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Queens Chronicle

LaGuardia College to replace facade

Traffic is a concern with revamp of 1913 exterior in $70M project

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Posted: Thursday, January 10, 2013 10:30 am | Updated: 11:23 am, Thu Jan 17, 2013.

LaGuardia Community College plans to replace the historic 1913 facade of one of its educational buildings, do other work inside and redirect traffic along an adjacent street.

The sidewalk around Center C in Long Island City is covered by a tunnel-like “sidewalk bridge” to protect pedestrians from falling plaster chips.

“Nothing lasts forever,” Vice President of Administration Shahir Erfran said at a Community Board 2 meeting on Thursday.

The proposed repair of the exterior of the nine-story, 900,000-square-foot building seeks to remedy this problem. Erfran said construction will cost about $70 million, which does not include design and construction management costs.

LGCC needs approval from the Department of Transportation and the Design Commission, and even though the building is not a designated landmark, the college intends to consult the Landmarks Preservation Commission.

“We are aiming to make a building that is worthy of Long Island City and worthy of our students,” Erfran said. “We want to make sure we have a modern building that meets those needs.”

Building C, at 29-10 Thomson Ave., is used for adult continuing education, emergency medical transportation and general education classes. Those classes will not be affected by the construction, because workers will repair one wall at a time, Erfran said.

By working with the DOT, the team plans not to close Thomson Avenue for the project. This street along with other busy roadways such as Queens Boulevard, Van Dam Street, 47th Avenue, and 28th Street through 31st Place intersect with the college.

“The volume going on and off the bridge is very high,” said CB 2 member Sheila Lewandowski, of the traffic that feeds into Queensboro Plaza and onto Queens Boulevard just a block away from the college .

In addition to facade repairs, LGCC hopes to ease traffic and update the building to meet the fire code, Erfran said. The college plans to ask the DOT to turn the two-way 29th Street between Skillman Avenue and 47th Avenue into a one-way. The college is open to the road going either north or south.

Erfran said from 7 to 9 a.m. the one-block stretch is packed with cars, pedestrians and many individuals attempting to park on both sides of the street.

“It’s congested beyond belief,” Erfran said.

The C building’s elevators have glass windows lining the elevator shaft. The college could not have constructed the elevators in such a manner if they were built within the last 20 years. The school will bring them up to fire code and by doing so will also make the building greener, Erfran said.

Construction should begin later this year and last three to four years.

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