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Mayor Michael R. Bloomberg, Deputy Mayor for Economic Development Robert C. Lieber, Deputy Mayor for Operations Edward Skyler and Tishman Speyer today announced the beginning of construction of the first phase of "Gotham Center," a major mixed-use development in the heart of Long Island City, Queens. Two Gotham Center is to be a 662,000-square-foot, 21-story tower on the corner of Queens Plaza and 28th Street in Long Island City. The Class A office tower will be occupied by the City's Health Department and will include about 9,400 square feet of ground-floor retail space and more than 180 parking spaces. The $316 million project will replace the Queens Plaza Municipal Parking Garage. The Health Department will relocate a significant portion of its staff to the new building from many of its 15 locations in Midtown and Lower Manhattan. The project, which will create about 1,400 construction jobs, is the first phase of the proposed 3.5-million-square-foot Gotham Center development.
"For decades, Long Island City has been talked about as an area with growth potential," said Mayor Bloomberg. "Today, both the public and private sectors are making real investments in Long Island City that are transforming it from an area of substantial possibility to one of considerable activity. Gotham Center will be a further catalyst for growth in the area, and Tishman Speyer's investment signals a great vote of confidence in the future of Long Island City and the City as a whole. At the same time, the relocation of Department of Health staff to the state-of-the-art facility will increase its operational efficiencies, consolidating units that are now dispersed. The new space will incorporate our new open space standards for City office space, designed to foster greater collaboration and a better workplace environment."
"Gotham Center and the City's investment in this first-class property are further proof of the ongoing transformation of the neighborhood into a vibrant business district for New York City," said Tishman Speyer President and Co-CEO Rob Speyer. "We thank Mayor Bloomberg and his economic development team, Comptroller Thompson and Queens elected and civic leadership for their dedication to promoting development in Long Island City. We would also like to thank our partner, the Modell family, and our construction lenders -Wells Fargo Bank, HSBC Bank, Norddeutsche Landesbank Girozentrale, Landesbank Hessen Thuringen and Bank of Ireland."
"Tishman Speyer's commitment to build Gotham Center on the site of the decaying Queens Plaza Garage is a testament to what the City has long known, that Long Island City is well poised for continued growth and development into New York City's fourth largest business district," said Deputy Mayor Lieber. "Gotham Center will transform the gateway to Long Island City's commercial core while catalyzing private investments and bringing much needed retail amenities to the area. This critical project required a tremendous amount of work from several agencies including EDC, City Planning, DCAS and OMB, and I congratulate them all on this project."
"The relocation of Department of Health employees to a state-of-the-art facility in Long Island City will help us achieve our goal of creating greater operating efficiency and enhanced work environments for City agencies," said Deputy Mayor Skyler. "Today, Health employees work in 15 different locations spread around Lower and Midtown Manhattan. Gotham Center will provide new space for many of them to be consolidated under one roof."
Locating many of the Health Department's non-field-based staff in this new building in Long Island City is in concert with the City's goal of locating agency headquarters where possible under one roof for operational efficiencies and improved work environment. The five-level garage was first occupied in 1976 and has been vacant since February 2008. Demolition has begun, and construction of the new office tower will start by the end of the year. The relocation of Health Department employees is expected to be complete in late 2011. The precise number of staff to be relocated has not yet been determined.
The Department of Health's new space in Two Gotham Center will use the new open space standards - designed to create a better environment while increasing efficiencies - already employed by several City agencies including the Department of Transportation, the Department of Education, the Mayor's Office of Film, Theater and Broadcasting, the Department of Consumer Affairs, the Department of Information Technology and Telecommunications and the Mayor's Office.
"The New York City Employees' Retirement System and the Teachers' Retirement System are proud to partner with the City of New York and Tishman Speyer on the development of Gotham Center," said New York City Comptroller William C. Thompson, Jr. "The New York City Pension Funds are dedicated to investing in New York City's infrastructure. Long Island City is one of New York's premier emerging neighborhoods, and Gotham Center will serve as the cornerstone of the redevelopment of Queens Plaza. I am confident that this project will be a success for the neighborhood and the City as a whole, and a prudent investment opportunity for pensioners and beneficiaries."
"I congratulate Mayor Bloomberg and Tishman Speyer for making this investment in the future of western Queens," said Representative Carolyn B. Maloney. "Long Island City's many possibilities are starting to become reality. I look forward to seeing work get underway both atGotham Center and on renovating Queens Plaza itself. The $19 million in federal funds slated for Queens Plaza will turn this once-blighted area into a welcoming gateway to the borough."
"This long awaited project will bring much needed economic activity in grand new buildings at the gateway to Queens," said Queens Borough President Helen Marshall. "It proves that our efforts to bring jobs and renewal through rezoning works. It will join our other marquee successes in the area including the new Citicorp tower and the United Nations Credit Union. Our thanks to Mayor Bloomberg, Tishman Speyer and the Modell family for making this happen."
"Moving City offices to Queens Plaza is a good idea," said Council Member Eric Gioia. "As the City grows, we must look to neighborhoods outside Midtown or Downtown for offices, and Long Island City - close to mass transit, and in the midst of an economic, residential and cultural renaissance - is where we should be growing. We want development that creates livable neighborhoods where people can live, walk to work, do their grocery shopping, and send their kids to a good school."
"This is a double win for the City," said Economic Development Corporation (EDC) President Seth W. Pinsky. "In addition to jump-starting the redevelopment of Long Island City and realizing Mayor Bloomberg's vision of turning the area into our fourth central business district, this impressive project will also help one of the City's major agencies."
"I am pleased the DCAS Real Estate Services group worked so successfully as key members of the City Administration team on this project," said Department of Citywide Administrative Services (DCAS) Commissioner Martha K. Hirst, whose agency handles leasing for City agencies. "This development furthers the City's goals of consolidating city agency operations and improving the work environment for our workforce. When Gotham Center opens, several thousand Health Department employees will be working together in brand-new space that is designed to meet their operational needs. The new offices will also incorporate the open-space office design that Mayor Bloomberg has championed in the Mayor's Office, the Department of Education headquarters and elsewhere, which can reduce costs and increase workplace effectiveness."
"New, professional office space for Department staff will help improve the work of the agency in protecting the public's health," said Health Commissioner Dr. Thomas R. Frieden. "We look forward to working with DCAS and EDC to ensure that this project is successful in benefiting the City and the Health Department."
"Only minutes from Midtown, Long Island City is poised to be one of the most dynamic and successful business districts in the City" said City Planning Commissioner Amanda M. Burden. "The new Gotham Center and Long Island City's future and existing corporate tenants will also benefit from the city's strategic investment in re-landscaping Jackson Avenue and creating a new lush, verdant park at Queens Plaza."
Designed by Moed De Armas & Shannon, the dynamic new tower will incorporate green building technology and achieve LEED Silver Certification from the U.S. Green Buildings Council for its interiors, as well as LEED Certification for its core and shell. Other members of the development team include Gensler, architect of record, and Bovis Lend Lease, construction manager. Tishman Speyer was selected to acquire the property and develop the project as a result of a Request for Proposals issued by EDC. The New York City Employees' Retirement System and the Teachers' Retirement System will commit up to $9.3 million each in equity towards the project.
Long Island City is already home to an array of corporate tenants, including Citigroup and the UN Federal Credit Union. In addition, the City is undertaking substantial capital improvements around Queens Plaza and Court Square that will make the area more attractive to businesses and inviting to residents. The $40 million beautification project includes a new public plaza, new plantings, lighting, street furniture and a public median from Queens Plaza to Court Street and a greenway from Queens Plaza to the East River. These improvements, combined with its proximity to Midtown Manhattan and accessibility to seven different subway lines and numerous bus routes, will serve to attract new businesses.