Tag Archives: renovation

Fort Totten’s historic buildings in danger because of neglect


| ejankiewicz@queenscourier.com

THE COURIER/Photo by Eric Jankiewicz

Fort Totten’s history is slowly fading away.

The historic Bayside park is home to several dilapidated and historic buildings that have been sitting vacant and in need of repair, according to the Bayside Historical Society. The oldest among these is the Willets Farmhouse, built in 1829, making it the oldest building in the area.

Despite the deteriorating conditions none of the buildings will be repaired anytime soon, according to city records.

“We would like to see them all being used so they’re not lost to history,” said Paul DiBenedetto, president of the historic society, who said that the Parks Department hasn’t done enough work on the older buildings to preserve them. “I see the realism of it but I don’t like the fact they abandoned these buildings.”

A Parks Department spokeswoman said that the farmhouse was worked on in 2013 to stabilize it but the area is completely fenced off and no one is allowed inside to check the building’s condition. Abandoned NYC, a website devoted to decaying sites, published a photo tour of some of the buildings in 2012.

The park has more than 100 structures that were built between 1829 and the 1960s. In 1999 it was landmarked as a historical site because many of the buildings “have a special character and special historical and aesthetic interest and value which represent one or more eras in the history of New York City,” the Landmarks Preservation Commission wrote, “and which cause this area, by reason of these factors, to constitute a distinct section of the city.”

Part park, Fort Totten is also part office space for various government entities like the FDNY and the Parks Department, among many other agencies.

The Parks Department is in the planning phase of a $2.1 million restoration project, of the roofs of two historic buildings: the Chapel and the Commander’s House, both of which were built in the early 1900s, a parks spokeswoman said. But construction won’t begin until next year, leaving the two historic buildings exposed to rain and other natural elements that will eat away at the building.

The groundskeeper for the park said that if something isn’t done soon, the buildings would be damaged beyond repair. And as winter approaches, groundskeeper Mac Harris knows that the buildings will suffer.

“The roofs are not being repaired,” Mac Harris said. “The buildings are slowly being decayed.”

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NY Hall of Science $15M renovation nearing completion


| lguerre@queenscourier.com

THE COURIER/Photos by Liam La Guerre

The New York Hall of Science is in its final stage for an approximately $15 million renovation of its Great Hall, which was originally built for exhibitions for the 1964 World’s Fair in Flushing Meadows Corona Park.

The project, which began in August 2012, was supposed to wrap up this August. But due to unforeseen problems, such as the need to repair concrete walls, the completion was pushed back and now the project is expected to be completed by spring 2015, according to the project manager.

The revitalization seeks to clean up and repair the interior of the building— which had been in need of an upgrade for about three decades — and add new lighting, new heating ventilation and air conditioning systems, and new communication equipment.

Ennead Architect’s Todd Schliemann, the design partner in charge of the renovation, called the building’s architecture unique and said it is one that should be treasured.

“The purpose was to renew the building so it could live for another 50 years. It’s a remarkable piece of architecture. It’s very unique in its form,” he said. “I think we have an obligation to preserve the best of our architecture, because it’s our culture.”

The project also will drain the reflecting pools outside of the building on the terrace and add a new outdoor classroom, a walkway with plants and benches, and renovate stairs leading to other sections of the Hall of Science.

Work on stairs

The Great Hall is mainly used as an event space. It has 90-foot tall ceilings, and about 5,000 square feet of space. The exterior is made of concrete and cobalt.

With more than 450 exhibits that explore biology, chemistry and physics, the Hall of Science serves over 500,000 visitors each year.

Full shot construction work

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College Point historical site gets renovation funds, hopes for revival


| ejankiewicz@queenscourier.com

THE COURIER/Photo by Eric Jankiewicz

The historic Poppenhusen Institute‘s foundation sits on sand and its façade deteriorates with age. After 30 years of weathering wind from the bay, the College Point cultural center is going to be restored.

The city granted funds to the historical landmark building in order to complete overdue repairs to its exterior and to also build an elevator for the three upper floors, according to city documents. The last time the building’s exterior was working was in 1980s.

Executive Director Susan Brustmann believes the repairs and construction will cost $10 million but the city has only approved $5 million. The two major jobs will begin in early 2015 and will last for at least a year, according to Brustmann.

At a time when the nineteenth century building is in danger of closing down, the city grant is a welcome relief, according to Brustmann.

“We’re facing the most challenging time in our history,” she said. “So we’re very grateful that the city has given us money. The construction will be a great thing once it’s done.”

When the repairs are completed, Brustmann hopes to attract new revenue sources like getting the HBO show “Boardwalk Empire” to come back and film another scene in the building’s party hall.

Poppenhusen was built in 1868 with funds from Conrad Poppenhusen, a German immigrant. Since opening, the building has taken on various roles, from holding the first kindergarten class in America to housing German Singing Societies to being a court room and a sheriff’s office with two jail cells that still stand today.

Brustmann hopes to bring some of that diversity back by not only offering its historic rooms to film crews  but by also hosting a coffee shop on the third floor, overlooking the water.

In 2008 the Institute lost its state funding and now relies on city grants and donations. For now, its plan is to hold on until the construction is finished.

“College Point is off the beaten path but we’re fighting to get people in here and stay relevant,” Brustmann said. “We’re not giving up.”

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Queens College plans $1.5M TV studio renovation


| mchan@queenscourier.com

THE COURIER/Photo by Melissa Chan

Queens College is planning to give its outdated TV studio a $1.5 million facelift, officials said.

It will be the studio’s first major renovation in more than 50 years, when the campus’s King Hall building was first constructed.

“Everything in there is going to be new. Everything that you see or touch in there is going to be replaced. That’s our goal,” said Dave Gosine, the college’s director of facilities, design, construction and management.

About 260 media study students currently use the space to get hands-on training in directing and producing television shows, and creating plays and productions.

But the oldest equipment dates back to the 1980s, according to Gosine and Youwei Sun, the studio’s chief engineer.

The school has even donated three outdated pieces to the Museum of Moving Image, Sun said.

The project will make the 3,200-square-foot studio a handicapped-accessible, state-of-the-art facility, with updated digital technology and a new lighting system, comparable to “just about any TV studio out there,” Gosine said.

“This is a teaching facility. We’re making it more functional, more useable,” he said, adding that there is currently a lot of unused space. “You could have bigger sets, do bigger scenes.”

And it will all be managed by the hands of students.

“The real purpose of this project is to position our students to walk out of here and be marketable from day one,” Gosine said. “At the end of the day, we want them to get employed and go on to have great careers.”

The estimated $1.5 million project will be paid for by city and state funds. It is currently in its bidding phase and is expected to be completed in fall 2015.

 

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