A $45 million overhaul of Queens Plaza has led to a development boom around the new crosswalks, bike pathways, sidewalks and 1.5-acre park that the city recently built. The “gateway to Long Island City” was a den of prostitution and drug deals not long ago.
More than 5,000 apartments have either been added or are in process within two blocks of the plaza, city officials told the New York Times. Two hotels — a 16-story, 183-room Hilton Garden Inn and a 31-story Marriott with 160 hotel rooms and 135 rental apartments — are also under construction and will overlook a new park dubbed Dutch Kills Green.
A building plan was filed for a 14-story, 65-room Hotel Vetiver at 41-32 27th Street in November, and Developer Heatherwood Communities is also building a 58-story residential tower at 27-03 42nd Road, by Queens Plaza South.
Bringing new office buildings to the area, however, has lately proven more of a challenge. The Bloomberg administration aimed to turn Queens Plaza into the next Jersey City — which has attracted businesses like investment bank Goldman Sachs and now Forbes — but commercial brokers told the Times that such a renaissance is years away. That said, some commercial leases have been inked, including a 200,000-square-foot headquarters for airline JetBlue, in the Brewster Building at 27-01 Queens Plaza North, and the fully-leased 22-story tower 2 Gotham Center on Queens Plaza South.
“It’s been more of a trickle than a flood,” John Reinersten, senior vice president at CBRE, told the Times.
And while beautification efforts continue, commercial brokers said that the end of the city’s Relocation and Employment Assistance Program, last summer, which offered tax credits of as much as $3,000 per employee, has removed a huge potential carrot. [NYT] — Julie Strickland