BY JACKIE STRAWBRIDGE
A push to landmark Queens Plaza’s Clock Tower is running out of time, now that the building has been sold again and demolition may be in its future.
City records show that a group called Queens Plaza Park Development LLC, an entity of Property Markets Group, nabbed the historic tower for $31 million, more than double what the Criterion Group paid for it just seven months ago.
Gary Emanuel, who has run an insurance business from the Clock Tower for about a decade, said he and other tenants subsequently received notification that their leases would terminate in 180 days due to owners’ intent to demolish the building.
Emanuel said he “felt horrible” when he received the notice.
“For someone who’s been in the area for many, many years, I’ve seen a lot of destruction and I see a lot of hodgepodge after they destroy things that happen to be very good looking,” he said.
Property Markets Group refused to comment or respond to questions. No demolition permits have been filed with the Dept. of Buildings.
Emanuel’s son Christian filed a Request for Evaluation at the Landmarks Preservation Commission back in April, around the same time that the design and architecture coalition +Partners began their own push to landmark the Clock Tower. The recent sale puts added pressure on their cause.
For Christian Emanuel, the Clock Tower represents a “gateway to Queens,” a reference point for travelers visiting or coming home through Queens Plaza, and to demolish it would be to “homogenize” the area.
Matthew Chrislip of +Partners similarly said, “[we’re] really just looking to maintain those landmarks that represent the older history of Queens and aren’t just a representation of the recent development that’s been happening in the area.”
Both +Partners and Christian Emanuel said that community support for the Clock Tower effort has been strong. An online petition to landmark the building has garnered about 900 signatures.
According to LPC spokesperson Damaris Olivo, the Clock Tower is under review.
While supporters wait on the LPC, the agency has plans this month to remove many other sites from landmarking consideration, including Long Island City’s Pepsi-Cola sign.
Olivo said that these sites have been calendared at the LPC for years without moving forward. She called it “bad government” to keep them on the list but noted that de-calendared items can put back on the list in the future.
Reach Jackie Strawbridge at (718) 357-7400, Ext. 128, firstname.lastname@example.org or @JNStrawbridge.