Why Astoria will never be cool: the Eagle Electric building

Not that I want Astoria to be cool, but it does sort of irk me the way Brooklynites write the place off completely. (And Manhattan residents–forget it. The word ‘Queens’ just sticks in their throat, and they start to pass out.)

But then I cruised by the Eagle Electric renovation over on 21st Street the other day, and I realized this neighborhood is pretty much doomed–by utter tastelessness. I think there’s more nonironic acid-wash denim on the N train than anywhere else in the city, and it seems developers have the same love of the 80s.

Here’s what the building used to look like:
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(Thanks to Bridge and Tunnel Club.)

And here’s what it looks like today (admittedly, from what can only be politely called the backside):
astoria1xs
This is so heinous and depressing, this photo alone cannot convey it. This went from being a cool old factory building to a baby-shit brown concoction that wouldn’t have looked out of place on a beach in Cancun in 1982. I have seen such vile resorts firsthand in their native habitat, and I can’t believe someone went to the trouble to build one from almost-scratch here in Queens. Those terraced balconies, that vile stucco, that weird block of darker color to add, I guess, “visual interest.” Such an absolute waste of cool raw space. If there were a Go Fug Yourself for buildings, this place would deserve a permalink on the home page.

Oh, and we haven’t even gotten into how they actually lowered the ceilings in the front half of the building (on the right edge in the pic) to fit in more floors. (Edited to add: Don’t freak out–I know I’m wrong about this, and I say it in the next graf!)
astoria3xs
Pistilli Realty needs to go to remedial developers school. Lesson No. 1: People like high ceilings. Lofts have high ceilings. Therefore, people like lofts because they have high ceilings.

Although I see from an article in the NY Times from 2003 that the scrunched five-story front section was allegedly an add-on to the original three-story building in the back. But that whole lot was built out when I first saw the place, well before 2003, so I don’t know what that’s all about.

But then see this Queens Gazette story from 2000 for a teeny-weeny pic of an earlier rendering, with greater aspirations as to number of floors. Also, I guess the even teenier ‘now’ pic shows that I’m probably being paranoid about the active condensing of floors. Still, it seems retarded, if only because the people in the five-floor section will be constantly reminded of how much space they’re missing out on just half a block away.

(To clarify: this is not the Eagle Electric headquarters down in Long Island City, which is being renovated as Arris Lofts–a bit more tasteful, if also a bit more ridiculous in terms of what the market will bear.)

And can I just add I can’t believe an MF-in’ BANK is going in where Cafe Byzantio was on 31st St and Newtown?! As if the world really needs another one. Can’t we write a zoning law against them? Or say that for every branch you open in Astoria, you have to open two in the South Bronx?

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