs.

Big Glendale property sold

From the Observer:

A 94,000-square-foot property in the Glendale section of Queens has sold for $9.18 million to two different buyers, according to Avison Young, the brokerage firm that represented the seller and one of the buyers.

The property at 79-40 Cooper Avenue includes eight lots, a 50,000-square-foot industrial building, two attached residential buildings, two parking lots and vacant land spread over two acres.

The seller of the property was Hansel ‘n Gretel Brand, a deli processor that had been in business for 140 years that has since closed. Hansel ‘n Gretel Brand occupied the industrial building until last year.

Carye & Sons Acquisitions, a family-owned real estate company, bought the majority of the property, including all of the holdings along Cooper Avenue, for around $7 million. This included four lots, a vacant piece of land and the industrial building. Carye & Sons plans to redevelop the industrial property on the site into an 80,000-square-foot self-storage and retail building.

The remaining piece of the property, including a parking lot and two residential dwellings, was sold to an adjacent landowner for $2.2 million. Right Time Realty’s Joe Ibrahim represented the buyer on this transaction. Mr. Ibrahim could not immediately be reached for comment.

Forest Hills mansion tops $3M

From Curbed:

This 5,000-square-foot mansion in Forest Hills, Queens was built in 2006, after the owners' previous home was destroyed in a fire. As traumatic as that experience must have been, it did afford them the opportunity to design their dream home from the ground up, and the property now sports five fireplaces, radiant marble heated floors, built in speakers, occasional soaring vaulted ceilings, and various outdoor spaces including a balcony, terrace, garden, and patio. Relisted a week ago, it's now asking $3.289 million.

Contract awarded for tunnel repairs

From the Queens Courier:

Gov. Andrew Cuomo announced on Monday that the MTA is expected to award a four-year, $236.5 million contract to rebuild the Queens Midtown Tunnel, which since the 2012 hurricane has been operating with temporary repairs. Around 40 percent of the length of tunnel was submerged in 12 million gallons of salt water during the storm.

The contract, which will be completed with Judlau Contracting Inc., was approved by the MTA Bridges and Tunnels Committee on Monday and is expected to be approved by the full MTA board on Wednesday.