Development

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Ridgewood Theatre, 55-27 Myrtle Avenue between St. Nicholas and Putnam avenues

Myrtle Avenue, one of the lengthiest streets in both Brooklyn and Queens, runs for nearly 15 miles from Jay Street MetroTech complex in the heart of downtown Brooklyn, east to Jamaica Avenue at the former Triangle Hofbrau.

It was first laid out in 1835 from Fulton Street to as far as Cripplebush Road, an ancient Kings County track now largely replaced by Bedford Avenue. It was extended in 1839 to Brooklyn’s Broadway, and again in 1854 as the tolled Jamaica Plank Road out to Jamaica. (Most of NYC’s toll roads of this type were made “free” around 1890-1900.)

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The city targeted Hunters Point in southwest Queens  (as well as Williamsburg) for neighborhood “renewal” several years ago, which entailed changing the zoning to make glassy, high-rise apartment buildings facing the water possible. The decision has had benefits, as Gantry State Park, named for the large lifts that once transported goods from barges into railcars here, has become a jewel.

Some say, though, that the influx of towers has overly taxed the sewer system and that there’s still no real grocery shopping to be had on Vernon Boulevard. It’s like a big city has been plunked down in a place where there’s nothing to support it.

So, while previous trips to Hunters Point have found me down by the water, this time I got off the No. 7 train at the Vernon-Jackson station and  stayed inland along Vernon Boulevard to take a look at the quickly developing area.

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12th Street near 27th Avenue, Astoria Village

Queens has been a county since 1683. Just as the USA originally had 13 states, the state of New York has 12 original counties: Albany, Cornwall, Dukes, Dutchess, Kings, New York (Manhattan), Orange, Queens, Richmond, Suffolk, Ulster and Westchester.

Nassau County, you say? It’s a Johnny come lately. In 1898, when four counties voted to become part of New York City, becoming Greater New York, half the county of Queens — the eastern towns of North Hempstead, Hempstead and Oyster Bay — chose to become independent, and in 1899 they created a county of their own, Nassau.

Had these towns not separated from Queens, our present task — examining the origins of the names of the borough’s neighborhoods — would call for entries on Lynbrook, Long Beach, Port Washington, Oyster Bay, Massapequa… and I’d be writing till Christmas. As is, Queens is large enough.

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When I moved to Flushing in 1993, my building was a few blocks away from the Long Island Rail Road station we are taking a look at today — the (to some) inexplicably named Broadway station. Broadway in Queens runs from the East River at the Socrates Sculpture Park on Vernon Boulevard to the heart of Elmhurst at Queens Boulevard — miles to the west of fabulous Flushing. Yet here the Broadway LIRR station sits. How can this be?

Until about 1920, all of Northern Boulevard from the Flushing River to the city line in Little Neck was named Broadway. West of the Flushing River, Northern Boulevard was known as Jackson Avenue, because it was built as a toll road by John Jackson in the 1850s from the waterfront through Astoria, Woodside and the Trains Meadow area now called Jackson Heights.

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The city unveiled a multi-faceted economic development “action plan” to prevent foreclosures, improve streetscapes, create affordable housing, and increase job-training opportunities in Jamaica on Wednesday.

The actions include creating a Jamaica-specific marketing and branding program, expanding free WiFi access via the LinkNYC program, and capital improvements to Rufus King Park and Brinkerhoff Mall Park in St. Albans. 

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Since the weather has warmed up, I’ve found myself walking through and around Queens Plaza quite a bit of late. The construction boom under way in this section of Long Island City is staggering, and you’d be hard pressed to turn your head in any direction and not see cranes and concrete trucks at work. The biggest change to the horizon is actually over in Manhattan, with 432 Park Avenue now visible from everywhere in western Queens and possibly the entire eastern seaboard.

The City people always have to show off, don’t they? 1,396 feet, really? An apartment building 150 feet taller than the Empire State? Woof.

More after the jump.

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The Prince family opened the first commercial plant nursery in the USA in 1735, specializing in fruit trees. Patriarch Robert Prince learned horticulture from the remaining Huguenots (French Protestants) in the Flushing area, and the business flourished during and after the Revolutionary period. In the early 1800s, Robert’s son William opened the first bridge over the Flushing River that allowed wagon and cart traffic to enter from western Queens. Competing plant nurseries of the Bloodgood and Parsons families also opened, and in the 1800s, Flushing was known around the Northeast for horticulture. Eventually, though, as Flushing gradually became more urban, the nurseries moved out or failed. Today, the only reminder of the plant shops is Flushing’ street plan, which bears plant names from A (Ash) to R (Rose), and Prince Street.

The Prince family home was constructed at Broadway and Lawrence Street (today Northern and College Point Boulevards) by the Embree family around 1750, and purchased by the Princes in 1800. It was torn down in the 1930s as the area became industrial.

A NYS historic marker here, now long gone, said:

Prince Homestead stands opposite. Built by E. Embree 1780. Washington stopped here to see the Prince Nurseries during his trip to Long Island 1789.

When Washington visited the Prince nursery he was unimpressed, but when Thomas Jefferson visited the following year he made several purchases that were planted at Monticello in Virginia.

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The city’s department of Housing, Preservation and Development has filed a permit to construct a 94,000 square-foot building in Edgemere, just west of Far Rockaway. The permit, first reported by New York YIMBY, calls for a 101-until building with 500 square feet of commercial space. The empty lot sits between Rockaway Beach Boulevard and the elevated Long Island Rail Road track close to the beach. Curtis & Ginsberg Architects is designing the project. The rendering above, from the architect’s website, is titled Edgemere West and is listed as unbuilt.

Edgemere, near the eastern edge of the Rockaway peninsula, is somewhat undeveloped on it’s ocean-facing side. It was a beach destination in the 1920’s but now is largely residential. Forgotten NY has a short history of the area with photos of the crowds that once flocked to the beach there and the huge hotels that once catered to them.

Does anyone have any insight into this project and why the city is choosing to develop the property itself?

DOB Digest: NYC DHP Files for Eight-Story, 101-Unit Building [NYY] GMAP

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Some of the very lucky winners of the lottery for affordable units in the Hunter’s Point South development have been notified by the city’s department of Housing Preservation and Development according to the LIC Post. Those who have been notified are being brought in for interviews.

The city began accepting applications for the 924 affordable apartments in October. More than 92,000 people submitted applications for the units. The 37-story building at 1-50 50th Avenue will have 619 affordable units and 1-55 Borden Avenue, a 32 story tower, will have 306 affordable units. Studios for the lowest income tenants are $494 a month. The most expensive income-restricted units are three-bedroom apartments for $4,346 a month.

The agency expects to continue to interview those placed high on the list over the course of the next few months until all of the units are filled.

Winners of Hunter’s Point South Lottery are Starting to be Notified [LIC Post]
All Hunter’s Point South Coverage [Q’Stoner]