Demolition Begun on Historic Bank Building

And this is why some kind of demoltion delay legislation would be more than slightly helpful…

Neighbors mourn former Long Island City Savings Bank


Wednesday, October 31st 2007, 4:00 AM

This may be the architectural equivalent of crying over spilled milk.

Residents who grew up admiring a neoclassical Long Island City bank that went up with Queens Plaza around 1910 are partly blaming themselves for its unceremonious demise.

Many locals said they feel guilty they never contacted the city Landmarks Preservation Commission before crews recently began tearing down the former Long Island City Savings Bank to make way for what is rumored to be a hotel.

“It should have always been a landmark, but we never really did anything about it,” admitted Jerry Walsh, president of the Dutch Kills Civic Association, which covers Queens Plaza.

The bank, at 29-11 Queens Plaza North, once featured a stunning boardroom, two murals by famed artist Vincent Aderante and designs of 1930s-era coins in relief, locals recalled.

“If you had a small town, it would be like the pride of Main St.,” said Bob Singleton, president of the Greater Astoria Historical Society. “It was an exceptional gem.”

Without knowing the building’s complete history, Landmarks Preservation Commission spokeswoman Lisi de Bourbon said she didn’t know if the bank could have won landmark status.

Much of the Art Deco-themed interior, including brass-lined teller windows, was gutted as the bank converted into a nightclub in the early 2000s, locals said.

The nightclub failed after a few years, and the building had been vacant for the past two years or so, said George Delis, district manager of Community Board 1.

But residents never expected to see the building torn down.

“It was there in the heyday of the whole industrial revitalization and lived through its demise, too,” said George Stamatiades, the community board’s second vice chairman. “I can’t get by this one.”

The Buildings Department authorized a demolition permit for the site but hasn’t received any plans for what could come there, agency spokeswoman Kate Lindquist said.

Steve Colao of CNY Builders LLC, who applied for the demolition permit, did not return a call seeking comment.

“Whatever’s going up there will be 100% better than what was there,” said Jairo Santiago, the owner of Knockdown Contracting Inc., which is demolishing the bank.

“It was the hardest building we ever had to take down,” Santiago said. “It was built like a fortress.”

© Copyright 2007 All rights reserved.

Posted Under: Demolition, Long Island City, Queens

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