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Van Bramer Pushing To Landmark Elks Lodge On 44th Drive

44thDrive

March 3, 2016 By Michael Florio and Jackie Strawbridge

Councilman Jimmy Van Bramer said Thursday that he has requested that the City landmark the former Elks Lodge on 44th Drive, following a petition from local residents to save the building from demolition.

The three-story building, which has unique exterior detailing, sits at 21-42 44th Drive. It was formerly owned by the Sheet Metal Workers’ union and once served as an Elks Lodge, according to Forgotten New York.

“The Elks Lodge building is an important and distinctive part of the LIC community, and it deserves to stand in our neighborhood for years to come,” Van Bramer said.

His statement follows a petition from the newly formed Court Square Civic Association to save the property from development, which has been looming over the past several months.

After purchasing the property late last year, Adam Westreich of Alwest Equities told the LIC Post that his company was working with Planet Partners to develop both 21-42 44th Drive and the lot next door as luxury condos.

It is unclear where development plans stand now; the property was purchased once again in early February, according to City documents, although names listed on the buyer’s forms appear to have ties to Planet Partners. Neither company could be reached for comment as of press time.

Orestes Gonzales of the Court Square Civic Association said the petition was launched in the hopes of staving off demolition. If the demolition can be delayed it will give the Civic Association more time to come up with a feasible plan to save the building, he added.

“We are hoping to negotiate with the developers to see if we can convince them not to demolish it,” Gonzalez said.

Gonzalez believes the building has the potential to serve the neighborhood as a community center, which could offer daycare, classes, theater, space for art galleries and a venue for community meetings.

The Civic Association’s petition has garnered more than 160 signatures as of Thursday afternoon.

Civic Association president Amadeo Plaza said he was pleasantly surprised to hear of the Councilman’s landmarking efforts.

“It’s great news to have Van Bramer supporting this cause,” he said. “It is always good to have the support of local politicians when you are trying to get something done.”

Gonzalez, who lives just one block away from the Elks Lodge, said the building has a special meaning to longtime Long Island City residents.

“It is a jewel of a building that needs to be saved,” Gonzalez said. “It is part of the Long Island City lure for generations.”

He also asserted that building luxury condos on this property would not serve the community well.

“The influx of developments in the neighborhood has transformed LIC to a ‘bedroom community,’” Gonzalez said. “People can’t afford to live in Manhattan so they rent here and do most of their activities in Manhattan.”

However, he added, action should be taken swiftly.

“As soon as developers get wind of the mounting pressure from the community, they will try to bulldoze it as soon as possible,” he said.

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12 Comments

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MERES ONE

DOUBLE STANDARD ANYONE ????I m going to keep it short and sweet. I m saddened yet not surprise by yet again , another developer breaking the law, and destroying valuable art. What amazes me here is the double standard by elected council member Jimmy Van Bramer , friendly reminder for all, of his statement while we were trying to save 5 Pointz : “He said he is not an advocate for keeping the 5 Pointz building in its current form. He said that he believes in “property rights” and that the owner of the property—Jerry Wolkoff– is entitled to develop the site as long as his plans meet zoning rules and regulations” Is it me or do I see a clear double standard in 3 years ? The landmarking commission made it apparently clear the Elks Club does not fit requirement , the building is own by a private owner , just like 5 Pointz, and if we are going to talk about permits , friendly reminder there were no permit to white wash the building and have scissors lift on city sidewalk required to whitewash. Maybe the Elks club owner forgot to do large contribution to the office of said councilman… either or another very sad loss for LIC, but a clear political stunt.. NO SHAME …

Reply
Rd. Ave. St. Dr.

Better hurry up. Looks like they’re already starting to take it down. 🙁

Reply
OAR

Right now the facade is being destroyed by a construction crew. They say they are doing asbestos abatement, but have no protective gear on and there are no permits posted anywhere. They have destroyed one cornice already. and have created big holes on the brick area also.

Reply
MRLIC

Mr. Plaza has the right idea. A community center would fit right there. A herter for movies would also be a good idea. Van Bramer finally doing some good for once.

Reply
R185

Personally, I wouldn’t have a problem with repurposing the existing building for a theatre or community in exchange for larger building around it even above it.

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OAR

Why do we need to have a larger building around it? The zoning for that block is a maximum of 80 feet. We don’t need more taller buildings. We are over built as it is.

Reply
Ro

The only way this has any chance of staying up is if it is economically feasible for the current owner/developer. Not sure how a community center would generate more returns than condos unless they allow for more FAR. Lets remember that developers buy these sites for top dollars as an investment and for profit. It would be naive to think that they will lose their money and their investor’s for the good of the community. Maybe they can get some incentives to at least keep the facade up. Does the interior have any architectural significance or has it already been stripped out by prior owners and uses?

Reply
Anon

Please save it. Older architecture is beautiful and we are losing so much of it all over the city.

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brooklynmc

Please save this building. I like high rises but there needs to be some low rises in between. This is a nice building.

Reply
Amadeo Plaza

So happy to hear this. If we can save it, and it’s opened up to the community, this will be a big win for the residents of Court Square.

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