The PowerHouse

DATE: 2008
LOCATION: Long Island City, New York, USA
OLD USE: Steam plant
NEW USE: Residential condos


The Long Island power station was built in 1906 to further enhance New York City’s transportation network. It served to power and expand the Long Island and Pennsylvania Railroads. Georgia O’Keefe used the building as a centerpiece to her painting “Across the East River” in the 1920s. The building was vacant for a decade and used as a plumbing warehouse.[1]


The vacant structure was purchased in 2004 by CGS Developers. The year prior, they had passed up buyer the site but changed course when the city rezoned the area for residential development. Along with the steam plant, the group also bought the neighboring Schwartz Chemical Plant to be included in the redevelopment.[2]


CGS has successfully converted the old plant into upscale residential condominiums. The adaptive reuse of the old plant is just the first step in the project’s three phases. This first phase provides 177 living units. The four steam stacks were removed due to structural issues, but glass towers were put in their place and provide additional living space. CGS’s intent to reuse the building however sees to have conflicting reports. Initially, the firm had planned to demolish the entire building and put four separate buildings in its place. One report claims reuse of the building was necessary due to the high costs of demolition, while another report states demolition would have saved money but that the public outcry against destruction made CGS change their mind. In the end however the building was converted and added onto. The desire is that this redevelopment and repurposing will help to spur additional investment in the community.[3]

[1]The PowerHouse LIC
[2]Multifamily Executive
[3]The New York Times

Images courtesy of The New York Times and The PowerHouse LIC.