Friday, November 30, 2007

Decongestion

If you want residential parking permits, write a note to PlaNYC Workshops on Neighborhood Parking and fax it to 917-339-1068. Or you can email planycpark@hshassoc.com.

I stopped by the forum last night and it's a real possibility. Residential parking permits are necessary if congestion pricing goes into effect. Don't base assumptions on the $8 charge, because it'll be a miracle if it stays at $8 by the afternoon commute home on the first day. It's going up and up until the cars stop coming. And then they'll come here.

Make sure you put your name and address in the letter or email and say why you think we need residential parking permits.

If you don't write and Brooklyn Heights/Astoria gets parking permits while we host commuters from around the borough and LI, you can't complain. The DOT put a lot of effort into last night's discussion and it was all about Forest Hills. They're obviously ready to give us something, but we have to show we want it.

Wednesday, November 28, 2007

RKF - King of Chains


Looks like a Panera is coming to the building next to Trader Joe's. While a lot of comments mentioned Panera as one of the few chains welcome in Forest Hills, it's not the kind of place worth driving to. And it certainly doesn't warrant a bus ride. But with a Home Depot, Sports Authority, TJ's, Staples, Michael's, and a few more big spaces available, there's definitely a need for some place for people to chill out for a few minutes.

You gotta love the level of chains RKF is bringing to Forest Hills, Payless and Conway this ain't. You also have to admire the chutzpah shown by listing 73-25 Woodhaven Blvd. as "Forest Hills." 90-30 Metropolitan is one thing, but Woodhaven? In any case, they've taken an ugly as hell intersection (Woodhaven/Metropolitan) and actually turned it into something people want to visit. Amazing job.


The SS Natural




The rumors are true. Baskin Robbins has closed and Natural will take its place. It was confirmed today by me with the management of both places (thanks for the tip in the comments).

First, we have acknowledge Baskin Robbins. The opening of this place rivaled Trader Joe's in its neighborhood anticipation. And it was still drawing crowds on the weekends.

Baskin served Forest Hills well and was a centerpiece on the great intersection of Ascan and Austin. It will be missed. It's one of the first neighborhood institutions that has closed during the new wave of Forest Hills residents (like King George and Woolworth's before us) and and one day we'll be boring newcomers with "I used to take my two year old to the Baskin Robbins there every Friday."

But life goes on as does the appropriately named SS Natural. And just like a steamship, Natural is plowing ahead and taking over yet another space.

You think they'll go meekly into the night while Trader Joe's gets all the press. No way. They might not smile all the much, but they know what Forest Hills wants.

Congratulations Natural. Your inventory is the best in Forest Hills and it's clear that everyone knows it. Safflower mayonnaise? No problem. Twelve different flavors of Soy Chips? How about 14. Many people cite Natural's rocketing popularity in the last five years as the clearest sign of Forest Hills' trend to more younger and affluent outside the Gardens.

It's expensive, but as I've said many times, there's a cost for high quality and it's when people charge a lot for mediocrity (Sarabella) that it's time to get upset. Natural delivers the goods, and whether you like their no smile policy or not, you can't stop the SS Natural. Why do you think you never see Fresh Direct trucks south of Queens Blvd?

And why do you think Trader Joe's just got a little nervous?

Tuesday, November 27, 2007

The 2007 Seventy Deuces

Well, it's the Wednesday after Thanksgiving weekend, you know what that means.

Welcome to the first ever edition of the Seventy Deuces - representing the best of 2007 Forest Hills.

You vote on who went the extra mile in Forest Hills and deserves special recognition. Recognition in the form of a Seventy Deuce - the best of Forest Hills in 2007

Over the next few weeks, a series of categories will be posted in the polls. You will have 72 hours to vote. Each winner will get a print out of the poll and a certificate to either post in the window or throw away.

Our first 2007 Seventy Deuce is for BEST BAKERY. And the nominees are:

Martha's Country Bakery.
Why you should vote for it: It's well designed storefront and attractive interior was declared "great for the neighborhood" by Queens Central. Kicked off a series of exciting store openings including Laytner's and Trader Joe's.

Fay Da Bakery.
Why you should vote for it: Good, cheap, colorful, and fast. The brightest and cheeriest place in an otherwise lackluster corner. More exotic than other bakeries in town.

Broadway Bakery.
Why you should vote for it: Open 24 hours.

Bonnelle Bakery.
Why you should vote for it: Homemade everything, very carefully prepared. Great staff. Chocoloate crossaints.


Good luck to all nominees!

Dirty Pierre's Open

I'm happy to report that Dirty Pierre's has reopened despite the sudden death of its owner Chef File. The funeral was yesterday (Monday) at Queen of Martyrs.

The family is requesting in lieu of flowers that donations be made to The Art Institute (formerly New York Restaurant School) where Mr. File taught.

http://www.artinstitutes.edu/newyork/

From his faculty page (where is listed first among 15 culinary instructors):

Christopher File
Chef Instructor: Culinary Arts
Educational Background: Quinnipiac University, BA, Le Cordon Bleu, Grande Diplome
Areas of Expertise: French Bistro Cuisine Catering, Captain of The Art Institute of New York City Culinary Team

Brief Biography: Chef File, CHE, worked for Restaurant Associates through High School and College. After attending Le Cordon Bleu, he owned 3 restaurants. He is currently chef/owner of Dirty Pierre’s in Queens. Chef File is an avid rider of Harley-Davidsons, and was written up in NY Newsday for his interesting combination of interests. Two of his recipes appeared in “Hog Wild on a Harley,” a compilation of Biker recipe’s.

Ch ch ch Changes?


Remember that very valuable piece of commercial real estate, which is being occupied by such A-listers as Kick Up, Novo 64 sales office, and Garo's Bootery? And remember a big project to expand the site was denied by the city?

Well, another application was put into the department of buildings for some kind of work - though it's hard to decipher what. Could be installing a new gas meter for all we know. There's one item of interest on the application. That's the applicant - Design Forum Engineering of Dayton, OH.

Here's their site - some pretty big clients: http://www.designforum.com/HTML%20Alt%20Site/index_new.asp. Clients of note - Bed Bath and Beyond, Wild Oats Food Store, and Ann Taylor (though we might have reached saturation in the Ann Taylor market).

I don't know what the application is for - but would you hire a huge design firm from Dayton, OH to just to install a bathroom. Sounds big, maybe someone can read through the application and figure it out. http://a810-bisweb.nyc.gov/bisweb/JobDetailsServlet?requestid=5&allisn=0001446238&allboroughname=&allnumbhous=&allstrt= Just one request - no mentions of the building behind Gerard Towers. Enough with that already.

Previous post regarding that row of stores: http://www.foresthills72.com/2007/09/denied-but-is-it-really-last-weve-heard.html
Photo courtesy of www.Bridgeandtunnelclub.com

Monday, November 26, 2007

Lion's Club of Rego Park?


In this week's Forest Hills Ledger, it was reported that the 72nd Townhouses were sold to the Lion's Club of Rego Park. The mortgage is signed by Tchtchachivili of Vector Land Services, as are all the other documents, and the official owner is 72nd Ave. LLC. So who knows who owns what. We do know that at $4 million, they're good as gone.

In more important news, the LPC (the city agency that quickly denied landmark status to the 72nd Ave townhouses) is pushing to get these East Villiage properties landmarked. Among the buildings proposed:

* Webster Hall, 119 E. 11th St., once home to Bohemian balls, labor rallies and a recording studio where Elvis Presley and Frank Sinatra performed. It continues today as a dance club and live music venue.

* Eleventh Street Public Bath, 583 E. 11th St., built in 1903 as the city attempted to improve hygiene among the poor and lower classes. It was converted into a photo studio by Eddie Adams.

* Elizabeth Home for Girls, 307 E. 12th St., built in 1891 by the Children's Aid Society as a shelter for young women. It now has 13 co-op apartments.

* Beth Hamredash, 242 E. Seventh St., built in 1908 as a synagogue for Hungarian immigrants. Converted to residential use.

* The Public National Bank, 106 Avenue C, built in the early 1920s to serve primarily immigrant customers. Converted to apartments in the 1980s.

* Wheatsworth Factory, 444 E. 10th St., built in 1927 as a biscuit factory and the last remaining factory building in the neighborhood. Now a storage facility.

Scattered across the community are buildings that played key roles in the lives of immigrants dating back to the 19th century, said Robert Tierney, chairman of the city's Landmarks Preservation Commission.

"These were important buildings," Tierney said of the structures that were selected in a block-by-block study of the neighborhood

Co-ops and storage facilities. It'd be easier to get a coffee cart landmarked in Manhattan than a historic row house in Queens.

The Ledger article says that residents (aka Michael Perlman) are fighting for a rezone rather than a landmark which was already rejected by storage-facility enthusiast Robert Tierny. A rezone says that any new structure will be in line with the rest of the block which is other historic townhouses. And it will be rejected too.

http://www.timesledger.com/site/news.cfm?newsid=19052259&BRD=2676&PAG=461&dept_id=551069&rfi=6

Sunday, November 25, 2007

Park Place

Final reminder about the city's forum on the Congestion Pricing effect on transit hub neighborhoods.

11/29 Forest Hills, Queens
7:00-9:00 PM (Doors open at 6:30)
Forest Hills Jewish Center
106-06 Queens BoulevardForest Hills, NY 11375

If CP (Congestion Pricing) becomes law, we will see a lot more cars coming here polluting our air and congesting our streets instead of Manhattan's. The spirit of the law is to get people onto public transportation close to their homes - not move the traffic to anywhere but the richest sliver of land. To accomplish that we need resident parking permits otherwise we'll be a park and ride for Glendale, Kew Gardens Hills, and other nearby non-rail towns.

Forest Hills is the only area (besides inconvient-to-drive-to Woodside) with both an express subway and LIRR. Yes, Atlantic Ave and LIC have LIRR, but neither line goes into Penn Station. And there are TONS of parking garages here by the train (whose rates will no doubt skyrocket upon passage of the law). We need some kind of consideration for all we're giving up to solve someone else's problem. Traffic is everywhere in this city, CP will make it worse in Forest Hills.

See you on Tuesday. (11/26 correction - the 29th is Thursday).

Ex Marks the Blogspot

We finally got ForestHills72.com. Good things come to those who wait. December's going to a great month around here with a month-long feature beginning at midnight on Friday. Stay tuned. . .

Saturday, November 24, 2007

Cut Class

It finally happened. I was waiting in line at Natural tonight and it was my turn to go. Furthest cashier to the right called out 'next'. On my way down there (I had the boy with me) out of nowhere, somebody put their crap on the open counter. I expect it to happen everytime I make the long walk through the crowd to the open counter, but amazingly it never did - until tonight.

"Whoa" I said, but the cashier next to her became available and took my stuff. A few words were exchanged between me and the guy who took the spot - predictably from him "I didn't know that was one line" blah blah. I told him "I can't see how you could miss it" although in his defense I was the only one on the line. He was a white American for those who are wondering.

Maybe he really didn't know the line protocol at Natural, but still what he should have done was apologized and offered to get to the back of the line. But what bothered me was the cashiers seeming to take his side. I felt a little better when I purposely let the door slam on him on the way out (I had to hurry to get in front of him), but I should have gotten more backup from the cashier pit. I was in the right, I wanted at least acknowledgement of that. Instead he got the smile and I got nothing.

In fact, I never get a smile at Natural. At most, they give the boy a few dated crappy peaches that they were probably going to throw out anyway. Yes, I know it's something, but I go there a lot. A smile and hello would go a long way. My dry cleaner does it. Ming does it. Rita at Bonelle is practically my son's godmother. And I go to Natural more than any of those places.

I don't even know why I went there tonight. I got milk, chips, tofutti, and salsa - certainly a Trade Landable trip (I'm about equi-distant from each). Not only would I have saved a couple bucks, I would have gotten a smile. They're nice there, even if the surroundings aren't. But I don't want Natural to struggle. I've noticed the lines are a bit shorter since TJ's, but not enough to form a trend. They are one of the most important business on Austin Street and you have to show support. Plus, their stuff is superior to everywhere, including Trader Joe's.

So I'll keep going to Natural, but they can keep the peaches. I want a hello.

Dirty Pierre's Owner Dead

I got an email that said there's a note on the door of Dirty Pierre's announcing his sudden death. The email said there are more details on the restaurant's doors.

Tuesday, November 20, 2007

Thanksgiving Stuff(ing)

I was sad to see a sign in Just Like Mother's window saying they're closed on Thanksgiving. Thought it would make a nice place for those away from their families.

For seniors, here's a nice alternative:

The Kidz Care Junior Civic Association of Forest Hills is planning a free turkey dinner for senior citizens in the area this Thanksgiving. The event will take place at the American Legion Hall, located on 107-15 Metropolitan Boulevard at noon on November 22

http://queenscourier.com/articles/2007/11/15/news/regional_news/forest_hills_and_western_courier/news/news06.txt

For Forest Hills non-seniors who are away from their families, here are some options where I've heard or experienced the waitstaff to be very friendly - which on Thanksgiving is probably your primary concern. Call ahead to make sure they're open.

Family Restaurant
Danny Brown's
My Kitchen
Bann Thai
Portofino

Any other places that make you feel welcome? Quality of food not important in this one. . .

Earlyners?

Passed by Laytner's tonight and it looked like they're either open for business already, or will be any day now.

They Got Him

By now, you've probably heard they got the guy who killed the dentist in the 64th/Yellowstone area of Forest Hills. Best part of the story, they had his fingerprints on file from when he was arrested in 1994 for trying to squeeze two people in the turnstyle with one token. He was 37 at the time. And the fare was $1.25.

They went over the prints from the gun part against relatives of the wife and came up with the 1994 match and arrested him. Tokyo Teriyaki must have been rocking that night.

Here's the best recap of this interesting case: http://www.amny.com/news/local/am-queens1121,0,5511819.story

And The Townhouses Go To. . . .


The 72nd Ave townhouses sale is official. The buyer - a group that call themselves the 72nd Ave, LLC. It's headed by Mr. Revaz Tchatchanachvilli.

The mortgage was granted by First American International Bank, headquartered in Brooklyn. From wikipedia:

First American International Bank (恆通銀行) is an overseas Chinese bank in the United States. Headquartered in Brooklyn, with branch offices in Chinatown, Manhattan and Flushing, Queens, this privately-held community bank was first established on November 15, 1999.

The bank was first established to serve
Asian, Chinese, low-income, recent immigrants located in the five boroughs of the New York City, because these people lacks the necessary credit history, and thus would often likely to be turned down by other mainstream banks. Nearly 80% of First American National Bank's basic banking account services, consumer and business loans, and mortgages have been made in low-moderate income and distressed areas as defined by the United States Department of the Treasury.

The sale price was 3.995 million. Congratulations Mr. Tchatchanachvilli. And thank you to Massey Knakal for holding out for a buyer with a strong history in real estate development (none that I could find) securing his money from only the most highly respected banking partner. We know you always think of the community in these transactions.

Friday, November 16, 2007

The Actress and The Critic



The video is of a Broadway actress (Mama Mia), who gained success and is leaving Forest Hills to buy a place in. . .Forest Hills. http://lx.com/openhousenyc/2007/11/17/68-26-ingram-street-67-64-groton-street-forest-hills-ny/

But she'll have to share the town with this blogger/theater critic who just moved here. http://laurensgotmoxie.blogspot.com/ Drop her a comment and welcome her why don't you. Just be sure it has a strong theme, a compelling narrative, and doesn't lose its way in the second act.

Good news for those who are rooting for more creative types in da Hillz.

Natural Enhancement?


Above is the 11/7/07 application to combine "two stores into one" at 72-56 Austin St. The address? Natural Organic Market.

Now, that's also the office block & lot address of that entire corner, including:

Baskin-Robbins
King Wok Restaurant
Madeleine Realty
Bagels Etc.
Q Bistro

But since the application was filled in by the owner, my guess is that it is Natural doing the expanding and another getting annexed since only Natural has that street address. I have an email into the developer.

The question? Where are they expanding - what store's getting the boot? And for all those who thought last week's mystery man taking pictures of King Wok was about as interesting as a bird crapping on a car? Kiss my a..

Thursday, November 15, 2007

Ice Condition


Some of you guessed jewelry. Some said Italian Ices. I thought it would be a bar. Turns out we were all wrong. The mystery has 'melted' and we now know that Ice is. . .

Women's Clothing.

I looked inside today and it looks like it'll be open by the weekend at the latest. All the clothes are on the shelves and racks already. Annie Sez "Bring it on!"

Wednesday, November 14, 2007

Congestion Parking

11/29 Forest Hills, Queens
7:00-9:00 PM (Doors open at 6:30)
Forest Hills Jewish Center
106-06 Queens Boulevard
Forest Hills, NY 11375

Thanks to OuterB.com for the heads up. Here is that parking forum on how Congestion Pricing might affect Forest Hills.

Pretty appropriate that they have it at that Jewish Center since I'll lay 10:1 odds that someone almost gets hit at that corner by an asshole looking for parking on Austin St.

Much more to come on this one. It's a great chance to fight for residential parking permits which Forest Hills desperately needs.

http://www.nyc.gov/html/dot/html/home/home.shtml

You Horse's . . .


Who doesn't love to see the cops patrolling Austin Street on horseback? What I really want is for them to chase someone.

First Look at First Central

Looks like my son's lego town.

Tuesday, November 13, 2007

Am I Hot or Not - FoHi Restaurant Edition

Some recent online reports of our town's eateries. . .

HOT Sushi Yasu: Per Sally Vates food blog: "We couldn't believe it when people started calling and asking for reservations," said Yuki as she poured our green tea. "We were just a fish market with three chairs!"

NOT Thai Austin: Per Chowhound: I just ordered food from Thai Austin and I doubt that anyone from Thailand would call it edible. The tom yum was bland with a hit of sweetness?!? The tilapia was strange...vinegar flavoured sauce on a tasteless piece of dry fish.

HOT 5 Burros: Per Citysearch: I can't even begin to tell you how amazing the food is here. I have been eating here for well over 10 years and can honestly say that I never had a bad meal. An added perk is the place itself. If you can handle a crowded place (on certain nights only), with great drinks and plenty to look at, go no further.

NOT 5 Burros: Per Citysearch: The place is very loud with a jukebox. The decor is haphazardly thrown together with a Mexican slant. The food is good, not great. Portions are hearty. Service is subpar. I always feel like vultures are staring at me. . . just waiting for me to stop eating so they can get me out the door and a fresh body in my seat!

NOT Trader Joe's: Per Project Me Blog: The paunchy, non-young employee here were most definitely not art students/candidates for American Apparel ads).

HOT Danny Brown's: Per Danny Brown via Avenue Food: Over the last two nights, I don't think I've ever seen that much calamari consumed.

Monday, November 12, 2007

Bee Story

Remember those school grades the city handed out - the ones PS 101 and 196 got A's in? Turns out since the most affluent schools didn't get A's too, the grades don't really count. Excerpts from today's Post editorial by UFT Leader Randi Weingarten:

. . .There is something wrong with the design of an accountability system that stigmatizes with low grades schools that have solid, established track records. . . .

. . .Parents and teachers are asking how exceptionally successful schools - such as PS 321 in Park Slope, PS 6 on the Upper East Side and PS 234 in TriBeCa - got Bs. . . .

. . .The focus on standardized test scores pushes schools to devote even more time to test preparation, to the exclusion of important enrichment activities such as class trips, school plays and foreign-language instruction. What other message can a school that got a B or C or D take from this, even when most - if not all - of its students are meeting state standards? . . .

Okay, so let's reassign grades for all schools. Ready? Everyone gets an A! Everyone's great at everything and no one needs improvement anywhere! Especially the schools where rich white parents paid $2 million for a first floor two bedroom!

For the record, 101 and 196 both have the established track records that the other schools have, but didn't seem to get too tripped up by the new system.

The Laytner's Show

ShopForestHills.com (the online arm of the Forest Hills Chamber of Commerce) has a nice write up on Laytner's coming to Forest Hills.

http://shopforesthills.com/

Excerpt:

"This is a neighborhood where shoppers appreciate value and quality," Laytner said. "We believe our type of service oriented, personable store will appeal to our Forest Hills neighbors."

Besides linen, bath and gift items, Laytner's will also carry furniture geared to New York City living. "We've been selling to the space-challenged for 46 years and our furniture is scaled for urban spaces," Laytner said.

It's going to be more expensive than Ikea or Target, but please give this place first dibs when shopping for furniture. I can understand redoing a kitchen, which is a $10k job. But if it comes down to $300 for the Ikea breakfast table and $395 for Laytner's, don't drive to Hicksville and complain that there are no good Mom and Pop stores on Austin Street. This Upper East/West mainstay is a home run and we have to support it.

Opa! Greek Movie Week Now at Cinemart!

A few days late, but I just found this on some random website. I wish I'd know about these things. . .

The films being screened at the Greek Film Festival in New York, held in Manhattan at Cinema Village from November 2-8, and at CineMart Cinema in Forest Hills Queens, NY from November 9-15, reflect a new trend that began to emerge in Greek film after 2000, says Dan Georgakas, Festival Programmer.Greek films during the 1950-70-studio era were mainly comedies, melodramas, and musicals, with an emphasis on entertainment and performers, but after the 1974 fall of the junta, the director and his artistic vision were paramount. However, after 2000, when Safe Sex was released, although the focus still remains on the personal vision and style of the director, increasingly more attention is given to themes and formats that appeal to the popular imagination. “The directorʼs cinema is giving way to a hybrid cinema that seeks to combine the virtues of its predecessors,” says Georgakas.


The films in the festival reflect that new trend. They are Brides, Chariton's Choir; The Wake; Back Door; A Touch of Spice; Heart of the Beast, Kalipolis; Dust; Hostage; and Red Thursday, and four documentaries, Buzz, Who's On First?, Song of Life, and Cosmopolis.

Cinemart Show Times

On the Busts of Neighborhoods

New York Magazine has a long article on Red Hook. Some might remember that Red Hook and Forest Hills are forever linked by the blog post heard round the world http://backburner.wordpress.com/2007/01/07/on-the-hipness-of-neighborhoods/ which kicked off the Forest Hills online age. I call it the "London Calling" of blog posts and I am eternally grateful. Excerpts from the classic work which explored why Forest Hills isn't hip:

I hopped back on the subway to check out a neighborhood everybody’s talking about: Red Hook.

When I got off the subway. . . There was a bus ready to pull away for Red Hook, but I decided to walk anyway. Big mistake. The walk was, well, kind of terrifying. I was accosted two minutes in by a guy named Marty.

The NY Mag article says that the maritime Red Hook's gentrification has turned into defecation and all the hip stores that Backburner was so jealous of have shipped out. It's midnight for Brooklyn's Cinderella. Guess bad schools, horrid commute, crime, and no housing isn't all it's cracked is whacked up to be. Moral of the story, be careful what you wish for - it's better in Forest Hills.

As far that guy who wrote the Backburner post, I heard he started some other website about Central Queens. Word is, despite Forest Hills superiority in almost every way, he's still pining away for that Brooklyn hipness validation.

The Curbed pick ups:

http://www.curbed.com/archives/2007/01/08/why_isnt_forest_hills_hip_like_red_hook.php
http://curbed.com/archives/2007/11/12/monday_am_linkage.php

The New York Magazine article on Red Hook:

http://nymag.com/news/features/40648/

Sunday, November 11, 2007

Tag, You're An Asshole

A reminder for all those who see stuff 'tagged up' to call the graffiti hotline. I noticed that some douchebag wrote his badass initials all over the Austin Street park this week. I'll call the number on Monday. Tagging a toddler park? Where are your balls? We can only hope they catch the vandal and put him to death.


http://assembly.state.ny.us/member_files/028/20070810/

I would like to take this opportunity to remind residents of our STOP Graffiti Program. Residents of our community are encouraged to call our graffiti hotline at (718) 263-5687. My office will coordinate free clean up of the site. Before the site is cleaned, each location will be photographed by my staff to assist in the prosecution of the vandals. Evidence collection is coordinated with the Queens County District Attorney’s Office and local Police Precincts.

Assemblyman AndrewHevesi

Holiday

The holiday lights are up on Austin St. Will try to get a picture tomorrow. The ones by Ascan/Austin are all white - looks good.

Saturday, November 10, 2007

Plaza Place

With NYC putting in at least one plaza into every community district, we asked where you think a good place would be. There were three suggestions.



1. 75th Ave and Queens Blvd. Northside (picture is mislabled 76th, but it's 75th).


Pros: That area of northside really could use a seating area. Getting it approved would take all of 10 minutes as there's nothing there now except for unused pavement. Would take one weekend to build.

Cons: Right off Queens Boulevard. Would anyone use it?


2. 71st Rd. between QB and Austin St. Eliminate the head-in parking for plaza.

Pros: Side street off Austin could use public seating area. New Cheeburger restaurant and this plaza could help make that now-underused Windsor block more lively. Lots of big retail chains on the block (Banana, Sephora, NY & Co.) would probably support it as would powerful Cord Meyer company. Maybe CM would even kick in a few bucks for a fountain.

Cons: Will plaza become a mess after movies around the corner let out?


3. Restaurant Row. Eliminate the head-in parking for plaza.

Pros: Crowd favorite and makes the most sense. Plaza could provide buffer for outdoor seating and give people a place to relax without having to dine. Parking spaces would have to be eliminated, but plenty of garages nearby (including one on that same block) to house cars. Would definitely be used and improve the area.

Cons: Lots of parking spaces would have to go on both sides of the street. While I'd applaud that, area business owners might not. City might say they just paid $800K to refurbish MacDonald Park around the corner. Would the questionable crowd that hangs outside OTB have a new home?

So there are your choices. Rank 'em and I'll send results to Melinda Katz. Apparently Council members have a big say in where these things are going. They've already built three and plan to have them all done by 2030.

Thursday, November 8, 2007

Lots of Changes on Metropolitan


A lot of recent talk about the new schools, Trader Joe's, Michaels, and everything else Woodhaven/Metropolitan. Here is a map with a key to help decipher the ever changing landscape.

About that school, details are slowly coming out. Turns out it will house 1900 students. To put things in perspective, Forest Hills HS has 3850 and yet the surrouding area hasn't been burned down yet. 1000 will be high school students, 700 will be junior high students. And 200 will be troublemakers, I mean special needs students.

The schools will be locally zoned so hopefully it will serve Forest Hills residents who are now ridiculously zoned for Hillcrest HS in Jamaica.

Yes, there will be students around Metropolitan near Woodhaven. And yes, it's possible that some might even (gasp) walk down your block after school. But we need schools so bad that you can't be against this. You just can't. The overcrowding crisis is destroying educations. Capacity is at 138% at Forest Hills High Schools. Some kids are eating lunch at 9am due to drastically staggered schedules. And where else are you going to find undeveloped land in Forest Hills? This a home run.
  1. (editor's note - the Non-Asian Zipperhead Expressway. I tried to think of another name for Zipperheads (boom-car, halogen light, Nissan/Hummer, club-music blaring, guido wannabe's) but I couldn't. I think everyone knows I don't mean Asians when I say it, so I'm using the term).

Tuesday, November 6, 2007

Gimme an 'A'

The NYC first ever report card for public schools was released yesterday. Apparently the city administrators were harder graders than people thought. This was not 'basket weaving 101'.

From today's NY Times:

The grades released yesterday contained many surprises, with some schools with top-notch reputations receiving B’s, C’s, D’s — and even F’s, to the astonishment of some parents.

Several esteemed elementary schools that middle-class parents often factor in to their real estate decisions — including Public School 6 on the Upper East Side, P.S. 87 on the Upper West Side, P.S. 234 in TriBeCa and P.S. 321 in Park Slope, Brooklyn, — received B’s. Other popular schools fared worse. P.S. 154 in Windsor Terrace, Brooklyn, received a D.

I'm not sure that many of us know a middle class family that's considering these places (hmm, TriBeCa or Levittown?), but that the world famous 321 got a 'B' is surprising.

And now the moment you've been waiting for. . .

PS 101: A

PS 196: A

It's good to be the king. See the report here: http://www.nytimes.com/ref/education/20071105_SCHOOLS_GRAPHIC.html

Duck!

Special screening of Alfred Hitchcock's Classic North By Northwest
This Thursday, Nov 8th @ 7:00 pm

The Midway Theater
Queens Blvd/ 71st Rd, Forest Hills, 11375

$5.00 donation for the Ronald McDonald House of Long Island
E, F, R, G Trains to 71st -Continental Avenue
LIRR to Forest Hills Station
Q60 bus to 71st Av, Queens Blvd
For more info: 917-364-1176

Monday, November 5, 2007

Wok Away?

Saw a man this weekend taking pictures of the King Wok fast-food chinese place next to Q Bistro. It was early, and the restaurant was closed with a metal grate in front of it, so it wasn't the most picturesque image in the world.

Could that very prime piece of storefront be available soon? That guy had to be taking pictures for an ad or for research. Why else he would pull his car over, take pictures of that one closed store front, and drive away?

I know - but it's either this or another Halloween op-ed piece, as things are sllooowwww.

Friday, November 2, 2007

Halloween Final Grades:

It's our final Halloween post here for 2007, so let's dole out our annual Halloween final grades.

Burns St.: A -
More done up houses last year, but still the place to be on Halloween.

My building: F
Love the building, love the block, love the character. Hate the apathy - but I guess some people just want to be left alone.

PS 101: A
Nice party on Sunday.

Arbor Close/Forest Close: A
People who answered were genuinely happy to hand out candy, and I hope they know what an impact that makes on a two-year old. One particular group of teenage girls with their hair in huge beehives were the best, followed closely by either an Irishman or Scott, but who was entertaining all who came by.

Church in the Gardens: A
All the teachers dress up and they really do it up.

Austin St: D
Some shopkeepers did well, but too many including The Body Shop posted 'No Candy' signs in the morning, and others posted 'No More Candy' early afternoon. Uncool.

Micciche (spelling?) A
Always great to see the workers in full Halloween garb.

Asian family in Pinang who waved at us with huge smiles A+
It's little things like that make Forest Hills the greatest place in the city.

Brother Man to Become Other Man

In a section of town that Queens Central Steve would call East AQUA, but I would call AQUA proper (now there's a debate that could go on for hours), the Brothers Coffee Shop is for sale. Buy it, put in a little work, and reopen as a higher-scale diner. The kind with cool music and great breakfasts - colored chalk on the specials board, you know what I'm talking about. You'll make a fortune on me and Steve alone.

However, being a few doors down from the new Starbucks, it's possible that another chain will take over the space. With a CVS and Kinko's, and the aforementioned Starbucks, what little (1120 sq ft) chain eatery might be next? My guess - Subway (sorry Steve, I know it's not what you were looking for).

Walk and Run

From today's NY Times Weekend section: SHOREWALKERS: Sunday at 9:45 a.m., a six-mile walk through parklands from Forest Hills to Flushing, meeting at the Queens Boulevard and the Continental Avenue/71st Street subway stop on the F, E, G or R lines; (718) 261-3579. Fee for each: $3.



Weather's going to be 50 degrees and perfect for this. Only drawback is you'll miss the marathon.


Speaking of which, any Forest Hills Marathon entrants we should look out for?

Thursday, November 1, 2007

Plaza Sweet!

Before
After

The City is taking away non-essential road space in certain communities and putting in public plazas. From NYC.gov:

Pedestrians & Sidewalks Public Plazas

PlaNYC, the City's long term sustainability plan, calls for increasing New Yorkers' access to public space. One initiative, which the DOT is leading, is to create public plazas in each community in New York City. There are approximately 31 public plaza projects in various stages of development across NYC. DOT has established a goal to have 20 of these projects under construction by 2009.

The agency will work with Community Boards, community groups and residents to inventory other locations and identify sites for new or enhanced plazas in every community wide by 2030. Each plaza will be located and planned to serve local needs and in accordance with the character of the community.

There are already three plazas built or in development.

Willoughby Street Plaza, Downtown Brooklyn

Pearl Street Plaza, DUMBO Brooklyn

9th Avenue and W. 14th Street, Manhattan

In the first three plazas (in, surprise, Brooklyn and Manhattan), they took high-pedestrian areas and turned a small parking lot or car lane into a plaza. So, it's time to put your Urban Planner hats on and suggest ideal spots for such a plaza for Forest Hills.

Station Square is obvious, but it's private land or something like that so it might get bogged down in red tape. So excluding the Gardens, where do you think we can take away a small parking area or unnecessary car lane and turn it into a public plaza?

I'll put the best suggestions in a Forest Hills 72 Poll and the top three vote getters will be sent to Melinda Katz. Or you could just bypass this silly process and write or call Katz yourself.

And your mark. . .get set. . .Plan!

Before/After pictures are of Willoughby St. courtesty of NYC.gov.
http://nyc.gov/html/dot/html/sidewalks/publicplaza.shtml#will

Lots of Tricks to go Around

Hope everyone had a great Halloween. On my way to the LIRR this morning, I noticed so many "Sorry No More Candy" signs posted in the windows. We stayed in AQUA and hit Austin Street early enough so it didn't affect us, but our kid didn't have school yesterday. The Arbor Close/Forest Close row houses were terrific. And Burns Street in the Gardens is Halloween Central.

Quick note to all shopkeepers on Austin Street. Buy enough candy. I'm sick of "No More Candy" signs and I've heard reports that some stores were putting them up at 4pm. People flock to Forest Hills to trick or treat and there's absolutely NO downside to that. I consider it an honor that we're overrun with parents and kids coming here every October 31st. You can get 360 lollipops for $18. So invest $54 and get over 1000 pops. You're not getting 1000 kids.

I even noticed a 'No More Candy' at Viva Bimbi - that's a children's store. I saw the same thing last year at Children's Place. Can you imagine? That's Superbowl Sunday for kids stores.

Feel free to post in the comments any stores you saw run out of candy early. Also, post the ones that didn't. The stationary stores east of Continental were exceptional and Body and Sole was out front handing out candy which was nice to see. Also the firehouse on QB in AQUA is always welcoming. Lots of kids and cameras.

I don't mean to sound like an ingrate, but kids get sad when to come here to trick or treat and everyone has 'Sorry, No More Candy' signs posted. So next time they try to sell you something say "Sorry, No More Money."