Prior to 1960 there were no office buildings to speak of in the Rego Park-Forest Hills area. Then the John Hancock Insurance Co. approved a mortgage for a 13-story innovative luxury office building at 97-45 Queens Blvd. At 13 stories it would tower over anything else in the immediate area.
Architect Jack Brown, who had done dozens of apartment buildings in Brooklyn, got the call from the LeFrak Organization to design something special. It was a unique project, with a curved front. The first tenant was Jahn’s Ice Cream Parlor, which occupied the entire ground floor storefront.
LeFrak was awarded a bronze plaque in 1962 for excellence for the building, variously called LeFrak Tower and the Mid-City Center. The firm, located at 2728 Kings Highway in Brooklyn for decades, had come to Queens ready to make its mark here.
And it did. The LeFrak City complex straddling Corona and Elmhurst houses thousands, and by the mid-1960s, LeFrak had become landlord to a quarter-million people in 425 buildings in the metro area.
And just last year, LeFrak Tower was reborn as The Contour, switching from commercial space to apartment rentals in the neighborhood of $3,000 a month, though the ground floor remains retail. With its curved and gleaming new white facade, it reminds some just a little bit of the Lipstick Building in Manhattan.