Office Building Proposed For Flushing Parking Lot
BY RICHARD GENTILVISO
Vacant building space is probably as hard to find as a parking space in Downtown Flushing. So it was a perplexing situation for Community Board 7 when a developer's proposal for an empty 39th Avenue lot between College Point Boulevard and Prince Street, now used as a parking lot, would provide fewer parking spaces than required by code.
But after more than an hour of discussion at its April meeting, the board voted 22 to 20 to approve a special permit for a proposed retail, community facility and office development at 133-47 39th Ave. in the heart of Downtown Flushing. The special permit allows the project to go forward with 76 parking spaces, instead of the 111 required by zoning.
Eric Palatnick, attorney for the developer, said the project located on the north side of 39th Avenue, across from the Sheridan Hotel, which includes doctor's offices (community facilities) and commercial office space, fits requirements for a special permit under zoning because there would be lower vehicular volume with commercial and professional offices.
"People take public transit to work, especially in Downtown Flushing," Palatnick said. Likewise, he added, most patients visiting doctor's offices in the building would not drive. "We believe 76 parking spaces is more than ample," he said. In its original proposal to the board, the developer asked for more retail, which was discouraged.
Of the total space, the first and third floors will be reserved for retail use, while the fourth floor will be for doctor's offices. Two sub levels of parking (57 spaces) and a portion of the second floor (19 spaces) will provide parking. The remainder of space is for offices. parking will be valet attended and no fee will be charged.
Palatnick said building in Flushing was always a problem because of the high water table. "It's very expensive, he said, indicating it would cost $2.8 million to build down to 21 feet, which is just above the water table, while it would cost $5.8 million to go far enough down for the required parking. "That's cost prohibitive," said Palatnick.
"I don't think it's the parking," said Board Member Chuck Apelian, in opposition. "I think it's the building. There's a fair amount of retail, that's a lot of cars going in and out.
"We must preserve enough parking space," said Board Member Terrence Park, who was also against the project.
"If we decline, they'll (developers) go back to the drawing board," said Board Member John Frank.
"I see Downtown Flushing in a different aspect," said Board Member Victor Ross. "It's not going in one or two directions. It's going in about 30 directions. For somebody to throw up their hands and reject this building because they're not providing enough parking, I just can't see it."
"Is this building going to require 10 (parking) spaces, 20 spaces, or 1,000 spaces? Nobody knows," said Board Member Bob LoPinto. "This is Downtown Flushing and I don't think this building will use any of their spaces because people will not drive there."
In other business, an application to build two two-family semi-detached residences in the bed of a mapped street at 42-32 and 4234 149th Pl. was also approved by the board.