Will Dorms Be Built In Bd. 1?
After years of unsuccessful efforts to get Manhattan companies to commit to a proposed Long Island City office tower project, Manhattan-based developer Edward J. Minskoff Equities has switched plans to build a 19-story residence hall or dormitory with 1,650 beds for undergraduate and graduate students at the undeveloped location, 30-30 Northern Blvd.
The idea was presented to Community Board 1 at its April meeting. A variance is required and the application was tabled until the next meeting on May 18. “The biggest concern of the community is what happens in ten years,” said Board 1 and Dutch Kills Civic Association Member George Stamatiades.
“Can you write into the deed that this facility would not be used for any other purpose—that the use is not transferable?” Stamatiades said.
“We can certainly look into that,” said Minskoff CFO Ben McGrath. “Our belief is that it is a commitment forever.”
“We don’t want someone to come in and build for a different use. What we’re looking for is something to put in place that would legally bind the use,” Zoning Chairperson John Carusone said.
The property, located on the block bounded by Sunnyside Yards, 41st Avenue, Northern Boulevard, and Honeywell Street would be sold or leased to either a degree-granting educational institution licensed by the New York State Board of Regents or a not-forprofit corporation chartered for providing housing to students.
McGrath said single, double and quad suites with retail stores on the first level and mini-storage space on the second and third would comprise a “mixed-use” project. Underground parking for 100 cars is included.
Previously, Minskoff did not need to appear at Board 1 because office use could have been built asof right. “This is an M1-5 district [for] commercial, manufacturing, warehouse, and other uses,” said Marcie Kesner, an urban planning consultant. “The [M1-5] does not permit dormitory [use] as-of-right,” she said. “We need a variance for dormitories.”
In addition, McGrath said, “We can’t build without a long-term commitment from a school.” The Department of Buildings (DOB) requires an agreement prior to the issuance of a building permit for a dormitory housing project and Minskoff, which owns the property, does not, as yet, have an agreement with a qualifying institution.
While the DOB regulation (Rule 51-01) appears to be a restrictive declaration that “runs with the land”, a zoning variance is, by definition, a one-time modification of the existing zoning code. A dormitory, under city zoning regulations, is a community facility. Community facilities uses include “educational, recreational, religious, health or other essential services for the community it serves”.
In other business, an application to allow an eating and drinking establishment without restrictions and no limitation on entertainment and dancing at 23-70 Steinway St. was denied.
A new unenclosed sidewalk cafe, Bogati Caffe, 31- 05 34th St., was approved with 12 tables and 24 seats. A modification of an unenclosed sidewalk cafe, Gyro Uno, 28-01 Steinway St., was approved with 12 tables and 24 seats and a renewal for an unenclosed sidewalk cafe, Othello Deli, 26-19 24th Ave., was approved with 4 tables and 12 seats. A newsstand in front of 31-90 Steinway St. was denied.