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Steinway & Sons Turning a Parking Lot Into Paradise with Green Makeover

 A parking lot at the famous piano-making headquarters is being fitted with storm-resilient features.
Steinway & Sons Parking Lot Getting Storm Resilient Features
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ASTORIA — Steinway is playing a new tune.

A parking lot at the Queens headquarters of the famed piano-maker is getting a green makeover.

The nonprofit New York Restoration Project (NYRP) is transforming the 53,500-square-foot concrete lot by installing storm water capture systems that will help absorb about 404,000 gallons of water a year — a project the group hopes will inspire other property owners to turn their parking lots into green spaces.

"A lot of the surface area of western Queens is paved," said Christopher Vanterpool, NYRP's director of capital administration. "Whether it’s a parking lot or schoolyard or someone's driveway, a lot of the opportunities for trees…have been paved over."

The group is looking to bring more green to the borough's concrete spaces, working with the City Parks Foundation and the North Star Fund's Greening Western Queens Fund, a $7.9 million initiative that funds environmental projects in the Queens neighborhoods that were affected by the 2006 blackout.

The Steinway & Sons project will cost in the low six-figures, and is one of several similar NYRP projects the organization is undertaking that will cost a total of $400,000.

Once the project is complete in a few weeks, the lot at 18-1 Steinway Place in Astoria will have dozens of new trees, a thousand new plants, an irrigation system that waters the plants and 340 feet of bioswales — planted areas that absorb and filter rainwater — around its perimeter.

The new, porous surfaces at the parking lot will absorb rainwater, helping to reduce runoff that would otherwise end up in the sewer system and potentially cause overflows that end up polluting the city's waterways.

"It takes a very small rain event before the sewer system is overwhelmed," Vanterpool said.

The city has been investing in installing similar green measures on its public lands, including hundreds of bioswales planned for streets in Forest Hills and Rego Park.

Vanterpool said the challenge is getting private property owners interested in making such changes to their concrete spaces. Steinway & Sons was a willing partner — the piano makers have integrated sustainable features at their facilities before, including the installation of solar panels to the roof of its Queens factory in 2008.

"Those little interventions can add up to something greater," Vanterpool said, saying they want the Steinway parking lot to serve as a "demo home," for what can be done with a simple concrete space.

"There are many more parking lots in Woodside, Astoria [and] Sunnyside," he said.