Completion nears at 33-19 Broadway in Astoria, where owner Ioannis Arvantis and Caliendo Architects are renovating a three-story pre-war structure. The project adds a contemporary-styled exterior that adds 1,866 square feet through an extra floor and a rear extension. The number of residences expands from two to five, with the units averaging 824 square feet apiece. Perfect Ten Construction Corp. serves as the general contractor.
The earliest Certificate of Occupancy on file at the Department of Buildings dates to 1917, the same year the elevated BMT Astoria Line opened along 31st Street three blocks west. The line spurred rapid development of adjacent countryside, which stretched between the neighborhood along Steinway Street to the east and the hamlet of Ravenswood to the west. The block-long row of townhouses between 33rd and 34th streets was among the first developments on the block.
Uncle George’s Greek Tavern had occupied the ground level since 1978. The eatery contributed the neighborhood’s long-running Greek cultural legacy. In 2013, city marshals closed the restaurant after its owners failed to pay $55,000 in rent, prompting Assemblywoman Aravella Simoras to call the closure “an end of an era.” Signs in English and Greek remained emblazoned upon the facade even as the space sat unused.
The corner building anchors a block-long architectural ensemble. The curved parapet and ornamental brickwork pattern continued across the adjacent façades. The loss of original ornament is unfortunate, but the tenement row already suffered from years of neglect and alterations. Second-story windows at 33-19 Broadway were significantly altered from their original condition. Air conditioning units punch through the brick wall next door at 33-17 Broadway. Around a year ago, a featureless wall replaced the ornate façade at 33-13 Broadway two doors down. The corner building at the opposite end of the block at 33-01 Broadway was renovated with a stucco façade.
The new building permit was filed in June 2014. Zoning diagrams indicate that the vertical extension boosts main roof height to 41 feet, with the parapet adding an extra four-and-a-half feet. The bulkheads boost the total height past 50 feet. A rear extension along 34th Street extends floors two and three laterally by 24 feet. The permit lists the total project cost at $387,000.
The updated design acts as a prominent bookend for the tenement row. Bays of black wraparound windows re-orient the structure toward the busy commercial corner. Beige brick walls and a matching cornice line contextually reference the neighbors. Vertical panels spaced across the façade visually break down the expanded building mass. The set-back penthouse level provides a definitive crown without overwhelming the composition.
Astoria may not be seeing as much construction as Long Island City further south, yet a handful of projects in progress are bringing noticeable changes to Broadway. A five-story, mixed-use building under construction at 29-10 Broadway is transforming an entire block between 29th and 30th streets. The seven-story building proposed half a block further west at 25-28 Broadway would become the tallest on the busy commercial corridor. More projects are rising on adjacent side streets.
The Steinway Street station of the M and R trains and the Broadway station of the N and W trains provide the transit access needed to support additional density. Developers ought to ensure that their projects enhance the neighborhood without disrupting its vibrant character. The renovated 33-19 Broadway does its part by rebuilding the signature glass canopy along the sidewalk next to the 1,910-square-foot commercial space, which would greet the busy pedestrian stretch as effectively as the famed Greek eatery did in the past.