Back in June, YIMBY brought you news of a 28-story mixed-use tower planned for the site of the former Paragon Paint Factory at 45-40 Vernon Boulevard in the Hunters Point section of Long Island City. We know its 295 feet will shine, and thanks to an interview with SHoP principal architect Gregg Pasquarelli, we also know more about what will become of the factory building itself, which will connect to the new tower.
Pasquarelli told YIMBY that the four-story-tall factory building will have ground floor retail and then loft apartments above. “What I think is really great is the way that we’re proposing to renovate the historic building with sort of indoor-outdoor terraces, maintaining the façade and keeping the industrial feel,” he said.
What are indoor-outdoor terraces? Well, the existing building envelope won’t be changed, but, in some places, the outer windows will set back, creating recessed terraces. “You have both indoor and outdoor space in the loft space,” Pasquarelli said.
Acquiring a former paint factory means the challenge of environmental remediation. “The negative thing about having a paint factory on the site was that it caused a lot of environmental damage. So, there’s a huge expense for the owner to clean up the site and make it safe,” Pasquarelli said. “And so we’re going to the BSA for variance because we need some additional FAR in order to pay for the cleanup of the site.” The BSA is the Board of Standards and Appeals.
What about the design of the high-rise, which would be one of three new buildings in the Simon Baron-developed site? “Well, we’re still working on refining the design, but the idea was that the lower buildings use heavier materials like steel and concrete and are connected to the low-rise industrial context. And the tall building, we sort of sculpted, so it’s not just a rectangle,” Pasquarelli said.
“[The high-rise] has some shape to it, in plan… we see it as being a lighter material, an interpretation of the old industrial steel and glass windows, but done in a very contemporary way, and that’s meant to be a little more crystalline and light and reflective as it rises, but it’s set back from Vernon [Boulevard] so that when you’re on Vernon, you really feel the sort of low-rise scale,” Pasquarelli said.
“And when you look at it from far back, that’s where the high-rise portion of the project sits, and it’s situated in a way that maximizes the views of Manhattan without blocking any of the views of the rest of the project and keeping it very open to the park.”
The park he was referring to is a new one that would be built on the Anable Basin, and would be designed by SCAPE’s Kate Orff. Pasquarelli described the waterway as “this kind of magical little canal that comes off the East River and has been closed off for many, many, many decades from public use.” “It was, of course, an industrial access to the waterfront,” he said. “As you’re walking along Vernon Boulevard, all the public can enter the park and walk right down to the water and get this absolutely incredible view of Midtown from that spot.”
Pasquarelli is excited about what the entire project will mean for the area. “I think that the combination of the two smaller buildings, the slender, industrial glass tower, the renovated factory building, and this new park make a very special little complex. It maintains the industrial past of Long Island City, but also brings it into the future with this publicly accessible park, while providing access to the water,” he said.
Specifics on all of the buildings in the complex were not immediately available as they are still being refined.