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Little Neck residents irked by Gluck renovations

By Kelsey Durham

News that the popular watchmaking company E. Gluck Corp. has finalized a deal to relocate from Long Island City to Little Neck has some northeast Queens residents opposing changes the warehouse will bring to the neighborhood.

The manufacturer is expected to take over the former Leviton building, at 60-15 Little Neck Parkway., that has been vacant for several years and will be leasing the space from an entity called Steel Tribune LLC, but the monthly rent was not known. The company’s current warehouse, at 29-10 Thomson Ave., is owned by the City University of New York, and Community Board 11 manager Susan Seinfeld said officials informed Gluck last year that it would be needing the space back.

The company has already started renovations on the Little Neck building that include the construction of a new 35-foot-high, one-story addition to the existing warehouse space, causing some neighborhood homeowners to grow concerned with the work being done.

“The concern right now is the extension,” Seinfeld said. “Not everyone is happy with these changes because it’s changing the whole look of the building.”

The Gluck Corp. could not be reached for comment this week due to the Passover holiday.

Gluck leaders began meeting with Community Board 11 in August, Seinfeld said, and displayed their plans for renovating the existing building if they were to move into it. Gluck will be the first manufacturing company within CB 11’s district since Leviton left the area, but the thought did not pose a threat to residents at the time relocation talks began.

The district manager said that although the area is not an industrial neighborhood, the community never opposed Leviton operating out of the building because it ran its electrical wiring equipment business quietly, without noisy trucks or overnight deliveries disturbing neighbors. Though Gluck’s operation plans appear to have the same courtesy, some elected officials said they, and their constituents, are concerned with the construction taking place on the building’s exterior.

The community’s main protest is the height of the extension being added, and state Assemblyman Ed Braunstein (D-Bayside) said his office has fielded some calls recently about a 35-foot wall the company has put up right at the property line, facing Little Neck Parkway.

“I met with the company a few times and they told me they would be renovating the existing building,” Braunstein said. “They never indicated they would have something like this and I feel they misrepresented their plans. What I’m seeing so far is completely off from what they’ve told us. It’s really just terrible.”

City Councilman Mark Weprin (D-Oakland Gardens) said he has also heard concerns from his constituents about the height of the extension being put on the building. He said he is happy Gluck decided to come into northeast Queens, but said he wants to be sure it is sticking to the plans that were previously worked out.

“There’s some construction going on right now that doesn’t seem consistent with what we thought would be going on there,” Weprin said. “It looks larger than what we had imagined and I just want to be sure that any building that goes up is acceptable to the neighborhood.”

Seinfeld said Gluck officials told CB 11 earlier this week that they plan to be fully moved into the Little Neck property by July.

A representative from the office of state Sen. Tony Avella (D-Bayside) said his office has also received a few complaints from residents concerned with the size of the addition, and the senator is planning to visit the site soon to evaluate the situation.

Weprin said his office will continue to monitor the construction to ensure plans are being followed and the neighborhood is not disturbed.

“They have a very good reputation in Long Island City and we’re happy to have them here,” he said. “Now that they’re here, we just want to make sure they’re good neighbors.”

Reach reporter Kelsey Durham at 718-260-4573 or by email at kdurham@cnglocal.com.

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