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City Will Consider Landmarking Long Island City Clock Tower

 The LPC voted Tuesday to hold a public hearing on the former Bank of Manhattan building in Queens Plaza.
The LPC voted Tuesday to hold a public hearing on the former Bank of Manhattan building in Queens Plaza.
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DNAinfo/Ewa Kern-Jedrychowska

LONG ISLAND CITY — The Clock Tower in Queens Plaza is one step closer to being landmarked.

The Landmarks Preservation Commission voted Tuesday to schedule a public hearing on whether the former Bank of Manhattan building should be landmarked, after local activists pushed for it to be preserved. 

A date for the hearing hasn't been set yet, a spokeswoman for the commission said. But "calendering" it is the first step in the landmark designation process and will offer the 88-year-old Clock Tower, at 29-27 41st Ave., some protection.

LPC will now be notified when demolition permits are filed for the building, and the agency will have 40 days to vote on the site's landmark status before the permit can be issued.

Landmarking the Clock Tower is crucial at a time of rapid development in Long Island City, activitsts campaigning for the landmark status said.

A developer is already planning to build Queens's tallest building, a 70-story apartment tower, in the lot right next door.

"In the last five years, we've seen a lot of new buildings go up, and lot of old buildings go down," said organizer Christian Emanuel, whose father has run an insurance company out of the Clock Tower for the last several years.

The 14-story Clock Tower building was constructed in 1927 and the architect, Morrell Smith, originally designed it as a branch for the Bank of Manhattan company. It's known for its highly visible four-sided clock, according to local preservationists. 

"It's the landmark of the area people recognize from all over the city," Emanuel said. "Generations of people in Queens recognize it."

The Hakim Organization, which bought the Clock Tower building with Property Markets Group last year, told DNAinfo New York in December that it would work with Landmarks on any plans for the site.

The company did not immediately respond to request for comment. Property Markets Group declined to comment.