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JetBlue moves to Queens Plaza

JetBlue moved into a new office in Long Island City's Brewster Building last week. Photo by Christina Santucci
TimesLedger Newspapers

Two long-awaited changes came to Queens Plaza last week as the recently completed park near 29th Street was named “Dutch Kills Green” and airline company JetBlue opened its new Long Island City office a few blocks away.

“What a terrific day in the ongoing renaissance in the Queensboro Plaza area,” state Sen. Michael Gianaris (D-Astoria) said.

Mayor Michael Bloomberg joined with other elected officials and JetBlue representatives April 4 to unveil the park’s name sign and cut the ribbon on the corporate office.

Dutch Kills Green, once the JFK Commuter Lot, is at the intersection of Queens Plaza and Northern and Queens boulevards. It was created as part of a $45 million renovation, which began in August 2009, of the Queens Plaza area.

Harry Charalambides and James Stark came up with the name, which refers to the nearby community of Dutch Kills, and a panel of city and community representatives chose it out of 600 submissions to the city Economic Development Corp.

The park has green space with grasses, trees and shrubs; benches; and a paved pathway that ends at 29th Street. The millstones, the oldest artifacts in the borough, have also been mounted and are on display in Dutch Kills Green.

“Parks are one of the things that differentiate cement from cities,” Bloomberg said.

After a short ceremony honoring the new public space, the elected officials joined the higher-ups at JetBlue’s new headquarters, at 27-01 Queens Plaza N., which is historically known as the Brewster Building, in honor of the Brewster car and aviation company that was once housed there.

JetBlue had been headquartered in Forest Hills and the new location will consolidate both JetBlue’s offices there and those in Connecticut.

“We are a New York-based company,” said JetBlue Chief Executive Officer Dave Barger, about why the airline moved within the city. “This is our home.”

Bloomberg said the new office will bring 1,000 jobs from Forest Hills and Connecticut to Long Island City.

U.S. Sen. Charles Schumer (D-N.Y.) said he helped JetBlue get off the ground and into New York’s airways. The senator had campaigned in 1998 on the issue of bringing cheap flights from the city to upstate New York. JetBlue would-be founder David Neeleman approached the senator after he was elected, requesting slots at John F. Kennedy International Airport.

Schumer said he would get them for him, but stipulated that the airline needed to offer flights to the upstate New York cities of Buffalo, Syracuse, Rochester and Albany. While the airline determined that Albany was too close to New York City to be a feasible route, JetBlue kept the rest of the promise.

“This is a great day for New York, and I’m proud to be a part of it,” Schumer said.

U.S. Rep. Carolyn Maloney (D-Astoria) said JetBlue will ensure that Long Island City will grow as a business district.

“The truth is that Long Island City has arrived in a very, very profound way,” City Councilman Jimmy Van Bramer (D-Sunnyside) said.

Reach reporter Rebecca Henely by e-mail at rhenely@cnglocal.com or by phone at 718-260-4564.

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