Wednesday, November 28, 2012

This week's Riverdale Review and Bronx Press

Here are the stories in this week's issue (November 29 - December 5) of the Riverdale Review:

Selfhelp, a nonprofit organization, wants to redevelop
this service station at 6469 Broadway
* Housing, commercial space planned for gas station > A North Riverdale gas station will be completely razed to make way for a new multi-story, mixed-use development comprised of senior housing and commercial space. The Riverdale Review can reveal that nonprofit organization Selfhelp Community Services Inc. has submitted plans to redevelop the Prime has station site located at 6469 Broadway. Filings submitted to the New York Stat Department of Environmental Conservation show the group has proposed a building with up to 95 units of senior housing on the 17,424-square-foot site. Under the plan, the project will boast up to 28 parking spaces and up to 12,000 square feet of "community facility space."
* RKA high school records slight dip on latest progress report card > Riverdale Kingsbridge Academy's high school earned a B on this year's school progress report--a drop of one letter grade. The annual evaluation, released by the Department of Education on Monday afternoon, reveals H.S 141 racked up to 69.2 points out of a possible 100--down from its score of 73.9 in 2011. The local high school has registered an A grade for the past three consecutive years. But RKA principal Lori O'Mara said the high school was on the way up and insisted there were glimmers of hope. She also noted the school missed out on an A grade by just 0.8 points.
* City to apply popular tax break on next property bills > Local co-op and condo owners will continue to reap the benefits of an expired $430 million property tax break even though Albany lawmakers have yet to renew the scheme officially. City officials have confirmed they will retroactively apply the popular Cooperative and Condominium Tax Abatement in the next round of tax bills in the hope that an accord is struck.
Police remove the body of Eric Martinez from the tracks
* Man struck and killed by train > A man jumped to his death on Thanksgiving morning by leaping in front of a moving No. 1 train, authorities said. Police said Eric Martinez, 26 of Manhattan, was struck by a southbound No. 1 train at the 231st Street station in Kingsbridge early last Thursday. Commanding officer of the 50th Precinct Captain Kevin Burke said the man's lifeless body was discovered around 6:30 a.m., roughly two cars length south of the platform. "We suspect he was struck by an earlier train," he said.
* Riverdale building on HHP remains without gas following leak > More than 50 residents of 3616 Henry Hudson Parkway have been without gas service after a fire started on the fifth floor of their apartment building last week. According to Con Edison, building staff at the Algiers reported a possible gas leak on the south side of the complex on November 20 at 8:33 p.m.
* Mayor proposes $4.5 million NYPL funding cut > Weekend library service may be slashed, up to 50 full-time employees could be laid off and fewer library books may be purchased if new mid-year budget cuts transpire. Under a revised budget released by Mayor Michael Bloomberg earlier this month, the New York Public Library could see their funding axed by $4.5 million in fiscal year 2013.
* Congregation Tehillah rabbi feted in two-day tribute > Song of praise is one translation of the Hebrew word 'tehillah,' and when Riverdale's Congregation Tehillah honored Rabbi Linda Shriner-Cahn this month, they sang a song of praise that started Friday evening and continued until late the following night. Shriner-Cahn has been Tehillah's spiritual leader for several years. But members felt it was time for an official installation, a way to offer gratitude and tributes. Two Shabbat services and a Saturday night concert event were dedicated to the celebration.
* Verizon breaking ground here for FiOS > Verizon has begun installing an underground conduit system for cabling that will bring the much-anticipated FiOS to Riverdale by spring. The initial stage of work, evidenced by a long ditch in the road on West 239th Street near Blackstone Avenue, should be done by the end of the week, according to Verizon spokesman John J. Bonomo. But additional work will continue through January.
* Bronx woman dies on vacation > A local woman died while on vacation after she was denied seats on three separate New York-bound flights because of her size. Vilma Soltesz, who was 425 pounds with only one leg, was vacationing in Hungary with her husband Janos--on a trip they take almost every year. The couple, who live at Van Cortlandt Park South, planned to fly back to New York on October 15 so Soltesz could continue her medical treatment.
* Local resident oozes zeal for ice hockey > Many locals are excited about transforming the Kingsbridge Armory into a nine-rink national ice center, but no one is more enthusiastic than Jim Breidenbach. A Riverdale resident for 53 years, Breidenbach believes that the ice rink facility could be "just what the doctor ordered" for the community and for hockey enthusiasts like him.

Also, in the Bronx Press:
* Black Friday horror after teen found strangled in Hunts Point > A popular teenager was strangled and left for dead in the hallway of a Hunts Point building just hours after she celebrated the Thanksgiving holiday with relatives. Police were called to 632 Barretto Street at just after 8 a.m. on Friday, November 23. Family members said Destiny Sanchez was semiconscious when found by her brother in the hallway of the three-family home.
* Carrion lags in Quinnipiac poll > Former Bronx Borough President Adolfo Carrion has a lot of work to do if he wants to be elected the next mayor of New York. In a new Quinnipiac poll released last week, only 11 percent of voters said they would vote for Carrion compared to 62 percent who would vote for the opposing Democratic candidate. Though he may be the only Hispanic in the race, the poll reported that only 12 percent of Hispanic voters would choose him.

Wednesday, November 21, 2012

This week's Riverdale Review and Bronx Press

Here are the stories in this week's issue (November 22 - November 28) of the Riverdale Review:

Andrew Cohen kicks off his election campaign 
* Cohen throws hat in ring for Council run > It's official: Community Board 8 member Andrew Cohen has entered the race for Councilman G. Oliver Koppell's seat in the 2013 citywide elections. Cohen, a Riverdale resident, ended weeks of speculation and declared his intention to jump into the electoral race during a press event on the steps of City Hall in Manhattan on Tuesday. The announcement means Cohen will now be pitted against Cliff Stanton, the only other candidate in the hotly anticipated City Council District 11 race.
* Bidding war erupts as Delafield Estates goes under the hammer > A Long Island-based developer has snapped up the remaining lots in the troubled Delafield Estates development for a whopping $6.375 million. The 22 parcels were sold off as a single lot during a frenzied public auction at the Conservative Synagogue Adath Israel of Riverdale on November 19.
* Community Board approves street renaming > Efforts to rename a local street in honor of James V. Downey has moved a step closer to reality after it got the Community Board 8 nod. Members of CB8 voted 32 to 0 in favor of renaming the stretch of Mosholu Avenue between West 254th Street and West 256th Streets to 'James V. Downey Way.'
* City officials break ice on new Van Cortlandt Park skating rink > The brand-new Van Cortlandt Park ice-skating rink in officially open for business. The Bronx's first public skating rink in nearly 30 years was unveiled by a slew of city officials during a ribbon-cutting ceremony on Monday.
* Hebrew Home takes in displaced Sandy victims > The Hebrew Home at Riverdale has announced that it will temporarily house 130 adult home residents displaced by superstorn Sandy at its recently acquired Passionist Retreat House, a dormitory formerly used by the Passionist Fathers of Riverdale. The Hebrew Home will host the displaced residents until their permanent homes, damaged by the storm, are fully repaired.
* NYPD Bronx Task Force in Riverdale following Gaza crisis > The NYPD is taking steps to keep Riverdale synagogues safe while demonstrators gather in Manhattan to express their anger at Israel's retaliation for ongoing rocket attacks from Gaza. Officials said eight to 12 police officers from the Bronx Task Force are in the area to supplement precinct staff.
* Diaz to seek reelection as Bronx BP > Bronx Borough President Ruben Diaz Jr. has abandoned plans to run for office of public advocate and will instead seek to keep his current job during the 2013 citywide elections. In a lengthy email to supporters on Tuesday, Diaz said he would not pursue the city's second-highest post because he still had several loose ends to tie up in The Bronx.
* Local restaurants take advantage of Thanksgiving trend > Restaurants in Riverdale are accommodating guests who don't have time or energy to cook an elaborate Thanksgiving feast by opening their doors on the holiday.
* Local artists exhibits tiny whimsical portraits at library > More than 200 portraits by Riverdale artist Nina Seigenfeld-Velazquez are on display in an exhibition called 'What's Mine is Yours' at the Riverdale branch of the New York Public Library through the end of May.
* Area merchants host food drive > Local politicians and members of the North Riverdale Merchants Association came together to do a little good for the community on November 16. The NRMA spearheaded a new food drive to collect nonperishable items for those in need.
* Bronx residents object to MTA fare hikes during public hearing > The Metropolitan Transportation Authority  held a public hearing on November 13 for Bronx residents to voice their opinions on the proposed fare hikes.

Also, in the Bronx Press:
* Three wounded at funeral home shooting > Three people were wounded when a gunman opened fire on a crowd in the doorway of a Parkchester funeral home. Cops were called to the R.G. Ortiz Funeral Home, located at 2121 Westchester Avenue, at 7:15 p.m. on Sunday, November 18. Police said the three victims were shot in the parking lot of the funeral home, around the vicinity of the parlor's entrance.
* Bronx father sought in bizarre kidnapping > Police continue to hunt for the father wanted in connection with a one-man crime spree that included firing a handgun, setting an apartment on fire, kidnapping his own kids, carjacking a man and fleeing the scene.

Thursday, November 15, 2012

Paradise Theater set to become Creflo Dollar megachurch


The Paradise Theater, an 83-year-old Bronx cultural institution, will soon be home to the World Changers Church of New York.
The nondenominational mega-church signed the lease to occupy the cherished city landmark on October 20. It is understood the site will become an official residence for the New York branch of the World Changers Church International.
As of press time, no grand opening date for the WCCNY church has been announced, and the public relations firm representing the WCC did not return repeated calls for comment. A request for comment from Jones Lang LaSalle, who represented WCC in the transaction, was also not returned.

230th Street mall may expand with key corner


Equity One snapped up this abandoned gas station at
West 230th Street and Broadway for $2 million
The developer of the yet-to-be-built $54 million Broadway Plaza shopping mall has purchased the adjoining vacant lot—the defunct Getty gas station.
The Riverdale Review can reveal that Equity One last month acquired the 7,500-square-foot parcel at 5510 Broadway from a California-based LLC for a hefty $2 million—more than three times the current market value of $630,000.
Documents filed with the New York City Department of Finance show the property deed for the commercial site was transferred on October 15.
Equity One currently owns the 80,000-square-foot parcel on the eastern boundary of the gas station. The site, now a city-owned parking lot, will be developed into a two-story multi-tenant shopping mall set to open in mid-2014.
The newest acquisition means the national developer now commands two of the three coveted parcels of developable land along the busy intersection of West 230th Street and Broadway—a clear indication that the area is viewed as a worthy spot for major commercial development.

This week's Riverdale Review and Bronx Press

Here are the stories in this week's issue (November 15 - 21) of the Riverdale Review:

The abandoned gas station at West 230th Street and
Broadway has been acquired by Equity One.
* 230th Street mall may expand with key corner > The developer of the yet-to-be-built $54 million Broadway Plaza shopping mall has purchased the adjoining vacant lot--the defunct Getty gas station. The Riverdale Review can reveal that Equity One last month acquired the 7,500-square-foot parcel at 5510 Broadway from a California-based LLC for a hefty $2 million--more than three times the current market value of $630,000.
* Local pols eye Senate leadership battle > Election Day is over, but a few state Senate races upstate are still too close to call, which could have an impact on the careers of some local politicos.
* Board rejects plans for new mansion > Community Board 8 has rejected controversial plans to construct a new mansion in the heart of the Riverdale Historic District. Following fervent opposition, board members last week voted unanimously against a proposal to develop the vacant lot at 5241 Independence Avenue into a four-story, single-family house. Under preliminary plans, the house would boast seven bedrooms, eight and a half bathrooms, an indoor swimming pool, two laundries and a maid's room.
* MTA's Bus Time program will let you track your ride on your phone > Local straphangers can finally track the real-time location of every local and express bus in Riverdale after the Metropolitan Transportation Authority quietly launched its Bus Time program. MTA officials flicked the switch and activated GPS hardware on all 54 Bronx bus routes, inculding the Bx7, Bx9 and Bc10, on Saturday, October 27. However, with efforts underway to restore subway service and repair critical signal and switch components in the wake of superstorm Sandy, the launch has received little fanfare.
* New president a kindred spirit at Riverdale rabbinical school > Open-mindedness, outreach and independent thinking--along with broad-based textual study--will still be the basics at Yeshivat Chovevei Torah when its presidency transfers from Rabbi Avi Weiss to Rabbi Asher Lopatin this July.
* iPhone stolen from woman at gunpoint > The armed serial robbers terrorizing Riverdale have struck again. Police said the two men suspected of carrying out at least five local robberies nabbed yet another iPhone on Sunday.
The Fieldston Lofts apartment tower
* New Fieldston Lofts building on Riverdale Avenue hits market > Luxury condominiums at Fielston Lofts, a boutique apartment building in Riverdale, have been re-listed for a price tag of around $1 million each. The seven-story building, located at 3751 Riverdale Avenue, features 10 three- and four-bedroom units, ranging in size from 1,849 to 2,164 square feet. Each condo boasts high-end finishes including bamboo floors, granite countertops, towering ceilings, marble tiles, custom kitchen cabinets and modern appliances. But it's the asking price--between $899,000 and $1.059 million--that has courted controversy among locals.
* Paradise Theater set to become Creflo Dollar megachurch > The Paradise Theater, an 83-year-old Bronx institution, will soon be home to the World Changers Church of New York. Pastors Creflo and Taffi Dollar reportedly signed the lease on October 20.
* Community leaders get a glimpse of learning at RKA > There was an upbeat vibe at M.S/H.S 141 as community leaders were treated to snapshots of learning in progress as they took a tour of the school on Tuesday morning.

Also, in the Bronx Press:
* Dominic Castore dies > Passionate Bronx resident and longtime Community Board 11 chairman Dominic Castore passed away last weekend.
* Veterans housing opens > At-risk war veterans now have a new, supportive place they can call home. Kingsbridge Terrace, the second of two state-of-the-art Bronx residences created by Jericho Project, will enable veterans to live in affordable, furnished housing.

Wednesday, November 7, 2012

This week's Riverdale Review

Here are the stories in this week's issue (November 8 - 14) of the Riverdale Review:

* Troubled aftermath of hurricane horror > Local homes are slowly getting back on the grid but mail delivery has ground to a halt and residents are facing a crippling gasoline shortage following the devastation of superstorm Sandy. As city agencies, utility providers and elected officials continue relief efforts in the battered region, those in Riverdale are reeling from the damage caused by the historic storm.
* Long delays and foul-ups mar voting in Riverdale > Hundreds of voters inundated local polling sites on Tuesday to exercise their democratic right. Although many Riverdale residents turned up to vote for one of the presidential candidates, some were also concerned about weighing in on the local Congressional and Senatorial races. However, reports of lengthy queues and broken scanning machines trickled in as the day wore on.
* Police hunt two men in connection with string of armed robberies > Police fear that a recent rash of armed robberies in Riverdale, including two over the past weekend, could be part of a wider trend. Detectives from the 50th Precinct believe the same two suspects, both descried as black males in their late teens or early 20s, are responsible for at least five local robberies reported between October 18 and November 4. Police said the pair's modus operandi follows the same pattern: They target individuals traveling on foot and demand that victims hand over their smartphones and other valuables. On at least three occasions, the men even flashed a firearm.
Veterans' Day ceremony
* Local veterans honor fallen comrades > The crisp, sunny day made the perfect backdrop for the annual Veterans' Day ceremony in Riverdale on Sunday, November 4. Attendance at the ceremony, held at the newly-refurbished Memorial Grove, was much lower than anticipated, with around 25 Bronx residents there to celebrate the men and women who served our country. This was in part due to miscommunication within the parks department, which had been informing callers that the ceremony had been cancelled due to superstorm Sandy.
* Delayed Bronx Restaurant Week is now underway > Foodies, dining enthusiasts and bargain hunters, take note: Bronx Restaurant Week is still on. Borough officials kicked off the second annual event during a subdued launch preview at Oregano Bar & Bistro in Riverdale last Thursday. Dubbed Savor The Bronx, the promotion aims to showcase the borough's diverse gastronomical delights and elevate its culinary cred. Under the promotion, rescheduled due to superstorm Sandy, around 35 Bronx restaurants are offering diners a three-course lunch for $16.41 and a bargain dinner for $20.12 through Friday, November 16.
* Local renaissance girl awarded full college scholarship > Riverdalian Jessica Lavery, a freshman at the University of Scranton, is the winner of a four-year Presidential Scholarship that covers full tuition. She was one of only 19 students the university selected for this comprehensive scholarship award, reserved for incoming freshman with outstanding high school records and community involvement.
* HIR hosts Global Hunger Shabbat > There was an abundance of food, with choices for everyone from vegans to omnivores, so the concept of hunger seemed distant for 300 community members who enjoyed a Sabbath meal last Friday night at the Hebrew Institute of Riverdale. The November 2 Global Hunger Shabbat event was one of hundreds taking place worldwide through an American Jewish World Service initiative. 
* Local dentist plans relocations > Riverdale residents will soon have a brand-new dental care facility in town. Dr. Gabriel Shalmi of Riverdale Dental Care will be moving his practice on Riverdale Avenue to a location around the corner of West 259th Street. The move is planned for December or January.

Tuesday, November 6, 2012

Delayed Bronx Restaurant Week gets underway


Borough President Ruben Diaz Jr. enjoys a sample of what
diners can expect during a launch event for Savor The Bronx
Foodies, dining enthusiasts and bargain hunters, take note: Bronx Restaurant Week is still on. Borough officials kicked off the second annual event during a subdued launch preview at Oregano Bar & Bistro in Riverdale last Thursday.
Dubbed Savor The Bronx, the promotion aims to showcase the borough’s diverse gastronomical delights and elevate its culinary cred.
Under the promotion, rescheduled due to superstorm Sandy, around 35 Bronx restaurants are offering diners a three-course lunch for $16.41 and a bargain dinner for $20.12 through Friday, November 16.
A few establishments are even throwing in a free dessert or taking 15 percent off the entire tab.
The $16.41 price for lunch bears a special significance—1641 marks the year that Jonas Bronck purchased a 500-acre farm and settled in the borough.
Bronx Tourism Council executive director Olga Luz Tirado said this year’s event has taken on added importance, given the widespread devastation caused by the historic storm.
Tirado admitted that organizers flirted with the idea of canceling the promotion altogether but decided against it, saying it was more crucial than ever before to promote local businesses.
“We have to make sure that the people know that The Bronx is open for business,” she said.
“What’s best for Bronx businesses is to move forward and get back to business as quickly as possible, and what’s best for the community is to get The Bronx back up and going. We just have to keep moving forward.”
Among this year’s participants is the critically acclaimed Cuban establishment Havana Café, the popular Italian joint Antonio’s Trattoria and the casual restaurant Muscle Maker Bar & Grill. Bruckner Bar & Grill in the South Bronx was also due to participate but was forced to withdraw just days before the launch after Sandy flooded its entire basement.
Bronx Borough President Ruben Diaz Jr. made no apologies for moving ahead with Savor The Bronx, claiming it would help boost the city’s spirits.
“In the aftermath of Sandy, we have to be mindful that this is good for morale,” he said.
“We have a lot of Bronx families who need to know that they can come out and eat something at an affordable price at 35 different restaurants and spend time with their family and help out a restaurant. These restaurants haven’t had any traffic in almost a week.”
Oregano Bar & Bistro, a Franco-Iberian restaurant in Riverdale that opened to much fanfare earlier this year, seized on the opportunity to participate and will offer prix-fixe options for both lunch and dinner.
At the launch event, chef Claude Alain Solliard gave a hint of what diners could expect and served Iberico pork and bacon-wrapped beef short ribs drizzled with black peppercorn sauce.
Restaurateur Erick A. Caceres said he hoped the event would expose Oregano to a larger demographic.
Stephane Kane, chef/owner of the quaint French restaurant Bistro SK, echoed the sentiments.
The City Island-based restaurant escaped Sandy’s wrath and is offering diners a prix-fixe dinner menu.
Kane, who served a smorgasbord of authentic French bites including tuna tartare, escargots and crème brûlée at the preview launch, agreed the 12-day promotion gave restaurants unprecedented exposure.
“Being on City Island, we are very secluded to start with, and I’m doubly secluded because I’m a French restaurant around a lot of seafood restaurants and Italian restaurants,” he said.
“So I thought it would be—and it is—a good opportunity for me to open up to the rest of The Bronx and say, ‘Hey, we are here. Come and try.’” 
This year’s Savor The Bronx is produced by the Bronx Tourism Council in conjunction with the Bronx Overall Economic Development Corporation and is sponsored by financial services juggernaut American Express and the New York State Restaurant Association.
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