Sunday, July 09, 2006

Queens Plaza development

I take the subway train every day from home, in Astoria, to work, in Greenwich Village. The subway is elevated in Queens, and the last stop before it dives under the East River and into Manhattan is Queensboro Plaza. This "plaza" is the Queens base of the Queensboro (59th St.) Bridge, and it's a fairly ugly and industrial part of the fairly ugly and industrial neighborhood of Long Island City. But, as reported nicely by the New York Times today in their City section, the area is undergoing a renaissance of sorts. After being a center of prostitution and street crime for decades, with decreasing residents and crumbling factories, the area started to improve in the 80s. The Citibank Building, the lone skyscraper in Queens, three or four blocks from the plaza, was completed in 1990. The Museum of Modern Art, while rebuilding its Manhattan location, for several exhibited its collection in its warehouse and office facility in Long Island City, MoMA QNS. In 2001, much of Long Island City was rezoned for development, and several projects are underway or have been completed. A smaller skyscraper next to the Citybank Building is nearly done. Towards the river, new condo towers are going up daily, Silvercup Studios is planning to expand to a site next to the river, and there's even a little beach with genuine trucked-in sand. Several old buildings across from the plaza have already been converted to offices (Met Life) and condos (The Queens Plaza).

New to me in the Times piece were discussion of three new projects that are to start soon. Another residential tower is to be built next to the new condos. The horrifically ugly municipal parking garage on the South side of the plaza, a giant concrete blight, will be torn down and replaced with an office tower. And, most exciting to me as I look out the windows of the train, a parking lot next to the tracks will be converted into a park:

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