2015-04-08 / Front Page

Clock Tower Safe, Building To Go Hi-Tech

BY LIZ GOFF

A skyscraper planned for development near he Queens Plaza transportation hub in Long Island City will soon overshadow its 86-year old neighbor, the Manhattan Bank Building.

But truth be told, the skyscraper will owe its height, if not its existence, to the 14-story bank building. Developers of the skyscraper are depending, in part, on land and air rights from the Manhattan Bank Building, and its iconic clock tower, to send the skyscraper soaring 77-srtories, 915-feet over the surrounding community.

Developers of the skyscraper recently reached an agreement with Metropolitan Transit Authority (MTA) officials to purchase air rights near a parcel of land near 29-37 41st Avenue in Long Island City, that will allow the “as of right” construction of Queens tallest high rise..

As first reported in the March 25 edition of the Queens Gazette, Crains New York Business recently said the proposed tower is four times larger than zoning regulations allow at the location and the developer would need more land space to complete the project as planed.

Under the current zoning, the owners would only be able to build a 38-story tower at the site, but by purchasing and transferring air rights at a nearby site owned by the MTA, the owners are able to proceed, as-of-right, with construction of the 77-story. 915-foot tower.

Queens Plaza Park Development reached an agreement with MTA officials to purchase the air rights for $56 million, clearing the way for the tower.

Property Markets Group acquired the Manhattan Bank Building in November 2014 for more than $30 million and notified tenants weeks later that their leases would be terminated as of May 31, real estate sources said. The notices also alerted tenants of the landlord’s “intention to demolish a portion of the building,” the sources said.

Preservationists immediately called on the Landmarks Preservation Commission (LPC) to consider the bank building for landmark designation. The commission has calendared the building for a first hearing in the landmark process.

Developers Property Markets Group and the Hakim Organization issued a recent statement saying, “The clock tower once marked Queens as a borough on the rise, and with our new project, we want to give the building the prominence it deserves.”

Real estate sources said the developers had no plan to demolish the Manhattan Bank Building. The developers plan to transform the building into a local tech center and are planning to pay for the public park to be located on the newly acquired MYA parcels, real estate sources said.

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