Well, the LIC Clock Tower is not going to be demolished. The buyers of the historic structure, as well as nearby parcels, told the New York Times that they plan to incorporate it into their proposed 915-foot skyscraper, which will someday be the city’s tallest outside Manhattan. (The rendering above gives you an idea of just how massive this tower will be. The clock tower — which will likely be landmarked anyway — comes in at 14 stories.)
The developers Property Markets Group and the Hakim Organization are using air rights from both nearby MTA land — which cost them $56 million — as well as air rights from the clock tower to build. They told the Times that this development will be at a “Manhattan caliber.” The clock tower will remain an office building for tech firms, and there are also plans to build out a 1.25 acre park at the site.
The developers are in a race to break ground by this summer to qualify for tax breaks without having to include affordable housing. Just to make that clear, that will be 930 new units in Long Island City, none of them affordable. They aren’t the only LIC developers taking advantage of this, either. Court Square Blog just reported that Tishman Speyer began working on its massive Long Island City project which will include 1,789 apartments, none of them affordable.
The MTA has awarded 480,000 square feet of air rights to Property Markets Group and the Hakim Organization to build a 70-story tower at 29-37 41st Street. The Daily News reports that the MTA Board voted yesterday to approve the sale, which puts $56 million into the agency’s pocket. (So why did our Metrocard price just go up?) According to an MTA spokesperson, “Every dollar we are able to secure through real estate transactions helps to reduce the pressure on the fares, tolls and taxes that support the MTA.”
Current zoning at the parcel allows for 40 stories of development. With the air rights, developers can add an additional 39 stories. Last we heard, plans were for 70 stories, 830,000 square feet, and 930 units. There will be no affordable housing included in that, so LIC will get the luxury skyscraper that it’s always needed!
Yesterday, the LPC officially calendared the LIC Clock Tower for landmark designation. Though calendared, there’s no exact date on when the agency will actually vote to landmark the neo-Gothic structure, built in 1927. (The good news is that if the developers file demolition permits here, the LPC will be notified and is likely to take a vote.) A public hearing will take place before the actual landmark vote.
The LIC Post is reporting that Council Member Jimmy Van Bramer “is confident that it will landmarked by the end of June.” He supports landmarking “1,000 percent,” and he told The Post that the chairwoman of the LPC also expressed support in preserving it. We hope that this is a done deal… it’ll be quite significant to see landmarking in a neighborhood that’s been dominated by new development as of late.
Today, Council Member Jimmy Van Bramer released the participatory budget ballot for District 26, which covers Woodside, Sunnyside, Long Island City, Dutch Kills, Astoria, Queensbridge, Ravenswood and the Woodside Houses. The ballot includes 27 different projects decided on by the community. After the vote, $1 million will be allocated to the most popular projects. Project proposals include technology upgrades at local schools, playground updates, an LIC bikeway, library improvements and street safety measures. Check out the full ballot here [PDF].
Council Member Van Bramer is hosting a Project Expo on Monday, April 6th from 7 to 9 pm at the Sunnyside Community Services (43-31 39th Street) so residents can speak with project delegates, see project presentations and learn more about the proposals. Voting will take place from April 11th to the 19th at a variety of locations throughout the district. Check out the locations here [PDF].
At today’s Landmarks Preservation Commission meeting, the agency decided to officially calendar the LIC Clock Tower. That means that at a later (unknown) date, the LPC will discuss landmarking the building. The neo-Gothic structure, built in 1927, has been under threat of demolition since a developer purchased the site for $30.9 million with plans to develop directly around it.
This news is a great victory for the preservationists who recently rallied around the landmarking of the clock tower. There are now more than 1,400 signatures on a petition to save it.
This week the MTA enacted permanent, expanded service for the Q103 bus, the main route down Vernon Boulevard that connects Astoria and Long Island City. Last summer, the MTA started running the bus on expanded weekday service as well as weekend service, but only on a trial basis. Local pols, residents and neighborhood institutions have pushed to make the service permanent.
So as you can imagine the news of permanent service has made everyone happy, with praises from Senator Michael Gianaris, Borough President Melinda Katz, Assemblywoman Catherine Nolan and Assemblywoman Aravella Simotas. In a press release, Senator Gianaris stated, “There is so much happening throughout western Queens that our need for better methods of traveling between our neighborhoods has never been more pressing. This service expansion represents a hard fought victory, but I will never stop fighting for improved transit service in our community.” And BP Katz: “The area’s residents and its thriving local businesses benefited from the trial expansion and will appreciate the knowledge that this expanded service will remain in place indefinitely.”
Anyone who has ever walked or biked across the Pulaski Bridge will be thrilled with this news. The DOT announced that it is finally beginning construction to build out a dedicated bike lane across the Pulaski Bridge, which connects Greenpoint with Long Island City.
Tomorrow the work kicks off to the slight inconvenience of bridge commuters. Between 10 am and 2 pm, the DOT will fully close the bridge to vehicle, bicycle and pedestrian traffic three times for about 15 minutes each. The closure is associated with the beginning of contract work, which should last until the end of this year. The $4.2 million project will convert one southbound car lane on the bridge into a protected bike lane. The DOT will also add new markings and signage near the bike path entrance at Jackson Avenue, as well as more space for bicyclists to get onto and off the protected lane.
A few things to get out of the way at the start of this post are that a) the intersection of 23rd Street and 45th Avenue in the Hunters Point section used to be part of the Van Alst family’s farming empire, b) the Van Alst land was purchased by Eliaphas Nott on behalf of Union College in 1861, and that c) it was purchased and developed by two fellows named Root and Rust in 1870. The predominance of buildings in the historic district are actually from the 1890s, and even in the 19th century this area was considered special – it was “White Collar Row” and home to LIC’s bankers and elected officialdom.
The developers Property Markets Group and the Hakim Organization — who are seeking to build a 70-story, 930-unit skyscraper at 29-37 41st Avenue in LIC — are hoping to purchase air rights to do so. Crain’s reports that the developers will need to fork over $65 million to buy unused air rights from the MTA to build. (Currently, their plans are four times larger than what zoning allows for.) The air rights — a grand total of 480,000 square feet — would come from a nearby East Side Access construction site. The MTA Board is expected to vote on the sale this week.
The developers also plan to maintain a park just north of the parcel, and will expand or create a new entrance to the E, M and R trains at the Queens Plaza station. Property Markets Group also owns the adjacent LIC Clock Tower Building, but as you can see in the story below, the LPC is considering landmarking it.
Awesome news for preservationists in Queens! This Tuesday the Landmarks Preservation Commission will decide whether or not to “calendar” the LIC Clock Tower — officially known as The Bank of the Manhattan Company Long Island City Branch Building — to be considered for landmark status. Located at 29-27 Queens Plaza North, preservationists have rallied around this neo-Gothic structure, built in 1927, which is not protected from demolition. And recently, news came out that the owners of the clock tower, Property Markets Group, planned to develop 830,000 square feet on the surrounding land. Property Markets Group paid $30.9 million for the clock tower building late last year. As Queens preservationist Michael Perlman put it, “If not landmarked, it may undergo demolition.”
It’s not too late to sign the petition urging for landmark protection. This building is absolutely worthy of landmark status — let’s not let it be replaced with another glassy LIC skyscraper.