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Just another day at the office! In the above photo, a professional stuntman performs a “high fall” from a scissors lift near Kaufman Astoria Studios. Usually these daredevils do this kind of stuff for a living, but on Sunday, they’ll take risks solely for the public’s enrichment during New York on Location, a celebration of film production in the Big Apple. Presented by the Museum of the Moving Image, Theatrical Teamsters Local 817, and Kaufman Astoria Studios, this family-friendly, outdoor street fair will offer attendees the rare opportunity to explore more than 20 movie trailers and trucks and chat with movie professionals about what they do on set. Some trucks will feature star dressing rooms, while others will contain props, cameras, wardrobes, and special effects. More details and another image on jump page.

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It’s going to knock your block off. This Saturday, the Queens Council on the Arts will open the gates of the newly designated Kaufman Arts District for a block party with art, dance, food, live music, workshops and other creative activities. Let’s begin with the food. George Rallis from William Hallet will roast a suckling pig and have a spit going with pork butt. Kim Chi Smoke representatives will offer low-and-slow Korean BBQ food, and Mike Anzalone from Singlecut Beersmiths will serve locally brewed suds. Other participants include SnowdoniaManducatis RusticaBareBurgerMamu ThaiUNO PizzeriaOvelia, and Rockaway Brewery. Entertainment will feature local wordsmith Audrey Dimola, who will recite her own prose and host a special presentation of writers and poets. There will also be plenty to look at as the Queens World Film Festival will screen the award-winning short Recursion and Sal Milazzo from The Sparrow Film Project will present one of his own films. 

Details: Queens Council on the Arts Block Party, Kaufman Astoria Studios lot (35th Avenue and 36th Street), Astoria, June 21st, 4 pm to 10 pm, $35 for a ticket, which includes soda or bottled water, signature festival cup, all-day access to artist activities, eateries and breweries, admission to the film screenings, caricatures by art students and raffle prizes.

Bonus detail: The event raises funds for Queens Council’s High School to Art School program, which guides students through the art college application process and helps them with their portfolios.

Photos: Queens Council on the Arts

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The Wall Street Journal has a story on how Kaufman Astoria Studios helped bring bars, restaurants, and young residents into the neighborhood. It has, as the WSJ says, “helped catalyze a new wave of economic activity in Astoria.” The WSJ profiles new restaurants like Snowdonia and Maizal and points out the growing rent and demand for the area. As the owner of Maizal said, “I’m now paying $2,450 for a two-bedroom apartment and I used to pay $700 for another two-bedroom apartment.”

There’s plenty more growth to expect from Kaufman Studios. This spring, Kaufman will host LIC Flea & Food inside the studio for eight consecutive weekends. Kafuman Studios are even building out a 33-unit development on 35th Street and believe that the studio’s presence can act as a catalyst for more real estate development. The studio is also expanding itself, and will turn a parking lot and gas station into a new sound stage within the next two years.

Kaufman Studios Sets Stage for Astoria Action [WSJ]
All Kaufman Astoria Studios coverage [Q’Stoner]

Photo by Mitch Waxman

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An enclave of Astoria known for its concentration of cultural amenities is getting a new name: the Kaufman Arts District. The city will designate the area on Friday which covers, according to the New York Times, “31st Street to the west, 34th Avenue to the north, Steinway Street to the east and 37th Avenue to the south.” The new name, of course, comes from the Kaufman Astoria Studios, a major cultural force in the neighborhood. The area also includes the Museum of the Moving Image, Queens Council on the Arts, the Frank Sinatra School of the Arts and the United Artists Kaufman Astoria movie theater. The arts institutions in the area presented the idea of a cultural district to Council Member Jimmy Van Bramer, who helped push it forward. Unlike creating a Business Improvement District, which comes with many city approvals and hurdles, the Kaufman Arts District will become a reality with the Council Member’s proclamation.

The area will be similar to the Downtown Brooklyn Cultural District, which is supported by millions in city money to foster more local arts-related businesses. For right now, the Kaufman Arts District isn’t getting any money or amenities. The Times reports that the special street signs haven’t even been ordered yet.

In Astoria Arts District, a Once-Gritty Pocket Will Embody Culture [NY Times]

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Just this afternoon local pols joined Kaufman Astoria Studios to celebrate the grand opening of New York City’s first outdoor stage. Kaufman Astoria designed the block-long, 34,800-square-foot studio space for productions to shoot realistic outdoor scenes and stunts. Construction began over the summer. The backlot also features a gate designed by David Rockwell which now serves as the new entrance to the studio. The backlot completes another phase in the overall vision for the studio campus to create an arts and cultural district — Kaufman hopes to continue to expand in Astoria to establish an even larger presence in the neighborhood.

The Kaufman Astoria Backlot Is Looking Good [Q’Stoner]

Photo via Peter Vallone’s Twitter

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This photo comes from Twitter, where an observer notes that construction on the backlot at Kaufman Astoria Studios is coming to a close. Construction on the 34,800-square-foot lot began in July — this is the city’s first and only outdoor film set, giving production companies the option to film realistic outdoor scenes and stunts. You can see a rendering of the final product after the jump.

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Image source: Rockwell Group/Archtagon – the new gate planned for Kaufman Astoria studios

The NYDN reported on proposed developments happening on the Kaufman Astoria property that will be blocked off once the gates are installed on either end of 36th Street between 34th and 35th Avenues. We knew about the backlot that will be built (“where car chases can soon be filmed without film crews occupying entire city blocks”), but what we were unaware of until now is the other plans – to build a luxury hotel with a restaurant on an empty parking lot on 36th Street. Condos or rental apartments might be built nearby, too.

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Staff changes in the western Queens barbecue world

Yvo over at Feisty Foodie shared with us that there has been a change in chef staffing at a couple of local barbecue joints – a move from John Brown to The Strand: “Former John Brown Smokehouse chef de cuisine John Zervoulakos has been named the executive chef of The Strand Smokehouse in Astoria.” This should be pretty interesting and likely amp up the quality of meats at The Strand, which is still a relatively new restaurant. In his new gig, he “plans to develop a uniquely Astoria style of barbecue.” Well, this is something we gotta see!

Here are some of the things you should expect to see at The Strand soon:

He has already crafted new menu items, including salmon smoked over hickory and maple wood that’s then cooled in the fridge to make barbecue lox! He’s also experimenting with slow smoking lamb leg that has been rubbed in fresh Rosemary (John’s Greek family’s influence), making tri-tip sandwiches, and rubbing pork belly with an “in your face” spice mix of cumin, paprika, mustard powder and chili powder. And before long, expect everything from wood-fired beef shoulder to whole hog.

2013 blizzard time lapse

We love time lapse movies and recently viewed this one taken this past weekend – it’s short and sweet and very cool.

[youtube http://www.youtube.com/watch?v=2UlH9w9Cihs]

Dating – in NYC the straight guys are in LIC, apparently

Trulia took a look at some recent data (culled from the 2010 decennial Census) regarding the ratio of men living alone to women living alone (taking gays and lesbians, and the over-65 set out of the equation), and came to some conclusions about where the datable men and women are. Turns out LIC is one of the best neighborhoods for finding single straight guys; it has one of the highest ratios of men to women in top urban areas. Apparently, neighborhoods in the midst of redevelopment have a higher male population.

We also made some observations in conjunction with the map shared, including more men in western Queens and Ridgewood, and more women in Forest Hills, Glendale, Middle Village, Bay Terrace, and Springfield Gardens.

Interesting stuff. Is this your experience? Let us know via twitter at @queensnycity.

Ethereal shot of the Unisphere

Thanks to the Queens Museum of Art for sharing on their Facebook page this recent photo of the Unisphere in Flushing Meadows Corona Park.

Image source: Queens Museum of Art

A few more tidbits about the coming 35th Ave gate at Kaufman Astoria Studios

Yesterday we wrote about the new gates coming to 36th Street along the Kaufman Astoria Studios. When we were down there the other day, we wondered how places like The Astor Room were going to manage with a big ol’ gate right there. Would it make getting into the restaurant sort of awkward? We are definitely curious. Mackenzi from We Heart Astoria – and owner of Kaufman’s neighbor SITE – passed on a few details:

“From what I’ve heard- the gate on the 35th Ave end will be quite nice, and open to the public. The plan (is suppose to) allow for outdoor movie screenings at MoMI and an outdoor cafe permit for The Astor Room.”

Love the idea of both outdoor seating at The Astor Room and outdoor movie screenings at MOMI! We look forward to seeing how this all works out.

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Tasty Vietnamese food at Bunker in/near Ridgewood

There’s lots of excitement from the Ridgefood folks about Bunker, a new Vietnamese restaurant that opened up on Metropolitan Ave just up the street from the gigantic Western Beef supermarket and corporate headquarters. Bunker is technically in Maspeth, but is really only a block or so over the border between it and Ridgewood. The chefs behind this venture –  Jimmy and Jacky Tu, both Queens natives – have a great background:

Jimmy, the head chef, is classically trained in French cuisine and has worked at various restaurants such as Eleven Madison Park and Elizabeth Daniel (in San Francisco). Sous-chef Jacky Tu helped open Tigerland, a beloved East Village Vietnamese & Thai spot, with his brother — and he’s also the former CEO of Korean taco truck company Korilla BBQ.

So head on over and enjoy things like pho, banh mi sandwiches, spring rolls. Watch for bacon on the menu, too.

The Jackson Heights Trilogy comes to Theatre 777

Theatre Mania reports that Director Ari Laura Kreith brings a trio of plays to Theatre 777 as The Jackson Heights Triology, “made up of the last three plays produced by Kreith’s company, Theatre 167.” The plays are  167 Tongues, You are Now the Owner of This Suitcase, and Jackson Heights 3AM. The director says, “Ever since I moved to Jackson Heights I got this feeling that this neighborhood needed to be a play. I was in Boulder, Colorado and I was trying to explain it to people. That was the moment I knew that there needed to be a document that showed what this place feels like.” There are many voices involved with the creation of this show – it is a “massive collaboration between 18 playwrights, with 38 actors play 93 different roles including a Bangladeshi cab driver, a Rwandan night nurse, and a Colombian drag queen.” The play is close to 2 hours and runs until Feb 27.

So yeah, it snowed this weekend

From our perspective, most of Queens got pretty lucky during this weekend’s blizzard, compared to a lot of places in Connecticut and Long Island, who got 2 feet of snow and more. La Guardia got a foot of snow, Astoria got a foot, Maspeth got 15 inches, and JFK got about six and a half. The average snowfall in Queens was about nine and a half inches. Check out some photos of the snowfall around the NYC area, too – feel free to send yours to us, too, and you might see them on the site!

Brooklyn Grange will have a CSA again this year

We Heart Astoria wrote about Brooklyn Grange’s CSA this coming season. It’s going to last 24 weeks – Saturday, May 18 to Saturday, October 26 – and the produce will be grown on their rooftop farm. They’ll offer things like radishes, turnips, herbs, kale, eggplant, and ground cherries – but there is much, much more planned for the shares. The cost will be $576.00 for the season ($24.00/week for 24 weeks). You can sign up now!

Kaufman Astoria Studios and its new back lot

We’ve learned more about what Kaufman Astoria Studios plans to do with 36th Street between 34th and 35th Avenues, the street that was de-mapped for them back in 2012 – it will become their back lot. It will give the studio 34,800 square feet to work with, at 60 feet wide and 580 feet long, and give them the freedom to consolidate their buildings on either side of the street. They also plan to build a gate to block pedestrians and vehicular traffic from entering (they can currently do that now), but emergency vehicles will be allowed to pass through. The gate they are planning will cost in the millions, too. It will be interesting to see how this affects this part of Astoria – some local folks are feeling apprehensive about the plan. Others feel good about it, and welcome the economic boost it could bring.

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Image source: Rockwell Group/Archtagon – an artist’s rendering of the main gate for Kaufman Astoria Studios on 35th Ave in Astoria

They NY Times City Room blog turned its eye toward Astoria last week, focusing on Kaufman Astoria Studios, who are getting new gates for their block of 36th Street. This street – between 34th and 35th Avenues – has been de-mapped since June 2012, but these gates will close off the street to the public (including pedestrians and vehicular traffic), similar to the way the movie studios in Hollywood operate. Emergency vehicles will be allowed through, according to studio officials.