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Arts group sent packing to make sale of building easier

By Bill Parry

The Center for Holographic Arts is being forced from its headquarters at the iconic Clock Tower in Long Island City later this month.

The art group, famed for its use of light to create images, will go out with a bang with a special farewell exhibit and party this Friday.

The neo-Gothic tower, officially known as the Bank of Manhattan Building, at 29-27 41st Ave., was the first skyscraper in the borough. It has been closed to the public since the mid-1980s before the art group No Longer Empty converted the space to be used for a special installation and exhibition during the winter of 2012.

The Center for Holographic Arts has been using the site since last fall as a free sublet space from the building’s owner, Andover Realty. It has been told to vacate by April 14.

News of the group’s eviction caused a stir in the real estate community where a close eye is kept on Long Island City properties.

“There is not a sale in place yet,” Andover Realty’s Lenny Garo said. “Holocenter is not paying rent, they are on a gratis basis because of the arts, but we’d like them out because we may sell and we want the property unencumbered. We’ve gotten several offers, but there is nothing set yet.”

When it opened in 1927, the 15-story building was the tallest in Queens. It was a designation held for the next 50 years. Its four-faced clock, at the northeast corner on Queensboro Plaza, is familiar to commuters on numerous subway lines and the Long Island Rail Road.

The goodbye party is entitled “A Farewell Extravaganza” and is open to the public beginning at 8 p.m. The celebration includes live music, holograms, projections, performers, interactive installations as well as food and drinks. The original basement bank vault will be open one last time.

“We just wanted to give back to the community because Long Island City has been great to us,” projects director Jonah Levy said. “I’m personally talking to people at the Kaufman Arts District about finding a new space locally and the LIC Partnership and Richard Mazda from the LIC Arts Open is also helping us out.”

He added that Holocenter would like to stay in Long Island City, where it was formed in 1998 before moving to the Flux Factory in 2009. They are also looking at spaces in Astoria.

Reach reporter Bill Parry by e-mail at bparry@cnglocal.com or by phone at 718.260.4538.

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