QUEENS, NY-First phase construction has started for a mixed-use development here in Long Island City, Queens–dubbed Gotham Center. Two Gotham Center is a planned 662,000-sf, 21-story class A tower on the corner of Queens Plaza and 28th Street, being developed by Tishman Speyer.

The $316 million project will replace the Queens Plaza Municipal Parking Garage. The project, which will create about 1,400 construction jobs, is the first phase of the proposed 3.5-million-sf Gotham Center development.

The tower will be occupied by the City’s Health Department and will include about 9,400 sf of ground-floor retail space and more than 180 parking spaces. The Health Department will relocate a portion of its staff to the new building from many of its 15 locations in Midtown and Lower Manhattan. Locating many of the Health Department’s non-field-based staff in this new building in Long Island City is in concert with the City’s goal of locating agency headquarters where possible under one roof for operational efficiencies and improved work environment, according to a prepared statement. The five-level garage was first occupied in 1976 and has been vacant since February 2008. Demolition has begun, and construction of the new office tower will start by the end of the year. The relocation of Health Department employees is expected to be complete in late 2011 and the precise number of staff to be relocated has not yet been determined.

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