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Crumbling World's Fair Site Could Cost $52M to Fix

By Katie Honan | November 20, 2013 9:16am
 The old structures from the 1964 World's Fair are iconic in Queens — and costly to rehab.
Cost To Rehabilitate Fading World's Fair Landmark Tops $50 Million: Parks
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CORONA — The New York State Pavilion, built for the 1964 World's Fair, has been vacant and deteriorating for decades, but a recent study found that fixing the structures will come with a hefty price tag.

According to the Parks Department, which commissioned the study, a plan to restore the three towers and the "Tent of Tomorrow" to its former glory — with full access to the public — would cost a whopping $52 million.

A less-ambitious version without public access would cost $43 million, while partially demolishing the site and leaving only the towers standing would cost $31 million, according to the study results presented to Queens Borough President Helen Marshall and elected officials at a monthly meeting at borough hall Monday night.

By comparison, the cost of completely demolishing the structures — which were designed by Philip Johnson — would cost just over $14 million.

There are no immediate plans to fund any of the suggestions, Parks Department officials emphasized Monday, adding that a recent engineering study found that the three towers and the "Tent of Tomorrow" are not in danger of falling down.

"The studies were done to get concrete information based on fact, not emotions," said Dorothy Lewandowski, the Queens Parks Commissioner.

The department conducted two studies, one in 2009 and the other in 2012, to determine what to do with the site. They were left with three options — demolish the structures, stabilize them, or restore and reuse them for other purposes, officials said.

The most costly suggestion came from an independent study by Perkins + Will, which envisioned a complete restoration of the promenade, including a fix of the roof, walls, stars, and railings; and a replacement for the translucent roof panels.

The cost of that project would be close to $73 million — and would turn the location into an event space, with landscaped paths, an observation deck and elevated gardens.

Photos released by the department show the inside of the iconic structures, for the fair, in their current, rusting state. Many of the stairwells inside the observation towers are rusted, and the top of the towers would have to be weatherproofed, the department said.