Will Queens Plaza Become the New Times Square?

Times Square Lite? (JetBlue)

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.

This has some locals worried, and even though they like the sign, the community board representing the area voted the signs down for fear it would create a cascade of neon. “We don’t want the honky-tonk look,” Board 2 chair Joseph Conley told the Post.

Lights, camera, Queens Plaza! (ArchPaper)

It is not just bright signs and corporate tenants that are revamping Queens Plaza, either. A generous pedestrian plaza is also being finished around the bridge, not unlike the Broadway Boulevard that transformed Times Square. With that project wrapping up in the spring, the architects behind it now want to wrap the viaduct over Queens plaza in dynamic lights, according to The Architect’s Newspaper.

Elevated about 15 feet from the ground, these bottomless, illuminated prisms will give visual identity to Queens Plaza. Similarly, the light lines will also provide illumination under the elevated subway. Potentially powered via solar energy, these LED light fixtures will be attached to beams at the lower level and will become “a well-lit canopy for pedestrians and drivers.” MPA co-founder Linda Pollak added that “the light lines are a way-finding device for the highly chaotic crossing of Jackson Avenue.”

They also hope to include a programmable multimedia screen, which could show movies. Or, in true Times Square spirit, ads.

mchaban [at] observer.com | @MC_NYC Will Queens Plaza Become the New Times Square?