2018-07-18 / Front Page

Boro Prez Holds Land Use Meeting For CB 1

By Thomas Cogan
At Borough President Melinda Katz’s land use public hearing on July 13, there were six applications pertaining to the Community Board 1 district.  Those six, in fact, comprised three paired applications, the first involving Variety Boys and Girls Club and a proposed residential building; the second, the former St. Michael’s Park; and the third, new housing proposed for construction near the Ravenswood Houses .  The board had voted on them all Monday, June 18.

The application filed by Akerman LLP in behalf of Variety Boys and Girls Club, 21-12 30th Road in Astoria, would ultimately produce a new club and a residential high-rise containing a percentage of inclusionary housing.  Speaking for Variety, Richard Bass said Variety is “oversubscribed” after 63 years in business and has a waiting list of 642 kids who are at the moment unable to get in. 

Also speaking for Variety, Matthew Troy said it is partnered with High on New York City, Skanska and Jet Blue in the building proposal.  He said also that the new Boys and Girls Club is to be built across the street from the residential tower.  An illustration was provided, showing the new Variety would be about half as high as the high-rise and have twice the capacity it has now.  “We are a community center and bring together the best of Queens,” Troy said.

When Community Board 1 voted on the two applications June 18, it approved the first by 29-8-0.  B.P. Katz asked why there were a number of negative votes and Bass said some board members didn’t like the market rate share of proposed building and the conversion of the zoning district to R7X.  He said that though the plan has backers, there is no developer for construction yet.  Asked about senior housing, he said there was already one senior residence on the block where the residential tower is expected to be built.

The second application filed by Akerman was to amend a part of the city’s zoning resolution establishing a mandatory inclusionary housing area in Community Board 1.  It was approved, 37-1-0.

Applications 4 and 5 were made by the Department of Parks & Recreation, relative to the proposal to de-map St. Michael’s Park.  José Lopez of DPR said that St. Michael’s Cemetery was opened in 1852 and St. Michael’s Park in 1941.  The latter, he said, was created not so much as a park but a buffer zone for a cemetery expected to be enclosed in a triangle by big highways, the Grand Central Parkway to its north and, eventually, two branches of the Brooklyn-Queens Expressway, west and east of it.  Now the cemetery is said to be in need of expansion and therefore could use the land that was St. Michael’s Park.  Payment for the park goes to the city, which apportions it to DPR, which could use some of it for improvements to St. Michael’s Playground, which is separated from the south end of the cemetery by an entrance ramp to the BQE.

The second of the applications calls for “the elimination of parkland within the area bounded by the Grand Central Parkway, 49th Street, 30th Avenue and the Brooklyn-Queens Expressway.”  It was another split vote for the board, which voted its unanimous approval each time by 42-0-0.

Akerman LLP is also the applicant for Applications 6 and 7, made in behalf of Ravi Management LLC, which would develop an area just west of the Ravenswood Houses.  Its aim in the first application is to change an R5 District to an R6A on what the application calls “property bounded by 35th Avenue, 12th Street, 36th Avenue and a line midway between 11th Street and 12th Street.”  Within that R6A District a C1-3 District would be established with the same boundaries.   The second application would establish a mandatory inclusionary housing area.

What is proposed is an eight-story, mixed-use, 87,033-square-foot floor area building with a commercial entrance at 11-14 35th Ave.  Four stories could be built as-of-right but the proposal calls for as many as eight stories.   (The Ravenswood buildings are seven stories high.)   A HANAC manager said this would raise the total of residential units created by the Hellenic-American social organization to 650.  The CB 1 vote for each of the applications was favorable by 32-5-3.

There was another application, coming from the Department of City Planning, of concern not only to Community Board 1 but the entire city, to which it is addressed.  The DCP is proposing the creation of a special permit for new hotels, motels and other hostelry in light manufacturing, or M1, districts.  Speaking skeptically about it was Armando Moritz Chapelliquen, of the Association for Neighborhoods & Housing Development, who said that the city’s Industrial Business Zones (IBZ) have been affected adversely by years of hotel-motel building in their neighborhoods (Dutch Kills for instance) and is anxious about  what this proposed legislation might lead to. 

 

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