When YIMBY last checked in five months ago, foundation work for the apartment building at 27-17 42nd Road in Long Island City was only starting. Now, concrete is being poured for the tower’s fourth level as it climbs on the way to its eventual 258-foot height. Though it would have dominated the surroundings when it was first proposed in late 2000s, today the building would barely make a dent on the local skyline. However, its vertical, slightly curved bulk, squeezed tightly between its high-rise neighbors, is a positive example of proper density creation within the transit-rich neighborhood. Sitting just one block south of the Queensboro Plaza station, serviced by the N, Q, and 7 trains, the future tenants living within its 184 apartments would be situated just one stop away from Midtown Manhattan.
The building rises in the thicket of the rapidly-growing skyscraper jungle of the Court Square/Queens Plaza district. Although it currently stands only around one-seventh of its eventual 25-story height, the presently-built portion is enough to give us a sense of how the finished product would fit within the cityscape. It stands at the helm of 42nd Road, before the road makes a westbound turn after it meets 28th Street at an oddly-angled intersection.
The architects rounded the building’s street-facing corner with a slight curve, embossing a sleek contour upon an otherwise-boxy form. Rising vertically from the sidewalk line without any setbacks, the building would stand flush with its next-door neighbors on either side, fitting like a puzzle piece within the growing glass canyons. The two rental high-rises to either side are both developed by Heatherwood Properties. Though the 27-story 27 on 27th, which stands to the west on 42nd Road, was one of the neighborhood’s tallest structures when it opened just three years ago, it already gets lost on the local skyline. Tower 28, its sibling at 42-12 28th Street to the east, stands more than twice as high. Its 58 stories claim the crown of the country’s tallest apartment building east of Manhattan. When 27-17 42nd Road reaches its pinnacle, it would roughly match 27 on 27th, while obscuring the windowless lower half of the south façade at Tower 28. Combined with the 325-foot-tall Two Gotham Center office building across the street to the east, the four high-rises would form a dense cluster on par with Manhattan’s tower canyons across the river.
The building’s future residents would help animate the neighborhood’s still-barren sidewalks. But while the neighborhood’s plethora of upcoming developments will add a considerable amount of retail and pedestrian activity, not much is being done to increase the currently sparse offerings of local public space. The narrow green promenade along the elevated trestle of Queens Plaza, anchored by the Dutch Kills Green at its southeast terminus, runs one block east. A series of small triangular pocket parks are scattered on the blocks to the southwest, formed by the neighborhood’s clashing street grids. The nearest sizeable park, the John F. Murray Playground, is a 2,500-foot walk away in the southwest direction. The street improvements slated for the neighborhood will go a long way to improve its walkability. Still, we urge the city to convert more redundant road surfaces between the plazas for pedestrian use, as it has already done many times in the past, consolidating the separate pocket parks into unified public space.
Then again, even if its public realm still needs work, the neighborhood’s existing public spaces, small and disjointed as they presently are, still supply more greenery than the average tract in Manhattan, or most other centrally-located parts of the city. Besides, the more-than-generous supply of local public transit makes 27-17 42nd Road one of the best-situated new projects in the city. Aside from the aforementioned Queensboro Plaza station with its N, Q, and 7 trains, the project also sits just one block west of Queens Plaza (E, M, and R trains), two-and-a-half blocks northeast of Court Square (E, G, M, and 7 trains), and a few blocks south of the 21 Street/Queensbridge station of the F train. Since many bus routes in Western Queens loop around Queens Plaza, 28th Street and 42nd Road running east of the building see a constant stream of bus traffic. Whether by train, bus, cab, or even bike (accessed via the nearby Ed Koch Queensboro Bridge), local residents may arrive at Central Park in a span from anywhere between 10 and 30 minutes.