The capital budget passed by the City Council last Thursday includes $5.806 million in funding to allow for upgrades to the aging New York State Pavilion, one of the icons of the 1964-65 World’s Fair at Flushing Meadows Corona Park.
Borough President Melinda Katz, a staunch advocate of restoring the rusting Tent of Tomorrow and Observation Towers, said in a telephone interview Wednesday that acquiring the funding isn’t just a step towards saving the pavilion.
She believes that goal has already been accomplished.
“We’ve saved the pavilion,” Katz said. “Now it’s just a matter of how fast we can clean it up and make it even more presentable than it is to the rest of the world.”
According to a statement from Katz issued last week, the $5.806 million will be used to upgrade the pavilion’s electrical system, rebuild the staircases inside the Observation Towers and repair the concrete platforms supporting the observation decks at the top of each of the three towers, once the work on the stairs is complete.
About $4.2 million is provided by Mayor de Blasio, while $628,000 comes from the City Council and the remaining $979,000 comes from Katz’s office.
The funding is a far-cry from the estimated $72 million it would cost to completely restore and reuse the pavilion, according to studies presented by Parks Department representatives at a meeting of the Borough Board last November.
Additionally, the cost of restoring just the Observation Towers was estimated at around $20 million, while the Tent of Tomorrow may cost upwards of $31 million.
Demolishing the entire pavilion was estimated at $14.6 million.
The pavilion cost $12 million to build in preparation for the 1964-65 World’s Fair.
In April, the National Trust for Historic Preservation designated the pavilion as a “National Treasure,” recognizing the structure as historically, culturally and architecturally significant.
Peg Breen, the organization’s president, said in a statement that this year, the 50th anniversary of the World’s Fair, is the perfect time to act on restoring the pavilion.
“We agree with the borough president that the restored pavilion will be a wonderful representation of the vitality of the borough,” she said, “and provide a space for all kinds of events that will draw, not just people from Queens, but people from all around the city and visitors from around the world.”
After touring the pavilion in early February, Katz officially declared her intent to save the structures and created a task force aimed at gathering ideas for reuse.
In addition to area elected officials, People for the Pavilion, a preservation group founded last year by activists Salmaan Khan and Matthew Silva, is also on the task force.
In a statement issued Saturday, the group said it was “thrilled” to learn of the funding and Silva, on Monday, called it “awesome” on social media.