Queens Clock Tower, Threatened by New Development in Long Island City, Declared Landmark

Time stands still at the Queens Clock Tower, even as the neighborhood eyes the future.

Construction sites promising splash and glitter close in on the 14-story tower, which once seemed destined for the rubbled fate of its old neighbors.

"The building next door got knocked down probably five years ago, beautiful bank, Long Island City Savings Bank. Gorgeous building that got knocked down, no questions asked," said Gary Emanuel, whose office is one of the clock tower's few remaining tenants.

Emanuel was forced to move there when his old building made way for the sparkling new high rises that pepper Long Island City. Now developers are setting their sight on another part of Queens Plaza that includes the clock tower -- but Emanuel and other neighbors are adamant that the historic building must stay.

Emanuel supported his son's petition to save it, and on Tuesday, the Landmark Preservation Commission agreed.

"It's very iconic. It's one of the most recognizable buildings in Queens, and it's also at a very strategic location as you enter Queens," said Meenakshi Srinivasan, chair of the Landmark Preservation Commission. 

There was consensus at a public hearing Tuesday morning: the clock tower will stay where it's stood since 1927.

"We've been working with them to ensure that this particular building, which has three very prominent facades, will be protected as part of any development that takes place," 

One rendering shows how the past could blend together with the future: the clock tower, once the tallest building in Queens, dwarfed by newer buildings.

While the building stays, Gary Emanuel won't: he will have to be out this summer.

"It's home for me but at least when you pass by, it will be here and preserved," he said. 

The official vote on the landmark status of the clock tower won't happen until early May, but it's expected to be just a formality by that point. 

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