New York Daily Photo Analytics

Wednesday, April 08, 2009

Queens West

I was shocked when I discovered this unfamiliar area of Queens with new buildings sprouting everywhere, Gantry Plaza State Park, and waterfront vistas of the Manhattan skyline and the 59th Street bridge. When investigating the neighborhood behind the photos from my excursion, I was equally surprised to learn of the scale of this huge development going on in my backyard, unbeknownst to me. See my series of photos here.

This area, now being called Queens West, is essentially the Hunter's Point neighborhood of Long Island City, Queens. A large number of high-rise residential buildings are planned (map here). The building in the photo is the Powerhouse. Ground was broken in 1994 for this 74-acre commercial and residential development. Read all the details at the Queens West website here. You can also read the 1994 New York Times article by architecture critic Herbert Muschamp here.
Citylights was the first completed structure in 1998, a 43-story, 522-apartment building designed by renowned architect Cesar Pelli.

There are so many elements to the success of a redeveloped area - location, transportation, views, housing and building stock. Architecture critics analyze these elements, along with the merits and demerits of the architecture of the buildings built or proposed.
DUMBO Brooklyn is a great example of a neighborhood that had all the right elements just waiting to be discovered - one subway stop from Manhattan, views of Manhattan and the bridges, cobbled streets, and great industrial buildings.

The difference with Queens West, like Battery Park City to which it has been compared, is that all the residential and commercial structures are to be newly built which, like most urban planning, is a highly contentious and risky proposition. With an area like DUMBO with the architecture already existent, there were no unknowns. People started moving there because they liked what they saw. In the case of Queens West, developers have to create what they hope will be successful, and everyone has a different vision of what that should be. Many planned neighborhoods and cities, even with large budgets and great minds, have been controversial, such as Brasilia. Creating an entire environment en masse, rather than a place developing organically, is a great challenge. I hope Queens West is a success. The site is spectacular - I suggest you visit if you can...


An Honest Man said...

Could the development be hit by the credit crunch? Certainly quite a few developments over here have stalled or crashed because very few folk buying (or lending money to property developers).

Brian Dubé said...

That's a really good question I was wondering myself. If so, it could be a great opportunity. The buildings are huge and with so much inventory they could be very negotiable.