By Benjamin Fang
An iconic venue and catering hall in Queens has completed a top-to-bottom renovation that gives it a fresh look and feel. Terrace on the Park, overlooking Flushing Meadows-Corona Park, went through a $9 million facility renovation project over five years. The owners and staff of the venue unveiled the changes last month.
“It was a huge renovation, it’s well needed,” said general manager Bruno Marques. “We’re in 2017, when you always need to refresh and keep up with the times.”
The T-shaped tower, 120 feet above the ground, was originally constructed as a heliport and restaurant for the 1964 World’s Fair. In 1965, when the Beatles made their U.S. debut at Shea Stadium, they famously landed there.
After the fair, the building was converted to a 1,100-seat, five-star restaurant called “Top of the Fair.” In the 1980s, Madonna worked as an elevator operator at Terrace on the Park. It eventually became a catering hall, leased from the Parks Department, and used for weddings, parties, proms and corporate events.
“Whether it be a social event or a corporate event, any event that comes in here is a special moment for somebody’s life,” Marques said.
The renovations included restoration or redesigns of every floor. On the rooftop, new stonework, landscaping with LED plants and a new wedding pergola were added to enhance the views for on-site ceremonies. On the penthouse level, the building team added new coffered ceilings, redesigned plaster panels, custom-built bars, LED lighting and designer carpeting.
On the floor below, the Grand Ballroom was remade with wooden panels, LED lighting, custom carpets, drapes and polished granite stonework. The staff retained some of the inlaid wooden dance floors. They also added new Wi-Fi and an integrated video and PA system.
Terrace on the Park also created a new level of suites on the 14th floor, called the Promenade Level. During the World’s Fair, this floor was home to the “Drinks Around the World” lounge, with floor-to-ceiling windows. However, it had fallen into disuse over the years. It has been reintroduced as the “Lotus and Marquis Suites,” reception and meeting space that can accommodate up to 200 people.
On the lower level, Terrace on the Park’s indoor Wedding Chapel was also redesigned with polished wood and stone runway to the altar. Throughout the building, more than 3,000 square yards of carpet imported from England were laid out, according to Marques.
Outside of the building, the team enhanced the private gardens, typically used for receptions, weddings and brunch events. The landscaping maintenance budget tops $100,000. They also used 3,000 gallons of paint to paint over the exterior of the facility.
Despite the largest improvement project that the venue has undertaken in its history, Marques said the renovations are never complete.
“Nothing’s ever over, there are always going to be little touches that we enhance here or add there,” he said. “There’s always more work to do.
“You always want to refresh and modernize and give something different than what most people already have,” he added. “You always want to give somebody that extra value when they come in for an event, whether it’s corporate or social.”
Marques said the improvements will help the venue keep up with the competition. However, most competitors don’t have what Terrace on the Park has: its views. The Unisphere, Arthur Ashe Stadium, Citi Field, the Hall of Science and the New York State Pavilion are all in sight of the building.
“It’s just unparalleled,” he said. “You come here at night, that skyline is breathtaking.”
Janice Melnick, Flushing Meadows-Corona Park Administrator, said Terrace on the Park brings many visitors to the park who might not otherwise come. She agreed that “there is no better view anywhere in the borough or in the city.”
“We hope very soon you’ll have one more icon lit up to join all the others,” Melnick said. “The New York State Pavilion will be lit up in LED lights in the next year or so. You’ll have one more feature to point out to everybody.”