Iconic billboard returns to Long Island City

Iconic billboard returns to Long Island City
By Jeremy Walsh

It took eight months and a period of Scrabble−like puzzlement as workers reassembled the letters one by one, but Long Island City’s Pepsi−Cola sign is back up along the waterfront.

The 66−foot−tall sign, which was built in 1933 and outlived the bottling plant that once stood behind it, was moved to its temporary location just north of Gantry Plaza State Park in 2004 after Rockrose Development Corp. bought the property the plant stood on and began building a high−rise condominium tower.

With the construction complete, work began last July to move the sign 300 feet north to a 200−by−600−foot swath of land Pepsi had retained specifically for the waterfront icon. It was successfully reassembled at the end of February.

“We ran into some weather and equipment issues, but it’s more or less happened as planned,” said Pepsi spokesman Larry Jabbonsky. “We expect it to be lit within the next few months.”

The Queens West development project that has transformed the formerly industrial waterfront area will also provide a new park around the sign, including open spaces directly on the waterfront.

Rockrose Planning Director John McMillan did not return a request for comment by press time Tuesday.

Pepsi, which still owns the sign, is paying for the permanent upkeep and maintenance. It was last restored in 1993.

The bottling plant operated in Hunters Point from 1936 to 1999, when Pepsi moved the operation to a new facility in College Point. Pepsi sold the old building in 2003 to Rockrose.

The site was home to a Standard Oil refinery before Pepsi took it over, requiring considerable remediation efforts from Rockrose. In 2004, excavators at the site unearthed a decades−old swamp of oil.

Reach reporter Jeremy Walsh by e−mail at [email protected] or by phone at 718−229−0300, Ext. 154.