Sunnyside Post

Sunnyside NY news

Sunnyside’s ’99 Cent Paradise’ is for sale


April 23, By Christian Murray

The 99 cent store located at 42-06 Greenpoint Avenue is for sale.

The store, called 99 cent Paradise, is on the market for $300,000. The owner said that she is selling the business so she can tend to a sick relative in Bangladesh.

This sale would come just two years after the owner vacated Grand 99 Cent Store, another store she had that was located at 45-24 46th Street. At the time, the owner said the rent at that store was about to be raised to $17,000 and that it was too high. She said she wanted to focus on the 99 cent Paradise store.

However, the rent at 99 cent Paradise is not inexpensive. It costs $12,500 per month including tax.

The store is 5,600 sqf and includes a basement of the same size. The owner claims that the store makes about $70,000 in monthly sales.

Grand 99 Cent store closes (May 2012)

Grand 99 Cent store closes (May 2012)


Parks Department starts work on Thomas P. Noonan Playground overhaul

Thomas P. Noonan Playground

Thomas P. Noonan Playground


Thomas Patrick Noonan

Thomas Patrick Noonan

April 22, By Christian Murray

The New York City Parks Dept. has started work on the $2.2 million revamp of Thomas P. Noonan Playground that will include upgrading the rainbow sprinkler system, putting in a new children’s play area, new fencing, new shrubbery and the resurfacing of the basketball courts.

Councilman Jimmy Van Bramer, who called for the upgrade in 2012, initially set aside $600,000 to fix the rainbow sprinkler and its surroundings—but the revamp grew into a $2.2 million project where most of the park will now undergo a makeover.

The revamp stems from a PS199 student who proposed a cleanup day at the park when Van Bramer was visiting the school. On the day of the cleanup, Van Bramer said he noticed the play area was in need of repair.

“I noticed broken and chopped up concrete by the rainbow sprinkler and I realized we had to fix it,” Van Bramer said. “Then the Parks Department did a walk-through (evaluation) and we talked about other improvements too.”

The Parks Department’s plan will increase the size of the existing playground, providing room for two sets of play areas instead of the one that is there now. There will be one play area that targets 2-to-5 year olds, while the other will be for 5-to-12 year olds. Both play areas will include swings—with the older play area including a small rock climbing area.

To make way for the older-children’s play area, some of the adult benches that are near the chess & checkers area will be removed. There will be greenery, such as shrubs, separating the playground area from the adult/chess area. The adult/chess area will be cleaned up.

The rainbow sprinkler system will be moved closer to the playground entrance at the corner of Greenpoint Ave. and 43rd Street. It is clearly marked on the map.

The plan calls for the rainbow sprinkler to be revamped with the latest fixtures.  “It will be multi-dimensional, where children can be sprayed from many directions,” Van Bramer said last year. Furthermore, “there will be six holes in the ground where water sprays upward.”

Moreover, the entire playground area will be fenced in—with one entrance in and out of the area at the corner of 43rd and Greenpoint Ave. That existing entrance will be narrowed to cut the risk that kids will dart out onto the street.

Presently, children are able to run out of the park at the 42nd street end exit (on Greenpoint Ave. or 47th Ave)—as well as the main entrance.

A flagpole will be erected in honor of Thomas P. Noonan, with his name etched into the granite at the bottom. There will be a plague that explains who he was and how he was posthumously awarded the Medal of Honor after the Vietnam War.

Furthermore, there will be a plaque that honors all of this neighborhood’s residents who were killed in Vietnam.

Shrubbery will also be planted behind the park house, with new trees toward 47th Ave.

Van Bramer said all that is left is the upgrade of the park house, which includes the bathrooms. He said he is seeking funding this year to revamp that too.

The Parks Department says that the project will be completed in a year. However, Van Bramer noted that the upgrade at Lou Lodati Park was completed two months ahead of schedule.

“This upgrade is something we should all celebrate,” Van Bramer said. “We will have a much more beautiful park and a more pleasant space that many Sunnyside and Woodside residents can enjoy.”



Noonan Park Plans2


New Mexican restaurant replaces “Chips”

El Nor

April 20, By Christian Murray

Chips, the well-known Mexican restaurant located at 42-15 Queens Blvd, was recently sold.

Janet and Audiel Acantar, who are related to the outgoing owner Miguel Hernandez, bought the restaurant and are making some slight changes to the menu and decor.

The biggest change, however, will be to the name. The husband-and-wife duo are renaming the restaurant El Norteno, which they say denotes their northern Mexican heritage.

Janet Acantar said the restaurant’s interior will continue to have most of the same features, such as the sombreros that hang from the ceiling and the paintings on the walls. The menu will be the same, although they will be adding some dishes that traditionally come from the Northern states of Mexico, such as shredded beef and chicken and special types of sauces.

Janet Acantar said that Hernandez sold Chips so he could go back to Mexico where his parents own a number of restaurants. She said that he will be in and out of the US so people will see him in the restaurant from time to time.

Acantar said the restaurant is ready to open. The couple is just waiting on getting their health department permit.

Terms of the sale were not disclosed.

FDNY looks to acquire 43rd Street site in order to keep spare fire engines

43rd Street

39-34 43rd Street

April 18, By Christian Murray

The FDNY has its sights set on acquiring a property on 43rd Street that would be used to house spare fire engines.

The property, located at 39-34 43rd Street, will not be used as a firehouse, but instead as a facility that will have a supply of spare fire engines– as well as provide storage.

The purpose of the facility is to help fire companies manage their fleet. For instance, if a firehouse were to have an engine in need of maintenance, the captain could use a spare vehicle located at the 43rd Street property while the engine were being repaired.

The vehicles would not be repaired on the 43rd Street property but elsewhere.

The FDNY seeks the property since its current site in Maspeth is in a flood zone. There was significant water damage at that site following Hurricane Sandy.

A representative of the FDNY said that the trucks would not be used for emergencies, so there would not be any flashing lights coming in and out of the facility.

The FDNY would also store items such as wood, concrete, piping and dry wall on the site to ensure that it has a supply should a firehouse be in need of repairs.

The FDNY, however, needs to get a zoning change before it can go ahead with its plans. It will be undergoing the Uniform Land Use Review Procedure. Therefore, more details about the plan will be unveiled soon and the public will be able to have a voice on the application at a Community Board 2 public hearing.

The public hearing is likely to be in June.

40th Street food vendors get the boot


April 17, By Christian Murray

The food vendors at 40th Street have been removed.

Earlier this week, the police arrived and notified them that their time was up and that they needed to go elsewhere.

Joe Conley, chairman of Community Board 2, said the vendors were violating the law by operating out of that location. He said they were too close to the subway stairwells, putting riders at risk in case they needed to make an emergency exit from the subway platform.

This was the primary reason cited for removing the vendors at 46th Street at the end of last year.

Conley, who last month called for the vendors’ removal at 40th Street, appeared somewhat empathic about the vendors’ plight. “I realize it is about income and making money… but at the same time it has got out of hand and it is about the law,” Conley said.

He said that the 40th Street vendors were also operating where an art installation is located, a space which will be used as part of the plaza program.

Sheref Abdelshafy, who had operated his food cart under the 40th Street No. 7 train station for 10 years, was removed as well as the operator of the Halal cart.

When Abelshafy discovered that the community board wanted him gone last month, he said it was unfair.

“I’ve been here 10 years selling bagels and coffee and I have never had any problems with anyone,” he said at the time.

Sheref Abdelshafy's cart (File photo)

Sheref Abdelshafy’s cart (File photo)


Police search for man using fake ATM card

April 17, By Christian Murray

The police are searching for a man who has been using a cloned ATM card to withdraw cash.

The police said that the suspect used the card at the Rite Aid Pharmacy located at 60-26 Woodside Avenue on March 28 at about 2:45pm and withdrew $400. He then used the card at other nearby ATMs and took an additional $900.

The suspect is also wanted for using the card at a pizzeria in Brooklyn a day later. He withdrew $200 from an ATM at Pizzeria Deli, located at 887 Manhattan Ave., on March 29 around 3pm. He then withdrew about $1,400 from other ATMs nearby.

Anyone with information in regards to this incident is asked to call the NYPD’s Crime Stoppers Hotline at 800-577-TIPS.

Caffe bene expected to open by end of month

41-10 Queens Blvd

41-31 Queens Blvd

April 16, By Christian Murray

Caffe bene, the multi-national coffee giant based out of South Korea, is expected to open its Sunnyside operation by the end of this month.

The café, which will be at located at 41-31 Queens Blvd, will be selling conventional items such as brewed coffee, hot and cold beverages, pastries, croissants, sandwiches, waffles, gelato, and so forth.

“We plan to open by the end of April, beginning of May at the latest,” said Kyeong Kim, a spokesman for Caffe bene.

Caffe bene operates more than 1,200 cafes across the globe.

The company has opened five cafes in New York/New Jersey since it entered the US market in 2012. Those franchises are located in Times Square, Flushing, Fashion Institute of Technology, Fort Lee, NJ, and Palisades Park, NJ. The company has plans to add another forty stores–including one in Astoria– to these two states in the near future.

Its stores attempt to replicate the look and feel of traditional European coffeehouses.


Icon 52 rents out in six weeks

The Icon52

The Icon52

April 15

A Woodside rental building, touted as affordable luxury, is full after being on the market just six weeks, according to the Daily News.

The 9-story building, called Icon52, is comprised of 66 units, with prices significantly higher that the rent most other Woodsiders pay.

Studios at the 52-05 Queens Blvd building start at $1,500 per month, with two-bedrooms reaching $2,600.

The complex, which is across the street from Calvary Cemetery, is about a block from the 52nd Street train station.


New owner takes over old bar, with plans to freshen it up

Jason Spratt, the new owner

Jason Spratt, the new owner

April 14, By Christian Murray

The Leitrim House, one of this neighborhood’s oldest bars located at 45-06 48th Ave., was sold last month and the new owner has plans to renovate it.

Jason Spratt, who is taking over the establishment, will be renaming it “The Jar” and aims to bring in a new crowd as well as make life-long Sunnysiders and Woodsiders feel at home.

The bar, which was established in 1933 as Ryan’s, has had a number of different owners and names over the years. It has catered to generations of Sunnyside and Woodside residents.

However, Spratt, who is from Ireland, also wants to bring in a younger generation.

He said he wants to change the exterior and make it more inviting. He has other modest changes in mind.

“I need to walk a fine line, since many of the existing customers are sensitive about it changing too much,” Spratt said.

He said that it is important that the establishment retains it gritty dive bar feel, complete with the pool table and dart board.

Spratt, who doesn’t like to talk about himself, wants his “dive bar” to continue to maintain its weathered look and be “a place where you feel comfortable… no matter how you look or what you do.”

Spratt said that the bar currently sells domestic pints for between $3.50 and $4.00. “We are not paying Queens Blvd rent so we can keep prices low,” he said.

Spratt said that he welcome ideas from residents as to how to make the bar more inviting and vibrant.

“I will be interested to see what comments I get,” he said.”I’m sure there will be people who will say this place should not exist or should never have been born,” he said.”Anyway, it makes for great entertainment.”

Op Ed Sunday: Small town in the big city

"Lou Lodati, 1908-1996, co-founder of Lowery Wine & Liquor, was the second Sunnyside Chamber president

Lou Lodati, 1908-1996, co-founder of Lowery’s Wine & Liquors, was the second Sunnyside Chamber president

By Rigoberto Cardoso and Patricia Dorfman

The inner workings of the Sunnyside Chamber of Commerce might seem irrelevant to some, but the organization’s health is more important to our future than one might think. The Chamber’s long-time slogan, “A small town in the big city” aptly suggests that we all are dependent upon each other in more ways than just business.

The organization was built mid-century by a group of people with energy and altruism, and has since then been the center of public life.

The leaders made a lot of money here and spent a lot of money here. They played hard in the way that trusted associates do (often in a politically incorrect “ratpack” fashion). But they also helped build parks, schools, the post office, a bank, parking under the elevated train line—as well as give to the needy. They stuck together.

Sunnyside is on the brink of enormous change and we can all sense it. It feels as though powerful and wealthy people have taken a look at Sunnyside and decided to carve it up like waffles. We need to keep a voice of our own or we will be overwhelmed by the clamor of the interests of commercial real estate brokers, big business and long-term landowners along our rezoned town center. Long-term quality of life for residents is at stake.

Of course, property owners are entitled to make their profits as well as brokers and developers. A chamber is not anti-commerce.

But residents need a varied commercial landscape, not just stores which can afford giant rents. Small businesses make Sunnyside charming and need a place and chance to flourish. Professionals and merchants worry they will be displaced. Residents worry they will not be able to afford to live here. The already begun building turnovers and coming rebuilding will be easier for locals if done more in plain sight.

We need an independent group not connected to the city, expressly concerned with small business. The BID (AKA Sunnyside Shines) was created by Chamber members and does a great job at its official four-fold mission: holiday lights, security, cleanliness and promotion. But the BID cannot speak for residents and local businesses as well as we can for ourselves. The BID is a property owners organization, designed to keep up property values. Only two out of the 17 BID board members are small business owners as per its proscribed make-up. There is also just one resident board member permitted, as per its make-up.

Even if it wanted to advocate strongly on a local specific topic, our BID would be constrained by the city, which regulate all BIDs. You or we cannot join the BID. Furthermore, it serves a specific location. The Chamber is for the wider area, and invites all, from residents to small business owners.

Want a say in what is happening? Join the chamber as an individual. The monthly lunch is a regular public forum in a friendly setting. Bring your business cards and promote, or bring your initiative and get something started. Have an idea to help yourself or others? The chamber is a good place to start. No board member or officer is paid, but many find getting involved opens up business opportunities.

Last month, a variety of local business owners expressed similar wish lists:

1) Hold monthly meetings at different venues so as to showcase more businesses, and sometimes in the evenings. Of course, the excellent Dazies will be one of the places to be showcased, too.

2) Put the focus on small business and local concerns.

3) Members can be from anywhere and all are welcome but specify that officers who often speak for all must have an office here or live here.

4) Invite speakers or officials to speak on topics which entertain or directly relate to small business needs — quarterly business card exchanges, topics such as social networking, search engine optimization, press release writing, local history, subjects such as new health care rules for business.

5)  Board outreach to more diverse business leadership.

6)  Rehire Luke Adams when possible, repost his historical photos and schedule outings.

7) Among events suggested were golf outings, and bus trips.

As early chamber members knew, recreational events held by the chamber have a serious component, not just to raise funds. Those who can find some common ground and have fun, despite different backgrounds, are more likely to do business with each other and even be happier and healthier. More than ever, we need a place to speak freely on a local level. As our area grows and inevitably changes, we can unite to create prosperity, work together for the common good, and keep our small town in the big city.

(Cardoso has owned and run Pronto Car Service for 20 years and has served as Treasurer of the Chamber of Commerce for seven years. He is originally from Ecuador. Dorfman is a local artist and designer, a former VP of the Chamber but did not run for a seat.)

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