THE WOODHAVEN BEAT
The Queens Chamber of Commerce hosted its 110th annual Building Awards and Gala at the TWA Hotel in JFK airport last week, recognizing various development projects throughout the borough for achievements in construction, restoration, interior design, and more.
“I have the best job in the world, it really is my calling,” said chamber president and CEO Thomas Grech. “As a membership organization, 2020 was a terrible year. However, it was our board and our members who stepped up during that difficult time.”
Grech thanked a number of elected officials who helped secure relief money at the federal, local, and city level.
“As we move through the pandemic, private public partnerships will continue to be extremely crucial,” Borough President Donovan Richards said. “There are those who said we should go back to normal after the pandemic, but we know normal was never good enough for Queens county.”
Both Grech and Richards acknowledged the federal infrastructure bill currently stalled in the Senate, expressing hope the bill will pass and fund construction and repair projects for the borough’s roads, trains, and airports.
Carlo Scissura, head of the New York Building Congress, offered the keynote address at this year’s gala. Although he is a native Brooklyn, Scissura discussed Queens’ history of dreaming big and encouraged the borough’s public and private leaders to continue that tradition.
“You have everything in Queens, and you have a future that I think the people in the city and the state need to learn from,” Scissura said. “When people say New York is the center of the world, it’s because of a borough like Queens.
“Think about the vision people have in Queens,” he continued. “One-hundred years ago, Jackson Heights was fields and now it’s home to amazing apartment complexes. We transformed a valley of ashes into a park that hosted two World’s Fairs. Just look at the building we are in right now. It was the pinnacle of the aviation age and made you feel like a king or queen. All of this was built right here in Queens.”
In addition to the keynote address, a number of guest speakers helped distribute awards to the night’s recipients, including Assemblywoman Stacy Pheffer Amato and representatives from Maspeth Federal Savings Bank, the gala’s platinum sponsor.
This year’s gala event sold beyond capacity, another sign of recovery as Queens continues to build and grow after the pandemic.
“It’s great to see everyone in person,” said Thomas Santucci, chair of the Chamber’s board. “Nothing beats an event like this.”
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.