Two competing plans for an abandoned rail line in Queens, New York—a linear park and a commuter rail line—have neighborhood groups scratching their heads. Advocates for the proposed High Line-esque park called the QueensWay are slowly making some headway, but are still facing an uphill battle against a few community groups. The organization, Friends of the QueensWay, is pushing to transform the defunct LIRR Rockaway Beach Branch into 3.5 miles of new parkland that would stretch from Rego Park and Forest Hills down to Ozone Park. The Regional Rail Working Group, however, has another vision for those tracks, proposing a commuter train service to the Rockaways. [Above, a video traces the route of the proposed QueensWay park.] The Woodhaven Residents’ Block Association announced in October on their website that they would not support either plan. Their list of grievances included concerns about high costs potentially imposed on residents in addition to privacy and parking issues. Andrea Crawford, a member of Friends of the QueensWay, said that in spite of some opposition, several community groups have expressed their support of the park proposal. Community Board 9 officially endorsed the QueensWay, and Crawford said the response from Community Board 6 is positive, “What we are doing now is to keep explaining what the project is and try to raise money for a feasibility study.” The QueensWay has only just started to make a dent in their fundraising efforts for the feasibility study, which will be used to assess structural and environmental conditions, prepare a master plan, and find funding. So far, the group has raised about $6,000 out of their $50,000 goal on an online crowd-sourcing website.
Posts tagged with "Queens":
If you ride your bike along Flushing Avenue in Brooklyn on your way to or from Williamsburg, you may have noticed a splash of color along the bike lane’s barrier. Similarly, the Flushing Bay Promenade in Queens got some color recently in efforts to bring art to the public. The New York City Department of Transportation, New York Cares and the Community Affairs Unit organized the event in collaboration with two Brooklyn-based artists Deanna Lee and Kara Lynch. On 1,200 feet of the Flushing Avenue barrier between Williamsburg Street and Washington Avenue 30 volunteers executed Lynch’s vision to display 18th and 19th century wallpaper patterns. Her idea was to merge contrasting realms by decorating public space with typically private design. In Queens, Lee also lead a group of 30 volunteers in painting 700 feet of the promenade’s barrier with a blue and green wave like pattern. Her work juxtaposes ocean like patterns against an urban backdrop. The projects, which will remain for 11 months, are part of the Barrier Beautification project initiated by NYCDOT’s Urban Art Program in 2008. Currently the Barrier Beautification project has transformed twenty barriers, by and for the public. Each spring artists can submit their work for a Barrier Beautification site and are eligible to receive up to $2,500 for project expenses. For more information visit the DOT’s website here.
With summer weather quickly approaching, it's the perfect time to kick back and dream about a sweet bungalow by the beach... in Queens. Endangered bungalows throughout New York City have been on the radar for some time now, but documentary filmmaker Jennifer Callahan has focused on the fight to preserve the few bungalows left on the Rockaway Peninsula in her film Bungalows of the Rockaways, which will be screened tonight at Tenement Talks at the Tenement Museum. The filmmaker got Estelle Parsons to do the voice over and Columbia's Andrew Dolkart to comment on historic value. Planning Commissioner Amanda Burden talks about the zoning surrounding the enclaves. Even Council Speaker Christine Quinn's dad, 83-year-old Lawrence Quinn, weighs in with his memories of the bungalow. But for the most part, the residents of Rockaway do most of the heavy lifting. The film traces the history of the bungalows from their 17th century origins in Bengal, India, on though to their arrival in England, then New England, and eventually on to their landing in NYC and in Rockaway, where they replaced tent communities of the working class. Callahan doesn't shy away from the sordid bits of Rockaway history, such as segregation. The communities were primarily divided between African Americans, Jews, and Irish, with the blacks responsible for getting the bungalows cleaned and ready for when the whites showed up for summer vacation. Later, when Robert Moses arrived on the scene, his slum clearance displaced scores of African Americans. Many crowded into the bungalows under appalling conditions. There's no need for a spoiler alert in revealing the ending. Suffice it to say, though the Planning Commission and Parks have stepped up efforts to retain the neighborhood's character, the area has yet to be landmarked and without a historic designation, the bungalows are not protected.
Yesterday morning, after a bevy of Modernist aficionados crowded into the Landmarks Preservation Commission hearing room to tout the merits of Bunshaft's interiors at the Manufacturers Hanover Trust, the commission turned their focus to two historic African American neighborhoods: Sandy Ground in Staten Island and Addisleigh Park in Queens. The unanimous vote for the landmarks designations passed on the first day of Black History Month. While the three building designations in Sandy Ground may have appeared a bit piecemeal to an outsider, the historically inclined might have been able to knit together the original fabric of the historic black community on Staten Island. The designations included the Rev. Isaac Coleman and Rebecca Gray Coleman House, the Rossville A.M.E. Zion Church, and two wood frame houses on Bloomingdale Road. The real blockbuster designation went to Addisleigh Park Historic District. The new redistricting includes more than 400 homes, putting the area firmly in the historic camp with Sugar Hill in Harlem, though its English Tudor, Colonial and Mediterranean Revival suburban homes make it look more like Ardsley or Bronxville in Westchester. The land, purchased at the end of the 19th century, saw its first homes in the 1910s and 1920s. Originally an exclusive white neighborhood that prohibited blacks from moving in through restrictive covenants, the area became a legal battleground when white neighbors took to the courts to keep blacks out during the 1940s. But by that time the area was already home to 48 black families, including Lena Horne, Count Basie, and Fats Waller. "The very people who had to fight to preserve it had to fight to get in it," noted one of the commissioners. After the Supreme Court ruled against racially restrictive covenants in 1948, the area blossomed as a middle class black community. Horne, Basie and Waller were joined by baseball greats Jackie Robinson and Roy Campanella. Bassist Milt Hinton and Ella Fitzgerald moved in. For Rene Hill, a member of the United Coalition of Veterans and Community Rights (UCVCR), the designation was bittersweet because it did not include the 55 acres of the Community Living Center run by the Veterans Administration. Nearly half the site has been proposed for a housing development by St. Albans Village, LLC. Resident Yvonne Jackson nodded her head in agreement, but said the day was still worth celebrating. Jackson grew up walking through Addisleigh Park on her way to school and bought her home in the neighborhood after retiring in 2001. She said, "I always told my friends, when I grow up I have to move there."
For the first time in 15 years, the Unisphere, one of the '64 World's Fair's numerous icons, is back on, its fountain at full force thanks to a $2 million renovation funded by the Queens Borough President and the city. Designed by landscape architect Gilmore D. Clarke, the fountain is, as Parks Commissioner Adrian Benepe puts it, part of the city's Versailles that is Flushing Meadows. While not quite the Lincoln Center fountain, we'd still sit here any day and enjoy some Belgian waffles, which a press release informs us were served at Thursday's rechristening, having been a favorite at the Fair.
Admittedly, we've been pretty darn obsessed with this year's P.S.1 Young Architects Program, Pole Dance. But after last week's party, the enthusiasm appears to have been justified. Not because this is the first one ever with its own interactive component, where you can log-on to the Pole Dance site and manipulate its sound (also a first) with your phone, or watch visualizations, or upload your own pictures. Not because of all the beautiful and architecturally famous people who came out, as our photos clearly document. No, this may just be the best damned pavilion in the program's decade-long history because it's the most damn fun. Your proof is after the jump.
Over the weekend, we happened to be biking by the (newly renamed) MoMA PS1 in Long Island City when we noticed something unusual, familiar, even. It was SO-IL's Pole Dance, this year's Young Architects pavilion, taking shape. The museum was closing, so we only snapped one furtive, washed-out photo (let's call it arty) on our cellphone before security made us leave. Fortunately, Frederick Fisher cut some slats in the imposing concrete wall he created as part of the museum's 1997 redesign, so we managed to capture a little bit more of the installation, emphasis on little. Still, it looks like it'll be fun, and we can't help but notice how close it is to the renderings, as you can see after the jump.
On Monday, the Charter Revision Commission held its latest meeting, where its members called for a series of five panels to better inform their decision on what, if any, issues to put on the ballot this fall—or next, more on that in a moment. One of the five panels that was called for was on land-use reform, the best indication yet that the commission may well perform the major overhauls the city's developers and planners have been calling for, as we noted in a recent issue. The commissioned announced today that the land-use panel will be held June 24, at the Flushing branch of the Queens Library, and in addition to experts, public input will also be taken. So if this is an issue you care deeply about—be honest, who doesn't love ULURP?—then we'll see you there. As for this fall or next, the biggest debate remains not what but when the commission will conclude its work, as some commissioners and members of the public insist it is moving too quickly to fully engage all the necessary issues.
With snowpocalypse about to descend on the city, summer feels a long way away. But there is cause for sun-soaked celebration today, as the Landmarks Preservation commission calendared the Shore Theater, the first step in the public review process to make the building an official city landmark. The calendaring is actually the first fruits to bear from the Bloomberg administration's 13th hour deal with developer Joe Sitt. It will be months before amusements return to a saved Coney Island, but a major negotiating point for the community—and the amusement community in particular—was more landmarks in Coney to protect the area's historic buildings from the flood of development the city's rezoning hopes to create. So far, there are no other buildings in the docket besides the 1920s theater-and-hotel building, though, which could be cause for concern—especially after the area's oldest building recently suffered water damage. Still, after decades of deterioration, any progress is good. In other landmarks news... The commission also calendared today the Gramercy House and the Addisleigh Park Historic District. The former is an apartment building on East 22nd Street designed by Edward and Charles Blum in 1929 and completed in 1931. The building, according to the commission report, boasts "textured brickwork, contrasting base and striking polychrome terra cotta trim." Meanwhile, the latest proposed historic district (the 101st?) is located in Queens and comprised of 426 buildings, the St. Albans Congregational church and its campus, and 11 acres of St. Albans Park. Many of the buildings date from the 1910s to 1930s, and according to this page on the Historic Districts Council's website, the area was an enclave in the 1950s for the city's well-to-do blacks, including Jackie Robinson, W.E.B. DuBois, Count Basie, Joe Louis, and Ella Fitzgerald, among other notables. Here's a map of the area, and you can see it in GoogleMaps here. Finally, the commission voted in favor of two new landmarks today. The Penn Club, formerly the Yale Club, is located on 44th Street between 5th and 6th avenues, near a clutch of other robber baron-era clubhouses. The 11-story building was completed in 1901 on commission from Yale, with designs by two Yalies and McKim, Mead, & White alums, Evarts Tracy and Egerton Swartwout. The building was later acquired by Penn. The other new landmarks is the 143 Allen Street House, which was built around 1830 for ship captain George Sutton, a time, as the commission report notes, "when the Lower East Side was a fashionable residential district." And so the circle is complete. These two buildings also had hearings the same day as Paul Rudolph's 23 Beekman Place, so it's quite possible that building could be coming up for a vote in the near future as well.
Florian Idenburg just sent us this video, part of SO-IL's presentation to the Young Architecture Program jury for their winning design, Pole Dance, which will be the pavilion for this summer's Warm Up at P.S.1. No wonder he and Jing Liu prevailed. Could there be a bigger architecture party in the works? Who knew a "a metaphor for these uncertain times," as we put it, could be so much fun. If this turns out even half as well as in the video, it will probably be the best pavilion yet, so much so, Simon and Garfunkel will be forced to reunite and perform. (As for concerned neighbors, Idenburg assured us in Thursday's interview that the balls will not be able to jump the wall.)
UPDATE: Get the full story, including renderings, on our main page. Well into its second decade, P.S.1 and MoMA's Young Architect's Program looked just south of its Queens home for this year's winner, selecting Brooklyn's SO-IL Solid Objectives Idenburg Liu to design the now famous summertime pavilion in the P.S. 1 courtyard. They beat out two fellow Brooklynites, Freecell and Easton + Coombes, Cambridge's William O'Brien, Jr., and a dark horse Danish contender BIG-Bjarke Ingels Group. Renderings will be released at a MoMA event tomorrow, but a press release describes their entry thusly:
Conceived as a participatory environment that reframes the conceptual relationship between humankind and structure, Pole Dance is an interconnected system of poles and bungees whose equilibrium is open to human action and environmental factors. Throughout the courtyard, groups of 25-foot-tall poles on 12 x 12-foot grids connected by bungee cords whose elasticity will cause the poles to gently sway, creating a steady ripple throughout the courtyard space.While still young, SO-IL is no stranger to success. The firm recently completed a new atelier for Derek Lam above his SANAA-designed showroom on Crosby Street in Soho, and plans are in the works for a trippy green roof not far from P.S. 1 in Sunnyside, Queens. Idenberg's best known work is with another museum, however, as he was the project manager on the New Museum.
It appears the city's plan to trifurcate development out at Willets Point has been a smashing success, as the Economic Development Corporation announced on Friday that 29 developers from across the country have expressed interest in the first phase of the project, an 18-acre swath of land on the western section of the 62-acre Iron Triangle that contains the densest mix of uses. “The quantity and quality of these responses are strong indicators that the development community has confidence in the successful redevelopment of Willets Point despite current economic conditions,” Seth Pinsky, president of EDC, said in a release. An RFP is expected sometime in 2010 for a selection of those 29 respondents. After that, the next hurdle is finishing land acquisition, which stands at 75 percent of the phase one area controlled by the city. If need be, the city has not ruled out acquiring what's left through eminent domain, a specter that has cast a long shadow over the area's redevelopment, though one that could be sunsetting. Following a court ruling that the state could not seize land in the Manhattanville section of Harlem so that Columbia could build a new campus there, Atlantic Yards opponents are hustling to have their ultimately unsuccessful case reheard, a last-ditch effort to impede the sale of Forest City Ratner's bonds. Whether or not they succeed, all this eminent domain tumult—combined with the recent collapse of plans for the Mother of Them All in New London, Connecticut—could nudge New York over the edge, taking it off the list of a handful of states that have yet to enact eminent domain reform since the Kelo decision four years ago. State Senator Bill Perkins certainly thinks so, calling for the governor to live up to his previous promises of a moratorium on eminent domain in the state. How could this all pay out in Flushing, Queens? David Lombino, a spokesperson for EDC, emphasized the agency's strong track record on reaching deals with business owners in the area, despite the continued intransigence of some. "The response from the private sector is encouraging," he said. Should it come down to eminent domain, but eminent domain is no longer there? EDC, while proffering hypothetical projects, does not respond to hypothetical questions.