2016-02-17 / Front Page

CB 6 To Decide Fate Of ‘Restaurant Row’

By Richard Gentilviso

Plans for a new mixed-use development have many Forest Hills residents fearing for the future of “Restaurant Row.”

A proposal was presented on February 10 to Community Board 6 (CB 6) by architect Anthony Morali of Morali Architects and attorney Adam Rothkrug of Rothkrug, Rothkrug & Spector LLP for a 12-story building at 107-18 70th Rd., a site currently occupied by a single-story building housing several restaurants.

An eight-story building can be constructed, as of right by the developer on the site but the developer is seeking a special permit to construct a 12-story structure by applying unused development rights from a two-story building at 70-49 Austin Street.

An online petition at Change.org against the development entitled “Save Restaurant Row and Our Forest Hills Community” has garnered almost 1,425 supporters at  www.change.org/p/queens-communinty-board-06-save-restaurant-row-and-our-....

“Community Board 6 is shaping up to be the battleground for the soul of Forest Hills,” states the petition. “The soul we are referring to is the string of independently run restaurants now occupying 70th Road just off Austin Street and edging up to Queens Boulevard. Locals like to call it Restaurant Row.”

The petition goes on to say that 70th Road is the only place outside dining takes place in Forest Hills, “as it is prohibited by law on Austin Street.”

The petition also cites the potential for future negative impact on the community from a 12-story building and the soon to arrive Target Express, in place of the now closed Barnes and Noble. The mixed-use proposal includes commercial space that may include new restaurants at ground level and an underground parking garage for 60 cars. The project is expected to take three years to complete.

Councilwoman Karen Koslowitz also raised concerns about the additional burden placed on transportation and school infrastructure while conceding the zoning is within the developer’s rights.

Morali said the project would be similar to another condominium project he designed, The Ashton, located at 108-11 Queens Blvd., less than two blocks away from 70th Road.

Families seeking to move from renting to buying have increasingly looked to Forest Hills, according to StreetEasy.com. The 17-story Ashton opened in October 2014 with 97 luxurious one-, two- and three-bedroom units, and a CVS drug store at ground level.

The Forest Hills Chamber of Commerce conducts free admission Jazz Thursdays along Restaurant Row every summer as well.

“What makes Jazz Thursdays unique, is that the concerts are not held in a park,” according to the Flushing Chamber, “They are held right in the heart of the business district on Forest Hills’ Restaurant Row.”

“We need to make our voices heard and speak up against this permit,” the Change.org petition states.

CB 6 has not yet set a date for their upcoming vote on the project, but will next meet on March 9.

Santa Fe closed more than one year ago has not been re-rented, possibly as a result of redevelopment plans for buildings.

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