Long Island City residents have a new corporate neighbor, JetBlue Airways, but the airline is just one reason why the area is growing into a hot business district. NY1's CeFaan Kim filed the following report.
JetBlue has new corporate headquarters in Queens. The airline has consolidated its operations that were previously split between Forest Hills and Connecticut, and now with its new home in Long Island City, the company is bringing more than 1,000 jobs to the area. JetBlue remains the only commercial airline based in the city.
"As the largest domestic carrier at [John F.] Kennedy Airport, JetBlue has played a huge role in making us the nation's number 1 travel destination," said Mayor Michael Bloomberg.
"This is a New York-based company. This is our home, this is our heart, this is our soul," said JetBlue Airways CEO Dave Barger.
The airline launched in New York, with its first flight taking off from JFK Airport in 2000. But three years ago, the company flirted with a move to Orlando, until the city struck a deal with JetBlue to keep them here, by offering more than $30 million worth of tax breaks and subsidies.
"Look what happened when TWA and Pan Am left New York. They went under," Senator Charles Schumer said. "When you leave New York as an airline something bad happens."
Officials say Long Island City is not all just about JetBlue. The neighborhood has grown into the largest business district in Queens, and it is why the airline decided to land here.
On Wednesday, officials also marked the completion of the new Queens Plaza open space, called Dutch Kills Green. The 1.5-acre park received $45 million, with new bike lanes and improvements to the traffic flow.
Two years ago, the city’s Department of Health moved into a 21-story mixed-use tower across the street.
"Long Island City has been one of the great mixed-use neighborhoods of New York. It's an industrial neighborhood. It's a center of the arts, it's a residential neighborhood," said President Seth Pinsky of the New York City Economic Development Corporation.
As for the future of Long Island City, officials say with Cornell University and Technion set to build a new campus on Roosevelt Island, they expect to see a growing number of technology companies coming to the area.