NEW YORK – Astoria and Long Island City in recent years have undergone dramatic changes. High rise buildings and skyscrapers have already radically changed the look of the coastline of western Queens. Continuing construction promises even more change. The Citigroup Building has already been deprived of its status as the tallest building in Queens. Built in 1977, the glass skyscraper has 50 floors and a height of 658 feet.
The residential development of Astoria is comparable to Long Island City and the completion of projects on the east coast of the East River will change and will allow residents and expatriates to discover the once-hidden coast of Queens.
Until the late 1990’s, Astoria Park was the only location where Astoria residents could enjoy the breathtaking views of Manhattan and the East River. The Hallets Point peninsula area up to the 59th Street Bridge (The Ed Koch Queensboro Bridge) – with the exception of two small parks, Rainey Park and the Socrates Sculpture Park – was not accessible to the public except for owners of industrial property on the west side of Vernon Boulevard.
The high-rise buildings built on Vernon Boulevard and those currently under construction caught the attention of the New York Times. The article, “Discovering the Lost Coast of Queens,” highlighted the rapid residential development in Astoria and the key role that the Greek-American company Alma Realty has played in transforming the Queens coastline on the East River from “forgotten” to “golden.”
The National Herald has recorded the change in Astoria in the pages of our Greek daily, and in the Periodiko, especially the recently published issue on January 16-17, 2017, proving who holds the keys to Astoria.
Alma Realty holds the lion’s share of the “golden” coast of Astoria, having built a complex of twin buildings with 404 apartments at 34-46 Vernon Blvd. and it has already received the green light for the construction of one of the largest building complexes in Astoria.
Astoria Cove, as it is known will be built on the northwest side of the Hallets Point peninsula comprising 1,701 apartments of one, two and three bedrooms, shops and a school, as well as parking for 940 cars.
The headquarters of Alma Realty in Long Island City is one block from the headquarters of the National Herald and is one, if not the only one, of the few expatriate companies from the concierge up to the supervisors in complex construction who speak Greek.
The company’s president Efstathios Valiotis, daughter Sophia Valiotis who is the CEO, and John Mavroudis, financial manager, greeted TNH at their offices and showed the sketches of their projects already built and those under construction in Queens and other areas of New York and New Jersey.
Mavroudis led a tour of the building construction site at Vernon Blvd which has 18 floors. The building has six common floors and from the seventh and up two towers have been erected. There are 80 studio apartments, 264 one-bedroom apartments and 60 two-bedroom apartments.
The apartments have taken their final form, with completed electrical and plumbing work, and plasterboard already being installed.
The apartments are functional; each one has a washer-dryer and a private balcony overlooking Manhattan, Long Island City, Astoria, and the bridge.
The 404 families who will live in the apartments will have access to the gym, saunas, and a large swimming pool located on the west side of the building.
On the southern and western sides of the building there will be a promenade, which will be open for Astoria residents and visitors once completed along with other projects it will be connected to Astoria Park.
This complex is located, as Mavroudis noted during the tour, next to two parks and near the area where a pier will be built for kayaking and for the new Citywide Ferry line linking Astoria and Manhattan.
The new Citywide Ferry line is expected to reopen in the summer for the first time in 87 years and will provide the opportunity for Astoria residents to reach 34th Street in Manhattan in 22 minutes and the Financial District in 38 minutes.
The ferry, combined with the expansion of Citibike rentals, should help with the congested subway lines and make Astoria even more tempting to young professionals working in Manhattan, and over time changing the demographics of Astoria and Long Island City even more than they already have.