In further confirmation of the stroller army’s successful invasion of Long Island City, New York Kids Club signed a 15-year, 5,003-square-foot lease at 4545 Center Boulevard.
The private “enrichment center” for preschool children will open by the LIC waterfront in September 2014 in TF Cornerstone‘s new mixed-use high-rise. This space–the tenant’s first in Queens–will offer preschool classes as well as after school, art, music and fitness programs.
During his opening remarks at the 5Pointz redevelopment hearing, developer David Wolkoff, whose father Jerry bought the Long Island City property in the 1970s, told the audience, “We’ve been members of the community for over 40 years.” Though they certainly tried (26 years! 29! 33! 4!), none of the speakers in opposition could quite top his time in Long Island City.
“I have fond memories of crawling in the basement of this building” as a child, he told the hostile crowd.
Normally the Wolkoffs wouldn’t have to grovel—it is, after all, their property. But the city dangles extra density as a carrot to developers— a tantalizing 60 percent in the case of this site— if they agree to build extra parking and plazas and to endure the public review process. (Amenities that Court Square has in abundance, including the surprisingly dense thicket of trees by One Court Square. If Jane Jacobs were still alive, we can’t help but wonder if she’d question the number of trees and the paucity of people.)
THERE GOES THE NEIGHBORHOOD
Long Island City architecture, though respectable (The Observer appreciates the relative paucity of façade-ruining PTAC air conditioning grilles in new construction), is not exactly what you’d call edgy.
ODA Architecture would apparently like to change that. Far from the towers on the waterfront, it appears that the New York-based architectural practice is working on a project on Read More
Is Long Island City the next Murray Hill? Or the next Williamburg? Or has it gone straight from being like the old, before-it-was-cool Williamsburg to the future no-longer-cool because it’s all I-bankers living in luxury towers Williamsburg?
Who knows? Definitely not Long Island City. What Long Island City does know is that it doesn’t want to be Long Island City anymore. It wants to be “LIC,” which will stop tourists from thinking it is on Long Island and therefore, both uncool and really far away.
“It puts us out on Long Island, and that’s inaccurate—we are urban and hip,” Rob MacKay, head of the Queens Local Development Corp told the New York Post about the desired name change.
Long Island City proper might be square in the path of the storm surge, but up the hill in Astoria, things are looking a bit more placid.
The Observer took a walk around the neighborhood to see how folks were faring and discovered that, even though the rain was picking up and the wind beginning to Read More
THERE GOES THE NEIGHBORHOOD
As the above-ground train rolls past the Court Square stop on the 7 line, a stone’s throw into the heart of Long Island City, passengers are awakened by a defiant cacophony of shapes and colors against a backdrop of the graying and decrepit Queens skyline. There, a red-brick warehouse stands proud, one entirely outfitted in graffiti tags and murals by aerosol artists. Born of a mission to create a legal urban canvas for the criminal art form flaring up in excess throughout the city during the early ’90s, the brainchild of founder Pat DiLillo—then known as “The Phun Phactory”—opened in 1993. In 2002, Jonathan Cohen—an FIT grad who had been tagging since he was 13 and is better known in these parts by his nom de plume Meresone—began curating the work. He soon rechristened the building “5 Pointz,” after the five boroughs of New York City. But it has since branched out and become a cultural mecca of sorts, with pieces by artists from cities such as Paris, Madrid, London and Germany.
On any weekday, while businesses—a clothing factory, storage space for city hotdog vendors and a small non-profit gallery called Local Projects—hum away inside the building, Mr. Cohen can be found in or around the building, monitoring projects and making sure nobody is painting without his permission.
“I’m here every day, I have no life.”
But the 39-year-old Flushing Native may soon be getting his free time back—at the price of his life’s work.
It was a big deal when JetBlue decided to move to Long Island City two years ago. The air carrier founded here would not be splitting town, and it would even be boosting a nascent business district that has never done much beyond the Citi back offices despite the one-stop subway ride to Midtown. But it turns out there might also be implications for the skyline.
No, JetBlue is not building a big new tower, it is still moving into an eight-story loft building beside the Queensborough Bridge. But there are plans for a big blue sign on the roof, a 40-footer. That is bigger than the GE sign atop Rockefeller Center, and that is kind of the point. “When complete, it will be easily seen from the east side of Manhattan across the river,” the airline writes on its corporate blog, BlueTales.
With three dozen projects underway in Long Island City, the brothers behind Rockrose Development—two of whom split to form TF Cornerstone in 2009—are poised to compete against one another for prize renters and retailers in what is rapidly becoming Queens’s answer to Williamsburg and Dumbo. TF Cornerstone chairman Thomas Elghanayan spoke to The Commercial Observer about the EastCoast, his firm’s waterfront rental complex, the infamous Rockrose Development coin toss, and his tense relationship with brother Henry Elghanayan, chief executive of Rockrose Development.
In 2009, the brothers behind the Rockrose Development Corporation—Henry, Thomas and Frederick Elghanayan—divided their four-decade business partnership in half, with Frederick and Thomas spinning off to form TF Cornerstone, and Henry staying put at Rockrose with his son, Justin Elghanayan, 33. Since that relatively amicable split, in which the company’s $3 billion empire was divided in half, Henry Elghanayan has rebuilt the portfolio and elevated his son, who has taken the reins as the project manager of Linc LIC, a development in Long Island City, Queens, scheduled to include two residential towers and a retail complex that, when finished in 2013, could breathe new life into the long-simmering neighborhood. Last week, Justin Elghanayan spoke to The Commercial Observer about his family’s recent split, the future of Rockrose and his Long Island City project, which includes what could be the tallest building in Queens.