Woodside man kidnapped and held ransom in Sunnyside torture chamber

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40 Responses to Woodside man kidnapped and held ransom in Sunnyside torture chamber

  1. 86Mets

    Absolutely horrifying.

    Likes(0)Dislikes(0)
  2. anonymous

    wtf!

    Likes(0)Dislikes(0)
  3. Craic Dealer

    uuuhhh... wtf is this?! Mexico?

    Likes(0)Dislikes(0)
  4. Joe

    This is when you need the death penalty in NY. For scum like this.

    Likes(0)Dislikes(0)
  5. Thomster

    Look at the people involved, is anyone suprised? Ecuador, Bolivia, Mexico, what's the difference. This is how these people operate.

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  6. Oppressed Masses

    Didn't anyone in the warehouse notice this guy walking/standing around with his hands tied up? If a police detective walking by could see this, why didn't anyone else over the month's time notice?

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  7. Krissi

    Omg, terrifying. I'm happy to hear he was found safe though. Thank goodness for small miracles.

    And this: "In statements made to police, Acuna said Alves hired him to watch Portugal at the warehouse for $800 per week."

    $800/week? TO KEEP SOMEONE PRISONER? WTF???

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  8. Heartbroken

    The inexcusably racist comments aside (@Thomster) this is absolutely terrible news. That poor man!

    Likes(0)Dislikes(0)
  9. MBon47

    this is good reporting

    Likes(0)Dislikes(0)
  10. DC

    Where does Sunnyside officially end and Long Island City begin? For the area north of Queens Blvd I personally believe that west of 39th Street should be considered Long Island City or at least "LIC East." It is an industrial quarter that is not characteristic of Sunnyside. South of Queens Blvd is another story as residential home extend as far west as 37th Street. I know this is a minor point but the report from ABC News labels this happening in Long Island City and our Sunnyside Post labels it as Sunnyside. It occurred at a building resting on the corner of 38th Street and 43rd Avenue. As well, Sunnyside is routinely labeled as part of greater Long Island City. Regardless, it is horrific that something like this occurred a mere 4 blocks away from my apartment. I was just wondering if anyone else had a thought on the neighborhood's western border? For instance if you are getting off the subway at 33rd Street - Rawson are you in Long Island City, Sunnyside or both? Thank you

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  11. Sunnii Dae

    "I didn't treat him bad. I told him it was just business."
    Wow. Just...wow.

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  12. Claudia

    I pass in front of this building 5 days a week. I often catch myself wondering what really goes on inside this place as well as all the others in the avenue and surroundings. It is shocking and scary.

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  13. Grimace

    If a passerby noticed this there is something fishy. I walk by there sometimes and the building is used to store food cards overnight. There's a lot of traffic in and out. There should be some serious questioning going on. Multiple people had to have seen something but for whatever reason kept their mouths shut.

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  14. Sunnyside Hobo

    Thomster - horrible crimes, crazy stuff. Is it better than the Italians, Irish, Chinese, Arab. Crime is crime, evil has no face. Just be glad it's not you. Our community should pool in and heal and protect itself.

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  15. AA

    DC. Who cared. Geez. Anyway horrible story.

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  16. Krissi

    DC - Sunnyside's local group is called "The United 40's". Generally people consider 40th-50th street being Sunnyside with Northern Boulevard at North and the 51st Ave/LIE to the south. My address is Woodside (near Celtic Park) but I don't consider myself to be in Woodside at all.

    The "Industrial" area to the west is def Long Island City - which would include 33rd/Rawson stop.

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  17. Anonymous

    So happy to hear this horrfic ordeal went on 3 blocks away from my home. Scary mary.

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  18. I hate chickens

    Technically Sunnyside is a town within Long Island City. All neighborhoods which start with the zip code 111 are all part of Long Island City as per USPS

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  19. Oppressed Masses

    The NY Times has the conclusion of the release of the kidnapped individual as follows:

    Mr. Portugal’s 32-day ordeal ended Monday when police officers posing as building inspectors raided the warehouse, freeing Mr. Portugal, a 52-year-old Queens businessman, the authorities said in a detailed statement released on Wednesday.

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  20. O'shea

    Everyone is a businessman. What did the kidnapped do for business? What made him stick out to warrant a 3million ranson?
    The nypd detective noticed it because this is one of their methods....

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  21. Krissi

    I hate Chickens

    I didn't know that. Huh.

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  22. Sycamore

    "Just business?" Lock 'em up, and never let them out. They are dangerous.

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  23. Webley

    What's the background to this story?? How the hell did they come up with 3mil? Did they know each other, the thing is there must be something else going on.. Did he win lottery back home or something? The reason I am asking is, should anyone be worried they can be held for hostage or is it a targeted crime with some reason..

    WTF is happening in this area, we need more cops doing house calls to these "warehouses" in LIC area.

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  24. Mr. Blonde

    I wonder if “Stuck in the Middle with You” was playing in the background.

    Likes(0)Dislikes(0)
  25. Nancy

    Wow! I walk past here twice a day going to and from work. It is scary to think what goes on in those buildings. The area along there is always busy in the mornings and afternoons so how come nobody saw anything?

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  26. The_5_Foot0Gremlin

    I bet there are a ton of facts not known as to why this happened. What was he involved in? What kind of business? This reeks of some shady shit!

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  27. 99 cent peetza hatr

    what is the likelihood of the mother of a guy named pedro portugal, living in Ecuador, having 3 mil?? who's buying this crap!!?? seriously....

    Were there no trust fund hipsters walking the streets the could pick up, their parents are only in Westchester, cheaper call and they got cash.

    I don't believe it.

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  28. Chris

    The great 108 pct takes months again to find so
    someone

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  29. Anonymous

    After the kidnapping in Cleveland, why wasn't this bigger news?? This is 4 blocks from my front door! Crazy!!

    Likes(0)Dislikes(0)
  30. Oppressed Masses

    From today's Daily News:
    Regular food deliveries to a Queens warehouse tipped off cops that a band of kidnappers was holding an accountant hostage there, police said.

    I wonder where they were ordering from? The first correct answer will get a pair of tickets on me to the opening day ceremonies for the Van Bramer Dog Oasis.

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  31. kenoli

    why is this not bigger news?

    Likes(0)Dislikes(0)
  32. Anonymous

    I can't believe that this happened! What surprises me is that no one spoke up. If someone would have spoke up, then this would be done quick rather than long. God gave us mouths so we can speak. There's no shame of speaking up for someone who might need help or assistance.

    P.S.: Sunnyside is its own neighborhood and not part of Long Island City, with 39th Street to the west, 50th Street to the east, Barnett Avenue to the north, and 51st Avenue to the south. Plus, the warehouse is actually in Long Island City since it's next to 39th Street.

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  33. POLICE BADGE

    how in the world did these people get a hold of a police badge? Now how can I trust a plain clothes police officer? I wouldnt thats how.

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  34. Sunnyside Native

    Leave it to the ever inconsiderate & insensitive Oppressed Masses to insert a joke in here, in light of he hellish ordeal that this poor man was forced to endure. Sad Oppressed Masses. Go play with your pet pigeon. We saw you at the park on Monday. At least you care about birds, in particular your pet pigeon, so we know you have a heart.

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  35. Sycamore

    Women are lured into sex slavey all over the world and many are held in Jackson Heights. I wouldn't doubt they are are in Woodside, Sunnyside and LIC, (remember the charges against the owner of that hell hole, Gallagher's) but that doesn't make headlines anywhere.

    Why isn't that very big news with public outcries against kidnapping, torture, slavery, discrimination and hate crimes against women?

    Because we are hypocrites, that's why.

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  36. Anonymous

    Was he gay activist friend of JVB? No? Just a Hispanic guy?

    Moving on then.

    Likes(0)Dislikes(0)
  37. Oppressed Masses

    Native, what joke? I'm trying to promote community interest in this heinous crime that occurred right in our midst and you attack me! Oh wait, I Did mention the dog park and that is a joke, using our money to create an apartheid village in the middle of Lodati Park. Have you stopped to think that if Lodati wasn't closed to build the dog oasis, the young men involved with this crime likely would have been spending their day recreating in Lodati playing soccer or equaball, expending time and energy in healthy activities and not involved with kidnapping?

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  38. Anonymous

    These artificial boundaries of LIC,Sunnyside, and Woodside are merely creations of the Post Office. Celtic Park, in the middle of Sunnyside, has its zip code designated as 11377, Woodside. We are 48th - 50th Avenue, and 44th to 42nd Street. If I get a package, I have to go to the 61st street PO to pick it up, as they do not consider us to be part of Sunnyside.

    Likes(1)Dislikes(0)
  39. Rick Duro

    Apartheid? Let's change OM's name to "Capt. Propaganda".

    SUDS, and its Dog Run, have/will be filled with people from ALL walks of life. Unlike your Cave, which only seems to have room for you, as who would want to occupy the same space w/ an ogre like you?

    We will indeed be sending you an invite, but as I doubt you could ever achieve 'plus 1', it'll be just a single ticket. Put on your sunglasses, it'll be open in June, lots of sunlight, I know you don't get much in your cave.

    RD

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  40. Hai

    Bishop, specifically, school bus Article 2.
    Permits / LicensesOf course, when a few hand tools to work harder in order to schedule a Free Concrete Consultation. In fact the business along with
    their work before. ERM Group the contractor is required to
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    home is a dangerous consequence from flooding and
    wave action. Verify the contractor's responsibilities and refrain from conversations dealing with plumbing troubles.

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Latest News

Sunnyside elementary school renamed ‘The Walter McCaffrey Campus’
PS 343

Walter McCaffrey Campus (PS 343)

Dec. 19, By Michael Florio

The new elementary school on 42nd Street in Sunnyside has been renamed The Walter McCaffrey Campus.

McCaffrey, who was born and raised in Woodside, represented the 26th Council district—that Jimmy Van Bramer represents today–between 1985 and 2001.

McCaffrey died July 10, 2013, at the age of 64 as a result of ongoing health issues made worse by a car accident two months prior to his death.

This morning former Community Board 2 chair Joe Conley and Councilman Jimmy Van Bramer went to PS 343 (45-46 42nd Street) to formally change the name of the new school and unveil a plaque in the late councilman’s honor.

waltermccaffreycampus“We have lost a champion and a good friend,” said Conley, shortly after McCaffrey’s death last year. “His wit, humor and intelligence were unmatched,” he said, adding that “he was still very involved in the community right up to the end.”

Meanwhile, Van Bramer referred to McCaffrey as a “political giant.”

Prior to being elected in 1985, McCaffrey served as chairman of Community Board 2.

In May, the corner of 61st and Woodside Avenue in Queens, New York, was renamed “Walter McCaffrey Place” in his honor.

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Manhattan man robs 97-year-old Sunnyside woman in her home, sentenced to 11 years prison

prison

Dec. 18, By Christian Murray

A 59-year Manhattan man pleaded guilty today in connection with two home invasions—including one that involved a 97-year-old Sunnyside woman.

Salvador Morales, from 158th Street,  would follow older women home, gain access to their apartment and then rob them.

“One’s home is their castle and should be a place of refuge and safety, not a crime scene,” said Queens District Attorney Richard A Brown. “In robbing his victims inside their homes, the defendant stole more than just money and personal property, he stole his victims’ security.”

Morales will be sentenced to 11-years prison, Brown said.

The 97-year old Sunnyside woman was targeted by Morales on April 19, 2014, when he followed her into her apartment building.

Morales, who was wearing a surgical mask, rode up the elevator with the woman and then a short time later knocked on her door claiming he had been sent by the landlord to check for leaks.

Morales then ran the water in her kitchen.

He then asked the victim for change for $100 and the 97-year-old produced an envelope containing cash.

Morales then splashed water on the woman’s hands and convinced her to remove her rings in order not to damage them.

He then fled the apartment with the woman’s rings and the envelope containing more than $700 in cash.

In Flushing, Morales followed two senior citizens home after they left a nearby bank on April 5. As the two women were entering their apartment, he pushed both of them to the floor. He then fled with one woman’s pocketbook contained more than $1000.

The other woman sustained a fractured leg as a result of the push and was taken to hospital.

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Residents produces video: ‘Christmas in Sunnyside’

Christmas in Sunnyside, Queens, NYC from George on Vimeo.

A Sunnyside resident has put together a video titled “Christmas in Sunnyside”.

George Burles, who provides frequent videos to this site, shot it in the past week.

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12 weekends of No. 7 train service cuts through May: Nine to impact Sunnyside

weekendoutages

Dec. 17, By Christian Murray

Get ready for the latest round of No. 7 train weekend service cuts.

The MTA released its schedule for the first five months of 2015 and the No. 7 train will be out of service between Times Square and Queensboro Plaza for nine weekends. Five of those weekend will see cuts between Queensboro Plaza and 74th Street.

In addition, there will be weekend service cuts between Willets Point and Flushing-Main Street on three other weekends.

The first weekend of the Times Square/Queensboro Plaza cuts is scheduled to take place January 17-19, which will be the first of four weekends in a row that it will be down.

The MTA says that the cuts are in order for it to install a new Communications-Based Train Control (CBTC) signal system; replace elevated tracks; and for the reconstruction and fortification of the Steinway Tubes (which connects Queens to Manhattan).

The MTA, which is a state-run agency, claims that majority of this work has been scheduled over weekends when ridership is lower than normal.

Van Bramer said that it was unacceptable that the MTA would close service for several weekends in a row in January and February—during the coldest month of the year.

He said that residents might be a little more forgiving about the closures if they had seen improved service as promised. However, “the truth is that over the past few months No. 7 train regular service has been poor and there have been lots of delays.”

He said that on December 11 the delays were so bad that the overcrowded subway platforms put commuters at risk.

 

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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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More Headlines

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

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.
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.  
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.
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

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