I'm glad to hear the Vernon buildings are still happening. Hey ramvid, since you pass by that ways sometimes, do you know what's going on with the SilverCup project? I personally think that's the most exciting proposal in Queens, especially because it will bring jobs to Queens, but I don't see any action there.
A Planned ‘Airport Village’ Near J.F.K. Finds a Cornerstone
By TERRY PRISTIN
Published: October 24, 2007
When the transit hub in the Jamaica section of Queens was expanded in 2003 to enable passengers arriving by subway or train to get to Kennedy International Airport in eight minutes by light rail, community leaders hoped the glassy new AirTrain station would encourage additional development.
In a sign that this dream was not far-fetched, the Greater Jamaica Development Corporation said last week that the South Korean developer of Techno-Mart, a shopping complex in Seoul that houses more than 2,000 electronics retailers, plans to build a 13-story $260 million wholesale merchandise mart on Sutphin Boulevard and 94th Avenue, cater-corner from the station.
The 979,000-square-foot building will have 10 floors of showroom space to accommodate 500 businesses, 172,000 square feet of retail space and parking for 800 cars, said Paul Travis, a New York developer who is teaming with the Korean company, Prime Construction. It will be Prime’s first foray into the United States.
The project is the first to be announced since the area was rezoned last month to encourage development of a lively “airport village.”
The wholesale mart will replace the former Merkel meatpacking plant. Built in 1919, the plant once employed more than 500 people but was permanently shut in 1965 after the authorities seized 20 tons of tainted beef and horse meat.
Though many, if not most, of the businesses in the new mart will be from Korea, the project is expected to generate hundreds of jobs, said F. Carlisle Towery, the president of the Greater Jamaica Development Corporation, a nonprofit group that has worked for four decades to stimulate investment in the area. “It will be catalytic,” he said.
This is not the first time, however, that a wholesale Korean market has been planned for Queens. In 2004, a group of 53 Korean wholesalers from Midtown Manhattan was chosen from among 12 applicants as the developers for a 26-acre city-owned site in College Point that was once Flushing Airport.
The wholesalers planned to provide a new home for about 180 businesses between 26th and 36th Streets, near Broadway. With the neighborhood becoming increasingly residential, these business owners, who import toys, bags, costume jewelry, souvenirs and other goods from Asian countries and sell them to retailers, had found themselves squeezed by escalating rents.
But the proposal for an International Merchandise Mart drew heated opposition from many older residents of College Point, and eight months later, Mayor Michael R. Bloomberg shelved the project. The wholesale group’s leader, Jay Chung, the owner of Jay Joshua, a company on 27th Street between Broadway and the Avenue of the Americas, which carries a wide assortment of souvenir items, said the members had spent more than $1 million on the College Point plans.
After the project collapsed, the city tried to help the Korean wholesalers find another site. For months, Mr. Chung negotiated with Mr. Travis and his partner, James Levin, who had acquired a long-term lease to the Merkel site. But eventually, members of Mr. Chung’s group began drifting away and he gave up on the Jamaica site. “We couldn’t agree on a number of issues,” Mr. Chung said.
By then, executives of the Acreciti Development Group, the company that built and manages Seoul Plaza Shopping Mall in the Flushing section of Queens, had brought Mr. Travis and Mr. Levin together with Prime Construction. Prime is building a second Techno-Mart in southwest Seoul and is creating a Chinatown in Goyang City, a suburb.
Mr. Travis said that Prime’s track record would make it easier for the project to secure financing. “We needed a major player who could stand behind the mart,” he said.
Prime Construction will be responsible for operating the mart but will sell — rather than rent — space to individual wholesalers, who will work side by side without being separated by partitions, he said. Prime expects that many of the businesses in the Seoul Techno-Mart — where the same merchant has both retail and wholesale customers — will want to set up operations in New York, Mr. Travis said. He said that Prime also intended to offer space to Manhattan wholesalers, and that those that sell electronic goods would fit in especially well. “I think we made it very clear to them that we would certainly welcome them as tenants,” he said.
A Planned ‘Airport Village’ Near J.F.K. Finds a Cornerstone
Published: October 24, 2007
(Page 2 of 2)
But Mr. Chung said he did not know whether his members would agree to participate in the new project in a subordinate role, especially if they were relegated to the higher floors. He also expressed bitterness that Mr. Travis had sought another partner while the talks with his group were still under way. But he said the wholesalers would base their decision on business considerations, not emotion. Mr. Travis declined to respond to Mr. Chung’s complaints.
For Mr. Travis and Mr. Levin, the Merkel site seemed to offer the same potential they saw in the Kingsbridge area of the Bronx when they developed River Plaza, a shopping center at 225th Street and Broadway that opened in 2004. Then Mr. Towery introduced them to the Korean wholesalers. “What could be more ideal — the connection to the airport and this site?” Mr. Travis said.
He said it took them two years to get the plant’s owner, Rita Stark, to agree to a long-term lease for the site. Ms. Stark inherited a local real estate empire from her father, who died in 1988, but has frustrated advocates of urban renewal for years by keeping many of her properties off the market.
The lease was signed more than a year ago, Mr. Travis said. But Prime would not commit to the deal until the rezoning was approved.
The other participants in the project are the HRH Construction Company of New York and Acreciti Development.
Even before the lease was signed, demolition of the building began, with the city providing a $4 million loan. The partners expect to begin construction a year from now and complete the project in 2010.
City officials said they were happy that the project was going forward. “This reinforces the bigger goal that the administration has — to diversify the city’s economy not just by industry but by borough,” said Robert C. Lieber, the president of the Economic Development Corporation.
Jonathan Bowles, the director of the Center for an Urban Future, a New York City research organization, and a critic of the Bloomberg administration for abandoning the plan for the College Point mart, said he hoped the new project would make room for the Midtown Manhattan wholesalers. These businesses, which sell goods to retailers up and down the East Coast, are suffering the same displacement as other niche industries, he said.
“These industries don’t get a lot of attention,” Mr. Bowles said, “but they are not unimportant to the city’s economy.”
Living in Woodside, Queens.
'Gateway to Douglaston' considered for historic status
BY JOHN LAUINGER
daily news staff writer
Tuesday, March 18th 2008, 4:00 AM
The effort to expand the Douglaston Historic District could take a major step forward this week.
The city Landmarks Preservation Commission is expected to vote on whether to call a public hearing on a proposal to add 17 homes to the Douglaston Historic District, a collection of roughly 600 residences on the Douglaston Peninsula that were granted landmark status in 1997.
If the 11-member commission votes to hold a public hearing on the so-called Douglaston Historic District Extension, a report would then be drafted containing detailed descriptions of each building under consideration.
That report would serve as the basis for the final step in the process - a vote by the commission on whether or not to create the proposed extension.
The final vote is expected sometime during the 2009 fiscal year, which begins July 1, according to commission spokeswoman Lisi de Bourbon.
The 17 historically significant homes that make up the proposed extension, many dating to the mid-1800s, are known in the community as the "Gateway to Douglaston."
They line Douglaston Parkway and side streets immediately to the south of the Douglaston Historic District.
The area also includes the Douglaston Hill Historic District, 31 homes south of the Long Island Rail Road landmarked in 2004.
To further protect the waterside dominion from the spread of "McMansions," the historical society asked the Landmarks Commission to have the proposed extension include 35 homes.
But the agency selected 17 of what it termed the most "high society" homes.
It also included a handful of old garages and outbuildings, a Tudor-revival co-op, Public School 98 and the Community Church of Douglaston.
Copyright 2008 The New York Daily News.
For a Church Bathed in History, a Last-Minute Miracle
Uli Seit for The New York Times
The 161-year-old St. Saviour’s is to be restored and relocated to a cemetery in Middle Village.
By JAMES ANGELOS
Published: April 6, 2008
FOR the past few weeks, a large excavator with tanklike wheels has stood a few ominous feet from St. Saviour’s, an old Gothic-style church atop a small hill in Maspeth, Queens. At 11 a.m. on March 24, the machine was just hours from turning the rickety structure, built in 1847 for the Episcopal Church, to rubble.
But St. Saviour’s got a stay of execution, thanks to a last-minute agreement between the developer of the property and Robert Holden, president of the Juniper Park Civic Association. The church was designed by Richard Upjohn, the architect who designed Trinity Church in Manhattan.
“Saint Saviour’s Church will be saved,” Mr. Holden announced last Monday at a news conference outside the church. Mr. Holden, whose group represents local residents, said the developer had given him about a month to move the church from the property. The plan is to restore the building and relocate it to All Faiths Cemetery in nearby Middle Village.
The church, in a neighborhood dotted with warehouses and aluminum-sided homes, has become a symbol of what many residents feel is Queens’s often-neglected history. But for a single lamppost, there are no designated landmarks in Maspeth, a sore subject for some residents. Those trying to preserve the church are dismayed that the city’s Landmarks Preservation Commission, which reviewed the church on three occasions, never took action toward designating the building. The church was damaged by fire in 1970, and Lisi de Bourbon, a spokeswoman for the commission, said the commission had determined that “the original fabric of the complex was too altered.”
After the fire, the original building was covered in a layer of unremarkable white vinyl siding. But Mr. Holden and other preservationists insisted that a rare jewel lay underneath.
Maspeth Development LLC, the firm that bought the 1.5-acre church property for $7.5 million in 2005, had intended to demolish the church, but its plans were obstructed by a lawsuit and at times bitter protests by local residents. A compromise proposal to build 27 three-family homes around the church fell through.
Shortly after the church was saved from a deathblow, its vinyl siding was removed to reveal the redwood building Mr. Upjohn had created — a rare example of what is known as Carpenter Gothic, according to Mr. Holden. The original bell tower and southernmost wall are missing because of the fire, but the rest of the early building appears largely intact.
Mr. Holden, a tall, gray-haired 56-year-old who sees history where others see mundane warehouses and homes, toured the muddy grounds of St. Saviour’s on a recent rainy afternoon. Remnants of the church’s interior lay in a heap. Mr. Holden pointed his umbrella at areas of historical interest beyond the church grounds, among them the home owned by James Maurice, a 19th-century congressman, now covered with white aluminum siding and sprouting a few television satellites. Past a lumberyard across the street from the church, he pointed toward what he said was a Colonial burial ground turned into a parking lot. “There’s no respect for the history here,” he said, adding, “Queens is so disrespected.”
Copyright 2008 The New York Times.
Does anyone know what is going on the corner of 63rd Drive and 99th Street?
There is nothing to see now. They are just excavating. However, major progress was made on the Rego Park II mall. The parking structure is mostly done, and steel is rising.
Jaffster, do you live in or frequent the area? I know there's also another somewhat large (5 stories, 96 units) residential project a few blocks away. It's at Yellowstone Rd. bet. 64th Ave. and 64th Rd.
I know that project has been going on for awhile now so there's things to see.
Maybe you can snap a few pics and then swing by the mall site also. Or do we have to wait until I go there again and do everything myself (but that won't be until later this year)?
I do live in the general area. I guess I can try to take some pics for you guys. The one on 64th and Yellowstone is called "Novo 64". That one is supposed to be done by the end of the summer. There is a lot of progress on that one.
Found this for 'Novo 64':
Not bad at all. It's especially satisfying since this is taking place on what was before, a parking lot.
I wonder if they'll have ground floor retail somewhere in there.
Jaffster, do you know anything about the McSam condo project at 63-14 Queens Blvd. (bet. 61 St. & 64 St.)?
It's suppose to be 8 stories with 96 units. I don't hold any hopes (for anything of quality) for this one because it's:
1) a McSam
2) designed by a Michael Kang.
Anyway, I think it's still in the early stages, so you might not see anything there (although I could be wrong).