By Jeremy Walsh
A Long Island City landmark is poised to return to its original location after years of displacement.
Next month, workers will begin dismantling the Pepsi-Cola sign in preparation for the 300-foot move back to the site of the old bottling plant.
“It's an icon,” said Pepsi spokesman Dan DeCecco. “It was important for us to keep it where it is, because it's a way to help preserve part of the New York City skyline as many people knew it for more than 70 years.”
The 60-foot-tall sign has sat next to Gantry Plaza State Park for four years while high-rise Queens West luxury housing shot up in its original location.
But Pepsi retained a 200-foot-by-60-foot swath of land on its old property with the specific intention of returning the sign to its original spot.
The sign has long been considered a landmark, although the city Landmarks Preservation Commission has never given it official status.
Bob Singleton, president of the Greater Historia Historical Society, said his organization was interviewed for a commemorative video about the sign several years ago. He praised Pepsi for preserving the sign.
“It's certainly a sensible move to retain elements of our wonderful industrial heritage,” he said. “Nothing else quite evokes such a marvelous sense of place.”
Pepsi built the bottling plant in 1936. It operated until 2001, when Pepsi's local bottling arm, Pepsi Cola Bottling Co. of New York, moved its operations to a new plant in College Point. Pepsi sold the old building in 2003 to developer Rockrose Development Corp.
Work on the residential development was slowed by toxic contamination at the site, which was home to a Standard Oil refinery before PepsiCo took it over in 1936. In 2004, digging at the site unearthed a decades-old swamp of oil.
The state Department of Environmental Conservation removed tons of contaminated soil during the first phase of remediation between 2004 and 2006.
Reach reporter Jeremy Walsh by e-mail at [email protected] or by phone at 718-229-0300, Ext. 154.