2015 will go down in New York’s storied retail history as the year when the city lost two of its flagship toy stores. At 6:00 p.m. on December 30, Toys “R” Us will shut down its Times Square store at West 44th Street and Broadway. The retail giant decided not to renew the lease due to ever-rising rents in the pedestrian-heavy neighborhood. Earlier in July, the company closed the famous FAO Schwarz store on at 767 Fifth Avenue, which had served the city since 1986.
The New York City landmarks law was signed 50 years ago this year. So, what better time to talk about some of its successes? Plenty of great structures, such as the Empire State Building, completed in 1931 as a multi-tenant office building, are easy to keep relevant and functioning. Others, however, become obsolete and can no longer perform their originally intended purpose. That’s where adaptive reuse comes in. If you haven’t heard the term, it’s when an old structure is adapted for a new use. It’s often how we are saving our great city.
The residential high-rise at 23-10 Queens Plaza South in Long Island City, also known as 23-01 42nd Road, has reached its final height of 481 feet, beating the 429-foot-tall Linc LIC for the title of the second tallest skyscraper in Queens.
While developments from Downtown Brooklyn to Hudson Yards are transforming skylines and making headlines, smaller scale projects are also capable of altering neighborhood paradigms. Along Queens Boulevard, in the borderlands of Woodside and Sunnyside, this is now the case, and new buildings are changing a former no-mans-land into an increasingly popular neighborhood.
Last year, the de Blasio administration rolled out a program designed to encourage developers to build one- to four-family homes on small city-owned lots. Now the city has filed plans to develop townhouses on 16 vacant properties in East New York, Ocean Hill and Brownsville.