Wednesday, July 30, 2008

Sudden Death?

All references to the 70-35 Austin Street lot (Staubach Center) have been taken off Roger's website. The sign pictured above has been replaced with a low-budget text only "Store Available" with a new 718 number attached, which is more in line with Forest Hills marketing.

So with all the press coverage and numerous blog posts, it looks like this is a broken play.

So what did we learn from this fiasco? Well, we lost Rouge (will be missed), maybe Viva Bimbi and Garo's Bootery (who cares) and we'll probably keep that eyesore of a structure. Now the good news, I heard Ken Stabler is interested in the Tasti Delight.

Belly Up

Austin Fish Market has been flushed (the small one close to Natural). Along side with fellow recent vacancies Hasaan Beauty Supply and 1/2 of Dmitry, this three store group makes a nice big space for anyone who likes knocking down walls.

See For Rent sign at 72-34 Austin Street for leasing information.

Bike Lane Response From City

Here's the email response I got back from the DOT regarding bike lanes on Queens Blvd. Please keep emailing your reps if you want one. If it doesn't happen now, it's not happening. We're not going to get more attention than this.

Thank you for your email concerning your request for a bike lane on Queens Boulevard. We appreciate your interest and look forward to working with you on this issue.

Queens Borough Commissioner Maura McCarthy will work with the Bicycle Programs Unit to ensure that this matter is addressed properly.

Borough Commissioner Maura McCarthy will inform you of our findings and recommendations by end of August..

Ensuring the safety of our residents is of primary concern to the NYCDOT. Your participation in transportation issues which affect your community is greatly appreciated.

Customer Service Division

Tuesday, July 29, 2008

Calling All Chefs

The Shoe Bar is going away and the realtor's ad does something that for some reason, most realtors forbid. It asks for restaurants.
750 sf CORNER store with large basement on busy busy austin street.......rare opportunity to lease a CORNER store on one of the busiest shopping streets in new york...........
call for more information.........
718-767-0388 or 516 641 0076............
howard newman.........
real estate broker......

What the broker lacks in spelling skills, he makes up for in location. It really is a great one and with nearby Bonfire and 5 Burros doing great business, it could make for a nice little Restaurant Row East.

Scanning these real estate ads, I find "No Food!!!" 90% of the time . There just aren't that many landlords looking for restaurants (which could explain Metropolitan's surge in them), so I like to feature the ones that do. FoHi's restaurant scene needs all the help it can get.

So all aspiring or existing chefs - check out 71-63 Austin St. It's small, but well positioned. Danny Brown's ToGo?

Thanks to Bridge and Tunnel Club for the photo.

Monday, July 28, 2008

Wok's Going On?

King Wok, next to Natural Market on Ascan, has been closed for about a week. A few months ago, the rumor was the owner told health inspectors that there might be $1000 dollars in his wallet, or maybe there wasn't.

But at least that hiatus was explained away with a "closed for renovations" sign on the window. This one has nothing but a closed metal gate. Do I want to know what he offered the health inspector this time?

Boulevard of Bikes

Great turnout for the quickly but very well organized rally make Queens Blvd a "Complete Street" which means a dedicated lane for bicycles.

Huge thanks to Mike Heffron for tipping me off to it. Though I was out of town, I did ask the local bicycle store Spin City to promote the event, and they did post a notice in their window about it. Thanks to them as well.

A fantastic wrap-up of the event can be found on

On it, you'll find impassioned pleas by the family of the young man who was killed at the spot of the rally in February, Asif Rahman. You'll also see Councilman Genaro calling for the Complete Street and according to Streetsblog "Queens Council Members John Liu and Eric Gioia also signed on to a letter urging Mayor Bloomberg to complete Queens Boulevard. "

I would bet there is more raw width on Queens Blvd than any of the roads with existing protected bike lanes in NYC. There is room, there is a need, and there is a moral responsibility to make this local road better for locals.

It's time for Melinda Katz to make good on her promise to try and make Queens Blvd a livable street. Thanks to Mike Heffron & Co. for helping her get a head-start.

photo of QB by Forest Hills 72

Friday, July 25, 2008

You've Got To Fight, For Your Right, To Bike Lane

If you're serious about a bike lane on Queens Blvd, you have to show up for this. It'll take one hour. From the inbox:

Mike Heffron says:

So I got final confirmation that Transportation Alternatives along with CM Jim Gennaro's office will be having a press conference to kick off our campaign for a Safer Queens Blvd. Here's the info:

WHEN: Sunday 7/27 12pm
WHERE: Queens Blvd and 55th Rd at Asif Rahman's Ghost Bike
WHY: To make Queens Blvd safer for pedestrians and cyclists
CM Jim Gennaro will be there
, hopefully some other electeds too. We will be calling for a physically separated bike lane and pedestrian improvements along the length of Queens Blvd. Ped improvements include, but are not limited to, increasing pedestrian crossing times or even leading pedestrian intervals (LPI), mid block crossing and reducing turning conflicts between cars and people. I want to stress, this is not just for a bike lane, pedestrians still are struck with frequency along Queens Blvd and they need our help too.

Queens Blvd doesn't actually run through Gennaro's district but Asif Rahman, the young man who was struck and killed along Queens Blvd, was one of his constituents. He is responding to pleas from Lizi Rahman, Asif's mother, to do something about Queens Blvd. And after all, this is not some little street in one neighborhood, this is Queens Blvd. Changes here will affect everyone in Queens for the better, whether or not it runs through ones neighborhood.

What we want more than anything is for people to come out to the press conference and start the campaign strong. The whole thing shouldn't be more than an hour. I think it's fair to say that it's because of blogs like yours that this ball has gotten rolling so quickly. A small mention was made about revisiting Queens Blvd and that spark very quickly turned into a fire.

Getting there: Take the subway to Grand Ave. or the Q60. While you're in the area, grab brunch at Pop Diner. Please show up.

Thursday, July 24, 2008

10 Day Forecast: Poor MTA Service

Whenever the MTA floats a fare hike around, you can be sure there will be poor service around the time the board gets a chance to vote. Delayed trains, no air-conditioning, couple of more bums sleeping in the cars. It's the MTA's way of letting you know what you can expect if you deny them.

You're going to hear a lot about Congestion Pricing being the elixir to all the problems. Just remember, the CP money was supposed to go in some imaginary "lock-box" to pay for NEW buses and rail cars. The MTA problems are due to a deficit borne of EXISTING operations. So when the MTA blames CP not going through (how could they depend on that) which they are doing, it wouldn't have done a thing to help the deficit.

To relocate cars from a tiny sliver of the city is stupid policy anyway. I am all for reducing traffic and pollution, but CITY-WIDE. Put tolls up on all the highways and prove that you care about all citizens. There is as much traffic Eastbound on the Grand Central every morning as West. To claim pollution only happens in Manhattan is despicable and unbelievably self-centered.

But anyway, expect terrible MTA service until it gets its cash. Sorry for the inconvenience, we will be moving soon.

Wednesday, July 23, 2008

Calling All Non Profits

The Department of Transportation recently announced it was giving away public plazas to qualifying areas.

From the DOT site:
Sites will be selected based on community initiative and need. Eligible community groups can propose new plaza sites for their neighborhoods through a competitive application process. The City will prioritize sites that are in neighborhoods that lack open space, and will look to partner with community groups that commit to manage these spaces.

The city will pay for design and construction, the non profit will pay for maintenance. But since we already have the Doe fund in the area, that shouldn't too big an expense.

In collaboration with the Department of Small Business Services (SBS), NYC DOT will work with appropriate community-based organizations to establish long-term, formal partnerships for each plaza.

In other words, all you community based organizations - this means you Chamber of Commerce, or Forest Hills Community & Civic, - here's a chance to create a public seating area in a place that desperately needs a place to sit - Austin Street. The City will pay for it, how often do you get that offer?

71st Rd (pictured above) would be perfect. The city makes a point that applications that do not involve traffic pattern changes will be welcomed. So, 70th rd is pretty much out. 71st Rd (across from the Windsor front entrance) is wide open, plenty shady, and at most, you lose a few parking spaces. There aren't that many business on that street anyway, except that huge Liberty Travel.
The street traffic would remain unchanged.

You could have small concerts there, tables, chairs, paint that big ugly brick wall, whatever. Just keep it close to Austin Street and away from Queens Blvd to make sure Austin Street shoppers can use it and not just people waiting for the bus.

Time is of the essence. I've sent the information to Leslie Brown, but don't know if it's a priority to Chamber.
Applications are due via email on August 19th at 6pm

Here is a map of areas the city deems needy of open space in red (it's hard to tell what the areas are) and areas that are in the "pipeline" in blue (areas that are already getting plazas). Guess what borough has the most plazas in the pipeline.

Here is the application:

The NYC Plaza Program is open to all nonprofit organizations in any area of the City.

Applicants must be:

  • Nonprofit organizations operating in any of the five boroughs of New York City;
  • Incorporated in New York State and compliant with annual State and Federal filing requirements for nonprofit organizations;
  • Certified tax exempt under Internal Revenue Service Code Section 501(c)(3);
  • Located near the geographical target area of the proposed plaza

How's Whitepot Plaza sound? Don't like it? Okay, just send in the application all your community organizations and you can name it. Just get it done. Austin Street needs a place to congregate.

Sunday, July 20, 2008

Wash Out

Hardcore FoHi 72 readers will remember last year's ranting about the huge 24 hour car wash banners on the railroad trestle crossing Metropolitan Ave near Trader Joe's.

You'll be happy to know, they're gone. Just a bare trestle remains, which is 1000 times better than these low-rent eyesores straight out of Rt. 1 in Bridgeport.

Thanks to whoever was responsible.

Previous links from last summer:
The Ugliest Billboard in New York?
Progress, Queens-Style

Friday, July 18, 2008

Schwinn Schwinn Situation?

Forest Hills Ledger has a nice write up on the latest effort to bring a bike lane to Queens Blvd. FoHi 72's newest friend Mike Heffron weighed in. . .

"We're in the very, very beginning stages" of planning the lane, said Transportation Alternatives Queens Committee Chairman Mike Heffron. "We're aiming for all of Queens Boulevard to have a lane."

Read the excellent
Alex Christodoulides piece here:

Also, please see Mickey T's informative write up on her trip to the Transportation Alternatives meeting here:

Her post follows a nice comment she made on this blog about a bike ride though Queens she recently took with her dishwasher.

I've written the DOT commissioner. I encourage you to do the same. Better yet, join Mickey T next time she goes to the TA Queens Chapter meeting. Check out for info.

Welcome Curbed Readers!

Got my first Curbed pick up today. I've gotten links but never a full piece.

Ever on the lookout to make Queens fit the stereotype they want it to be, they misinterpreted my Starbucks closing post as me lamenting the loss. The stereotype being Queens people are desperate for any kind of upscale validation. As if Forest Hills is Bushwick.

Am I supposed to be honored they took a shot? I'm sure if I had a way to check traffic that my page views went way up, but who cares. Everyone knows my website is funnier than theirs, that's all the validation I need.

Read their take here:

Barbara Corcoran on FoHi

NY Daily News featuring Barbara Corcoran

Is Forest Hills a smart buy for real estate investors?

Q I live in New York City and want to buy a two- to three-family home as an investment. Should I look in Forest Hills?

A Forest Hills, located in the heart of Queens, is an idyllic New York neighborhood of Tudor mansions, adorable little condominiums, and a handful of two- and three-family homes that fetch very good rental rates.

The best news of all is that its proximity to midtown Manhattan (less than a 30-minute commute) makes it attractive to sophisticated Manhattanites who are looking to move into the boroughs.

Forest Hills also has great shopping, with a nice mix of big stores, interesting boutiques, bookstores and some of the best bagel shops this side of the Mississippi.

Three paragraphs and inaccuracies in each one. We have no adorable condos (great co-ops and single families however), it takes 12 minutes to Manhattan on the LIRR, and there are better bagel stores in Mississippi. However, the bagel shop crack might be realtor code to warn people about all the jews.

From the Inbox - Jazz Is Back


Jazz Thursdays In The Hills…Forest Hills

The Shop Forest Hills Jazz Thursdays Summer Concert Series

Jazz Thursdays concerts are the only all-Jazz concert series offered in Queens, free to the public. The Shop Forest Hills Jazz Thursdays Summer Concerts feature headlining Jazz artists, and are a cool way to spend a hot summer night groovin’ to the music and taking in all that is offered in Forest Hills. Have a delicious meal, do a little shopping and end the evening outdoors listening to great music. The Jazz Thursdays concerts are held right in the heart of the Forest Hills shopping district.

The Forest Hills Chamber Of Commerce and president and concert producer Leslie Brown bring the community together with sizzling Jazz to encouraging a fun mix of commerce and culture. Forest Hills invites residents from all 5 boroughs to come out and enjoy Jazz Thursdays in the Hills!

2008 Concert Dates:

Thursday August 7th

Thursday August 14th

Thursday August 21st

Time: 7:00 PM to 9:30 PM (same time for all 3 dates)

Location: 70th Road between Austin Street and Queens Blvd, Forest Hills

(same location for all 3 dates)

Admission Free

Seating Available

More Information Call:718 268-6565 or visit or

Sponsored By The Forest Hills Chamber Of Commerce

Ice Cream Store

One place that's not closing is Eddie's Sweet Shop. Channel 11 went there this morning.

More Starbucks Closing Than Originally Thought

According to NYC Website "A Pile of Dog Bones" a more complete list of Starbucks closing is floating around. Read the story, here:

None of the Forest Hills locations got pinched, but Atlas Park and the Stop & Shop Glendale shopping center are biting the dust, according to the list.

Here's the list in PDF form:

If true, Atlas Park can survive no big deal. There's yuppie coffee and seating in Borders and Amish Market. The Stop/Shop center takes a big hit. That big green Starbucks sign with the outdoor seating gave that place a validity that neighbors Dress Barn and Petland Discouts simply don't.

And to all the inexplicable Atlas Park haters, be careful what you wish for. There's only so many Starbucks and Borders to go around before it becomes Value Depot and Family Dollar.

1:05pm update: NY Times is reporting it too. Guess it's true.

Thursday, July 17, 2008

You Don't Have to Go Home, But You Can't Stay At The Shoe Bar

Got confirmation that it is the Shoe Bar that's in that broker ad. Great location, on the corner of the Irish Cottage. 72nd Ave and Austin St. Let's hope for something good.

A few doors down, it looks like Games Workshop has closed its doors for good. I reported that the lease was up for sale last year, but mistook the store for Game Stop. I got some heat from enraged nerds, which I deserved. I did note after the nasty comments I got that the store does obviously care about its product. Many times you would see employees in front of the store talking with customers about who knows what, but they knew their stuff and were into it.

More importantly, it was nerds knowing their strength, being nerds. They weren't preaching about sustainability, rocking out to Death Cab for Cutie, getting into everyone's way on the train with their ipod on. No, they were talking fantasy dragon games. Now that's a nerd confident in his own glasses.

Tennis. . .Everyone!

This is a great event. I went last year and it's something that just can't happen in other NYC neighborhoods. From WSTC's Tournament Director Dina Ingersole:

The tournament is Tuesday-Saturday, Aug. 19-23. Matches start at 10am Tues, Wed & Thurs, at 1pm on Friday and at 2pm on Saturday. Admission to the finals on Saturday is $10 per person (at the door only). Admission is free all other days.

For more information call 718-268-2300 x235. The tennis stadium is located at 1 Tennis Place.

Wednesday, July 16, 2008

First Take: Grading the Newcomers

Have not been to these establishments, but grades are based on overall impact on neighborhood.

YogoMonster. Fresh frozen yogurt with lowercase logo with the funny things over the "o". Straight outta Park Slope. Great addition to the neighborhood. Loses half a grade due to the structure it's located in.

Grade: A

NY Diamond Boutique. One diamond dealer gets replaced by another. Neighborhood neutral.

Grade: C

MB Pharmacy (111-15 Queens Blvd). Grand opening sign, though always seems closed. Big electric flashy sign in window, whose only saving grace is that it probably annoys the shit out of Beach Bum occupants. Windows uninvitingly covered with huge posters.

Grade: C-

Last Call at The Shoe Bar?

"Liquidation! Everything Must Go!" sign has gone up in The Shoe Bar window. And this ad appeared on craigslist recently:

750 sf CORNER store with large basement on busy busy austin street.......rare opportunity to lease a CORNER store on one of the busiest shopping streets in new york...........
call for more information.........
718-767-0388 or 516 641 0076............

No, it's not the only corner store on Austin Street, but there aren't many.

Sunday, July 13, 2008

Bagels Store Exists, For Sale


Reply to:
Date: 2008-07-10, 11:58AM EDT


Never heard of it. . .

Friday, July 11, 2008

Getting Melinda's Help

Keeping on the Queens Blvd theme, an excerpt from either a letter or speech (it's not clear) from Council Member Melinda Katz shortly after being named chair of the Land Use Committee in 2002.

In my district, another concern I have is the safety of Queen's Boulevard where 76 people have died since 1993. In recent months, there have been some good changes made. There are new lights on 62nd Street and a shorter amount of distance for pedestrians to walk across the street. We have also added more intersections so that people no longer need to walk several blocks before crossing the streets in most of the major areas. In the long run, the entire boulevard needs to be redesigned and reconstructed. Until that happens, I will continue working to make Queens Boulevard safer for the millions of people who use it everyday.
(if link doesn't work, try cut and paste)

Now, earlier in the letter, Katz mentions one of her goals was to build schools on the Metropolitan Ave. site - and she gets an A+ for getting that done. Now, with her time in office winding down, wouldn't it be great for her legacy to fulfill her last goal, a serious effort towards a redesigned and reconstructed Queens Blvd.

We will be following this for a while since it finally seems to be getting some traction - with much thanks to Mike Heffron from Transportation Alternatives.

The Song Is Over

Went in to AJ's last night to inquire whether Sal would be singing since it's Thursday. Answer no. Here's how it might have gone down at the closing:

Henry Huang: Well, here' s the check. Five million as promised.

Sal: Thanks, but there is one item of business on the table.

Huang: The pizzeria, we'll keep it open for the time being. You're right, it's very successful.

Sal: No, that that. You know, Thursday nights?

Huang: Thursday nights. . . Oh no, Sal, not that again.

Sal: People love it! It's an institution.

Huang: Okay, how about you get to keep the building and sing all you want, and I keep the $5 million.

Sal: Well, I guess there's always Karoke at the Irish Cottage.

Thursday, July 10, 2008

QB Bike Lane Part 2

From yesterday's Metro Newspaper:

Manhattan. New York City and Burlington, Vt., were the only Northeast cities to be recognized as a “bicycle friendly community,” and in a press release yesterday, the Department of Transportation touted the progress it’s made over the past 12 months. The DOT has installed 1,000 bike parking racks and four protected parking shelters, giving away 12,000 bike helmets and 200,000 redesigned bike maps, and installing 70 new bike lane miles. Next year, the DOT will create 90 new lane miles.

Then I walk down the streets of Forest Hills and almost get run over by bikes because they understandably don't want to get run over by cars. Forest Hills is completely behind the curve of the NYC biking initiative - none of those 160 bike lane miles are planned for Forest Hills as far as I know. It's something we need work on because when it comes to bikes, the DOT thinks Forest Hills is still inhabited only by elderly Jewish Q60 riders.

That brings us to Monday July 14th. That's the day the Transportation Alternatives holds its next meeting. From Queens Committee Chair, Mike Heffron:

The Queens Committee meets the second Monday of each month at the Greater Astoria Historical Society at 35-20 Broadway 4th Fl in Astoria from 6:30p-8p. Our next meet is July 14th and you reach the Queens at with questions about the group.

If you don't know what Transportation Alternatives is, neither do I. It's got something to do with, which is in bed with Street Films, and is tied into the Livable Streets Movement, who knows. But they have a huge staff and great website and seem to have the DOT's number since every time they do a study, the DOT addresses the problem - dangerous intersections, peak rate meters, public plazas, everything (except Congestion Pricing).

Anyway on the July 14th agenda is a bike lane on Queens Blvd. Wouldn't it be great to bike down the center and get to the Kew Gardens theater or the Flagship Diner. Or the upcoming Century 21 in Rego Park? Or even all the way into the Museum of the Moving Image? It would mean so much to that deadly and depressing thoroughfare.

And if that's not enough, please read this recent comment as left by Asif Rahman's mother left on the "A Bike Lane on Queens Blvd" thread:

Blogger lizi_rahman said...

Hi, this is Asif's mother. As I mentioned earlier Asif always assured me there are bike lanes all over the city and he carried a bike lane map with him, I thought he was somewhat safe. But after his accident I was shocked to see there is no bike lane on Queens Blvd. If there was a bike lane, may be it would be a different story. Now I'm pressing to get a bike lane on Queens Boulevard for the safety of other bikers, but seems like I'm not going anywhere. I've collected signatures for a petition for a bike lane, met some councilmembers, wrote to department of transportation. Has anyone got an idea how can I make my voice heard?

So please make an attempt to join Mike on July 14th at 6:30. If you can't make it, please email him at and ask how to help. Mike, any details you have about the meeting and about the QB bike lane, please post in the comments or email me. Thanks.

Wednesday, July 9, 2008

E/F'in Unbearable

Here's the emailed response I got this morning from the MTA regarding the condition of the morning commute on the E/F line.

Our records confirm that track rehabilitation work is currently in effect on the E line near the 46th Street station until further notice. Due to the resultant track conditions, service on the E, F and V lines is operating with slow speed orders, 24-hours a day, 7-days a week, until the project’s completion. Although the actual work on the track is performed during the overnight period and weekends so that they will not pose a problem for the majority of our customers, the track is left in a "skeletonized" condition at all other times that restricts the operation of trains to 10 m.p.h. We expect an 8 to 10-minute delay while traveling through the area during the morning rush hour. Customers are advised to allow additional travel time. We have referred your e-mail to supervision in our Department of Subways for review.

Until further notice? Not good enough. This has gone on far too long (months!) and better preparations should have been made. 8 - 10 minute delay? Maybe on MTA time. This line is too important to too many people to try to hide major track work. Once again, terribly handled by the MTA - and this is the organization you want to trust with Congestion Pricing? Pretty soon, we'll all be driving into Manhattan.

Monday, July 7, 2008


Channel 2 has picked up on the Times story about the Bukharian mansions. See the story here.

I think the news departments see all the comments on here and Queens Crap and say that this is something that has legs.

I really hope this takes off, if nothing else than to see our Council Member, and head of the Land Use Committee, try to explain why she's never even mentioned what is obviously a major issue to her constituency.

Has the contributions of the Bukharians to Katz - and there definitely have been many - influenced her action (or non-action) of these out-of character and potentially environmentally damaging structures? To me, that's the real story. As far as the houses themselves, it's hard to argue with the Bukharian rabbi when he says he's raising property value. $1.7 million gets you a hell of a lot more on Long Island than a ranch house on a busy street.

Tuesday, July 1, 2008

Does It Mean A Thing If It Has Got That Huang?

The AJ's sale is closed, thanks to HowieMandel over on Queens Central for the tip. Looks like Sal is taking a permanent vacation and we can let the speculation begin.

About the buyer. Pay attention, this gets confusing and boring:

The company is listed as Broadway Enterprises at 36-09 Main St. Flushing, Suite 3A.

According to this document, 36-09 Main St. Suite 3A is occupied by a developer named Henry Huang.

Henry Huang is also listed in this document at 36-09, #3A, but under a different business name:

And finally the Juniper Civic News reports that notorious developer Tommy Huang has a son named Henry, who is also the President of the company. The office address? Yes you guessed it, 36-09 Main St. (however, no suite number and it's a large office building).

So the AJ's building might have been sold to Tommy Huang's company, which has drawn the ire of Queens local newsers for never seeing a Fedder's building he didn't like. My guess is there's more than one Henry Huang in Flushing so it's still speculation until we can get confirmation.

However, if true, Sal sold out to the highest bidder, one who has an awful reputation in the borough, and this "vacation" and other stern denials was a bunch of hooey. But, hey, he sang on Thursdays.