One of Queens’ most picturesque public spaces, the brick-adorned Station Square in Forest Hills Gardens, will undergo a major facelift.
The Forest Hills Gardens Corporation (FHGC) board of directors informed residents and business owners in the private community via email last week that it would begin a “multi-faceted” project that “has been on the drawing board for many years.”
“This is a multi-faceted project with many phases and involving more than just the restoration of our historic road surface,” according to the email, a copy of which was provided to QNS. “All the public utilities are on board and will be upgrading their infrastructure as the bricks are removed and the roadway is opened.”
According to the corporation, the Station Square improvements will begin in the middle of April and is expected to conclude at the end of this year. Continental (71st) Avenue will remain open during the project, but the entire square east of the avenue “will be closed to all vehicular traffic for the entirety of the project.”
“The sidewalks around the square will remain open for pedestrians,” the statement noted, “however, as stated, the majority of the square will be fenced in and closed to traffic.”
Station Square is part of Forest Hills Gardens, a “garden city” founded in 1909 and maintained by the FHGC that’s become one of the most expensive Queens neighborhoods in which to live. The streets are considered private, not under the city’s control; the FHGC is responsible for road maintenance and upkeep throughout the community. While non-residents are permitted to travel through the area, parking on the Gardens’ streets without a residential permit is prohibited.
As the name implies, Station Square is adjacent to the Forest Hills Long Island Rail Road station. It is steeped in history.
The square was constructed three years after the Gardens was founded, designed in part by Frederick Law Olmsted Jr. According to the Friends of Station Square, a volunteer group that helps keep it beautiful, the buildings around Station Square were constructed through funding provided by the Long Island Rail Road, the Sage Homes Foundation and the Cord Meyer Corporation.
Station Square once served as a primary gathering place for major community gatherings. Former President Theodore Roosevelt spoke to a crowd of thousands from the station’s steps in 1917 as part of that year’s Independence Day celebration.
Susanna Hof of Terrace Sotheby’s International Realty, which has two offices at Station Square, told QNS that she’s pleased the project is moving forward after many years. Previous repairs to the infrastructure below Station Square left a number of the bricks irregular, and the roadway uneven.
Hof anticipates that the project would cause some inconveniences. Restaurants in the square may need to relocate their valet parking stations, and drivers picking up or dropping off passengers at the Forest Hills station would need to do so along 71st Avenue rather than in front of the station entrance.
Thousands of people and vehicles pass through Station Square every day, and thousands more do so before and after concerts held at the nearby Forest Hills Tennis Stadium. Hof stated that concertgoers “shouldn’t be too impacted” while the work goes on this summer, as the NYPD generally streamlines foot traffic before and after concerts along 71st Avenue between Burns Street and the 71-Continental Avenues subway station on Queens Boulevard.