Citicorp Leads Queens To The Skies
By Azi Paybarah and David Oats
Queens entered the 1990s with its first skyscraper.
The 50-story Citicorp building in Long Island
City spearheaded efforts to redevelop the borough’s Hudson waterfront.
Trib reports at the time said, “It was designed as a
possible anchor for a business district of the future” with the
possibility of it being “a major component in extending Manhattan’s
prosperity into the outer borough’s of the city.”
Queens’ tallest building, Long Island
City’s Citicorp Building, is leading the Borough into a revitalized
by Ira Cohen
Facing the crowded Manhattan skyline, Citicorp
stood virtually isolated in the Hunter’s Point region of Long Island
City, historically a light industry area.
The building added 1.4 million square feet of executive office
space, and was surrounded by stocky two and three story warehouse
buildings left over from the industrial era.
The building is an extension of Citicorp’s
world headquarters complex across the Hudson in Manhattan on 53rd
Street. It was designed by
Skidmore, Owings & Merrill and can accommodate 3,500 executives and
To help those new executives and staff members
get to their offices, new train lines were also opened.
New E, F, and G subway lines connecting Hunter’s Point to the
rest of Manhattan and the city helped populate not only the Citicorp
building, but it fueled the already developing waterfront in Hunter’s
That development included a 42-story luxury
residential building called Citylights which opened in 1997.
At the time, one published report put the price of an apartment
at Citylights around $12,000, with a monthly maintenance fee of
approximately $680. Currently,
prices for apartments there range from $20,000 to $150,000.
A percentage of that price is calculated for the monthly
Then-Borough President Claire Shulman
surveys Queens from atop the Citicorp Building during the 1990s
Residents at the 521-unit building, originally
selected from a lottery drawing, enjoy 24-hour doorman service, on-sight
tennis courts, and a health club complete with aerobics classes and a
sauna. Included in the list
of amenities at Citylights is “easy access to Manhattan across the
Triboro Bridge, or via the No. 7 subway.”
In 1998, Gantry Park opened, with plans to
extend the green space along the entire waterfront. Paying homage to the one-time industrial neighborhood, the
park was named after the piece of machinery used to load and unload
railcars and rail ships.
On Dec. 14, 2000 ground broke on the first of
three additional luxury buildings in Hunter’s Point. The Virginia-based Avalon Bay Communities Company estimated
the cost of the 74-acre, 372-unit project at $2.3 billion.
At the ceremony, Governor George
Pataki said, “The future has never looked brighter for the
Borough of Queens.”
The Queens West Development Corporation, a
subsidiary of New York’s Empire State Development, oversees
development in the Hunter’s Point region of Queens.
Other developments in the region include the addition of film
studios, retail and residential space in 6.5 acres near the Queensboro
Plaza. The sight, owned by
the owners of Silvercup Studios, will be developed by Lord Richard
Rogers, who previously advised the Mayor of London on Urban development.
Citicorp’s 1990 debut in Queens, the highest point in the borough was
the 32-story Northshore Towers building in Glen Oaks.