Foodtown on Greenpoint Ave. to close by year end,

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97 Responses to Foodtown on Greenpoint Ave. to close by year end,

  1. PG

    Obamacare at its finest

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  2. Patriot

    PG knows whats up

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  3. A&P

    How is the related to Obamacare?

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  4. Roxy

    According to NYC Property Search, the building is owned by Maysa Realty Group, which owes more than $50,000 in back taxes on the property.

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  5. Roxy

    And a Google search shows Maysa Realty headquartered at 86-20 Avon Street in Jamaica, Queens, with Jamal Hammad listed as the contact person.

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  6. seymorelover

    "Obamacare"? WTF does this store have ANYTHING to do with Obamacare?

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  7. Oppressed Masses

    Excellent location for a nail salon.

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  8. Thomas

    There 16 ways to spell "Hannukah" during this holiday season...lets focus on the positive! Thank you JVB for caring about the workers affected....may be many reasons for the store closing......lets stick together!

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  9. JuliaJ.

    Another 99 cent store! Whoopee! As for Obamacare, if you have 50 employees or more, you have to cover them - so be prepared to see more PART TIME help as opposed to full time. And full time is now defined as 30 hours per week, so people will be working for 29 hours. Way to go, voters. Maybe a nail salon?

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  10. oICU12

    The only reason I can think of for the landlord's behavior is that he wants to sell the plot to a developer who will build some ugly, glass and steel multi storey structure.

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  11. GB

    Is the name of the landlord Ebeneezer Scrooge by any chance?

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  12. O'shea

    @GB
    If the place is owned by jammal hammad do you think they give a two sh*+s about Christmas, thanksgiving, or the holidays ? store worker said eviction was served before thanksgiving.
    Even scrooge would have waited.

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  13. LT

    not only am i upset about the closing of my local store and the loss of jobs for the people i see on a weekly basis--i am upset by the fact that greenpoint ave will have yet another large empty store. we need to revitalize this area--it's being to look and feel depressed!

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  14. Randy

    Obamacare? Jesus people.

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  15. Gardener

    @oICU12 I'm not a fan of ugly glass and steel multi story structures, but I can't say I'm a fan of the way this current building looks either!

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  16. Virginia

    This is too bad. The Foodtown was the only place that sold passable produce and had a bearable floor plan, i.e., you could move.

    To those who want to blame Obama for this, you have serious problems. Work it out. Read.

    I too see a lot of employers cutting corners so they don't have to insure their staff. But this is the fault of very stingy employers who get even stingier by the day. If you can't see your way to paying a few extra dollars to make sure your fellow man, woman and child have medical insurance and whatever else they may need, you are America's real problem.

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  17. Thomas

    O'Shea
    What difference does his name make? Perhaps there are many reasons why this store is closing....maybe this fellow is experiencing financial difficulty and kept the tenant as long as he could? Maybe he is greedy but that is his right...its his property You need to stop the intolerance and embrace others as part of this human community. The Holidays are upon us....remember education is the elixer of ignorance!

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  18. Lisa

    Terrible news...this was the only decent grocery store in the area. I'm hoping it will be replaced with another soon (Trader Joe's perhaps??)

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  19. PG

    @Virginia, unfortunately it's not a few extra dollars. But with those "few extra dollars", i'd rather put those dollars in my employees pockets, so that they can choose whether or not they want insurance. I am americas solution i create jobs and create wealth for individuals.

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  20. Brendan

    @LT, I too am sad at this development as it is my go-to grocery store.
    It is interesting to note though that this block is always fraught with failing businesses. (But usually on the south side.)
    I wonder if the Sunnyside BID decided to include this block if it would help.
    (Note: the BID covers "Greenpoint Ave. (from 43rd to 48th Streets)".
    I think that's awful considering that Greenpoint Avenue's Sunnyside section starts a few blocks before that.)

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  21. Long time sunnysider

    Greedy landlords are to blame for all the empty stores on Greenpoint ave. check out the rents of those stores and ul understand how small businesses can not survive in this economy. That s why it s so important to shop local and try to keep the existing shops,bars and restaurants in business.we don't need any more stores closing on Greenpoint ave.

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  22. Webley

    Trader Joe's might be a good investment with the increasing hipster population in the area, but with parking already scarce as it is, it might be a problem. So I really cannot come up with anything other than a market for the area, Associates will increase the prices now, that's a problem.

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  23. Bliss & Skillman

    Build us a REAL supermarket like Publix or Meijer's .. shiny, clean, organized, well stocked, great gourmet selections as well as better than just decent store brands! When I travel and go into one of those stores, I feel like I am on another planet. They are fabulous!

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  24. LT

    i would love to shop at the mom & pop stores--i prefer it--landlords on gpt ave should realize that it prob makes sense to lower rents to get tenants in rather than keep these large space empty for many years. we could use a nice coffee shop and a cafe like aubergine on skillman--those biz are thriving why does everything fail on our side of the blvd? and the orchard market just closed--another empty space--it's really disappointing. but dollar stores and cheap clothing stores succeed!!

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  25. Local Hamburgler

    What's wrong with the Associated a block up? Last time I was in there they had hanger steak. Hanger ffs!

    Pretty large space. I vote bowling alley.

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  26. It's all True

    Greenpoint Avenue is becoming more and more awful. This should be a thriving shopping area but it is not. Sad. And people cannot afford Obamacare. It is more than a few dollars - much more.

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  27. Ruben

    so this landlord owns the stores across the street as well? Does that include that awful Indian restaurant that I never see anybody in. I kinda wonder how a restaurant like that stays in business while a great place like FoodTown gets their nuts squeezed for more money.

    Indian food...just like a baby's dirty diaper with some curry. Same texture, 10x the price.

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  28. Pete

    @It's all true: is it much more than the $50k the landlord won't give the city in back taxes?

    This isn't about Obamacare. It's about greed and tax evasion. Hoarded capital doesn't trickle down.

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  29. you all make me laugh

    What we need is a large chain bar/resturant with strong finacial backing to open on greenpoint ave to help revitalize the area. I vote HOOTERS!

    Empty Retail Space = Tax Write Off for whichever multi-million dollar real estate investment corporation owns the building / land.

    On a side note, I find it very hard to believe that two unnamed "high profile real estate" executives don't know that they can find property records online using the ACRIS system.

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  30. Thomas

    Ruben

    My goodness such invective directed at anyone and everyone that has absolutley nothing to do with this store closing...Obama care? Indian Restaurant? Again stop jumping to conclusions....if the landlord can't pay his real estate taxes ...how does having an empty building serve him better? most people posting here seem to be venting their biases and anger at anything other than looking into their own souls. Stop the madness! Hannukah, Kwanzaa all the Holidays are approaching lets stay on track!

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  31. Local Hamburgler

    @Thomas

    Hi! You seem to be new here. Ruben is a troll, see below for clarification.

    1a. Noun
    One who posts a deliberately provocative message to a newsgroup or message board with the intention of causing maximum disruption and argument.

    1b. Noun
    A person who, on a message forum of some type, attacks and flames other members of the forum for any of a number of reasons such as rank, previous disagreements, sex, status, ect.
    A troll usually flames threads without staying on topic, unlike a "Flamer" who flames a thread because he/she disagrees with the content of the thread.

    1c. Noun
    A member of an internet forum who continually harangues and harasses others. Someone with nothing worthwhile to add to a certain conversation, but rather continually threadjacks or changes the subject, as well as thinks every member of the forum is talking about them and only them. Trolls often go by multiple names to circumvent getting banned.

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  32. Ruben

    Thomas I never said anything about Obamacare, that falls to all the political hot heads above, I merely stated a fact. If he owns that indian restaurant which gets NO business then this landlord had an agenda.

    I always like to believe a place that makes no business and remains open is just a front. I've seen the Wire.

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  33. Long time resident

    Does that include that awful Indian restaurant that I never see anybody in. I kinda wonder how a restaurant like that stays in business
    You mean Curry Point, yes? It's mostly take-out.

    With everyone going on and on about Obamacare, you'd think it was already up and running. Businesses have been preparing for it, but it doesn't go in to effect until 2014 I believe. (Is that right?)

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  34. Thomas

    Thank you Hamburgler....

    I hope "Ruben" is simply not baiting. My point is that there may be any number of reasons why the store is closing. Perhaps its bad mangement encompassing all stores? Maybe the rent is too high? Maybe the landlord is being unreasonable? who really knows. What I take exception to is when people take this as an excuse to personify it against an individual or group. That is not constructive. Get the facts...then comment

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  35. Kathy G

    We here at Thalia Spanish Theatre will miss Foodtown and its employees. They were good neighbors to us. Thankfully, our landlord, who owns the rest of the building on the north side of Greenpoint between 41st and 42nd, isn't greedy, which is why you see virtually no turnover on this little commercial strip.

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  36. Native NYer

    "Greedy" landlords? Owners try to maximize profits, it is called capitalism.

    @Brendan: To your point about businesses failing on the south side, well the south side is less affluent than the north side.

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  37. Cathy

    I am sorry to hear this but I really feel for the employees coming into the holiday season. The staff were very friendly. What the he'll has Obama to do with a store closing on Greenpoint.. Really ppl wake up.

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  38. elmo didn't do nuthin!

    i wouldn't mind a stripper club, the closest we got is Gallaghers and its a bit of a hike. Its big enough, I vote for SCORES!

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  39. choco-bot the chocolate robot

    girlie club, nice... we need one on the south side

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  40. DJ

    So much negativity and anger on these message boards. And people wonder why cancer rates are so high.

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  41. Celticparker

    Roxy- nice work, the 108th could really use you. Hamburgler- I like your post.

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  42. David

    Yes, Hamburgler! A bowling alley! Perfect. Southside as a destination. Get on this. (Btw: Glad that Thalia is doing well. The Columbian chicken joint across the street, La Pollera Colorado, is one of the best rotisserie chickens north- or south of Queens Boulevard.)

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  43. Anonymous

    i vote for hooters.

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  44. GB

    A bowling alley?

    Bowling alleys are dinosaurs. There used to be loads of them around here when I was a kid. Maybe one or two are left. They require a lot of space and in a city where space is so costly, they can't make money.

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  45. JuliaJ.

    Hooters has good fries! But seriously, another empty space? Not good.

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  46. Roxy

    One of the Foodtown staffers told me that Jamal Hammad is a Palestinian who owns Maysa Realty Group and resides in posh Jamaica Estates. He reportedly also owns all the vacant properties in the block of Greenpoint Avenue across from Foodtown.

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  47. Local Hamburgler

    @GB

    Any sort of activity based entertainment. There isn't anything like that around here. Sometimes I don't feel like drinking, dropping a chunk of money on eating out or sitting silently in a theater. Things like bowling alleys and game parks, shuffleboard and the like, have little month to month expense. Large volume of staff isn't needed and you're not selling any product that you have to put money into each term. You pay for a space and an initial investment on furnishings and then just cleaning products. Hell, don't even sell alcohol or food. Allow people to get takeout delivered. No booze will allow for a far more diverse demographic. We all know how popular the Loudati soccer matches are each weekend.

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  48. Pete

    @Roxy: Interesting. Several businesses on the block are "going under," presumably due to high rents and yet this guy is $50k in the red with the city and will possible declare "bankruptcy" (i.e., get bailed out by the taxpayers). Then he can sell off the entire block at sheer profit. Smells like a shake down. It will be interesting to see how this plays out in the coming months and years.

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  49. 43rd Street Resident

    I vote for a Chippendales type of club.

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  50. Sunnyside Native

    A roller skating rink in the area would be fun for the kids and teenagers, but needs more space than the Foodtown floor plan can provide.

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  51. O'shea

    I love sunnysiders. A bunch of idealists building airy castles on someone's property:)

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  52. Roxy

    There may be an uglier side to this dispute than we realize if reports are true that the property owner is a Palestinian and that the proprietors of Foodtown are Jewish. The New York Times or some other daily newspaper should investigate that possibility. I don't think that any of the Queens weeklies are up to it.

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  53. Ruben

    Roxy- I KNEW IT! I knew there was something uglier behind this! I believe it!

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  54. 86Mets

    Maybe that stretch of Greenpoint Ave should be renamed the Gaza Strip Mall.

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  55. choco-bot the chocolate robot

    wow, palestinian landlord vs jewish store owner! I smell a reality show!!! either that or decades of conflict in Sunnyside

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  56. sylvia g plimploff

    @ roxy But if the foodtown owners are jewish wouldn't they be saying that the prophet Abraham claimed that god said it was land meant for them.Such is the case with the west bank and gaza.

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  57. songbird

    It's a terrible shame that this "mystery landlord' has been allowed to hold this section of the Sunnyside business community hostage for decades now. How
    ironic that the Foodtown property and the "triangle" across the street from it are outside of the local BID district - so nothing has been done about this sad section of empty storefronts and multiple businesses that have tried and failed because the rents are exorbitant.

    Foodtown's demise should be the last straw. For those of you who live a couple of blocks from Associated, this is no big deal- but this supermarket has been serving the community from the LIE and BQE service road toward 43 Street and doing it well. The staff and management have been long time supporters of our Community - almost like family.

    I've spoken with many neighbors who are angry at the landlord and heartbroken about losing Foodtown.

    It may be a "done deal" but I know a lot of folks who want to do some kind of demonstration to find out who this landlord is and most of all to thank the staff at Foodtown for having been an important part of our Sunnyside Community.

    They will be missed.....

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  58. 86Mets

    If Sunnyside Shines BID can't do anything about Foodtown or that stretch of Greenpoint Ave, then really what is it good for?

    They hire a pretty, young, female face while a hundred yards away from their office, businesses go down the dumper.

    If you criticize her you get called a sexist.

    Let's see her keep Foodtown afloat and then I'll apologize for being such a sexist cad.

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  59. O'shea

    Not a fan of the BID. However, this has nothing to do with the BID or the newly hired intelligent cutie. This is between the landlord and the katz family. The current premise is that the landlord is to blame. What about the katz family? The landlord is palestinian? And they have been doing business together for more than 15 years? Foodtown was the last of the big three supermarkets in the area. They ran the most expensive supermarket is sunnyside and must have faced stiff rivalry from associated and keyfood. maybe the current generation cannot run the business like their father.

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  60. People Please!

    The Acris System information seems not to transfer so just use block # 00196 and Lot # 0042 and you'll see the property record.

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  61. the other side

    I just found out today that Foodtown is closing. Makes me sad. Sure, we have Associated and Key Food, but I like Foodtown for certain things and many items that I buy are actually cheaper there. A store employee told me they're theorizing that the landlord wants them out so he can develop housing over there--they say he also owns the empty businesses across the street. Sounds like the dispute Foodtown was having with the landlord could have been resolved if he really wanted to. Why else have all those empty businesses over there? I for one am going to miss it.

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  62. the other side

    BTW, Sunnyside Post: You need to change your site clock to daylight saving time.

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  63. thomas

    I am dismayed by the anti semetic rhetoric...........why would anyone make joke of the conflict between the arab and jew? Jewish people have suffered from bias for over 4000 years........my grand father was a holocaust survivor..........i doubt te demise of foodtown is of racial nature......it is economic. Stop the hate

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  64. thomas

    By the way mr o shea........the term cutie in the context you used it can be construed as sexist........would you have used that remark if refering to your daughter?

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  65. thomas

    O'shea
    would you use the word "cutie" in such a disparaging manner if refering to your wife or daughter? You read as a nice man but sexism is now thankfully a thing of the past. Woman are now afforded the same rights to opportunity as men. Keep that in mind

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  66. the other side

    BTW, Sunnyside Post: You need to change your site clock to daylight saving time.

    I meant eastern standard time.

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  67. Sunnyside Post

    To whom it may concern,

    This site aims to keep local issues, "local". Therefore, global and religious conflicts, and the foreign policies of governments do not belong here.

    There are plenty of other news sites that cater to those topics.

    Thanks.

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  68. tempus fugit

    With all respect to the site moderator, if there is a conflict between Palestinians and Jews in Sunnyside, is it not a local issue? Both groups are physically here and part of the community so how is it not of local interest? That's like saying the Saint Patrick's Day parade on Skillman Avenue is of no local interest because it pertains to Ireland.

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  69. West Sunnysider

    So the store is closing in two weeks. There are no new shipments coming in, all the meat and vegetables are gone. I live on 39th Street and Greenpoint, so along with everybody west of the store that uses Foodtown since it's the closest supermarket, our lives just got more difficult. Associated is now the closest market and since their renovation they've upped their prices, including charging for plastic bags. I am not happy with the situation. Apparently the same landlord owns the five vacant storefronts across the street as well that have sat empty for years. Not sure what the plan is. Is it possible that they want the whole strip vacant for some large development project? I hope whatever it is they are planning, they already have the financing and we won't have empty storefronts for years and years. Isn't there some kind of law that says you can't have storefronts empty for any long period of time? What's the city council's stand on all of this??

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  70. the other side

    West Sunnysider: I agree with your concerns. I live EAST of the Associated market and still shopped at Foodtown, as well as the other supermarkets. With one less supermarket in the neighborhood, the two remaining markets (there's a Key Food on 46th and Queens Blvd.--which is even further away from you) don't have as much competition, so they can raise their prices. The closing of Foodtown really does not bode well for the consumer ... although I'll bet the other supermarkets are thrilled. And the businesses surrounding Foodtown will likely suffer too.

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  71. Pete

    I just went to Foodtown to say goodbye to the employees. One of them told me that in addition to this Hammad character being in arrears to the city for $50K, Foodtown offered him $5 million for the building, an offer he refused. They then offered to pay him $40K in rent per year, up from the $27K they're paying now PLUS a $1.4 million fee to offset any potential looses Hammad might incur by not selling the building. He refused that as well. I was also told that a business across the street offered him $4 million for the build they're in and he refused them.

    If this is true, there is something very fishing going on here. What does this man want? How much money is enough? Speaking as a property owner who lives only one block away, I'm really starting to get concerned for this neighborhood. What is he planning to do?

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  72. Ex-Foodtowner

    As a former employee of Foodtown, PSK Supermarkets, I knew this day was coming. (Mind you, it has been many years since I quit) We all knew, all of the past and current employees knew the day would come that Foodtown will close. For everyone saying "Foodtown closed because of rent, landlord, racial reasoning, etc.", that is not the case. Foodtown has been suffering financially for years, not just in Sunnyside but in many other areas. Also, if you local Foodtown shoppers, have not noticed, in the past 5 years there have been about 4 different managers, managing the store, now if a red flag does not pop in your head something is wrong, then I do not know what to tell you. Also, after the renovation they did around 07/08 , that caused them a lot of headache and financial lost, because they believed that outcome will be results in sales and revenue, which it did not. Plus, Associated renovated and everyone started to shop there, then within the last year Food Dynasty aka Key Food, renovated (and must I say it has been doing EXCELLENT.)

    Don't know what else say, hope you guys get the picture.

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  73. Pete

    ...sorry I think that rental figure ought to be per month.

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  74. Angray

    Ex-Foodtowner - Are you saying they just weren't generating enough income?

    I have no inside source, but a comment above stated they were willing to pay $40k/month plus $1.4 mil. Sounds like they are doing quite well and willing to pay a lot extra to keep things running.

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  75. woodside guy

    What is the landlord up too

    1 will not lease
    2 rejected offers to buy
    3 area was recently rezoned
    4 Sunnyside has been labeled a up and coming neighborhood in the press
    5 owns the block acros the street also mostlyempty
    6 He sees what is happeninh in wburg and other parts of brooklyn that have been gentrified
    7 does not live in the 'hood

    Could be he is holding out for the best offer from large developer who wants an easy knockdown to build a large condo project

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  76. woodside guy

    Note I am not defending the landlord but nothing he is doing other than owing back taxs is illegal.
    he doesn't care about the community that is not a crime

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  77. O'shea

    @ woodside guy.
    You are right. That lot has been rezoned R5. This allows the owner to put up a four story multi apartment building. The lot is about 11000sft, theoretically this allows for the creation of 8-10 apartments/ floor. The landlord would face a payoff of $68,000-$76,000/month.
    This is much sweeter Shmoolah than whatever foodtown may have offered.

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  78. Angray

    @O'shea - Let's say at 10 apartments/floor with 4 floors. Avg rental 2000/month gives him 80,000/month. Only if he is thinking long term will this make sense because you have to account for construction cost. Or he is going to develop the property himself, then he can sell the apartments. If we say avg apt goes for 300k that is 12 mil. (not sure how much it'll cost to build such a condo). Another option he'll sell the land to a developer and probably get 5 mil. minus the headache of construction.

    Option 3 - Selling to developer is most likely. If he already owes backtaxes, I doubt he has millions to develop the property. Probably just waiting for all leases to finish up and sell to a developer.

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  79. O'shea

    @angray
    I do not see the selling option@ 5 million. 12-13 mill would be a great asking price. That land is pure gold; if you project average yearly rent increase into the calculation. $3340 average rent at sunnyside over the next 7- 10 years is normal.

    REAL reason the foodstore is closings.
    1. Based on sales/square feet, this store averages 112-152K/ week. It Would have to average 396k in sales/ week to meet all its new cost obligations. Not happening:/
    2. You would have to re- rezone the spot?
    3. Any negotiation between landlord and tenant may not have happen in good faith. Tenant must have know property had been rezoned.
    4. Associated and fresh n' save are better options.

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  80. Roxy

    The property owner did owe around $50,000 in back taxes, but he wiped the debt out with tax credits that were due him from other of his properties that were and still are standing empty.

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  81. Thomas

    O'shea ....
    I had a feeling you just might be capable of an original thought. Kudos to you. That is a plausible scenario you have outlined. I do take exception to the term "shmoolah" In what context are you applying it?

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  82. Thomas

    O'Shea.....
    Given the vitrol of the debate and your previous posts ....the word has negative connotations attached ......

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  83. Angray

    A bit optimistic on 12-13 mil ask. The large church/Salt & Fat/Dunkin Donuts on QB was listed at 6.8 mil in 2009. Not sure what the difference is in lot size.

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  84. doc

    O'shea nobody has said the landlord's actions are illegal. However that does not make him any less of a scumbag. Because something is legal does not mean it is right.

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  85. O'shea

    @ thomas
    oh well.... never mind.

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  86. Roxy

    There is another supermarket in south Sunnyside, on a corner of 47th Avenue and 46th Street. It was recently renovated and has a new name which escapes me at the moment.

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  87. Roxy

    In the year 2000, the Jamaica Estates resident was reported as Chief Financial Officer of the Key Foods syndicate. Could he still be connected with it? If so, Key Food runs the recently renovated supermarket on Queens Boulevard at 46th Street. Part of that renovation included a new building above the store with offices and rental apartments. The plot thickens!

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  88. Pete

    @Roxy: the person listed on the Newsmeat contribution list is Nedal Hammad, who is this guy's brother. I at first incorrectly thought it was the same person. My bad. However, yes, I also noticed that Nedal is the CFO for Key Food as well as an immediate family relation to Jamal Hammad. Interesting coincidence. Now Key Food has one less major competitor on the south side.

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  89. Anonymous

    I am outraged regarding the news that this store is closing. Personally, it inconveniences me as now my closest supermarket is much farther away from my apartment. Carrying groceries that far is going to be a bitch. I'm not happy about that.

    In regards to the community as a whole, that entire section of Greenpoint Avenue is an eyesore. Many businesses have come and gone. Nothing seems to prosper there. I won't even honor the political/ethnic argument that others are posing on this comment thread as out of 2 blocks of store fronts only a few businesses have survived the past years. I'm thinking there is some issue with the policies of the landlord and not his ethnic background.

    Someone should do an investigation. There has to be more than meets the eye. I'm tired of my block failing.

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  90. Roxy

    Someone above mentioned that the Associated supermarket in Sunnyside charges for plastic bags. Could that be true? I shop there several times a week and have never been charged for plastic bags. In fact, I don't think that paper bags are an option. The cashiers automatically put my purchases in plastic bags.

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  91. the other side

    Councilman Jimmy Van Bramer is apparently holding a rally to save Foodtown on Thursday night, Dec. 6: http://jimmyvanbramer.com/.

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  92. Anonymous

    For goodness' sake, Roxy, stop with all of the plastic bags! Smart people around the world have stopped using them years ago.Besides the fact that they're manufactured with such poor quality that two are automatically used for almost every purchase, they are environmentally hurtful. There is a white plastic bag stuck in the tree branches outside of my window- it's been there over a year. Every time I see it I wonder how we could allow so much garbage to be introduced into our environment on a regular basis. Do folks not think about our future? Whether or not you see the charge for the bag, it's there. Get a reusable bag and use it; you'll feel better and our neighborhood will benefit from your actions.

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  93. Cherry D.

    It's very sad news that Foodtown is going to be closed. The only options left is a Key Food on 46 St, Mets Supermarket on 43 Ave, and Superior Market on QB and 40th St. Associated is not an option at all, despite all the renovations they manage to sell rotten products and refuse to refund for expired groceries an hour after the purchase. So I guess we'll have to walk a little more to do our food shopping.

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Latest News

Sunnyside farmers market to be open all year round

Sunnyside-market

Dec. 16, By Christian Murray

The Sunnyside Greenmarket, which had been operating from May through December, has been approved to open all year round.

The coordinator of the program received word about 10 days ago–after putting in a request earlier this year to open every Saturday for the entire year.

Greenmarket representatives started a petition drive in August calling for a year-round market. More than 1,000 residents signed it. The community board then sent a letter of support.

The market operates every Saturday from 8 am through 3pm and is located on Skillman Avenue between 42nd and 43rd Streets.

“I think the neighborhood is ready for it,” said Jessenia Cagle, the coordinator of the market, in September. “There are a lot of people in the area who like fresh, local food—and they don’t want to have to go too far to get it especially in winter.”

The market, which opened in June 2007, has proved to be a success. Presently there are 16 farmers/vendors out each weekend selling vegetables, meat, fish and bread.

Most of the vendors will continue to operate during the ice-cold winter months—with only the wine and fish vendors unlikely to participate.

The move to open a year-round is not unprecedented in Queens. Cagle said the market in Jackson Heights, which was once seasonal, now operates all year round.

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Center Cinemas likely to close Jan. 4, as owner rejects six-month lease extension

Sunnyside-Center-Cinemas-005-800x6002

Dec. 15, By Christian Murray

The owner of Sunnyside Center Cinemas has rejected the six-month lease extension that he was offered by the building owner last week —saying the extension is just too short.

Rudy Prashad, the owner of the Center Cinemas, said it was not worth hiring new staff or unpacking his equipment for six extra months. His last day remains January 4.

“My bags are packed and are pretty much sitting at the front door,” he said.

Prashad said that he mulled over the offer over the weekend but decided it didn’t make sense. “I’ve been making preparations, dealing with staff and it just doesn’t work for me to go back for that short of time.”

Prashad said that he had been trying to reach the owner for the past year to work out where he stood with his lease. He said that if he had been offered the extension three months ago then it would have worked out.

However, at this point, he would be only be willing to stay if he was offered at least 12 months.

Prashad said that movie theaters like his tend to make their money in summer and scrape by in winter. A six month lease would end just before the summer peak seasib kicks in.

Several residents are hoping that the property owner John Ciafone will offer Prashad a longer lease.

Many want to know if Ciafone is able to build the apartments above the theater without completely demolishing it.

A rally is scheduled to take place between 12:30 and 1:30 pm in front of the theater this Sunday and is being organized by local residents Ty Sullivan and Jon Storck.

“We hope it might help open up a discussion between the landlord and the theater owner,” Sullivan said, who believes the rally will be worthwhile.

Sullivan said the loss of the theater would hurt low-income families the most– since many would be unable to afford going to the big multiplex cinemas in Astoria or elsewhere.

The rally, Sullivan said, also aims to show that Sunnyside is a community and that people care.

“This is a neighborhood that is made up of independently-owned and family-owned businesses,” he said. “It’s family-friendly and affordable and we don’t want to lose that. We want to tell buildings owners that is who we are and that’s how we would like to remain.”

Councilman Jimmy Van Bramer said he supports those involved in the rally—such as Sullivan and Storck.

“I want them to know I am behind them and I will be amplifying their voices as their council member,” he said

Van Bramer encourages John Ciafone to come back to the negotiating table to see what can be done.

“I will be reaching out to John Ciafone and his family again,” he said.

save

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Two residents turning Sunnyside into a hub for comedy, with big show planned for Tuesday
Lindsay Goldwert

Lindsay Goldwert

Dec. 14, By Michael Florio

Two Sunnyside comedians are turning the neighborhood into a go-to place for comedy.

Comedians Lindsay Goldwert and Colin Samuel, who have formed Sunnyside Comedy, have already produced two local shows and are about to put on their biggest event yet.

The two will be hosting “The X-mas Comedy Show” at Murphy’s, located at 48-20 Skillman Avenue, this Tuesday (Dec. 16) and are bringing nine comedians to the venue. Tickets will be  $10 and will be sold at the door. The show starts at 8:30 pm.

“We have put a lot of work into the Christmas show and are excited about the comedians who we have performing,” Goldwert said. (see line up below)

The two teamed up and began hosting comedy shows together this fall, after meeting at an open mic night in Manhattan over the summer.

“We both live in Sunnyside and Colin told me he was trying to put together comedy shows in the neighborhood,” Goldwert said. “It is a lot of work for one person and when he asked me to join, I did.”

Samuel hosted one show over the summer prior to teaming up with Goldwert. However, their first show as a duo, took place in October at The Dog and Duck on Skillman Ave.

The two have hosted two shows since– another at The Dog and Duck and one at Marlene Tavern.

Goldwert said that each venue provides attendees with a different experience. The Dog and Duck is a more casual venue, where people can enjoy a drink and the show, while Marlene Tavern has the classic comedy club feel to it.

Goldwert has been doing standup for a year, while Samuel has been in the business for some time.

They decided to host shows in Sunnyside to help promote local businesses, while also fill a void in the community.

“We love living here and wanted to bring comedy to the community,” she said. “There is a growth of comedy in LIC and Astoria and we wanted to add to that by bringing comedy shows to Sunnyside.”

“We like the idea of bringing something new to the neighborhood,” she added.

The pair aims to promote local businesses by having them sponsor shows. Each show will feature giveaways, with prizes provided by local bars and businesses.

Goldwert said Sunnyside Comedy plans to host three shows a month, with each show being free unless otherwise noted. Two shows a month will be at The Dog and Duck with one at Marlene Tavern.

For more information on Sunnyside Comedy, go to Twitter at @ComedySunnyside or Facebook: https://facebook.com/puttinonthebliss

Photo source: ‘It’s in Queens’

The event was originally planned to take place at Marlene’s Tavern but has been changed to Murphy’s at 48-20 Skillman Avenue.

NOTE: the event is taking place at Murphy's Lobster Grill at 48-20 Skillman Avenue

NOTE: the event is taking place at Murphy’s Lobster Grill at 48-20 Skillman Avenue

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Sunnysiders plan rally and start petition drive to save Center Cinemas– as landlord offers six-month extension

Sunnyside-Center-Cinemas-005-800x6002

Dec. 11, By Christian Murray

A petition has formed and a rally is being planned as local residents try to save Sunnyside Center Cinemas from the wrecking ball.

An online petition started Wednesday that has already garnered more than 240 signatures. Meanwhile, Ty Sullivan and Jon Stork, two local activists, are already planning to hold a rally outside the theater that is tentatively scheduled for Dec. 21 (details to come).

The petition—called “Save the Sunnyside Theater”– is addressed to the property owner/developer John Ciafone. It reads, in part, “Save the movie theater from demolition and have a new lease extended.”

Meanwhile, Sullivan is reaching out to the media and various community groups as he plans the rally. He is designing posters, fliers and launching a social-media campaign to generate community interest.

This activism comes at a time when Ciafone has just offered the owner of the theater Rudy Prashad a six month extension to his lease. After the six months, he would operate on a month-to month basis.

Prashad, however, seeks a longer lease claiming that he has organized movers and contractors to remove all the seats from the theater as required. Furthermore he has already told his staff about the upcoming closure.

“I don’t want to be in the same position in six months time where I am now,” Prashad said. “Then I’m operating on a month-to-month basis when I can be kicked out any time.”

“I need a 5 year lease–although I would take something in between,” Prashad said. However, he has not dismissed Ciafone’s offer at this point.

Prashad said that he has been surprised by the community’s desire to keep the theater going. “It shows people have a passion for the community and that they are looking out for their children and their neighbor’s children.”

Ciafone said that he decided to offer Prashad an extension since he still has a lot of work to do before he can start construction. Asked if he could do better than offer Prashad a 6 month extension—he said “that’s the best I can do.”

Ciafone plans on building a 5-7 story building with about 60-70 apartments—with about 20 percent of those units being “affordable”. The building will also have ground floor retail and a community center on the second floor.

The building requires new foundations since it was not constructed with 5-7 stories in mind. Therefore, Ciafone said, the theater has to be demolished. Furthermore, there will be a need for underground parking.

“When I finished we could invite him [Prashad] back,” he said.

Ciafone was nonchalant about the “Save the theater” petition. “I could get a petition going with just as many signatures from people wanting affordable housing,” he said.

“The likely closure of the theater is a reflection of changing times,” said Community Board 2 Chair Pat O’Brien. “You want to see small businesses prevail and they are the backbone of the economy but if they don’t have lease then there is not much you can do.”

O’Brien said it is a shame what’s happening since the cinema is one of the last vestiges of old-fashion entertainment in the area. He said there used to be several theaters in the neighborhood at one time and also the Sunnyside Gardens Arena.

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Fire rips through four Woodside stores
(google maps)

(google maps)

Dec. 11, By Michael Florio

A massive two-alarm fire erupted inside a Woodside store yesterday morning, requiring more than 100 firefighters to put out the flames, according to an FDNY spokeswoman.

The fire erupted at Don’s Professional Services, located at 38-05 69th Street, near Roosevelt Ave, just before 11 am on Wednesday morning. It then spread to three neighboring stores through a shared attic, according to the FDNY.

The fire was brought under control just before 11:45 am.

There were no reported injuries and the cause of the fire is still under investigation.

 

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Lonely Planet names Queens as the best place to visit in US next year
Long Island City waterfront

Long Island City waterfront

Dec. 10, Staff report

The borough of Queens was selected as the best tourism destination in the United States for 2015 by Lonely Planet, a leading news outlet that covers the travel industry.

Queens drew praise for its eating and drinking scene (including the four microbreweries that opened over the last 18 months), amazing diversity, high-quality hotels, exciting events, and unique, enchanting neighborhoods, such as art-filled Long Island City and surfboard-friendly Rockaway.

“Nowhere is the image of New York as the global melting pot truer than Queens. Browse New York’s biggest Chinatown in Flushing, shop for brilliantly colored saris in Jackson Heights, and inhale the heady aromas of coffee and hookahs in Astoria,” reads Lonely Planet’s editorial in its Best in the US list for 2015.

“The incomparable array of world cuisines makes Queens a destination for food lovers from all parts of New York City. For your art fix, ogle the new upgrades to the Queens Museum and the Museum of the Moving Image, look for the new Emerging Artists Festival (conceptionevents.com) in Long Island City, and stroll Astoria’s new 24-block arts district (kaufmanartsdistrict.org). If you prefer sand and surf to paint and canvas, head to Rockaway.”

Warm-Up_photo1“Don’t miss the prime eating and drinking scene that has popped up around the boardwalk — this is no cruddy carnival food: think succulent fish tacos, wood-fired pizzas, and wine bars.”

Western South Dakota came in second on Lonely Planet’s list. The other members of the top 10 were, in order, New Orleans (LA), the Colorado River, North Conway (NH), Indianapolis (IN), Greenville (SC), Oakland (CA), Duluth (MN), and the Mount Shasta Region (CA).

“I have always argued that we have the best hotels, restaurants, cultural organizations, parks, sporting events, and residents in the world and that our prices are very competitive for tourists,” said Seth Bornstein, executive director of the Queens Economic Development Corporation, after the announcement.

“It’s simply wonderful that Lonely Planet agrees, and our hospitality industry is waiting with open arms for all visitors. Come, you’ll like it.”

The annual top 10 destinations list is determined by Lonely Planet’s authors and editorial team to help travelers add to their wish lists for the coming year. Started in 1973, Lonely Planet has the biggest market share for guidebook sales in the world, having published more than 130 million guidebooks in its history. The media company also operates an award-winning website and a suite of mobile and digital travel products.

For the write up on Queens, please click here.


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Local opposition mounts against building on Sunnyside Yards, petition forms

PRR-Sunnyside-Yard_viewW-1955_ArtHuneke

Dec. 9, By Christian Murray

Call it a preemptive strike.

A group of residents have put forward a petition voicing their opposition to the development of the Sunnyside Yards.

A 12-person committee—which includes the President of the Sunnyside Chamber of Commerce—started the petition last week.

The petition, which is both online and on paper, expresses their concern that plans are in motion to deck the yards. The petition, which is addressed to elected officials, has already generated about 100 signatures.

Their petition comes in the wake of former Deputy Mayor Dan Doctoroff’s New York Times op-ed calling for the construction of a 3.1 million square foot convention city to be built over the yards, accompanied by nearly 14,000 resident units—of which 7,000 of them would be ‘affordable.”

Furthermore, in October, the chairman of Amtrak, Anthony Coscia, said that the company was considering developing sections of the Yards. The company said that it might turn to investors as early as spring and that it had been in talks with the mayor’s office over its use.

But the petitioners say not so fast.

“Sunnyside and Long Island City’s infrastructure cannot stand what we have now,” the petition reads.

“The subways are overcrowded and our school district is one of the most overcrowded in New York City. There are already 5,000-10,000 units coming to LIC/Sunnyside as it is – and residents don ‘t know how the area will be able to absorb these incoming residents. Therefore, the idea of building over the yards – bringing more residents and commercial tenants – will be an extreme burden on all of us.”

Furthermore, the petition reads: Our “biggest concern of all is that we residents seem be shut out of the process and an inner circle is making all these decisions.”

Patricia Dorfman, one of the committee members and the author of the petition, said: “We are residents and taxpayers. This radical change in land use where we live should not happen behind closed doors and affordable housing should not be used as a Trojan Horse.”

Link: http://www.thepetitionsite.com/124/232/303/please-do-not-build-over-the-sunnyside-yards/?cid=FB_TAF

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Sunnyside’s movie theater to close next month

Sunnyside-Center-Cinemas-005-800x600

Dec. 7, By Christian Murray

Sunnyside Center Cinemas will be closing its doors on January 4 after screening movies in the neighborhood for decades, the theater’s owner said Sunday.

Theater owner, Rudy Prashad, said he was informed last week that John Ciafone, whose wife owns Broadway Stages, was not renewing his lease. His lease ends December 31 but he has been given to Jan. 10 to clear out of the building.

Prashad said that he had been going back and forth with the property manager for months as he wondered what was happening to his lease.

“They strung me along,” Prashad said, “But I guess it’s their building and they are free to do what they want.”

“It is a very sad day,” Prashad said. “I was hoping that the cinema would stay and one day be landmarked.”

Prashad said that he also felt sorry for some of the families in the neighborhood who will have to pay double to go to the movies elsewhere. “We haven’t changed our prices for years– $5.00 for children and seniors, while $7.50 for adults,” he said.

There is also the ‘kid combo,’ he said, which consists of a popcorn, soda, candy and a movie for $10. Before 5 pm each day, adults only pay $5.

Prashad said that he had no ill will toward Ciafone and Broadway Stages. “I was disappointed with Dime Bank [the previous owner],” he said. “I was negotiating a 20-year lease with them and then they suddenly sold it.”

Dime sold the property to Ciafone for $6.65 million in December 2012.

Prashad had owned the theater for nine years and believes there has been a theater at that location since the 1940s.

He said that he had been paying between $13,000 and $14,000 in rent per month and was always on time.

Prashad said the theater is one of the last independent theaters left in Queens.

There is an independent theater in Kew Gardens, which happens to be owned by Prashad.  He thinks that theater might be the only independent theater left in Queens playing American movies. There are one or two others, he said, but they cater to ethnic groups.

pj1Prashad said that he would like to thank the residents of Sunnyside for their patronage over the years and plans on showing a free movie before he leaves.

With Center Cinemas gone, Ciafone is now trying to lease the air rights to a developer to build residential apartments above the ground-floor retail space.

The owner plans to keep the retail space while leasing 52,000 square feet of air rights to a developer. The developer would have to pay a ground lease of $750,000 per year for those rights.

Ciafone plans to keep PJ Horgan’s as an on-going tenant, said Evan Daniel, a broker for Modern Spaces, which has the real estate listing. Daniel said that PJ Horgan’s is the only business with an existing lease and is well regarded by the community.

When Ciafone purchased the building, PJ Horgan’s, Dime Bank, dentist Dr. Arthur Kubikian, and Center Cinemas were all tenants.

PJ Horgan’s, which rents 1,300 square feet of space, has a lease through June 2018. “They are a good tenant that pay market rent,” Daniel said.

The ground-floor retail space is likely to be completely refurbished, Daniel said. However, nothing will change that will impact PJ Horgan’s business.

Correction: The property is owned by John Ciafone whose wife owns Broadway Stages– not Broadway Stages the entity.

Please Note:

Center Cinemas and Modern Spaces advertise with this site

 

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New CB2 chairman elected after vigorous debate, as Conley steps aside
Joe Conley and Pat O'Brien (seated)

Joe Conley and Pat O’Brien (seated)

Dec. 5, By Christian Murray

The Chairman of Community Board 2 Joe Conley received a standing ovation at last night’s community board meeting after officially announcing that he was stepping down.

Conley said that after serving two decades as chairman that it was time to move on.

“It’s been a great honor to be the voice of the board,” he said. “I have had a good run…and made life-long friends with the people in this room,” he added, as he began to choke up.

Conley had notified board members two days prior to the meeting that he was resigning.

The timing of the announcement came as a great surprise to many and was the cause of much debate, since last night was the date for the board’s annual elections.

Several members said that they were caught off guard by Conley’s sudden announcement and wanted to delay the elections a month in order for all the board members to evaluate whether they wanted to run.

Lisa Deller, the secretary of the board, however, presented a slate of candidates to take the executive board positions. All but one was on the executive board last year.

The slate was Patrick O’Brien, chair; Stephen Cooper, first vice chairman; Denise Keehan-Smith, secretary; Lisa Deller, second vice chair; and Diane Ballek, treasurer.

Conley said that board members were notified in October that they could put their names on the ballet to run–but no one had expressed interest. Furthermore, he said, people were free to nominate themselves for those spots last night.

“We have looked for nominations and this is a very open process,” Conley said.

However, some members said that the departure of Conley completely changed the course of the election. Others were perplexed why Conley only gave the board two days notice prior to the election.

Sheila Lewandowski said that board members should be given time to decide whether they want to put them themselves on the slate. She, like many, advocated for postponing the vote.

“We have had 2 days and many [board members] are not here to consider this. I think it would be responsible to be thoughtful and wait…this is big.”

O’Brien said he was willing to put off the election a month if it made the board more comfortable. “I don’t want to walk into a situation …where there is a division among people,” he said.

There were, however, several strong advocates who wanted the vote to take place last night. “If you want to run put you name forward now,” said one board member.

The board put it to a vote to determine whether the election should be held last night. The majority won by an unofficial count of 19 for and 15 against.

The election was then held and a slim majority voted in the slate. O’Brien was announced the new chair.

Councilman Jimmy Van Bramer said this morning that he looks forward to working with O’Brien. “He is a good person with strong experience. I worked with him when I was on the board.”

However, he said, he didn’t see the harm in waiting another month for people to think about the vote.

“I m not sure it would have changed the result but the process is important,” he said. “How you come to decision– especially if people are divided –is as important as the decision itself.”

“Normally you would have a unanimous vote for these positions,” Van Bramer said. However, I think the “people who voted no were voting against the process.”

 

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More Headlines

Local opposition mounts against building on Sunnyside Yards, petition forms
PRR-Sunnyside-Yard_viewW-1955_ArtHuneke Dec. 9, By Christian Murray Call it a preemptive strike. A group of residents have put forward a petition voicing their opposition to the development of the Sunnyside Yards. A 12-person committee—which includes the President of the Sunnyside Chamber of Commerce—started the petition last week. The petition, which is both online and on paper, expresses their concern that plans are in motion to deck the yards. The petition, which is addressed to elected officials, has already generated about 100 signatures. Their petition comes in the wake of former Deputy Mayor Dan Doctoroff’s New York Times op-ed calling for the construction of a 3.1 million square foot convention city to be built over the yards, accompanied by nearly 14,000 resident units—of which 7,000 of them would be ‘affordable.” Furthermore, in October, the chairman of Amtrak, Anthony Coscia, said that the company was considering developing sections of the Yards. The company said that it might turn to investors as early as spring and that it had been in talks with the mayor’s office over its use. But the petitioners say not so fast. “Sunnyside and Long Island City's infrastructure cannot stand what we have now,” the petition reads. “The subways are overcrowded and our school district is one of the most overcrowded in New York City. There are already 5,000-10,000 units coming to LIC/Sunnyside as it is – and residents don 't know how the area will be able to absorb these incoming residents. Therefore, the idea of building over the yards - bringing more residents and commercial tenants – will be an extreme burden on all of us.” Furthermore, the petition reads: Our “biggest concern of all is that we residents seem be shut out of the process and an inner circle is making all these decisions.” Patricia Dorfman, one of the committee members and the author of the petition, said: "We are residents and taxpayers. This radical change in land use where we live should not happen behind closed doors and affordable housing should not be used as a Trojan Horse." Link: http://www.thepetitionsite.com/124/232/303/please-do-not-build-over-the-sunnyside-yards/?cid=FB_TAF
Sunnyside’s movie theater to close next month
Sunnyside-Center-Cinemas-005-800x600 Dec. 7, By Christian Murray Sunnyside Center Cinemas will be closing its doors on January 4 after screening movies in the neighborhood for decades, the theater's owner said Sunday. Theater owner, Rudy Prashad, said he was informed last week that John Ciafone, whose wife owns Broadway Stages, was not renewing his lease. His lease ends December 31 but he has been given to Jan. 10 to clear out of the building. Prashad said that he had been going back and forth with the property manager for months as he wondered what was happening to his lease. “They strung me along,” Prashad said, “But I guess it’s their building and they are free to do what they want.” “It is a very sad day,” Prashad said. “I was hoping that the cinema would stay and one day be landmarked.” Prashad said that he also felt sorry for some of the families in the neighborhood who will have to pay double to go to the movies elsewhere. “We haven’t changed our prices for years-- $5.00 for children and seniors, while $7.50 for adults,” he said. There is also the ‘kid combo,’ he said, which consists of a popcorn, soda, candy and a movie for $10. Before 5 pm each day, adults only pay $5. Prashad said that he had no ill will toward Ciafone and Broadway Stages. “I was disappointed with Dime Bank [the previous owner],” he said. “I was negotiating a 20-year lease with them and then they suddenly sold it.” Dime sold the property to Ciafone for $6.65 million in December 2012. Prashad had owned the theater for nine years and believes there has been a theater at that location since the 1940s. He said that he had been paying between $13,000 and $14,000 in rent per month and was always on time. Prashad said the theater is one of the last independent theaters left in Queens. There is an independent theater in Kew Gardens, which happens to be owned by Prashad.  He thinks that theater might be the only independent theater left in Queens playing American movies. There are one or two others, he said, but they cater to ethnic groups. pj1Prashad said that he would like to thank the residents of Sunnyside for their patronage over the years and plans on showing a free movie before he leaves. With Center Cinemas gone, Ciafone is now trying to lease the air rights to a developer to build residential apartments above the ground-floor retail space. The owner plans to keep the retail space while leasing 52,000 square feet of air rights to a developer. The developer would have to pay a ground lease of $750,000 per year for those rights. Ciafone plans to keep PJ Horgan’s as an on-going tenant, said Evan Daniel, a broker for Modern Spaces, which has the real estate listing. Daniel said that PJ Horgan’s is the only business with an existing lease and is well regarded by the community. When Ciafone purchased the building, PJ Horgan’s, Dime Bank, dentist Dr. Arthur Kubikian, and Center Cinemas were all tenants. PJ Horgan’s, which rents 1,300 square feet of space, has a lease through June 2018. “They are a good tenant that pay market rent,” Daniel said. The ground-floor retail space is likely to be completely refurbished, Daniel said. However, nothing will change that will impact PJ Horgan’s business. Correction: The property is owned by John Ciafone whose wife owns Broadway Stages-- not Broadway Stages the entity. Please Note: Center Cinemas and Modern Spaces advertise with this site  
New CB2 chairman elected after vigorous debate, as Conley steps aside
Joe Conley and Pat O'Brien (seated)

Joe Conley and Pat O'Brien (seated)

Dec. 5, By Christian Murray The Chairman of Community Board 2 Joe Conley received a standing ovation at last night’s community board meeting after officially announcing that he was stepping down. Conley said that after serving two decades as chairman that it was time to move on. “It’s been a great honor to be the voice of the board,” he said. “I have had a good run…and made life-long friends with the people in this room,” he added, as he began to choke up. Conley had notified board members two days prior to the meeting that he was resigning. The timing of the announcement came as a great surprise to many and was the cause of much debate, since last night was the date for the board’s annual elections. Several members said that they were caught off guard by Conley’s sudden announcement and wanted to delay the elections a month in order for all the board members to evaluate whether they wanted to run. Lisa Deller, the secretary of the board, however, presented a slate of candidates to take the executive board positions. All but one was on the executive board last year. The slate was Patrick O’Brien, chair; Stephen Cooper, first vice chairman; Denise Keehan-Smith, secretary; Lisa Deller, second vice chair; and Diane Ballek, treasurer. Conley said that board members were notified in October that they could put their names on the ballet to run--but no one had expressed interest. Furthermore, he said, people were free to nominate themselves for those spots last night. “We have looked for nominations and this is a very open process,” Conley said. However, some members said that the departure of Conley completely changed the course of the election. Others were perplexed why Conley only gave the board two days notice prior to the election. Sheila Lewandowski said that board members should be given time to decide whether they want to put them themselves on the slate. She, like many, advocated for postponing the vote. “We have had 2 days and many [board members] are not here to consider this. I think it would be responsible to be thoughtful and wait…this is big.” O’Brien said he was willing to put off the election a month if it made the board more comfortable. “I don’t want to walk into a situation …where there is a division among people,” he said. There were, however, several strong advocates who wanted the vote to take place last night. “If you want to run put you name forward now,” said one board member. The board put it to a vote to determine whether the election should be held last night. The majority won by an unofficial count of 19 for and 15 against. The election was then held and a slim majority voted in the slate. O'Brien was announced the new chair. Councilman Jimmy Van Bramer said this morning that he looks forward to working with O’Brien. “He is a good person with strong experience. I worked with him when I was on the board.” However, he said, he didn’t see the harm in waiting another month for people to think about the vote. “I m not sure it would have changed the result but the process is important,” he said. “How you come to decision-- especially if people are divided –is as important as the decision itself.” “Normally you would have a unanimous vote for these positions,” Van Bramer said. However, I think the “people who voted no were voting against the process.”  
Police arrest second man wanted for beating and robbing 81-year-old Sunnysider
Willliam Eichhorn

Willliam Eichhorn

Dec. 5, By Christian Murray The second suspect wanted for punching and robbing an 81-year-old Sunnyside resident on Oct. 26 at a Chase ATM has been arrested. Terrel Balanding, a 27-year-old from the Bronx, was arrested Dec. 3 and was charged with two counts of robbery. The arrest comes just one day after Thomas Fullwood, 29, was arrested for the same crime. Balanding and Fullwood approached William Eichhorn, 81, while he was withdrawing funds from the ATM machine at the Chase Bank branch at 46-10 Queens Boulevard. The men punched him in the face and then stole $100 in cash and his debit card while he was on the ground.
Joe Conley, Community Board 2 Chair, is stepping down
Joe Conley (third from left)

Joe Conley (third from left) at groundbreaking

Dec. 4, Christian Murray Joe Conley, the long-serving Community Board 2 chair, is stepping down. Multiple sources said that Conley, who has been chair for over 25 years, will be making the announcement tonight when Community Board 2 has its full monthly meeting. Conley’s departure from the community board will result in the biggest shake up the board has seen in nearly 30 years. For the past decade, the same leadership structure has been in place: Conley as chairman; Steve Cooper, first vice chairman; Patrick O'Brien, second vice chairman; Lisa Deller, secretary, and Diane Ballek, treasurer Tonight the board will be holding an election for all of these positions and at the very least there will be a new chairperson. At this point, the field is wide open, according to sources. Board members were only alerted to Conley’s departure yesterday. “It will be an interesting transition,” said Lisa Deller, who is the head of the land use committee. “Joe has contributed a lot. He has given his heart and soul to the board, and whether people are for or against what he has done…it should not be forgotten that he has gone above and beyond.” Joe-Conley-250x2501Conley could not be reached for comment. Conley, who has always been the recipient of great praise from his fellow board colleagues, was instrumental in turning the prostitute-ridden Long Island City into the thriving neighborhood it is today. He was also was the chair during the Sunnyside-Woodside rezoning. The chairperson has significant control of the board. He/she decides which members sit on what committees and who chairs them. The chair is also the one who runs the monthly meetings and is the public face of the board. While the community board is deemed advisory, it does have significant influence-- particularly on land use, liquor license and transportation issues. The new chair will take the helm at a time when there are many ongoing issues. There is the ongoing debate about backyard seating in Long Island City, the construction of affordable housing, continued development and the possible construction over the Sunnyside Yards.
Put on your santa suit, Sunnyside Boulevard Bars to host Santathon Bar Crawl
2012 Sanathon

2012 Santathon

Dec. 3, By Christian Murray Hundreds of Santas are going to be lining the streets of Sunnyside this Saturday as they participate in the neighborhood’s third annual Santathon/pub-crawl. Eleven bars along—or near—Queens Blvd are putting on the festive event, where attendees will go from bar-to-bar and will be able to buy $4 beers. Participants will be required to pay $10 for a wristband and wear a Santa costume (or at least a Santa hat) to get the $4 beers. The $10 wrist bands can be bought at any of the bars—from now until the time of event. The proceeds will be donated to children’s charities to buy toys for needy kids this holiday season. The bars are also accepting toys and monetary donations from now until Christmas. The pub crawl will begin at 3:00 pm and go until late.  Participants are able to begin their journey at any of the bars but must then follow the order of Santa’s route (see map). The participating bars are: Arriba Arriba, Bar 43, Maggie Mae's, Bliss Street Station, The Courtyard Ale House, McGuinness's Saloon, Molly Blooms, Sidetracks, Jack's Fire Dept., The Gaslight and PJ Horgan's. Last year’s Santathon raised more than $10,000 in monetary and new toy donations. “We really want this to be a big event, ” said Nick Murphy, the co-owner of Bar 43 & Grill. “We are all coming together to put on a great community event that will help raise money for charity.” The eleven bars are part of what’s known as Sunnyside Boulevard Bars, a group that was formed in 2012 and has held several events, such as the St. Patrick’s Day Music Festival. The organization has raised more than $25,000 for charity since its inception. The beneficiaries have included Sunnyside/Woodside Boys & Girls Club and the 51st Street Fire Station (Engine 325/Ladder 163). Details Saturday, Dec. 6 Time: 3 pm
Map

Map

Police arrest man for beating and robbing 81-year-old Sunnysider, cops closing in on second suspect
Willliam Eichhorn

Willliam Eichhorn

Dec. 3, By Christian Murray One of the two men wanted for punching and robbing an 81-year-old Sunnyside resident on Oct. 26 at a Chase ATM has been arrested. Thomas Fullwood, a 29-year-old from the Bronx, was arrested Dec. 2 and was charged with two counts of robbery. The police are still searching for the other suspect. Fullwood and his accomplice approached William Eichhorn. 81, while he was withdrawing funds from the ATM machine at the Chase Bank branch at 46-10 Queens Boulevard. One of the men punched him in the face and then they both stole $100 in cash and his debit card while he was on the ground. According to sources, Fullwood has provided information to the police identifying the second individual involved in the attack.
The police are still searching for this suspect

The police are still searching for this suspect

Demolition permits filed as section of Greenpoint Ave. to be bulldozed
closing1 Dec. 2, By Christian Murray Demolition permits have been filed with the Building Dept. to demolish three Greenpoint Avenue stores and the accompanying upstairs dwelling units. The permits, which were filed and approved Nov. 18, provide the developer with the go-ahead to knock down the buildings that were occupied by King Boulevard, SSS Video and Azteca Restaurant. The filings do not state what the developer has in mind for the site. This strip of real estate (47-16 to 47-24 Greenpoint Ave.) was sold by Greisman Property in October to AB Capstone Development, a development company, for  $4.35 million. Mike Perez, who owned King Boulevard for 31 years, closed down his store at the end of October. closing
Doctoroff, who calls for developing Sunnyside Yards, doesn’t understand Western Queens, Van Bramer and residents say
PRR-Sunnyside-Yard_viewW-1955_ArtHuneke Dec. 2, By Christian Murray The drum beat to develop the Sunnyside Yards continues with the latest call to build on it coming from the former Deputy Mayor Dan Doctoroff. Doctoroff, in a New York Times op-ed piece that ran Sunday, said that the city needs to build a 3.1 million square foot convention center and that Sunnyside Yards would be the ideal place for it. The center could also be accompanied, he wrote, by nearly 14,000 residential units of which 50 percent would be affordable. The op-ed stated that Long Island City is a great location for this development since it is “one of the most convenient, transit-friendly areas in the city, served by eight subway lines.” The idea is that the new convention center would replace the Javits Center, which he deemed too small. However, residents and local officials argue that the concept just doesn’t make sense and that the neighborhood’s infrastructure in terms of schools, parks and subways are already stretched. Many are unsure how the neighborhood will absorb all the new residents coming to the area, with 5,000-10,000 units coming online in the next few years. “I found some of [Doctoroff’s op-ed] patronizing,” said Councilman Jimmy Van Bramer who opposes decking over the yards. “It revealed to me somewhat of a Manhattan elitist view of Queens.” Van Bramer said that Doctoroff might find the neighborhood transit friendly when he looks at the area on a map. However, he said, people who live here know that the No. 7 train is not reliable and there are a lot of delays. During morning rush hour, people often struggle to get on at the Jackson Ave/Vernon Blvd. Station, he said. At the October Community Board 2 meeting, when the idea of studying the yards was raised, several board members wanted to know how the area will cope with all the Court Square/Queens Plaza development coming online—let alone the yards. Meanwhile, a petition has just been formed, calling on the city not to allow the site to be developed. Van Bramer viewed Doctoroff’s push for avoidable housing to be disingenuous—arguing that this an argument used to buttress his case to “plop a mega convention in our neighborhood.” “I am incredibly supportive of affordable housing,” Van Bramer said, but using affordable housing as a tool is “offensive.”
Councilman Van Bramer

Councilman Van Bramer

Furthermore, Doctoroff in his op-ed, said that the Yards represented a “nasty scar through the heart of Queens.” Van Bramer took exception to this viewpoint. “I have lived in these neighborhoods my entire life and it is not a scar. It’s a patronizing to say we have this awful thing and that they have to come here and make it better.”- However, Doctoroff is not alone in suggesting the Yards should be developed. In October, the chairman of Amtrak, Anthony Coscia, said that the company was considering developing sections of the Yards. The company said it could turn to investors as early as spring and that it had been in talks with the mayor’s office over its use. Representatives for the mayor said at the time that the site could be used to advance the mayor's affordable housing goals. Meanwhile, the Daily News reported that the Department of City Planning Commissioner Carl Weisbrod said at a meeting Monday that the he and the Deputy Mayor Alicia Glen are studying the site. However, nothing is planned at this point, Van Bramer said. However,” I think we need to remain vigilant because it is in the minds of some wealthy and powerful people,” he said. “We need to watch out and be careful.” “What we really need are more schools, green space and better transportation—not a convention center,” Van Bramer said.
Sunnyside’s 104-year old remains active and engaged in neighborhood
Ethel Plimack (Photo: James Brown Reiner)

Ethel Plimack (Photo: James Brown Reiner)

Dec. 1, By Kim Brown At 104, Sunnyside’s oldest resident said she doesn’t know the secret to living so long, but spending decades on Bliss Street certainly played a part. “Being in familiar territory day in and day out is very helpful,” said Ethel Plimack’s son, Henry Plimack. “When she sits on the porch everyone comes to say hello. This is what makes her day.” The day after her 104th birthday she sat on the first floor of her home with her son, knitting and watching NY 1 News. Paintings by her daughter, the artist Sylvia Plimack Mangold, hang on the walls. As usual, Ethel Plimack was impeccably dressed in an outfit that included a necklace, silk scarf, red eyeglasses and lipstick the same bright shade. For the past two years she has had a full-time aide, whose assistance has allowed her to remain at home. Before that, she preferred to cook and clean for herself. The connection to the community has kept her grounded. “I love the tree-lined streets. People are nice and you know your neighbors. You give when you can,” she said. Being active certainly has kept her going, as well. Plimack worked as an administrative assistant until she was 94, taking the subway to Marymount Manhattan College every day. She also swam at Equinox until she was 100. Plimack is part of a longevity study at the Albert Einstein College of Medicine that revealed good genes, a wide social network and active lifestyle helped her to age so long and so well. “We can only marvel at her extraordinary memory and continuing good health,” her daughter, Janet Sherman, wrote in an email. “She is certainly a remarkable woman.” Although her husband, an optical supply wholesaler, died 40 years ago, it didn’t stop Plimack from doing things she loved. In fact, his death may have given her the freedom to take up folk dancing, which she did until she was 100. “Men don’t like to dance,” she said. The troupe she performed with, founded by Michael and Mary Ann Herman, was one of the most well known in the United States. Plimack helped spread the art of folk dance around the world by participating in tours to China, Turkey, France, Bulgaria, and many other countries. Now, her hearing and sight are not so good and her love of dance is confined to watching “Dancing with the Stars” on TV. But she has found other ways to spend her time. She knits constantly for charity sales, as well as an organization that donates caps to premature infants. She watches the news. “It’s terrible,” she said about current events. “I try to contribute towards stopping whatever is happening.” She signs petitions when canvassers come to her door. “I hope there are classes for younger people,” she added. “To know how to live in the world and what to correct.” Her three children, all over 70, grandchildren and great grandchildren also keep her going. “When we were kids she encouraged us to do what we wanted to do. To do what felt right,” said Henry Plimack, a retired audio engineer and current adviser to the French presidency with Interallied Confederation of Reserve Officers. Ethel Plimack’s daughter, Sylvia Plimack Mangold, is a well-known artist, whose work has been exhibited at the Museum of Fine Arts, Boston, the Museum of Modern Art, and numerous other venues. Not long ago her mother attended an art opening and there was a special chair reserved for her. “Moments like that give her months of chatting with her friends,” her son, Henry Plimack said. James Mangold, Ethel Plimack’s grandson is a Hollywood director, screenwriter and producer, known for movies like The Wolverine, Walk the Line and Cop Land. Another grandchild is a musician in Vienna. “What inspires her is the success of her family,” Henry Plimack said. “It’s a good, strong family. They all call and write to her and she feasts on that.” Ethel Plimack grew up in the Bronx, where she attended Evander Childs High School. After attending Hebrew Tech in Manhattan, she became a bookkeeper and administrative assistant, working for a dress company in Queens, the New York City Department of Education, Bryant High School and P.S. 150. Plimack has lived in Sunnyside since 1941, when most everyone kept open doors. Although she doesn’t have a Facebook account, she does have her own iPad, which she uses to Skype with family. Until last year, colleagues at Marymount Manhattan College held an annual birthday party for her in the city. This year, they sent letters and messages by email. For the past two years, Sunnyside neighbors have held a flash mob on her birthday, singing to her outside the front door. This year approximately 120 people came at noon, although Plimack was standing by the entrance waiting 10 minutes early. “It was a lot of people and friends from the neighborhood. They all want to show the area is good,” she said. “It was wonderful when they all came.” When asked to reveal the secret for living a long and healthy life, she was modest. “I don’t know what the secret is. All I know is, I’m alive 104 years. That’s a long time.”
Vintage subway rides to leave Queens Plaza every Sunday
vintage-475x323 Dec. 1, By Michael Florio Residents will be able to catch a nostalgia train from Queens Plaza every Sunday this December. The trains are comprised of old subway cars that ran between the 1930s and early 1970s. This year the nostalgia trains will run along the Sixth Avenue M-line on Sundays (November 30th, December 7th, 14, 21, 28) between 10 am and 5 pm. Western Queens residents can catch the train at Queens Plaza. “Holiday shoppers, tourists and those who just remember a bygone era will have the opportunity to experience a ride on a subway train from yesteryear, “said MTA New York City President Carmen Bianco in a statement. Each car will be equipped with ceiling fans, padded seats and incandescent light bulbs. The MTA released information on each of the Nostalgia train cars: Car No. 100 --- Manufactured by American Car and Foundry, this 1932 R1-type car was the first car in the initial order of 300 cars placed in service for the opening of the IND subway. Car No. 484 --- Part of a 500-car order of R4 cars manufactured by American Car & Foundry. In 1946, this car received a retrofit of bulls-eye lighting and a public address system. Car No. 1575 – Originally manufactured as an R7, this car was involved in a wreck in 1946. Sent to the American Car & Foundry factory, the car, which is equipped with fluorescent lighting and smooth sides, was rebuilt as the prototype of the next generation R10 subway car. In addition to the subways, the MTA will be running a nostalgia bus. The crosstown route will run Monday through Friday from December 1st to the 19th. According to the MTA everything on the vintage bus will be original, except the fare. Many of the buses are pre-1959. “These buses are a living, breathing part of the city's history and each has a unique story to tell about the era in which it operated," says Darryl Irick, Senior VP of NYC Transit Department of Buses and President of MTA Bus and a former Bus Operator himself.

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