A 21-story office building in Long Island City which has been in the works since late 2008 is now structurally complete.
Workers placed the final beam on the Gotham Center tower on Tuesday, topping off what will be LIC’s newest skyscraper. The top floors still need to be glassed in, and the interior is not yet finished, but the 28th-Street facility is on track to open in about a year.
The tower, which is replacing a municipal parking garage, will house the city’s Department of Health and Mental Hygiene, as well as several shops. The basement will provide parking for 160 vehicles.
Construction has been a joint effort between the city and developer Tishman Speyer, and both parties are heralding the $316 million project as a prelude for development to come.
The Bloomberg administration aims to transform LIC, which until recently was a predominantly manufacturing district, into a booming residential and business hub, and in recent years various projects have attracted an influx of new residents.
The Queens West housing complex has brought a series of highrises to LIC, and four more residential skyscrapers are on the way. At the southern tip of the neighborhood, the 30-acre Hunter’s Point South development will add 5,000 apartments, a school and a waterfront park. And $80 million is being pumped into streetscape projects to improve traffic flow and aesthetics around Queens Plaza and Jackson Avenue.
As Queens Borough President Helen Marshall put it at the Gotham Center’s “topping off” ceremony, “Long Island City is happening, folks.”
Seth Pinsky, president of the city’s Economic Development Corporation, which spearheaded the project, said the Gotham tower is a major improvement over the parking garage that used to occupy the area at the corner of 28th Street and 42nd Road. He referred to a 2006 New York Times article, which described the garage as “a brown concrete structure resembling a 1970s filmmaker’s idea of an intergalactic battle station.”
The new building, in contrast, features floor-to-ceiling windows with sweeping views of Manhattan and LIC. The highrise is also expected to achieve LEED Silver certification, meaning it has incorporated green technology and will leave a low carbon footprint.
The Health Department will be taking over the entire facility except for the ground floor, and officials say they’re excited about moving in. DOH offices are currently scattered among 15 separate buildings, mostly in lower Manhattan, and Deputy Mayor for Health and Human Services Linda Gibbs said consolidation would help.
“We really needed to have a more efficient way to serve the public,” Gibbs said, adding that the building will have several design features meant to reflect the DOH’s values of healthy living, such as a bicycle parking lot in the basement.
Mayor Mike Bloomberg also mentioned the DOH’s relocation to LIC in his state of the city address in January, touting office consolidation as an important way to close the city’s multi-billion budget gap.