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Queens Blvd Merchant Group About to be Launched, Faces Mixed Reviews

Photo: QueensPost

June 5, 2011 By Christian Murray

A Queens Blvd business owner has established a new business association with the objective of improving and promoting Queens Blvd.

Ciaran Staunton, a resident of Sunnyside Gardens and owner of Molly Blooms, has just established the Queens Blvd Merchants Initiative, a group comprised mainly of business owners on the boulevard. However, Staunton said he would like other business owners and residents to sign on, since the Sunnyside community as a whole has a stake in the improvement of Queens Blvd.

“Many people’s view of Sunnyside is based on what they see on Queens Blvd,” Staunton said.  “Does Sunnyside look like a place someone would want to invest in, or buy in, or shop in?” He said tattered awnings, roll down metal gates and vacant stores on Queens Blvd. are not good for this neighborhood’s image.

He said the group plans to improve Queens Blvd block by block, focusing on awnings and gates. Furthermore, the group aims to help find tenants for shuttered stores. A closed store, he said, reduces the amount of business that other store owners on a block generate.

The official launch of the group will be this Tuesday, June 7 at 9:00 am, at Staunton’s pub Molly Blooms (43-13 Queens Blvd), and Congressman Joseph Crowley is scheduled to be there as part of the launch.

However, the concept of the Queens Blvd Merchants Initiative has created waves among Sunnyside’s existing business groups that promote the “entire” neighborhood. The leaders of Sunnyside Shines (BID) and the Sunnyside Chamber of Commerce were not aware of the Queens Blvd Merchants Initiative until Staunton emailed the invitations on Thursday.

Artie Weiner, the treasurer of Sunnyside Shines, sent out a mass e-mail that read: “What about Greenpoint Avenue?? What about 46th Street?? What about Skillman Avenue…? This is the most self-serving scheme to come to Sunnyside in a long time. This is a lesson on how to divide a neighborhood.” A day later, Weiner sent out a follow-up e-mail, saying he was speaking on behalf of himself not Sunnyside Shines.

But Staunton said that if the Merchants Initiative helps improve Queens Blvd the whole neighborhood is the better for it. “We [the Merchants] are right on the forefront of what is going on so we have to lead.”

State Sen. Michael Gianaris supports the new initiative. “Any group that wants to improve Sunnyside we’ll support,” a spokesman said. A representative of Gianaris, who is in Albany, plans to attend the event.

However, Joseph Conley, the chairman of Community Board 2, who was at the forefront of bringing 2-hour parking to Queens Blvd and has worked with the sanitation department to clean up under the No. 7 train in recent weeks, said “We already have two fine merchant associations, the Sunnyside Chamber of Commerce and the BID [Sunnyside Shines].”

Meanwhile, some members of the Sunnyside Chamber of Commerce are displeased by the new group.

Luke Adams, the marketing director of the Chamber, said in a statement: “I have been involved in the chamber for more than 36 years, a volunteer association which promotes Sunnyside ­– which is Skillman Ave., Greenpoint Ave., 43rd Ave., 48th Ave., parts of Woodside, every corner of the area, really—not just Queens Blvd. The Chamber elected Ciaran [Staunton] to the board. He attended one board meeting. Now he has scheduled [the launch] on the same morning as our board meeting. Feels like a slap. And bringing in a US Congressman and bypassing local business organizations and the community board. How is that working local? We need to stick together to survive, not start over. We could all use some help. Let’s stay together.”

But Rebecca Barker, the new president of the Chamber of Commerce, said that the chamber has similar goals as the Queens Merchants Initiative. “We all seek a better neighborhood, where every street is vibrant. If this group can find the absentee landlords, get funding and bring in new businesses then we are all the better for it.”

Councilman Jimmy Van Bramer said he was unaware of the Queens Merchants Initiative until Thursday. “I support every initiative by local business owners to better themselves and the neighborhood, and I hope we all stay united and work together.”

Van Bramer and Conley won’t be attending the event on Tuesday since they have a meeting regarding the formation of a business improvement district in Woodside.

But Staunton said that he is not trying to undermine any group. “I’m part of the Chamber. I just think Queens Blvd is the corridor to Sunnyside and I want to help improve it.”

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59 Comments

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New Sunnysider

Dear Sunnyside Post,

I moved to Sunnyside from LIC two months ago and was very excited about moving to a nice, clean, affordable neighborhood close to the city. I was confused by the numerous closed shops and empty spaces, in the Molly Blooms (or Bloom’s) area, but I am beginning to understand them more now.

Food and housing costs in Sunnyside are phenomenol, but unfortunately I am finding that when it comes to shopping, dining, and small shops here, it is better for me to go to Manhattan for selection and quality and further out into Queens, e.g. The Queens Mall area for price.

I believe in shopping and sharing the wealth in one’s neighborhood, so I have tried a couple dozen Sunnyside businesses from laundries to hardware to fast food and retail, but I am having one bad experience after another. Quality is often shoddy, prices are higher sometimes even than Manhattan. Clerks and other workders are often inattentive, dismissive, and/or rude and surly. With several notable exceptions, of course, there is no sense that the Sunnyside business managers either really care that they’ve sold you broken goods or cold coffee or hot beer or an overpriced hammer or a moldy sandwich. If Sunnyside business owners, managers, and workers don’t care whether you do business with them or not, why should I? I’ll take the cheap rent and shop at the Mall.

I hope that I have just had an unusual experience. I am still happy to be here, but I’m getting the increasing feeling that I won’t be doing as much shopping here as I had hoped.

Reply
Good news

NO: I dare you to do that!!! Just watch out for cameras!!!
Also, please start a blog documenting local typos; that would be most excellent!

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Neighborhood Observer

Indeed, Good news, the rules of grammar are subject to change. They don’t seem to be taught with the rigor of yesteryear and are most certainly not applied with old-fashioned rigor.

Display advertising often plays with these rules but just as often displays ignorance of them. In fact there is a book out now, “The Great Typo Hunt” in which two guys travel the country correcting mistakes on signs.

So, sign displayers, known the rules and play with them wisely. Someone uncomfortable with imprecision might just climb up in the middle of the night and paint in a sloppy apostrophe.

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Good news

NO: Yes, Molly Bloom is widely known as James Joyce’s creation (Happy early Bloomsday to all!) However, I’m sure the bar could not have erred and must have intended for ‘bloom’ to be a verb in this case.

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Neighborhood Observer

Wikepedia: “Molly Bloom is a fictional character in the novel Ulysses by James Joyce.” So, it take a possessive apostrophe.

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Good news

Roxy,
I think it’s a verb so no apostrophe needed. Molly blooms (presumably in the Spring.)

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Neighborhood Observer

From Wikepedia:

“Queens Boulevard was built in the early 20th century to connect the new Queensboro Bridge to central Queens, thereby offering an easy outlet from Manhattan.

“It was created by linking and expanding already-existing streets, such as Thompson Avenue[1] and Hoffman Boulevard, stubs of which still exist. It was widened along with the digging of the IND Queens Boulevard Line subway tunnels in the 1920s and 1930s, and in 1941, the city proposed converting it into a freeway, as was done with the Van Wyck Expressway, but with the onset of World War II, the plan was never completed.”

There is more, but essentially it was meant to offer quick commuting from Manhattan to Jamaica, quick being the operative word. At the time it was built Sunnyside was not much more than an old hotel and a duck pond.

Much has changed and more change is coming. Its always interesting.

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Neighborhood Observer

To QBM thank you. To sartke, it would delight me no end to keep Sunnyside for Sunnysiders, I’m open to all ideas that funnel traffic away from residential areas while providing plenty of customers for our merchants. Cleaning up is a good start.

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sunnysider

Dear Neighborhood Observer I respect your opinion we do live in a very fast paced town. But this does not mean that we need to keep up with traffic trends to live in it.

We have a huge parking problem here. Instead of buildings we need a parking garage we need to open space .

If we slow our traffic down or divert trafic at certain times of the day it wil be safer f or all of us to cross the blvd or greenpoint or any area that needs to be slowed down.

residence comes before traffic.

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sunnysider

Angus Grieve Smith I think we either need to stop traffice completely or possible diivert traffic so we can cross the street at certain times of the day.

I like my idea, I think a study should be done. I think dot has infor allready to do this. I think It is political. I shoulld be tested during the summer before kidss come back to school.

we also need service to get our seniors and handicapped people to strores and restaurants to shop they have no way out of their homes.
I know their is the internet but peoole need to breath freash air

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sartke

Exactly! Which is why we need to rebuild it for Sunnysiders instead of Long Islanders and Manhattanites in taxis.

It’s sorta sad that some of us have the defeatist view – our neighborhood is just a freeway (and parking lot) for taxis and people from long island, that’s how it’s always been, that’s how it’s always gonna be? There are ways to get to Manhattan without going through the heart of commercial Sunnyside.

“Quaint businesses are more in keeping with Greenpoint, 43rd and Skillman Avenues, where people travel on foot.”

QB already has more dense foot traffic than all of these save Greenpoint, which isn’t commercial for a very long span. But the foot traffic can (and should) be even higher than that. If local businesses don’t think that this, above everything else, is ultimately in their interests, I don’t know what to say.

Anyway, I entirely endorse Angus’ piece up there.

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Anonymous

The old guard at the Chamber and the BID have failed to improve Queens Blvd. Let’s hope the new guy can get something done.

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Queens is the new Brooklyn is the new Manhattan

“Let’s face it, our neighborhoods are traffic islands between the highways, expressways and boulevards carrying traffic between Manhattan and Long Island. Our geography serves the needs of people who pass through here far more than it serves us. Trains speed both ways. People from all over the world land in the two New York airports. Queens Boulevard was built for speed not leisurely strolling.”

I 100% agree.

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Neighborhood Observer

I disagree that traffic on QB should slow down even more. Since the “Boulevard of Death” campaign, meant I think to make it more appealing for the droves of condo buyers developers hoped for, the residential avenues on the north side of Queens Boulevard have been inundated with regional traffic. They are much less pleasant to live on.

Let’s face it, our neighborhoods are traffic islands between the highways, expressways and boulevards carrying traffic between Manhattan and Long Island. Our geography serves the needs of people who pass through here far more than it serves us. Trains speed both ways. People from all over the world land in the two New York airports. Queens Boulevard was built for speed not leisurely strolling.

Quaint businesses are more in keeping with Greenpoint, 43rd and Skillman Avenues, where people travel on foot.

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sartke

“99 cent stores are secretly attempting to not make money” is a silly prettyconspiracy. Cheap bodega stores exist here because there’s a market for them. You might not be in that market. Many, if not most of the readers of Sunnyside Post might not be in that market. But if you walk down Greenpoint any given evening, you will see plenty of people who are. This neighborhood is a lot of things to a lot of people.

Until people are dying and getting injured regularly in 99 cent store accidents, I’m not willing to consider this the ‘biggest problem’.

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Queens is the new Brooklyn is the new Manhattan

Queens Blvd already has an island running down the middle…Its an elevated track with a ridiculous parking lot. And riding a bike on queens blvd is suicide, bike lane or not. Queens Blvd will be the thorn in Sunnyside’s side until they do something about the traffic and parking lot that exist to compliment what is literally an expressway to the Queensboro bridge….excuse I mean the Ed Koch Bridge.

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Twrenlo

I think those pointing fingers at traffic on Queens Blvd have an agenda to distract others from the biggest problem here.

Sunnyside is littered with depressing, dirty stores, the big ugly 99 cent stores being the worst. These stores are so charmless they are literally begging people NOT to come inside.

Now, with so many vacant storefronts, I have to think that a lot of real estate in Sunnyside is owned by people whose primary interest is NOT to make profits off of renting their property, but to use their property as tax write offs and so on.

I hope the people trying to improve this town have a plan for dealing with store owners whose primary motivations are NOT to maximize retail sales and property owners whose primary motivations isn’t to rent out their spaces.

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me

I’ll support Staunton when the after-midnight drunken Irish singing coming from the garden of his bar on a Sunday night ceases.

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Angus Grieve-Smith

Glad to see that there are so many people who agree with me that the speeding traffic on Queens Boulevard is the main factor holding back the businesses.

The cheapest thing to do is to remove the rush hour parking restriction. All that’s required is changing a few signs, sending the message out to the traffic agents, and a whole lot of political will to get the DOT to stand up to the drivers from the east.

Some of you may remember my vision for Queens Boulevard that was featured on this blog. The URL for my complete post has changed; it can now be found here.

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sunnysider

You know what we need here is to help solve our retail problems, waking the blvd and crossing the blvd. we need to slow slow trafffic down and certain times of the day so we can walk whether we are 20 or 100. Maybe evern stop traffic on a saturday or sunday aft for a few hours and lets shop and walk and eat and enjoy without any I repeat any traffic on the blvd we can do it.

You want to shop and save money lets the banks give the stores a stimulus checks to run sales and partner with them to help incouirage business in our town. we need some positive things to happen here to invest in our town.

Instead of our organziation fighting each other they should learn to work toghere so we can all benefit and not have empty stores

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sunnyside_south

Funny how James Bray isn’t even mentioned here. He gets the job through his family connections even though he is not qualified or doesn’t live in the state, let alone area. Given that his prior experience was selling patio furniture, i think its more than fair to question if he is qualified for this job, and if he has lived up to expectations since being appointed. We all support a BID, as the cost is passed from property owner to biz owner to customer. I would be very interested to hear from the BID how they’ve done with that money.

Why wouldn’t a group form to tackle their very local issues – that’s why many block associations exist within larger civic associations. The only people I see “dividing” here is Luke Adams and the BID. I guess the threat of scrutiny on their operations might be making them nervous.

Finally, regarding QB, i agree with both – there needs to be a focus on making it safer and inviting, which is much more possible here at 6 lanes then in FH at 12 lanes and 100 yards wide. But for those who live here, things like awnings, gates and clean sidewalks do make a impact on the shopping experience.

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sartke

I agree that Vanderbilt is a very good point of comparison , and potentially something we could aim to emulate. And, as Staunton might want to note, it’s a street with many successful bars.

And yeah, as far as drastic changes go this is still at the ‘whining online’ stages. Is there a critical mass at this point to really take to this next level? Considering that the business owners – the people who will eventually benefit most – still don’t seem to have this on their radar, I’m skeptical.

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local

Sartke, I wasn’t trying to say Columbus Ave is the same as Queens Blvd, but it doesn’t mean that very general ideas for improvements may apply to both — or not.

That said, I completely agree with everyone saying traffic calming efforts — in conjunction with street beautification — would do much more that just replacing awnings alone. Making Queens Blvd more of a “strolling” block would do wonders.

I know Vanderbilt Ave in Brooklyn is not as many lanes as QB, but people used to zoom up and down that road like it was a superhighway. The changes they’ve made there — installing islands and bike lanes, etc — have done wonders for the whole neighborhood. Vanderbilt Avenue now is worlds nicer than it was several years ago, and it’s now a places where people go to eat, shop, and just walk around.

Here are more details on that: http://www.nyc.gov/html/dot/downloads/pdf/ssi09_vanderbilt.pdf

Is anyone working on similar things for Queens Boulevard? Or all we all just whining in the comments section? It seems a bike lane is not happening (http://gothamist.com/2009/11/10/queens_boulevard_bike_lane_not_happ.php), but are there any other efforts that aren’t dead already?

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sartke

The other day my girlfriend witnessed someone (on Queens Boulevard, of course) backing up blindly at full speed and knocking a very old woman’s cane, coming within an inch or two of killing her.

Nobody said anything, the driver drove away. Just a normal day in Sunnyside. Let’s fix some awnings!

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Neighborhood Observer

Independent stores have been struggling all over America; no matter how good the local talent few can compete with corporate heavyweights.

Allied groups of merchants and professionals help enormously as does sustained efforts to maintain standards of cleanliness and appeal.

Mr. Staunton is a visionary with the skills to bring his vision about. He speaks persuasively, motivates followers and doesn’t rest until he is satisfied.

If he has a weakness it is that he is blind to the vision and work of his predecessors, meaning your pet project is toast if it doesn’t support his pet project. He dismisses opposing wisdom with hyperbole and obliterates less robust egos like so many cobwebs.

He brought his ideas to the powers that be. When he didn’t get their backing he “went rogue” and formed his own. He’ll probably get what he wants and then move on to the next thing. Woe betide the one who stands in his way.

( It would also help if the city could make up its mind to support small businesses rather than letting in Ikea, BJs, Home Depot, NWL and Costco. These behemoths beg for a car to get things home and our city is discouraging these.)

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Raquel

Snarky Sartke and Queens is the New Brooklyn is the New Manhattan have consented to be crossing guards for the elderly. Good show!

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Queens is the new Brooklyn is the new Manhattan

Hahaha yeah I was going to say….not a big roadway?? What a joke. And exactly, who cares about Queens Blvd near the Queens Center Mall. W’ere talking about Sunnyside here and Queens Blvd in Sunnyside is a MASSIVE problem.

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sartke

“There are other worse parts of Queens Blvd” is a good way to ignore the issue. The LIE and BQE are also pretty terrible roads to walk across. The fact that they exist doesn’t make Queens Blvd any safer.

“Really isn’t that big of a roadway” is hilarious. How big does it need to be before this is a big roadway? It requires walking quickly to walk across the entire Blvd in one green light. Most old people wouldn’t be able to. That’s a “big roadway” anywhere in the world.

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Raquel

Patrick is correct: while Queens Boulevard in general is dangerous, it is far more dangerous near the Queens Mall and in the Forest Hills/Kew Gardens area (near the court house in Kew Gardens is particularly wide). And there are businesses on Queens Boulevard that are doing well, such as New York Eats and Sidetracks. They have their regular customers. But we see empty store after empty store. And the lot near the Starbucksk (which used to be a large Japanese restaurant/hall) has been empty for years. I don’t like walking around there at night.

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Dominus_vobiscum

@sherry

The graffiti, as a I mentioned, is clearly visible from the 7 Train. For anyone passing by that’s a big turn off if they were thinking of possibly checking out the neighborhood. The arch, on the other hand is eye-catching in a good way. Maybe something similar on the other side of the Blvd.

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nobody

queens blvd needs special attention. i don’t think having multiple merchant groups is going to hurt anything. i think a lot of these blocks will be knocked down and re-built over the next decade in-line with the rezoning.

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Patrick

Actually I think the security gate at the old Diving Bell that was installed is illegal, so perhaps the owners of the new business ought to be fined?

And seriously, Queens Blvd really isn’t that big of a roadway, at least in Sunnyside (but it is treacherous near the Queens Center mall). I actually think sprucing up the neighborhood would be a good bet — but some of the empty retail space is being filled (new Lebanese spot in the old electronics space, the new Nodus Thai restaurant). It is really the outer edges of the neighborhood that are problematic (particularly the blocks between Pete’s Diner and Oasis and from Key Food to the cemetery). And yes, any idea why that empty lot next to Starbucks is still empty? What’s the story there? In the five plus years I have been here, nothing has ever been done to that lot.

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sunnysider

Although I am a big fan of this web site becusse of the news worhty
which is put out on a daily basis and no one can disagree with it right or wrong. It covers everything or at least tries to.

this man is tring to do something for the blvd. true we have other organizations trying to do things also. But How can you not try to help our town that is having a heart attack. We need the help, Bid is suppose to do things, they seem quiet now or maybe something is going on. I sure we will hear about the street fairs on greenpoint or what is happening sooner or later.

How long do we wait for a business to open next to starbucks, How long?.It ooks terrible to have that lot on queens blvd for years vacant.

Let this man do his thing. Let him use his time, money, and effort and lets get behind him like an army and change for the better our little town for all of us….go sunnyside

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SunnysideFC

Did everyone notice the gigantic metal roll down gate the new owners of the “Diving Bell” space installed?

And look inside… they installed drop ceilings with fluorescent lighting. Do people still install the kind of garbage?

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Queens is the new Brooklyn is the new Manhattan

Once again Sartke is right. I give anyone who wants to make an effort to improve something credit but the problem isn’t awnings and gates. Its the eye sore that is Queens Blvd and it’s ultra dangerous 12 lanes of traffic. It is simply a street level highway tearing right down the middle of the neighborhood.

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sartke

I agree with all of that and have nothing against small-scale improvements. But this new organization appears to want to confront the bigger problems. Mr. Staunton, your problem is that your bar is on a freeway and cars don’t drink beer. Everything else is a detail.

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Sherry

No one has said that graffiti will improve the businesses here. And no one will not shop here because of it. But it is one of the many factors in neighborhood improvement.

And organizations like SUNN (Sunnyside United Neighborhood Network)
comprised of neighborhood volunteers, helps makesfor a more welcoming place to live, shop and visit.

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James Durack

The bit about Artie Weiner is a riot. For those of you who are not familiar with Artie, he owns a bunch of commercial property on Greenpoint Avenue. He is notorious for pricing his properties sky high – Sugar & Joe R.I.P 🙁 . Artie just happens to be on the board of the BID, how convenient. But don’t be confused, he does not actually live in Sunnyside or Woodside, he just out-prices people here.

Ciaran seems to be addressing a serious problem – Neighborhood Beautification. If the BID and the Chamber of Commerce have not addressed this problem, aside from a couple of street sweepers, maybe a new merchant association that has beautification as a top priority will be able to get some results.

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sartke

“But be prepared for haters like sartke to tell you there’s no point in cleaning up graffiti because it always comes back.”

No, I am entirely for cleaning up graffiti, I just think it’s a naive strategy for improving business. I don’t think there are any New Yorkers thinking about shopping here and deciding against it because they saw a little graffiti.

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sartke

” Years ago, merchants on Columbus Avenue on the Upper West Side completely turned the neighborhood around — and a huge part of their strategy involved awnings, signage, and gates.”

The UWS and Queens Blvd are very different cases – Columbus avenue is in direct competition with countless streets in Manhattan. In a situation like that, trying to win the beauty contest might be a good business strategy. Queens doesn’t have nearly as many commercial corridors, and the ones that it do have aren’t comparable to Queens Blvd. And in any case, as long as people are looking at 8-10 lanes of speeding cars, how much marginal niceness can an awning bring?

More importantly: Columbus now has bike lanes, which cut down speeding and makes it a nicer street to walk down.

At the end of the day, if we want people to come visit the street known city-wide as Boulevard of Death, why don’t we…make it not the Boulevard of Death? I don’t think that’s ‘shooting big’, I think that’s the only solution that isn’t going to be lipstick on a pig.

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Red

Hey Dominus_vobiscum, if you want to do something about graffiti, please call 311 and report it. The city has a cleanup program. Or join SUNN and get out there with a paintbrush. But be prepared for haters like sartke to tell you there’s no point in cleaning up graffiti because it always comes back.

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Sherry

I haven’t seen any improvements to QB – ever – so I have no idea what the Chamber of Commerce or Sunnyside Shines is doing.

However, I have seen too many stores go out of business or have to move else where due to astronomical rents. I have seen empty lots that once had stores go empty since they closed (or due to fire).

So when someone like Ciaran Staunton wants to try and do something positive, why should anyone bad mouth him? Especially the Chamber and Sunnyside Shines.

There are so many improvements (from having nicer and cleaner awnings to storefront windows being more welcoming) to be made and existing rules that should be enforced but are not.

QB does not look very welcoming and I support anyone that has the desire, time and energy to help clean it up.
BTW, the invitation for tomorrow has 2 different times. 9:30 on the top and 9:00 on the bottom. Please advise.
Thanks.

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Queens is the new Brooklyn is the new Manhattan

Sartke is right. Until Queens Blvd. isn’t a freeway anymore, it doesn’t matter what happens.

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local

I like that this new organization has concrete, attainable goals. While I see sartke’s point, I think a little progress and improvement is better than shooting big, missing completely, and having nothing change at all. Years ago, merchants on Columbus Avenue on the Upper West Side completely turned the neighborhood around — and a huge part of their strategy involved awnings, signage, and gates.

So good luck to the Queens Boulevard Merchants — I hope they can work with the organizations that already are trying to do good for the neighborhood. But I’m less interested in petty neighborhood politics and more interested in seeing something that show actual change for the better.

And I second Justin: Great neighborhood reporting. We’re lucky to have a real journalist like Christian covering our little corner of the city.

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Raquel

There is an empty lot (there used to be a Japanese restaurant there that was destroyed during a fire years ago) near the Starbucks – why is it still empty? It is an eyesore and also dangerous. Can’t somebody build something there?

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hilary

I agree that it seems unnecessary to have yet another local organization dedicated to the same goal. Staunton, however, is good at making change happen and has a visible personal stake in getting more businesses on the 40th St – 46th St stretch of QB.

Scheduling his launch when he should be at a Chamber meeting may not have been the most diplomatic move, but I expect his group to show progress where others have not. Perhaps the spirit of healthy competition will inspire the BID and Chamber to work harder to improve the 46th St corridor and Skillman Avenue.

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Dominus_vobiscum

Unfortunately, the Sunnyside stretch of Queens Blvd is just one part of a very long, wide, utilitarian and dangerous stretch of road.

But it is worthwhile to make it look as inviting as possible for people to explore further.

There’s a better chance of getting people riding the 7 train to visit and the best way to attract them right now is to get rid of the graffiti on the buildings clearly visible from the train. That’s the most noticeable thing you see riding by.

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Paul

First I agree with sartke 100%
second, I’m glad to see SOMEONE is moving forward. The other groups I believe are way too old to be doing this any longer. 36 years!?!
No offense but action speaks louder than words. Thank you for your years of service but please pass the torch.

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sartke

I mean making this about awnings and gates is hopelessly naive. People who live here are not going to change their consumption due to an empty storefront. And people who don’t live here don’t have a particularly good reason to shop here, with the exception of a few restaurants. But making things marginally more difficult for drivers is a politically sensitive subject and nice awnings are something we all can agree on.

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sartke

Queens Boulevard is currently a freeway. No amount of trash pickup or new awnings is going to change that. I walk up and down the blvd every day and I don’t have time to look at the shuttered stores, as I am too busy watching for speeding cars making violent turns.

If local businesses ever want this to be a sustainable commercial corridor, they’re going to have to realize that cars don’t shop at their stores, people shop at their stores. Queens Blvd could easily be the single nicest commercial street in the borough – the viaduct is lovely and so are the views of Manhattan. But until we remove lanes and slow down traffic, it’s just going to be a freeway with some stores and fast-food.

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Wes Dumont

It’s shortsighted to knock this group. Think of it in terms of warfare – there are strategies for both regiments and battalions in every battle. Sunnyside is a tough place to do business and the idea of storefront improvement along the Blvd of Death (for small businesses) is a valiant fight to take on.

Instead of sending off an email defending your organization, why not go down and have a beer with these guys and see how you can work together?

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Anonymous

The more the merrier. Other than giving $1k to x number of businesses to replace gates and a vague street scape plan, I haven’t seen or heard of too many proactive/creative strategies from the existing business orgs.

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widmark

Considering the BID’s main goal seems to be fine with increased rents that will be suitable for upscale chain stores they think will arrive, I’d rather show support for an organization focused on bringing and supporting small businesses, which are currently completely priced out of Queens Blvd.

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justin

My initial thought is that more community organizations is better than fewer, though I guess I can understand the fears about divided resources. Mostly, though, I just wanted to say that this is really strong reporting, and is a great example of how neighborhood blogs can perform a real public service. Kudos, guys.

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