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Long Island City Clock Tower Building Sold as Locals Look to Landmark It

 The former Bank of Manhattan building in Long Island City, known for its clock tower.
The former Bank of Manhattan building in Long Island City, known for its clock tower.
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DNAinfo/Ewa Kern-Jedrychowska

QUEENS PLAZA — The former Bank of Manhattan building in Long Island City known for its clock tower has been sold to a new owner — for the second time this year — as local residents look to have the property landmarked.

The so-called Clock Tower building at 29-27 Queens Plaza North was purchased earlier last month for almost $31 million by Queens Plaza Park Development LLC, property records show. The same entity also recently purchased an adjacent property at 29-37 41st Ave., according to city records. Both sales were first reported by The Real Deal.

At least one of the Clock Tower's commercial tenants says he has been told he needs to vacate in six months. Gary Emanuel, who has run an insurance company in the building for 10 years, says he was served with a 180-day eviction notice on Nov. 21 citing a demolition clause in his lease.

Department of Building records for the property show no current work permits issued at the site.

The Hakim Organization, a developer, said it partnered with Property Markets Group to purchase the Clock Tower. While the plan is in preliminary stages, they said they would work with the Landmarks Preservation Commission to do what's appropriate for the building.

The company declined to comment on the operations of the building, including on whether tenants have been told to vacate. Property Markets Group, through a spokesperson, declined to comment.

The Landmarks Preservation Commission is currently reviewing the Clock Tower, according to a spokeswoman for the commission.

"I'm staying positive," said Emanuel, who said his son is also one of the organizers campaigning to have the property landmarked. "I'm very hopeful that the city of New York recognizes its landmark value."

An online petition in support of landmark designation has garnered more than 900 signatures.

Matthew Chrislip and Michael Hall, two of the local residents pushing to see the building preserved, said via email that they've also received pledges of support from City Councilman Jimmy Van Bramer, the Queens Historical Society and a national nonprofit called Save America's Clocks.

The Clock Tower building was built in 1927 and designed by architect Morrell Smith, and was the tallest building in Queens until 1990, according to the organizers.

Before its most recent sale, the property had been purchased in May for $15 million by the Criterion Group.