Me, Gianna and Masud in our new space

Me, Gianna and Masud in our new space


A father, a James Bond lookalike and a restaurateur walk into an empty space.

I can see that eye roll forming as you read this. Oh, great, another bar joke.

What am I getting myself into?

Let me get to the point. 

It is Monday, September 2, 2019, and we are standing in a cavernous place on the ground floor of The Maximilian/Rose NYC, a property of O'Connor Capital Partners.  It is a 12-story full-service luxury rental building in Long Island City that boasts a French bakery on the corner where you can pick up a quelque chose and munch on that as you walk to the waterfront, and the future home of the Queens Council on the Arts.

“Hey, can we get someone from management down here? How about Angela? Did anyone speak to Izzy?” asks Mark, our architect and young father of 2, and spokesperson for our team on the ground. We have our architects, engineer, and contractor here coordinating schedules with the building management people. Finally.

It has taken us just about a year of many meetings, many designs, many disappointments and many weeks of waiting for approvals to get to this point where we can say to Willie, our Irish contractor who bears a startling resemblance to Daniel Craig, the English actor who plays James Bond in Firefall, “We’re good to go!”

Like one U.S. president who was not known for leadership expertise but was reknown for having a brilliant Cabinet, I am very clear about what I don’t know anything about. In this case, construction.

Which is why I have the best team. 

The team

The team


This is our kick off meeting. We will be on site every week for a construction pow wow from now until January 1, 2020, our scheduled completion date.

Permits will be pulled, the wood flooring we salvaged from a school gym will be set up and work on the door is going to start, all this week. All of us will get lots of meeting recaps and updates.

Gianna, our board president and owner/chef of Manducatis Rustica, a country style Italian restaurant just around the corner on Vernon Boulevard, has already scoped out a place to mount a Go Pro camera to run continually throughout the construction.

The space

The space


As we were leaving, I turned to Willie and asked, “Does this space look smaller to you than the last time we were here?”

Masud, our development manager, said, “Actually, I think it looks bigger.”

“That is why we are in charge,” said Daniel Craig in that great brogue and with a grin, looking up from the plans.

My perception, of space and construction, is about to be shaken and stirred.


HoongYee Lee Krakauer is the Executive Director of the Queens Council on the Arts.

You can find her here:

Instagram @hoongyeelee

Twitter @hylkrakauer