Community, pols applaud affordable housing units in project
Although leaves are falling off trees as New York City settles into autumn, the season is still a perfect time for New Yorkers to plant flowers and enjoy their outdoor spaces.
This past weekend, the Hunters Point Parks Conservancy hosted its annual LIC Bulbfest. Volunteers planted 16,000 new bulbs in Gantry Plaza State Park and Hunters Point South Park, which will bloom once spring arrives.
Since its inception seven years ago, the LIC Bulbfest event has planted nearly 42,000 bulbs in the two parks, many of which continue to bloom year after year.
“We are very excited to continue this LIC tradition for a seventh season,” said conservancy president Rob Basch. “The parks have never looked better, and we all look forward to our community turning out once again to contribute to keeping our parks the special place they have become.”
All of the bulbs for the event were donated by the Van Zyverden Company, while additional funding was contributed by corporate sponsors, including Amazon.
“This event is such a fun opportunity for our community to get together and experience the park,” said Carley Graham Garcia, Amazon’s head of External Affairs for New York City. “We’re looking forward to enjoying these blooms with our neighbors across the metro area in the spring.”
Dozens of volunteers attended this year’s event, making it one of the largest in the Hunters Point Parks Convervancy’s history despite ongoing COVID considerations.
Although the past year and a half have been difficult, Basch and the Hunters Point Parks Conservancy team remain committed to maintaining Western Queens’ green spaces for the community and future generations.
“Last year was challenging with a lot of illegal activity in the park,” Basch explained. “People were drinking outside and having raves until 3 a.m. because they weren’t able to meet anywhere else.
“There are going to be a ton of new people coming to the neighborhood, and we have a strong desire to keep the parks clean and safe for the future,” he added. “You need a strong conservancy to maintain these spaces.”
Rising high above Long Island City, Skyline Tower officially became Queens tallest building when it topped off in 2019. However, this new development is impressive for reasons beyond its height.
Developed by Queens-based United Construction & Development Group, Skyline Tower aims to enhance both the skyline and community of Western Queens.
“For us, we were always trying to do a building that was pushing the boundaries,” said William Xu, vice president of United Construction & Development Group. “That’s why we wanted to build the tallest building in Queens.”
In addition to height, United Construction & Development Group was focused on giving people the opportunity to invest in Long Island City and the greater Queens community.
“There have been a lot of other buildings going up in LIC, but a lot of those buildings are rentals only,” Xu explained. “Up until this point there was not a building of this scale that was a condo building where people could actually buy units.
“Long Island City does get a lot of people from out of the borough who are transplants, but they always live in these rentals and leave, which is making this area a lot like Manhattan,” he added. “We believe that if you want a community to grow, you have to allow people to buy into the area. It was a big risk, but we had faith that people would make LIC their home.”
Designed by Hill West Architects and Whitehall Interiors, and located at 23-15 44th Drive, Skyline Tower rises 67 stories. The building’s 802 condominium units have been on sale since 2018, including studios, one-bedroom, two-bedrooms, three-bedrooms, and penthouse residences running from $500,000 to $4 million.
The mixed-use development includes commercial space on the ground floor and sublevels, as well as a bevy of amenities for residents. These include a 75-foot lap pool, cedar-planked sauna, pet spa, children’s playroom, and business fitness centers.
However, Skyline Tower’s biggest selling point is its transit-rich location. Situated directly above the Court Square subway station, which serves the E, G, M, and 7 trains, the building offers direct access to the underground station, making it effortless for residents to commute into Manhattan, Brooklyn, or elsewhere in Queens.
Building above a subway station presents a unique set of challenges, and required United Construction & Development Group to work alongside the MTA. Together, the company and agency enhanced portions of the station and installed a new, ADA-compliant glass elevator, transforming Court Square into one of the most accessible stations in the city.
“We always want to not only come into the community, but also enhance it,” Xu said. “The cost of the subway station alone was almost $16 million, but it’s very important to understand that what makes a project successful is the neighborhood. Investing into the neighborhood is, in a way, investing into your property.”
United Construction & Development Group has worked on a number of projects throughout Queens, including Parkside Tower in Flushing, Fairfield Inn by Marriott near LaGuardia Airport, and the forthcoming Justice Avenue Tower in Elmhurst.
None of these projects come close to rivalling the scope of Skyline Tower, yet they taught United Construction & Development Group important lessons about investing in and strengthening local communities.
“We’ve been developers all over Queens since the beginning of our company,” explained Xu, who grew up in Bayside and Little Neck. “Because of that we know the areas and the neighborhoods and we know this is what we can do best.”
When United Construction & Development Group originally bought the lot where Skyline Tower now stands, they were bidding against massive companies from Manhattan and beyond. While he may never be sure for certain, Xu believes they won the bid because of their reputation and dedication to being a hometown developer.
“I’m not sure if we were the highest or the lowest bid, but I think we were chosen because we were from Queens and knew these neighborhoods,” he said. “Where better to develop than in your own backyard, where you know it better than anywhere else? Queens is our home and that’s where we feel we do the best.”
Over 1,000 people sign up for conservancy fundraiser
Plaxall, The Floating Hospital receive this year’s awards
All proceeds go to Hunters Point Parks Conservancy
Real estate developer Grubb Properties recently filed permits to construct a 17-story mixed-use building at 41-34 27th Street in Long Island City, directly across the street from the Queensboro Plaza subway station.
The two-story building currently on the plot is connected to the subway platform via a pedestrian bridge, giving passerby easy access to the 7, N, and W trains.
The new building will rise 214 feet and offer 231,646 square feet of residential space and 8,966 of commercial space. Once completed, it will include 317 residences, 25 percent of which will be designated as affordable housing.
According to the developer’s website, the property is focused on bringing “essential housing” that will support New York’s growing millennial workforce.
Based in North Carolina, Grubb Properties is a newcomer to the New York real estate game. They acquired the property from Vasiliki Falidas, owner of Queens-based company Estia Realty. Demolition permits were filed in May 2021 for the two-story building on the property.
Handel Architects, however, is not new to Long Island City. The firm recently worked on Parcel G in Hunters Point South, a 34-story residential building along the East River. They are also currently working on the massive, multi-building Greenpoint Landing across Newtown Creek in North Brooklyn.
The new building will continue the trend of high-rise development in Long Island City. Buildings such as Queens Plaza South, 42-02 Orchard Street, and HERO LIC have all recently risen in the neighborhood, transforming the once quiet streets around Queensboro Plaza into a skyline rivaling that of the city’s other boroughs.
On April 22, employee volunteers from the Macy’s Partners in Time program helped the Hunters Point Parks Conservancy in Long Island City with park clean up, trash removal, weeding and planting for the spring season. The group was also given a tour of the park, touching on its sustainability and resilient design features.
Through a corporate giving grant, Macy’s is providing a $10,000 contribution in support of the Hunters Point Parks Conservancy efforts.