By Rebecca Henely
The city Department of Health has finally come to Queens, holding its grand opening Friday by tying the bow on one of many moves that it is hoped will revitalize the Long Island City area near Queens Plaza.
“It’s a great shot in the arm and a vote of confidence from the city to relocate such an important agency in the heart of Long Island City,” said state Sen. Michael Gianaris (D-Astoria).
The DOH, which formerly worked out of 15 separate locations in Manhattan, began moving into its new, centralized location at 2 Gotham Center in April and planned to have all employees set to move into the building during this month.
Located at Queens Plaza and 28th Street, the former site of the Queens Plaza Municipal Parking Garage, 2 Gotham Center, is a new building created by Manhattan developer Tishman Speyer, which was completed earlier this year. Designed by Moed De Armas & Shannon, the 662,000-square-foot glass skyscraper cost $316 million and was constructed with green building technology.
Much of the DOH will be consolidated into the Queens location although some bureaus of the DOH, like Vital Records and Environmental Health, will remain in lower Manhattan.
The DOH held a grand opening at its new location Friday, which was attended by Deputy Mayor Linda Gibbs, City Councilman Jimmy Van Bramer (D-Sunnyside) and Gianaris.
In an April interview with TimesLedger Newspapers, Van Bramer said the department moving in was evidence the neighborhood was being transformed and that the area would be even better with JetBlue’s planned move there next year.
“It’s looking better and better all the time and that’s something that’s welcome,” Van Bramer said.
He said the department’s thousands of employees, who will presumably shop and go to lunch in the neighborhood, will be good for local businesses and the local economy.
“One would hope and anticipate that there are some additional stores that are coming as a result of this development,” Van Bramer said. The 2 Gotham Center location has retail space available on the ground floors.
Gianaris said when he visited the DOH, he found the employees were excited to be a part of the redevelopment going on in the area. While Queens residents seemed the most pleased by the shortened commute, the senator received a letter from a Manhattan resident saying that while he was initially nervous about the new move, he is now happy about the possibilities of working in Long Island City.
“It was actually very heartwarming,” Gianaris said. “The enthusiasm the employees had was really something.”
Reach reporter Rebecca Henely by e-mail at firstname.lastname@example.org or by phone at 718-260-4564.