Tuesday, December 30, 2008

Danny's Rockin' Eve

Nothing to do tomorrow night? Danny Brown's is hosting a New Year's Eve buffet dinner & cocktail hour, complete with with dancing to a live band. Reservations required.


Don't Thank Me, Thank Q

Q Thai is now offering a three course dinner price fixed at $25 Monday - Thursday.

Cop Out

Disturbing story in the New York Post tomorrow regarding the closing of the NYPD's Queens overnight Subway unit.


An NYPD unit that patrols the borough's trains at night is on the verge of closing, the Post has learned - a move critics fear will make Queens subway travel still more dangerous.

"Of course they say that it'll be the same manpower that way, but that's b.s.," one police source told the Post. "It's the equivalent of closing a station house."

"That's stupid, we need safety in the subways," said outraged Trisha Mondal, 18.

"I always feel more comfortable when police are around," the Jamaica resident said at the Forest Hills-71st Avenue station.


Seeing R Believing

Thanks to the reader who emailed me this photo of the R160 being tested on the local track.

Unique Viewer Mail - December 2008

Hey, just wanted to drop you a quick email to tell you I really enjoy your site. I've been here in forest hills for about ten years now. The closings of so many of the mom and pop shops that once defined our neighborhood as a destination area to be proud of saddens me so much, especially when replaced by such eyesores as dollar chic. Your knowledgeable reporting and advocacy for the area gives me hope that all is not lost for the place I am still proud to call my home. Thanks for caring. Viva le forest hills!

Thanks for reading. Dollar Chic is hideous, but every now and then a recent opening like Oko is a definite upgrade over the hair salon it replaced. Cheeburger is a chain, but it's clean and friendly and the new aged steakhouse has a great look to it so far. All is not lost - in fact, I think once the economy rebounds, we're in great shape.

Hi FoHi72-

Thought you might find this article interesting. It's not necessarily about Forest Hills in specific, but given your prior disdain on your blog for congestion pricing, it would be curious to see what you think of this. I'm thinking of writing a related blog post on my own blog.

New York state plans soft drink 'obesity tax'

Good luck with your blog - send me the link when you've gotten a few posts down. I think the obesity tax is silly. No one wants to be obese and taxing people into better behavior is a scary path to embark on. However, I would love to see a dog tax. These animals bite people, bark all night, and crap constantly on the sidewalk. And when their owners do clean it up (which they never get all of), they sometimes just throw the bag in the gutter. They offer absolutely no benefit to anyone but the owner and cause inconvenience to everyone else - especially those of us who wear decent shoes. Tax em. The bigger the dog, the bigger the tax.


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I'm sorry but I got a guy for my Canadian land deals.

Monday, December 29, 2008

R You Next?

Some of the commenters on this recent you tube say the yard workers are just playing with the sign. But that's a bit far fetched. So are residents of the four digit district in for a surprise on their way to work when they get back in January? First Terra Sana, now this.

Sushi renOHvate

Doors were open at Sushi Oh this weekend and the place is torn apart. However, it looked like renovations, not a store closing. All the big items remained but the walls were all torn up and wires were hanging down from the ceiling.

Saturday, December 27, 2008

Not Sweet on Caroline

Click here for a sneak preview of the New York Times interview with Caroline Kennedy to be published tomorrow (Sunday).

If you read between the lines, or the lines themselves, it looks like it was a disaster. Best line:

. . .when asked Saturday morning to describe the moment she decided to seek the Senate seat, Ms. Kennedy seemed irritated by the question and said she couldn’t recall.

“You guys ever think about writing for a woman’s magazine?” she asked the reporters. “I thought you were the crack political team.”


More concerning than her Bloombergian contempt of the press, she couldn't name one issue where she disagreed with the democratic party OR the Mayor. To me, that reeks of someone who really doesn't know the issues.

As I've said before, the press' role in this outdated process is more important than ever with no debates, voting record, or campaign speeches to learn about the candidate.

Wednesday, December 24, 2008

Post 100

Merry Christmas.

C-Town Next to Natural

How does that place stay in business? It must own the building.

Sidewalk Door to Chikurin's Basement

Always open. Only a matter of time before someone falls down and kills themself.

Karen Koslowitz

Big NY Times article about how she wants to be our city councilmember again. Work with the Tennis Club to reopen the stadium to concerts. They haven't had one since Koslowitz left the council. Do that and you've got my vote. Huge win for local business and residents.

The New E Train

I saw it tonight as it passed by me. Wanted to ride it but my local train was stuck between 67th Ave and Continental. That is one long stop.

Ascan to Continental

I can do it on foot in about four minutes, three if I really have to catch the train. I won't run for a train.


Before you go to Circuit City and deal with the wall of noise, check out Staples. They have some pretty cheap electronics at the Continental location and there's never a line.

At Circuit City the only criteria shoppers seem to have is how loud the bass output can go. That, and if there's a lot of lights on the display panel. I will shoot myself if I worked there.

Family Restaurant Packed

Nice to see on Christmas Eve. If an Italian restaurant can't get bring 'em in on Christmas eve, it won't be around for another one.

Twin Donuts

That building looks worse than ever. I saw it today and it looks like it's about to collapse.

Getting More Active

What's a good cause for 2009? What does Forest Hills really need. If anyone wants to start some kind of group, let me know and I"ll promote here.

Laundry Room

Sometimes I think I would like a house because of the washer/dryer, but you're talking about four loads taking four hours at least. With a laundry room, you can get it all done in an hour. The problem is when you just want to wash a couple of things. Also, when people don't take their shit out of the machine. The grace period is ten minutes.

Queens Palace

There used to be a Chinese place where I think BJ's drugs is now by the 112th. It was the best in Forest Hills. East Ocean Palace is good, but every now and they they'll hit you with 3/4 full containers but still get you for $13.95 per dish. Uncool.

PS 101 & 196

Just a reminder to anyone with any kind of say in the Department of Education. So goes 101 and 196, so goes Forest Hills. If the parents are pissed about something, I suggest you listen to them and try your best to fix it.

Traffic Light at 76th and Austin (At Austin St. Park)

I've often thought about lobbying for a traffic light at the intersection of 76th and Austin, at the Austin Street park. But then I worry that there would be too much honking when the light turns green and with the idiotic drivers not being able to comprehend that the first car has to move, then the second, then the third. . .

Austin Street traffic in general in the very kid-friendly stretch is too fast and too heavy.


How about the Forest Hills Chamber of Commerce arrange a $1 trolley to run Austin to Metropolitan. I'd take it three times a week and so would hundreds of others.

Don't Block the Box

Laughable. People block the Continental/Austin box almost every light cycle. Just prevent turns during peak traffic times or put an arrow there.


I see engine 305 more often than 151 (the ladder one), but 151 is ususally the one on the way to a fire.

Chick N' Green Where Are You?

That Tossed-like salad bar that was supposed to open in November on 72nd Rd across from Queen of Martyrs still has paper over all the windows. Victim of tight credit? Or just ordinary delays.

Natural Market

If you haven't noticed the smaller lines, you aren't looking in the right Natural.

Midway Theater

Last movie I saw there, Life Aquatic with Steve Zassou. All style, no substance.

Day 6 of No Shovelling

Via email:

East side of Ascan near bakery next to LIRR tracks - about 20 feet of ice b/t the barbershop and the LIRR tunnel which my 3 year old fell on a couple days ago. Not sure whose responsibility it is to shovel there (LIRR?) but it is a hazard.


When it gets below 30 degrees, you can't eat there. Half the tables are six feet from the door.

Feng's Garden?

Feng's garbage. But if you like your chinese portions big, this place is for you. Eight dollars gets you more twice cooked pork than I've ever seen.

Swimming Pool At Flushing Meadows

How is it? Thinking of joining for the year.

Holiday Tipping

Lots of talk about cutting down on tips this year. My advice? Keep it the same as every year.

Cops Should Have Been at Continental/Austin Today

For all the times I see the police hanging out at that intersection, there were needed today with all the traffic. But there weren't any. I saw an ambulance trying to get through it for at least three light cycles.


I think they're getting money funneled to them through Goldman Sachs' TARP credit fund. They have a very close relationship.

Church Parking

Sundays after the late morning mass lets out is the best time to find parking in AQUA.

Four Ones

Can't give them my business anymore. Too much honking, too many red lights ran.

Mayor Cranky

His friend Caroline Kennedy is actually getting assessed by the media - a completely necessary procedure when there's no election. But the Mayor thinks it's unnecceary. Quote from the 12/21 Daily News:

"The governor should make a decision reasonably quickly because this is just getting out of control," Bloomberg said. "Everybody's focusing on the wrong things."

Everybody's focusing on the wrong things? You know the man's getting cranky when people don't do exactly as he wants them to.

Tuesday, December 23, 2008

Chop Chop

This is Forest Park. Most people love the fact that this thicket of trees resembling an actual forest can be found right here in Queens. However, it's not perfect in there. Reports of some un-parklike activities have swirled around Forest Park for years. Some just avoid the forest part altogether due to rumors of things like roaming wild dogs (which I have never seen).

With green space at a premium, what if we made a radical change to some of it (not all).

What if we cut down about a quarter of the trees and opened it up - ala Central Park or Juniper Valley. It's not a decision to take lightly as once the trees are gone, they're gone. But as blasphemus as it sounds, I would not miss the forest part that much. But some nice well-planned green fields with amenities, that's something I can get used to.

Grand Concourse Finished - Queens Blvd Next???

With the completion of the Grand Concourse redesign project, Queens residents hope the DOT will look towards QB next.

The ugly speedway which divides neighborhoods went through safety improvements in 2001, which consisted of putting metal gates between intersections to keep people from jaywalking. Steven Melnick's group was also at the forefront of planting intermittent small trees between Union Turnpike and Woodhaven Blvd.

The small trees and safety improvements are welcomed, but a complete redesign is necessary.

Word of advice to NYC - forget the High Line for now. It's a new public-funded $200 million dollar park overlooking a new public funded $500 million dollar park. Let the insanely wealthy property owners who stand to benefit immensely pay for the High Line (they already got the beautiful Hudson River Park for free).

It's time to put some of those hundreds of millions towards Queens Blvd which affects exponentially more citizens.

Grand Concourse Announcement: http://www.nyc.gov/html/dot//html/pr2008/pr08_058.shtml

Shine E

It's true:

New York City Transit yesterday began rolling out new subway cars on the E line which feature automated announcements, digital information boards and a screen that scrolls upcoming station names.
Other subway lines, including the L and W, already have the cars.

The new subway cars, called R160s, have brighter interiors and a smoother ride. Most of the cars along the line date to the 1960s.


Jazz Wednesdays @ Bonfire Grill

Bonfire Grill has begun Jazz Wednesdays, where a 3-piece band plays beginning at 8pm. I wonder if they know John Coltrane's "Stick To a Basic Menu in C#"

More poor shovelling reports

West side of Contintenental Avenue between Payless and the subway entrance.

Sarah Kriek boutique - nice way to welcome yourselves into the neighborhood guys.

Vacant Beach Bum Tanning space being marketed by DAKOTA REALTY 4U!!!!

Added via email:

You gotta see what is going on by the 112th. Can't expect them to enforce the clean sidewalk law if they don't take care of their own walkway. Try walking on Yellowstone from the LIRR tracks to the 112th. You're better off wearing ice skates.

Keep them coming in to foresthillsblog@gmail.com. It's been five days since the snow fell, it takes five minutes to throw down some salt.

Monday, December 22, 2008

They Cut The Score in Half

Tutoring center Score has been halfed, with the vacant adjacent space for rent.


Found myself on the subway a lot this weekend. Every single E train was the one with the big blue E circle in the front (as opposed to the usual little E on top of the train).

Could be that they just take the regular E's out of service on the weekend to clean and maintain them, but maybe it's some kind of test for the new R160 E trains which are rumored to come as early as Spring 2009. I'm not a train buff but common sense tells you the overcrowded Queens Blvd line deserve some kind of new train. But the MTA is not in the common sense business (Fulton Street Station).

Donde Esta Pollo Inka?

Pollo Inka at the at the 75th Ave subway stop still has newspapers on its windows. The logo on the awning is very similar to the popular California chain El Pollo Inka, but isn't exactly the same.

The California logo is a chicken roasting other chickens. The Forest Hills one is of a chicken holding a cooked chicken on a platter. The colors of both are red and yellow.

Another reason to Love Trader Joe's

$1.49 for 100 coffee filters. 50 will run you $2 at Trade Fair.

Worst Shovelling on Austin?

Boston Chicken. Lazy narrow strip at one of the busiest corners in Forest Hills.

Christmas Lights

Informal survey says that Kessel Street between Ascan and Yellowstone is tops. Post in the comments if you have a better stretch.

Post a thon.

Let's try to hit that 100 post by Christmas goal. Expect lots of meaningless posts. But do not adjust your browser, this is not the Queens Central Forums. Okay, let's go. . .

Digital TV is coming - great for Forest Hills apartment dwellers who don't want cables running through their prewar walls. Pick up a free converter box here https://www.dtv2009.gov/

Yes, you'll just get the over the air channels, but for a bedroom tv, that's fine.

Thursday, December 18, 2008

More Class

Also in the Queens Chronicle, they weigh in on the class size issue - with a quote shouted out from the packed hallways of PS 101:

Queens schools are no strangers to large class sizes. At P.S. 101 in Forest Hills, two of the first-grade classes have 31 students and another has 30. A fourth, a gifted and talented class, is capped at 25. Some parents are fighting to get the cap removed from that class so the students can be equally distributed or have the designation removed altogether.

“To put 31 first-graders in a room is absolutely ridiculous,” said Deborah Dillingham, the president of the Parents’ Association.

Nice work, Caroline.


Going Around In Circles

Story in the Queens Chronicle about the Forest Park Carousel. The Parks Department is looking for someone to operate the concession stand/area.

Quote: Maria Thompson of Woodhaven became attracted to the carousel almost 41 years ago, shortly after moving here from the Bronx and taking her young daughter to the park. “I never saw such happiness on children’s faces,” Thompson said.

“The music, the horses, the whole atmosphere. It’s like toyland.” She said the site’s condition has deteriorated over recent years and the hours of operation have been inconsistent, something both she and the Parks Department hope changes next year.

The city wants the new operator to update the carousel and its surrounding area to a degree — put in some new picnic tables, fix up some of the horses and maybe add some new lighting — but its primary goal is to get someone who knows how to advertise the location and get people into the park.


It's a great carousel, but like a lot of Queens parks, it is neglected. Burned out light bulbs remain unchanged, it's dark and somewhat depressing, and there is an inexplicable amount of broken equipment inside the carousel's tent for storage. Sometimes it looks more like a junkyard than a merry go round.

Here's hoping they find a vendor to clean it up - it really is a great carousel and the one in Flushing Meadows park is just too freaking fast.

Moving Trains

On the 5:51 evening train leaving Penn Station yesterday, a homeless-looking guy got on. He told the conductor that didn't have any money or a ticket, and was causing a bit of a racket but nothing dangerous or anything. No one really paid him any mind as he talked to himself briefly and then kept quiet.

But one man got up and moved to another car. The man was well dressed wearing a suede fedora - the kind middle aged men wear to look cool (I'm sure there was a bluetooth there somewhere). He was clearly moving to get away from our homeless looking friend.

And on our well dressed man's lapel? An 'Obama' pin.

Now, isn't part of Obama's message one of unity? 'Yes we can' and all that.If anything, I would expect an Obama supporter (especially one proud enough to wear a pin months after the election) offer this annoying but harmless person some kind of assistance, or at least a smile - not run away to another part of the train.

So how much of Obama's support is just phonies following the crowd (like Apple computer fans) and how many really believe he's going to change things?

I bought into it, but I wish he would make some kind of interesting cabinet pick. President-elect Obama - you can do whatever you want - let's mix it up already!

Wednesday, December 17, 2008

Class Size Matters

The Daily News thinks class size is going to grow in the economic downturn. They blame it on budget cuts, but I think it'll be even worse than they predict, as families pull kids out of private schools.


Quote: The goal this year for kindergarten through third grade was an average of 20.5 students per class, and the current average is 21.4.

21.4? Where was PS 101 at last check, 32? 33?

Lazy Gardens

Maybe it's the cold weather, but I've been noticing a lot of cars with Forest Hills Gardens stickers parking right by the train station in the morning and it clearing out in the evening. Are there people who really drive the half mile (at most) to the station or are people selling their stickers?

Sushi Oh-pen Part II?

Though the doors have been closed at Sushi Oh for about a month, a document filed to the buildings department indicates they are just fixing a bathroom door. Who knew Sushi Oh had a bathroom?

The only interesting thing on the application is the business name - Sushi Time, Inc. Sushi Time, Inc is has two locations in midtown on the East side, so maybe this will be a third.

Christmas Displays on Austin Street

Better than expected.

Most surprising? The elaborate nativity scene at Renegade Hair Salon. I knew after seeing the shop at Halloween that they'd do something good for the holidays, but did not expect them to go biblical.

Others worth mentioning:

Q, Thai

Post Gear Shift

With the 100 post by Christmas guarantee in place, and Christmas fast approaching, it's time to write up a series of quick hits to get them all in.

First - the 18% tax on soda.

If taxing people into state-acceptable behavior is the goal, where is the sense in taxing sweet sodas and health club memberships?

Monday, December 15, 2008

The Kennedy Layup

The decision whether or not to support Caroline Kennedy's fake run for US Senator couldn't get any easier for NYC Councilmembers. Here's exactly what each one should say:

"I cannot say that it takes 12 years to effectively run a city council district, but you can master the US Capitol in a year and a half. If Caroline Kennedy 'can do anything' like Mayor Bloomberg claims, she can run for the office like everyone else."

So Far Seo Good

A local food blogger visits the high-profile restaurant that took over the Ran space on Metropolitan:


There are eight tables in the front of Katsuno (seven of which were full tonight), and two semi-private tables in back. Tonight, people around me were indulging in oshitashi, sea urchin sashimi, and chawan mushi.


Almost two years ago, the New York Times published an editorial so offensive, I canceled my subscription. An excerpt:

The report, called PlaNYC 2030, is intended to be an important guidepost for the city’s future. Done right, it could become a global model and an important piece of Mr. Bloomberg’s legacy.

To get there, though, the mayor will have to deal aggressively with a vexing problem, traffic congestion. If that piece of the plan falls short, the rest of Mr. Bloomberg’s vision won’t much matter. In just a couple of decades, New York is expected to add nearly a million more people. To have any hope of keeping people moving, the city will need to take real and substantial action to unclog its roads — including some form of congestion fee and other disincentives to driving on the busiest streets.

What the editorial, in its self-obsessed hysteria, is saying is that Plan NYC - which calls for more parks, schools, and healthcare accessibility - is meaningless. Only Manhattan traffic matters.

On Monday the city releases a new traffic study The NY Times got a sneak peak, it reports:

The difference is even greater when the focus is on the core commercial district of Manhattan, south of 60th Street. From 2003 to 2007, the study found, traffic entering that area fell by 3 percent. During the same period, transit ridership into the same zone rose 12 percent.

Surprised? You shouldn't be - I've been saying here since the beginning that traffic is not getting worse in Manhattan and the problem of traffic congestion should have been looked at citywide - something an environmental review would have certainly done. Hopefully the Times and the Mayor will calm down a bit on their irresponsible crusade to relocate traffic to outer borough transit hubs now that it looks like we're going in the right direction.

Sunday, December 14, 2008

Hot Bonfire

Add one to the plus side of the polarized Bonfire reviews. This Hunter College publication loved it.

However, a house must is the Thai Chicken Skewers marinated in honey plum soy sauce dressing and served with peanut sauce, and the Grilled Duck Breast also glazed in a plum sauce and served with string beans and mashed potatoes. The home made sauces are a chef specialty that adds an extra punch to the already delightful dishes.

"We just want to bring good food, a good place to hang out, and good drinks to this neighborhood," commented New York native Chef Debbie Rose.


Grilled Duck Breast in a glazed plum sauce might be a bit ambitious for a place where even the chef just wants 'a good place to hang out'. But even though it overreaches sometimes, I think Bonfire Grill is one of the best looking restaurants on Austin Street and is great for the neighborhood. You have to imagine its popularity influenced the lame-ass Modus to flip to the much more useful Tap House.

Tough Times

Another Times piece today looks at holiday tipping. A FoHi doorman got in a quote:

Doormen know that residents are doing uncomfortable calculations this year. Martin Hidalgo, a doorman at a condominium building on Queens Boulevard in Forest Hills, said some residents have hinted that they will not be as generous as in past years.

“They say, ‘Maybe this year you’re going to get less than last year,’ ” Mr. Hidalgo said. “They say it’s because of the stock market.”

He has done some uncomfortable calculations himself. He said he is expecting less — about $3,500, or roughly half of what his Christmas tips usually total. “If $20 comes my way, that’s fine,” he said. “The main thing is my salary and benefits.”

If he ususally gets $7 k at a condo on QB, it's got to be the Pinnacle. I don't think the Windsor has enough apartments to pay out $7000. Martin, if you're a reader, please email the blog after Christmas and let us know how you made out.

Thursday, December 11, 2008

Hurtin' Austin

Excellent article in the Queens Ledger about Congressman Weiner's press conference/walk down Austin Street to chat up local storeowners (next time how 'bout giving a fellow Mets fan a heads up).

Money Quote: “Business has been slow over the last two months,” said Michael Voulgaris of the Austin House Diner. “I don’t see a lot of people on the street, and I’m seeing a lot of businesses close. People are losing business. It’s tough for everybody.”

If it sounds familiar, it's because you read about it here three weeks ago.


Tuesday, December 9, 2008

GM = Gone Mobile?

$3000 +++++ Vacant lot Queens Blvd (forest hills)
Reply to: mailto:hous-950282589@craigslist.org?subject=$3000%20+++++%20Vacant%20lot%20%20Queens%20Blvd%20(forest%20%20hills) [?]Date: 2008-12-08, 5:29PM EST
60.56 X 31.25 Lot. Used To A Car Dealership. 1890 Sqft great for paking of CAR LOTS
Location: forest hills

This Craigslist ad probably isn't for the little satillite lot in front of HB Chevrolet, but how many car dealerships are there on Queens Blvd in Forest Hills? Might be that ugly stretch near Blinds to Go.

The bigger question is with GM reportedly planning to cut about 1/3 of its dealerships, what happens to that huge space on 69th and Austin if GM cuts that one? The new upzone, prohibits car dealerships in that space - but HB is grandfathered in. But if HB goes out and with one of its subsidiaries owning the land, it could mean major changes for the west side.

Community Board 6 Meeting Tomorrow Night


7:30 PM


Culture Club

Recently, City Hall released the findings of an extensive report where residents were asked to grade their areas on wide array of features. Community Board 6 (Forest Hills & Rego Park) gave the city among the highest marks of all the community boards in the city, which is probably Mayor Bloomberg decided to have the press conference releasing the report at the Forest Hills Library.

Our response rate was above the city average and we gave the city higher than average marks in every area they asked about.

The biggest gripe FoHo/ReGo has? Lack of cultural activies.

While most other communities said their biggest complaint was street noise (which was #2 in our area), we said there wasn't enough culture. Which makes the press conference at the library so perfect.

The Forest Hills library, which is pretty much the only cultural center around here, is so lame compared to libraries in similar towns, I hope somebody from the city took notice. If you watch the press conference like I did, the theme throughout was "Now the we have the information, the question is what do we do with it."

I know the city's not going to build a BAM on Austin Street or a put a Museum of Natural History in the Beach Bum Tanning space. But surely the Mayor saw the tiny library (Barnes and Noble is about three times the size) and knew immediately why Forest Hills residents ranked lack of cultural activities as the top complaint about an otherwise great area.

Ideas that the city could implement that wouldn't cost that much:

  • Offer the West Side Tennis Club financial assistance to reopen the Tennis Stadium for classical music concerts. The ones at the bandshell at Forest Park are a joke with all the motorcycles and boom cars driving up Forest Park Lane.

  • Provide a shuttle bus (as is provided from Manhattan to/from BAM) from Continental Ave. to Queens Museum/Botanic Gardens in Flushing Meadows. Gettng there is a bitch without a car.

  • Provide assistance to expand Restaurant Row Jazz Thursdays, now currently three times a year (twice this year because of a rain storm), to every Thursday from Memorial Day to Labor Day.

  • Provide assistance for a Halloween Parade and Christmas concert 71st Rd.

Without the cultural infrastructure already in place as in Brooklyn and Manhattan, we will have to get ours in the street.

Monday, December 8, 2008

Continental Smells

Welcome mall-mainstay Perfumania to Continental Ave. No word on which storefront it will occupy.

Perfumania, America's leading perfumery chain, has retail management and retail sales openings for a Manager, Assistant Manager, other Management and Sales positions in our new Forest Hills location on Continential Ave (71st Ave) in NY.


Sunday, December 7, 2008

Someday Care

Reading through the Queens Central forums sometimes yields some news, and today was no different. There was a rumor posted that the Ethan Allen space was converting into a day care. The Department of Buildings site confirms the plans (see excerpt above).

Only problem? The plan was disapproved. It doesn't say why, and you'll remember about fifteen plans by David Koptiev were disapproved before he built his huge building for his one second-floor tenant, so it'll probably meet whatever requirement the city is looking for. Of course, the Staubach center was disapproved too until it finally just ran out the clock.

A well-staffed clean and spacious day care center would be welcome around here. The plans also indicate that children named Ethan or Alan get 10% off and free play all weekend. The plan doesn't figure to be a major enticement however, as every child in the world is named either Jack or Max.

Open Sundays

Lots of open houses today for a Sunday in December. If you've got time on your hands, the new condos in Forest Hills and Kew Gardens (Novo, Talbot Gardens, 116-32 Grovesnor) all are having open houses today. Even the Windsor has its doors open. Bring a checkbook and get an end-of-the-year deal.

The best locations are still all co-ops - but given this economy, these might be the only new constructions we see in a long time.


Saturday, December 6, 2008

Look E Here.

With major thanks to R32_3838 on Straphangers.org, here is a first look of the new E subway cars (which are still early in the testing phase). R32_3838 saw the R160 E car and not only lived to tell about it, he got the video below. According to the train enthusiasts on the site, they might be ready by Spring 2009.

Thursday, December 4, 2008

Laytners Selling Toys

Not a big deal, but nice to see. Laytners, the home furnishing store next to Austin House, is selling somewhat hip toys this Christmas. A rack is set up with Magic 8 Balls, wooden stuff, mind-challenging kids games. Not the crap you'd see at Rite-Aid or a card shop.

Laytners might need to rethink its strategy as it never looks busy in there. I like the store and have gotten lots of stuff there, but I guess people around here prefer Target.

Hopefully the toys will stay and Laytners will transform itself into a child-friendly toy shop/candy store or something. There is very little for kids to do around here in winter.

Fire at 109-15 Queens Blvd.

Several fire trucks were lined up outside 109-15 Queens Blvd (north side @ 72nd Ave.) tonight for an "all-hands" fire. It looked under control as I passed and I didn't see any evidence of damage.

The address made news on the blog a few months ago when Shellie Parris was killed by a car close to the building.

Tolls Everywhere

The MTA released its Ravitch Report which gives advice on where to get the money to fix the MTA's incredible financial incompetence. 1 billion alone on the Fulton Street station that never got built.

Anyway, here are the highlights:

East River Tolls - this one will get the most publicity. If you make the tolls both ways and revisit parking permits, I can live with it. It's not fair to Brooklyn residents that livery cars routinely go across those crossings to save a few bucks. Plus, I think it would eliminate some traffic on Queens Blvd because there would no incentive to take the 59th St. bridge over the Midtown Tunnel. What always bothered me about congestion pricing was there was no charge to leave. It was a cover charge.

Corporation Tax - Awful idea. Layoffs are already piling up and this unbudgeted cost will be a disaster. The argument that companies benefit from a good transit system is stupid. Commercial landlords benefit from a good transit system and charge rents accordingly. Make it a property tax.

Raise the fares. Yes, absolutely. We're the ones using the transit so we should be paying for it. I don't get the charging cars for us using subways. I want people to drive cars, it's more room for me on the trains.

Some more of my own ideas:

Rush hour Subway pricing: This have this in other cities (and on LIRR/Metro North). With track space at a premium, you should have to pay more for high-demand times like every other business. Try getting a good deal on Yankee tix when the Sox are in town in September. Rush hour rides are 25% more.

15% Salary cut of all MTA employees: Overpaid as it is, except the ones who work on the subway and buses. If any other company pissed away a billion dollars on nothing, there would be at least a 15% layoff.

Toll dedicated bike lanes: This one will land me in some hot water, but these bike lanes are built at considerable expense (not to mention cause a lot of congestion where they begin). Having a dedicated lane is a "luxury" (to use their car argument) that even ambulances don't have. We all share the pain and I'm sure Forest Hills cyclists would gladly fork over a few dollars a day to ride in a dedicated lane away from cars.

Eliminate the Manhattan Parking Exemption: This backwards tax break excludes Manhattan residents of the 18% parking tax at local garages. You don't need a car in Manhattan and if you insist on having one, you shouldn't get a tax break. Make the tax 30% (believe me, they can afford it).

PROPERTY TAX EQUITY!!!! How many more $2 million brownstone sales do we have to hear about where the annual property tax bill is $1200? Go through the property rolls one by one and phase them up to a realistic tax bill. If they can afford 2.4 million on a house, they can afford to pay taxes on it.

Out of the the above, I would get hit with the fare increase, the dedicated bike lane toll (if they ever build one in Forest Hills) and rush hour pricing. So, like I said, we all share the pain.

Wednesday, December 3, 2008

Meetin' the Deacon

Deacon Greg Kandra, who delivers homilies at Queen of Martyrs, has really picked up his blog since the summer. It is mostly light-hearted and funny with his guiding premise of WWJB (what would Jesus blog). This week he covers everything from the making of altar bread to Bill O'Reilly. He is also the News Director of NET, a new cable channel based on religion. Check your local listings for channel information.

My church going is at best spotty, but Queen of Martyrs is where I do go the few times I do. I know Father Passanant, but not Greg. But after a few minutes on http://deacbench.blogspot.com/ I feel like I know him.

See you on the 25th!

Sell Out

Lots of clues, but I can't put it together. The Olympic airways thing maybe? Nope, no lower level. Leave any guesses in the comments. Sometimes these realtors get a little loose with the term 'Austin Street', but at 16 mill, it's probably the real deal.

Prime Retail/Professional Building For Sale
Austin Street, Forest Hills
21,000 square foot all brick mixed use property constructed in 1995. It includes retail stores on the first floor, one office unit occupying the entire second floor and professional offices occupying the lower level of the premises. Professional offices are serviced by an elevator.

Close proximity to Queens Boulevard and the Grand Central Parkway.
Additional air rights available.

Perfect opportunity for a owner/investor, retail, medical.


Tuesday, December 2, 2008

Boy, They're Really Cracking Down On Jaywalking

Tuesday, December 02, 2008 4:24 PM

QUEENS (WABC) -- A New York City police officer has been charged with beating a pedestrian.

Queens District Attorney Richard A. Brown said that moments before the alleged assault, the officer almost struck the victim with his car as the man was crossing Queens Boulevard in Forest Hills.

. . .Investigators said Dennis was driving along Queens Boulevard on the afternoon of November 17, when he almost struck Geoffrey Hollinden, 41, who was crossing near 109th Street. .. .

. . .Hollinden allegedly hit the rear of the defendant's 2006 Infiniti as it passed him, according to Brown. At that point, Dennis is accused of getting out of his car and attacking Hollinden, allegedly slamming him to the pavement and knocking him out. . . .

. . .The case came to light when an eyewitness, who observed the alleged incident, jotted down the license plate of the defendant's car, Brown said. . . .

The incident happend a few weeks ago, the officer was just charged today. Full-length story here: http://abclocal.go.com/wabc/story?section=news/local&id=6534940

Maybe They're Too Disabled to Clean It Up

We're coming up on the ten year anniversary of the Forest Hills LIRR Station $7 million renovation. And she's not holding up well.

From the NY Daily News on June 4th 1999:

The completion of a two-year, $7 million project to restore the Long Island Rail Road's historic Forest Hills station to its former elegance was marked yesterday with a rededication ceremony led by Gov. Pataki.

"From the restoration of Grand Central Station and the rebirth of Penn Station to the rehabilitation of the historic Forest Hills station, our public transportation system is truly in the midst of a renaissance," Pataki said.

Grand Central still looks great. Penn Station's new NJ Transit wing is immaculate. Forest Hills? A picture is worth a thousand words - and yes, I've told station managment weeks ago to clean it up.

This station is beautiful and to see it in this condition is embarrassing. Graffiti, cracked windows, spray foam sloppily shot in every sidewalk crevice instead of putty, fecal matter (my guess isn't dog) that doesn't get cleaned up for days. Disgraceful.

I know times are hard. If you can't patrol the station in the overnight, close it. And I mean close it with metal gates. There's one train westbound between 1:25am and 5:40am (the 2:24am) and none eastbound in the same time period. Just close it and if anyone is caught up there, throw them in jail for trespassing.

$7 million down the tubes. Thank goodness George Pataki isn't alive to see it.

Monday, December 1, 2008

Quick Hits

Oko management says business is 'better than expected'.

Restaurant Row newcomer Aged Steak House looks great so far, even though it's just a brick storefront. I don't know why so many Forest Hills buisnesses insist on tacky awnings. Most of them cover up much cooler detail (like Natural or even Oko).

Johnny Rockets is offering $1.25 burgers after 5pm on weekends through Christmas.

Parkside Players' "Barefoot in Forest Park" concludes this weekend December 5th and 6th.

Kidz Care successfully shared Thanksgiving with 75 senior citizens. Look for complete coverage in the Queens weeklies.

The convenience store next to Bonelle (with the owner who smokes more than any man I've ever known) is selling Christmas trees again this year.

And the Trader Joe's shopping center finally got its left-turn arrow.

Can Anyone Beat This Guy?

Mayor Bloomberg owes me $400 and he won't pay up. He says "it's not a not a legal issue, it's a fiscal issue." And as ususal, the suckass media won't call him on it, except Fred Siegal, whose fantastic NY Post piece on the topic should be required reading for anyone voting in 2009 (too bad it was buried in a weekend edition). I urge you all to take a few minutes at lunch and read it.


Excerpt: . . .the cupboards are bare because Bloomberg has emptied them for his own political ambitions. While the stock market was heading south, Bloomberg, one eye on a potential presidential run, raised his approval numbers by expanding the city payroll. Since 2004, he has hired at least 40,000 new city employees, while bringing his own mayoral staff to record levels.

This city has almost gotten too expensive to live in under the Mayor and as I've said all along, I just don't see the improvement in the outer boroughs to justify the costs.

I got a parking ticket this weekend for $35. There was a bag over the broken meter, I parked there and a few hours later the bag was gone and meter was working again . With it, was the orange envelope - the sight of which usually causes me to do more monetary damage than the ticket itself. I know the law and I was wrong to not go out after an hour.

I suppose I can ask the city to deduct it from my $400, but I'm going to pay this ticket immediately because it's morally right thing to do. I settle my debts.

The deadbeat Mayor says the city has no money to settle its debt - it's a financial issue not a legal one (wonder if Bloomberg's business clients can get away with that one when the annual bill is due). Deadbeat sounds harsh, but what would you call someone who doesn't pay up claiming they "just don't have it."

If the city can find the cash to hire famous Danish architects/urban planners to do huge studies to find out that Flushing Main Street is crowded, and give big raises to inept DOT officials who can't fix one freaking lane on the Whitestone Bridge in five years, it can cough up the 4 bills it owes me. Just like I'm paying it the $35 I owe it. A deal's a deal.