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Queens got talent. United States Tennis Association employees set up mini courts in Corona Plaza and gave free instruction to youngsters this morning. Activities included lessons on basic skills, balance, and coordination, as well as ball-and-racket exchanges and tips on long-term athletic development. The participants used loaned mini-rackets and foam balls, and USTA employees imparted gifts and provided information on low-cost programs at the nearby Billie Jean King National Tennis Center (where the two-week US Open will take place starting on August 25th).

Then as a special treat, officials showed the permanent US Open singles trophies to the awed crowd. It was so much fun that the USTA will do it again in the same plaza next Friday, August 15th, at 10:30 am in conjunction with other activities such as healthy eating demonstrations, a merchant showcase, health screenings, and back-to-school discounts. Corona Plaza project manager William McCarthy hopes to offer these events weekly as part of his “Fridays Under the Seven” healthy living series. In the top photo, Assemblyman Francisco Moya holds the US Open men’s singles trophy, the same one that Rafael Nadal hoisted last year, in the second row, while City Council Member Julissa Ferreras shows the women’s singles trophy, which Serena Williams won last year. Queens Chamber of Commerce Executive Director Jack Friedman is in back right in a suit, while Community Board 4 District Manager Christian Cassagnol is in suspenders next to him.  Check out more photos after the jump…

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The NY Daily News reports that the Queens Chamber of Commerce plans to operate an 18,000-square-foot incubator space within the Willets Point mega mall development. Apparently the incubator is part of the concessions between the developers, Related Co. and Sterling Equities, and the city. The developers will give the Chamber of Commerce $165,000 to start the place up. Once built, the incubator will be split between two different sections of the development. It will offer businesses a 30 to 40 percent discount on rent, as well as free trainings and other services. There’s also the possibility the incubator will include smaller, ground-floor storefronts for merchants that cater to the area’s diverse ethnic population. This news comes after the City Council approved the developer’s plan to overhaul the Iron Triangle earlier this month.

Business Incubator Slated for Willets Point [NY Daily News]
It’s Official: Three Mega Developments Will Move Ahead in Queens [Q’Stoner]

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Only in the 1930s, it would seem, could a laundry on 37th Avenue east of 43rd Street in Long Island City be named the “most beautiful building in Queens.”

Curvilinear lines, perfectly symmetrical design, and a huge clock above the front entrance earned the “Beautiful Building” accolade from the Queens Chamber of Commerce soon after its opening in 1936. It was quite modernistic for its time and its design would be echoed in the futuristic buildings featured in the 1939-40 World’s Fair in Flushing Meadows.

The Knickerbocker Laundry, and later, Naarden Fragrances, occupied the structure until 1986 when it began a slow slide into utter oblivion and disrepair. I first encountered it when riding past on the north side of the Long Island Rail Road in 1993, and it was seemingly crumbling away at that point.

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Whether they are from Spain or Long Island, tennis fans will know what’s going on in Queens from August 26th to September 9th. The USTA has donated a kiosk to serve as an information center for the borough during the 2013 US Open Tennis Championships. Organized by the Queens Chamber of Commerce and the Queens Tourism Council, volunteer staffers will be on hand for the entire two-week tournament to provide information on the borough’s best restaurants, hotels, cultural organizations and parks. Seen in front of the kiosk are the following: Rob MacKay, director of the Queens Tourism Council; Jack Friedman, executive director of the Queens Chamber of Commerce; Assemblymember Ron Kim; Assemblymember Marge Markey, who chairs the Committee on Tourism, Parks, Arts and Sports Development; City Council Member Julissa Ferreras; Nancy Conde, chief of staff for State Senator José Peralta’s Office; Seth Bornstein, executive director of the Queens Economic Development Corporation; Daniel Zausner, COO of the USTA Billie Jean King National Tennis Center; and Seth Taylor, executive director of the 82nd Street Partnership.

Details: QTC/QCC Kiosk, USTA Billie Jean King National Tennis Center, Flushing Meadows-Corona Park, August 26th to September 9th, free with admission.

Photo by Megan Montalvo

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Image source: WSJ – the LaGuardia Mariott Hotel, where the awards were given

The Queens Gazette reports that last Thursday, January 17, the Queens Chamber of Commerce held their annual Building Awards and Reception at the LaGuardia Mariott Hotel (which we recently told you had been sold for $22 million – GMAP); they’ve been doing this since 1926. The Chamber of Commerce honored property owners, architects, and builders; 100 entries were submitted and out of that 21 winners were chosen.

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Image Source: NYC & Company

There’s excitement in beginnings, especially if they happen around Christmas. The Queens Young Professionals broke onto the scene with an inaugural networking event at Austin’s Steak and Ale House in Kew Gardens in the fall. Tonight, December 19, QYP holds its first ever holiday party at Bud’s Ale House in Astoria/Long Island City. All are invited to this supreme networking event, which will feature an unlimited buffet, specially priced drinks and raffles items such as tickets to the Laughing Devil Comedy Club. Spearheaded by the Queens Chamber of Commerce, the group, which is free to join, provides resources and support to members as they invigorate the borough’s business and civic life for years to come.

Queens Young Professionals Holiday Party
Bud’s Ale House
34-02 Steinway Street, Astoria
Wednesday, December 19
6pm – 9pm | $10