ON April 4, I officially opened the new 200,000-square-foot headquarters of JetBlue Airways in the historic Brewster Building in Long Island City.

The new office consolidates JetBlue’s regional corporate facilities, expands its footprint in New York City and demonstrates the successful economic revitalization of Long Island City.

JetBlue’s move to Long Island City was announced in 2010 after New York City won a multi-year competitive review process among cities nationwide.

I also marked the completion of the larger $45 million roadway, pedestrian and bicycle improvement project that has transformed the primary entry point into Queens.

The city received more than 600 submissions for its contest to name the new 1.5-acre open space in Queens Plaza, and I announced the winning name: Dutch Kills Green, submitted by both Harry Charalambides and James Stark, was chosen by a panel made up of city and community representatives.

JetBlue has played a huge role in making New York City the nation’s number one travel destination.

The many reasons why people come to New York as tourists on JetBlue planes also are good reasons why JetBlue is expanding its corporate headquarters here.

We couldn’t be prouder that JetBlue has cast a major vote of confidence in Long Island City as a great place to do business.

JetBlue’s new headquarters combine its former Forest Hills, Queens office where more than 900 crewmembers and business partners worked, with its Darien, Conn. office where approximately 70 crewmembers worked.  

JetBlue’s crewmembers from Darien, who provide transactional financial support for the airline, now work alongside colleagues in Long Island City, bringing 70 jobs to the Empire State.

The Brewster Building is owned by Brause Realty, a New York City-based real estate company.

JetBlue is subleasing the space from MetLife, who will continue to maintain a presence at the location.

The Brewster Building has a proud aviation history.

It was built in 1911 and is where the Brewster Aeronautical Company manufactured the Brewster F2A, also known as The Brewster Buffalo, the first monoplane fighter airplane used by the U.S. Navy in World War II.

The Queens Plaza enhancement project, which broke ground in 2009, includes improvements to the pedestrian and bicyclist environment, as well as traffic flow, offering a respite for commuters, workers, residents and cyclists serving an exciting and evolving mixed-use neighborhood.

The project area extends along Queens Plaza North and Queens Plaza South from Northern Boulevard/Queens Plaza East west to 21st Street.

This transformative project provides the neighborhood with new crosswalks, sidewalks, countdown pedestrian signals, improved lighting, native trees and plantings — including 489 new trees, landscaped medians, an off-street bikeway, a separate pedestrian walkway, and its open space.

Located at the plaza’s eastern end, at the site of the former John F. Kennedy commuter parking lot, is the new, sustainably designed 1.5 acre open space — including wetlands, non-invasive and drought-tolerant native plantings and artist-designed benches and interlocking/permeable pavers to direct storm water to these plantings.

The project also incorporated the historic millstones which were previously embedded in a traffic island.

Preservation of these stones allows the current community to realize and understand Queens’ and New York City’s agricultural and historical past.

Starting with the rezoning of the district in 2001 to enable high-density, mixed-use development, there have been a number of initiatives focused on realizing Long Island City’s full potential as a major central business district and city neighborhood, leveraging its transit assets and proximity to midtown.

To revitalize the face of the district’s main boulevard, Jackson Avenue, NYCEDC completed a full $17 million streetscape project in fall 2010 that features a tree-lined median, new lighting and a series of new and enhanced open spaces.

At the critical intersection of Queens Plaza and Jackson Avenue, an unsightly municipal garage building was turned into an attractive LEED-certified, 21-story mixed-use tower and new home for the city’s Department of Health. 

The building was completed in 2010 and is the first phase of a larger Gotham Center development.

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