2015-05-20 / Features

Clock Tower Building Wins Landmark Designation

By Liz Goff
The city Landmarks Preservation Commission (LPC) last week voted unanimously to approve landmark status for the Long Island City “Clock Tower” building ((Manhattan Bank Building,) ending a year-long battle by preservationists to save the iconic, 83-year-old building from demolition or architectural redesign.

The 14-story Manhattan Bank Building served as home of the Queens Chamber of Commerce for more than a decade and featured a ground floor, hand painted mural commissioned by the Long Island Savings Bank, that depicted the history of Queens County The building at 29-27 Bridge Plaza North was the tallest building in Queens until the 51-story Citicorp Tower was completed in 1990.

Generations of straphangers and tourists were welcomed to Queens County by an illuminated clock that stands in a tower at the top of the building. Straphangers depended on the accuracy of the clock as they made their way to and from work in Manhattan, while news chopper pilots broadcast regular time and traffic updaters from “the clock at the Queens Plaza transportation hub.”

Property Masters Group purchased the building in the fall of 2014 and notified tenants weeks later that their leases would not be renewed after May 31.

Property Masters Group and partner The Hakim Group, recently released plans for development of a 77-story mixed-use skyscraper and public playground on land adjacent to the Manhattan Bank Building, adding a new urgency to the efforts of preservationists who sought the landmark designation.

“For nearly a century, the Queens Clock Tower building has been one of Long Island City’s most recognizable structures, greeting hundreds of thousands of commuters as they enter the borough,” LPC chairwoman Meenakshi Srinivasan said. “The commission is proud to recognize this iconic building, which represents a significant period of development in Long Island City.”

Property Masters Group and The Hakim Group said recently that they are planning to renovate the interior of the Manhattan Bank Building for use as a Tech Center. The developers had not indicated any plans to demolish or redesign any portion of the building exterior.

The landmark designation became effective immediately after the LDC vote.


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