Astoria, Transportation
Jan 29, 2018

What the 30th Avenue Subway Closure Hath Wrought Upon Astoria – Closings, Challenges, and Chains

30th Avenue business has slumped.

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Image source: Adam_T4 via the WHA Flickr Pool

When you see this freaking subway image, you know something’s up.

There’s been a lot of chatter online lately about the problems the temporary closing of the 30th Avenue N/W subway station has created in Astoria, and it is not pretty. In particular, the shuttering of Opa Opa, a classic representation of Astoria’s Greek life.

The resulting thread mentions that beloved Greek bakery Yia Yia’s is still open, which is a positive. It also mentions that a 99cent store around the corner is closing and will become a Starbucks (no doubt new competition for Dunkin and local shop Astoria Coffee a little further afield). As an aside, this means Starbucks will have a location near each subway stop along the N/W from Ditmars to Broadway. 36th and 39th Avenues, you may be next.

Reports elsewhere indicate business at the corner store next to Grand Liquors is also ailing:

“I spoke with one of the family members who runs the little bodega on the corner with Grand Liquors (which is a 3-generation family business that has been there since probably the end of Prohibition [it was in existence by 1940, the earliest record I’ve found]) and they’re hurting. As if it’s not bad enough that landlords are greedily jacking rents up to Manhattan levels.”

We’ve also heard reports that Newtown Laundromat is struggling. A local broker reports that when he shows his building on 30th Avenue “people have walked away from renting as soon as I tell them about the subway closure.”

Some businesses are finding creative solutions. Sonny from Kurry Qulture says that foot traffic has been down significantly on 30th Avenue, and reminded us the other day about their deal where they will reimburse you for your UBER/Lyft trip up to $10.

“Due to the 30th Ave subway station overhaul, which will last for the next several months, Kurry Qulture will pay a customer’s Uber or Lyft ride when they dine with us. All they have to do is show us proof of their ride and we’ll credit their check up to $10. Some conditions apply: one credit of up to $10 can be applied per table, offer cannot be applied to separate guest checks, customer must show proof of ride in the smartphone app, not applicable for bar-only, delivery or takeout customers, Uber or Lyft driver’s tip will not be reimbursed.”

Businesses are, in general, pretty frustrated with the current state of affairs and the downturn in business because of the subway closures. One response is from Katch, who is hosting a meeting for 30th Avenue businesses, community, and the MTA, 2pm on Thursday, February 1—we understand some politicians will be attending. The flier below that was sent to us by the folks at Katch.

mta-flier-30th-ave-astoria

As you may remember, Broadway and 39th Avenue are slated to close for 7 months starting next summer, and it’s understandable if businesses on those streets are starting to feel uneasy as the bad news from 30th Avenue comes out.

We love our local businesses and urge you to support them as best you can during this difficult time. Hopefully the meeting on Thursday with the MTA and pols will be fruitful.

About Meg Cotner

Meg Cotner was trained as a harpsichordist and now works as a freelance writer and editor. She is the author of "Food Lovers' Guide to Queens," and is a skilled and avid home cook, baker, and preserver.

17 Comments

John

Does anyone know what the result was from the meeting at Katch? “spring 2018” as a completion date is as vague as it gets. My emails to local politicians have gone unanswered on the matter.

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30th Ave Business

There was no result. The MTA representatives were completely arrogant and totally ignored anything we had to say. The meeting was completely pointless.

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John

Thank you for the reply. I am not surprised. Wish I was there….they probably just showed up for PR reasons. Hopefully this disaster is over by April….

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Jill

I am 9 months pregnant, and the 30th Ave closure has made me spend extra money on cabs that I could otherwise be saving. They’ve also slowed down the frequency of Q102 buses (yes, even during rush hour), forcing me to double my commute and distance I end up walking. I called 311 multiple times prior to the closure and did not receive a single response. All this, and our “new station” will not have an elevator.

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30th Ave Resident

Stop trashing millenials. They still need 99 cent stores, grocery stores, and enjoy the variety that a working-class neighborhood provides. Bargain Stop was constantly busy when it was open, the owner sold out because why not cash out after all those years–but every time I have to go into the Rite Aid across the street, I curse my life as it is dismal in the extreme. The 99 cent store on 30th that’s going to be replaced by the starbucks was a reliable destination but it wasn’t something that anyone was going to go out of their way to make a trip to.

On the other hand, despite the increased ridership at the Astoria Blvd stop, the businesses there are hot garbage because they have the location. I prefer local coffee shops but at least the people who work at the Astoria Blvd Starbucks are pleasant, professional and efficient. I went to the bagel joint across the street once. They were slow, got my order wrong, and were unpleasant. They feel, probably rightly, that they have the location working for them so why bother to try? Even the Neptune has gone wayyyyy downhill.

Mostly I’m worried that the MTA renovations will go far past the 8 months they initially forecast. When the train crawls by slowwwllllyyyyy it doesn’t look like much progress is being made.

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Donna

Do you prefer a wrong order or a safe subway? Trains and train stations need to be upgraded. Change has its challenges. Besides. People complained about the shambles our stations were in. Now they are complaining because they are doing it

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Sherri

Unfortunately, renovations of this scale are a necessary evil. While my heart goes out to these business owners, I feel that they could be a little more creative in trying to draw in the business. Take to social media. Offer specials. (such as what Kurry Culture has done) Or do what Green Bay has done and start up a delivery service. Even though I live near the Astoria Blvd Station, I would always get off at 30th Avenue and shop on my way home. I do find with the shutdown, I’m not shopping over there, but rather opting for stores with a delivery service.

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Swaroop

MTA has No Accountability. They do no work on the N/W subway platforms during the week and close off stops on Weekend Work which comes with Overtime pay! This utter nonsense has been going on for almost 9 months now- recall the summer of 2017 when weekends had no subway service and Astorians had to wait for the BUS instead! Most of us would be at work during the 2PM MTA townhall at Katch on Feb 1st! I hope those who do represent Astoria do rub it into and demand answers from the MTA- which is honestly, and for quite sometime has been, a disgrace to New York!
Equally disheartening is the closure of the old time shops – really wish that wouldn’t happen! Everything in NYC is a hustle!

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Mary Finn

If I still lived there, as I had for over 50 years, I would go to your stores. Unfortunately, I was driven out by rising rents and an unscrupulous landlord who destroyed my place to drive me out. Not just the closed subway, but also the changing demographics, is killing Astoria. More chain stores, fewer mom n’ pops. More stores for millennials moving in from out of state, less for traditional blue collar Astoria. I have posted this story to my Facebook account with a plea that those still in the area, buy in Astoria, not Manhattan.

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Sara

Can you please do a post on 36th Ave, too? Plenty of great businesses are also missing out on the after-work rush!!

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Alfred joyce

Opa! Opa! This was along time favorite stop for inhouse and take out meals. Time has taken it’s toll here. The last time we were there in may 2017 the meals and time spent there was disappointing.

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wendy

Alfred joyce Opa Opa has gone down hill ever since the business was sold several years ago… the original owner was a wonderful women who would greet everyone in the dinning room on the weekends. but still sorry to see it close.

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Phil Cappadora

30th ave has been my neighborhood for three years and its upsetting that our stores are shutting downand being taken over and will soon be unaffordable too live in new buildings. Also i started a group called the Neighbors and our mission is to improve neighborhood livelihood, through music acting and art.

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Jane

Overall Sad, but on the bright side. it’s better now that it’s winter. They will need all the business in the Summer when people will want to sit outside to dine.

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Breuk Iversen

Word has it that a number of business owners in Williamsburg | Brooklyn have formed their own lobby effort to sway politicians to usurp the MTA’s planned closing on the L Train for a year. So, if enough business owners here would open their wallets, they could hire a lobby effort. IMHO, that is highly unlikely as the business owners here in Astoria, Queens are modern day pirates. They are deeply motivated to act independently in the name of self-interest. So, what can be done?

In Williamsburg 2000-2001 we (11211 Magazine) launched a concerted effort between citizens, art galleries and business owners to continue calling the MTA or 311 en masse complaining about the poor service on the L train. According to the MTA, for five years (until 2006) there were more complaints coming in from Williamsburg | Brooklyn, about the L line, than the rest of NYC combined.

The effort worked excellently and today the L train has one of the most reliable and frequent train lines in Brooklyn. Community effort works!

We ❤️ Astoria has the media power, influence and a wonderful voice to put together 250-500 people to create our own lobby and begin making calls to the MTA lodging complaints about the 36th and 30th Ave., N and W station closings.

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